Head coach June Jones to SMU to their first bowl game since 1984 in only to two seasons, and this year the Mustangs are looking to challenge for the C-USA West title. The offense is the reason for optimism with QB Kyle Padron who took over the throwing duties over Bo Levi Mitchell. Padron passed for 1,922 yards, 10 touchdowns, and four picks in seven games. The Hawail Bowl was Pardon's coming out party as he threw for 460 yards and two touchdowns against Nevada, and the hope for SMU fans is that he can continue the success to 2010.
The offensive line which is chalk full of junior offensive lineman should make that should only make the offense stronger and even more potent and inching closer to the Houston offense. That experienced offensive line will help SMU be more balanced with RB Shawnbrey McNeal who had just under 1,200 yards and eclipsed five yards a carry. McNeal will be a senior and could be on the verge of an even better season this last year with a possibility of 1,500 yards on the ground and even the chance of getting 500 yards in the receiving game.
The big loss on the offense was wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders who had 98 catches and 1,339 yards, but all is not lost for SMU who have Aldrick Robinson, Terrance Wilkerson, and Cole Beasley to pick up the slack. Each had 40 catches a piece so look for this trio to be a potent threat and cause defenses a lot of headaches.
June Jones is turning SMU into the Hawaii teams that had Timmy Chang and Colt Brennan that had a ton of offense, but the defense is lagging behind. The defense was 85th in the nation and was 6th in C-USA, so to be able to make a move up the C-USA ladder they need to get into the top third of the league to become a contender.
The offense will need to outscore other teams to keep improving off of last year, and even though the defense was not great, they do return 20 of 21 sacks accumulated last year. So, 20 may not be a big number but with that many returning and all but one of those is coming from the front seven is only a good thing.
They just need a little bit of something from the defense with the best way being to limit scoring chances with the bend and not break defense, and go from there.