What You Need To Know About The SMU Defense
– SMU did a great job of getting into the backfield last season, but defensive coordinator Kevin Kane wants the Mustang D to do even more. Top pass rusher Justin Lawler is gone, but linebacker Kyran Mitchell leads a dangerous bunch that finished with 31 sacks and 90 tackles for loss. The pressure won’t stop coming, however …
– It’s not like all that pressure did anything for the overall defense. The Mustangs finished 121st in the nation in total D, doing next to nothing against the good running teams and struggling a bit too often against the efficient passers.
Along with Mitchell, Jordon Williams is back on the other side of the linebacking corps, with Texas A&M transfer Richard Moore an undersized but potentially dangerous star in the middle.
– Lawler is gone from the front, but Delontae Scott and Tyeson Neals are going to keep getting to the quarterback, and Pono Davis is a big option on the nose to work around. Combine the decent players up front with the veterans on the line, and the defense should be a wee bit more effective.
Health in the secondary will be the focus in fall camp. Safety Mikial Onu is a big-time hitter, but the team’s leading tackler has to get right after having a shoulder problem. Christian Davis and Eric Sutton were the starters at corner late last season, but Robert Hayes and Jordan Wyatt are the starters if they can stay in one piece.
Biggest Key To The SMU Defense
Besides health, most importantly secondary can’t get picked apart again. It’s not just that the defense gave up 300 yards or more six times – and 400 yards or more three times – it’s that opposing quarterbacks were so efficient. SMU allowed almost 3,500 passing yards and 26 touchdowns, and that includes Navy – who misfired on the one pass it threw – in the equation.
The pass rush will be there, and the pressure will come. Now the defensive backs have to come up with more big stops and can’t allow close to nine yards per throw again.