As we enter our third segment of the 2018 opponent Q&A series, we focus on the Michigan Wolverine’s third opponent of the 2018-19 season, the Southern Methodist Mustangs.
Follow along as Nicholas Armstrong of UnderdogDynasty.com and I talk about the season and the game against SMU.
Josh LaFond: With up and coming head coach Chad Morris departing SMU and heading to Arkansas, what is the state of the program?
Nicholas Armstrong: The program seems to be on the rise again. For a while, just a few years ago, it seems that SMU hit a huge low. After Morris came in, he gave the program a ray of hope. Now that Sonny Dykes is here, the expectations will continue to grow. He has had success at the G5 level before and so far, the upcoming recruiting class has been great. I can only expect higher standards here.
Josh: The majority of our readers, and college football fans for that matter, are aware of the scandalous history of Southern Methodist football. Being said, help us understand the fan base of the school. Has the loyalty faded over the years after the death penalty of the program back in the 80’s, or do the majority still ride or die with their SMU Mustangs?
Nicholas: I can’t speak for all the SMU fans, but the SMU faithful have always been there. However, fans will always flock to the stadium when the team is good. As a result, while fan support isn’t like it was in the 80s, fan support is growing again.
Josh: What are some of the things that SMU likes to do, or are good at doing on offense?
Nicholas: It’s going to be tough for SMU this year offensively. While they have big weapons I’ll discuss later, losing an All-American like Courtland Sutton and former 5-star reciever Trey Quinn makes things a lot tougher. The three main cogs in the offense this year will be QB Ben Hicks, RB Xavier Jones and WR James Proche. Hicks is an experienced QB with raw talent. He can be inaccurate, but he isn’t afraid to make any throw and carry the team on his shoulders. Jones is on the Doak Walker preseason watch list and is one of the better backs in the conference; he is able to do a little bit of everything. Lastly, Proche is on the Bleitnikoff preseason watch list and is the deep threat of the receivers. He becomes the veteran receiver for this team now that Sutton and Quinn are on NFL rosters.
Josh: I’ll ask the same question but this time for defense...what can the Mustangs do well this season on defense?
Nicholas: Defense is going to be tough for the Mustangs as well. The AAC is like the Big 12 in that most of the teams in the conference can put up 40 points, but give up just as many. The only real bright spot of the defense is Jordan Wyatt. He will be the leader of this team and is an exceptional DB.
Josh: Linking back earlier to the departure of Chad Morris, will this be a transitional year under new head coach Sonny Dykes, or will they be able to hit the ground running?
Nicholas: As I mentioned earlier, I don’t think this is a rebuilding year. The conference lost a lot of great talent this year to the pros and this year there is no clear favorite in the West. While Memphis has the best shot, I wouldn’t be surprised if any of the teams made a run. That being said, I think the time frame for this team should be on next year while new air-raid offense gets installed and the young guys on defense can continue to grow.
Josh: What would be a successful season for Southern Methodist?
Nicholas: A successful season, in my mind, is learning the system and getting back to a bowl game. Last bowl game went very poorly against Louisiana Tech. SMU needs to rebound this season and get a bowl win for the fans.
I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Nicholas Armstrong for providing the great information that he did, and to Jared Kalmus, both of UnderdogDynasty.com For all news not only SMU, but for the American Athletic Conference, Sun Belt, C-USA and Army, head on over there and check them out.