Head Coach: June Jones
Offense: 33.0 PPG, 5.4 YPP
For the second straight week, the Cougars will face a run-and-shoot offense. However, this is not the same type of pass-happy scheme that we saw out of Hawai'i. Jones has adapted his gameplan to make sure his playmaker at running back can make a difference. Shawnbrey McNeal, a speedy transfer from Miami (FL), spearheads the ground attack for the Mustangs. He has carried the ball 40 times over their first two contests for an average of 5.6 yards per carry.
The passing game features two talented wide receivers in Emmanuel Sanders and Aldrick Robinson. Emmanuel Sanders is a very skilled fifth year senior who currently leads the team in receiving yards (214) and receptions (17). Aldrick Robinson is a burner who averaged 17.7 yards per catch a year ago. These two guys would be tough to cover for almost any secondary.
Bo Levi Mitchell is the strong-armed signal caller in his second full season of starting. He led the Mustangs to a close victory over UAB last week with 353 yards and three touchdowns. However, his downfall may be his propensity for throwing the ball to the wrong team, as he already has four interceptions to begin the 2009 campaign and gave away 23 last season. The Mustang offensive line has done well keeping him on his feet so far, allowing only two sacks through the first two games.
SMU has been solid but far from prolific so far when they have ball. However, thye do have a couple of guys who are real big play threats in Robinson and McNeal. Like any run-and-shoot offense the Mustangs will look to spread the field by playing primarily four wideout sets. The threat of a talented running back does give them an advantage over the traditional June Jones style offense and provides more of a challenge for opposing coaches to plan for. The 3-3-5 approach cannot be expected to get it done against this SMU team.
Defense: 28.0 PPG, 6.0 YPP.
The Mustangs are a work in progress on the defensive side of the ball. They have given up large chunks of yardage this season to some below average competition. Their saving grace has been their ability to generate turnovers. SMU has forced 11 turnovers in only two games so far this season. It remains to be seen whether that is a product of an aggressive defense and talented playmakers, or a whole lot of random luck and poor competition. Most likely, it is a mixture of both.
SMU's base defense is the 3-4. All three guys across the starting defensive line weigh in around 280. The linebackers are very undersized, with an average weight of 223 and no one heavier than 230. Someone to watch in that group is converted defensive end Youri Yenga. Yenga was a very effective pass rusher at defensive end last year, despite his size (6-1, 223). He is now playing a more natural position and should do well as the primary blitzing linebacker. The secondary has been able to pick off a lot of passes this year, but in terms of yards allowed, they have been less than stellar.
Overall, the defense has allowed 454.0 yards per game while the SMU offense has put up just 396.0 yards per game.
SMU is in trouble if: They don't create turnovers. They Mustangs have been outplayed in almost every other statistic in their first two games. They are giving up more rushing yards and yards per carry, more passing yards and yards per pass, and a higher rate of third down conversions (45% to 30%). SMU has turned the ball over five times less than their opponents and that has been key to their 2-0 start. If the opposing team is taking care of the ball, they should be able to move it down the field and score points.