Preview 2017: The SMU Plan About To Work?
In Year Three in the Chad Morris era, this is when the whole plan is supposed to create wins.
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The Chad Morris plan hasn’t quite worked out so far. This needs to be the year that it does.
Here was the deal. Morris was going to take over SMU in 2015 after rocking as the Clemson offensive coordinator, he’d put the program back on the right track, and then after a few years of success, he’d be off to something really big.
But the Texas A&M grad wasn’t in the mix when the Texas and Baylor jobs opened up, and he’s not going to be on the radar if Kevin Sumlin has a rough year and the Aggie gig is open. And why? Morris hasn’t done anything special with the Mustangs so far.
Yeah, the offense went into the tank in 2014, and Morris had to overhaul the machine, but after a 2-10 2015, and it was in range of going bowling last year, needing to win one of its last two games.
Now, Morris is a 7-17 in his two years and just 4-12 in the American Athletic Conference. Of course, there was a three-win improvement from his first season, and there needs to be a similar jump – and it’s possible.
It’s not that long ago that SMU was pretty good. It’s not like the program was bring brought back from the Death Penalty (sorry … “too soon!” … “too soon!”).
The Mustangs went bowling from 2009 through 2012 under June Jones, fell off the map in 2014, and saw the piece get picked back up by Morris after he took over. Now in Year Three, there’s no reason not to expect more.
The offense moved the ball through the air against the mediocre teams last year, but QB Ben Hicks threw way too many interceptions and there wasn’t enough of a push from an okay ground attack. Helped by Courtland Sutton and a great receiving corps, watch out for the passing game to rock once the quarterback situation is settled.
Defensively, it’s taken a while to come around, considering the offense hasn’t been quite explosive enough to keep up in shootouts. The run defense has to be far stronger, allowing 36 points per game was a problem, and there weren’t enough key stops in big situations. Throw in the bad special teams, and last year didn’t work quite as well as hoped for.
However, this is by far the best SMU team yet under Morris. There depth, experience, and talent – and now it all has to equate into big wins and a bowl bound season.
The plan can work, and Morris can be the superstar head coach everyone’s been waiting for. This is the rebuilding of a program, and yeah, it takes a while. Get ready for the Mustangs to be more dangerous now.