2. KEYS TO THE SEASON
Biggest Key To The SMU Offense
Start to move the ball on third downs. The SMU offense under head coach Sonny Dykes is designed to set up makable third and short plays, and last year that didn’t happen.
In 2017, SMU was able to convert 43% of its third down tries and went bowling. Last season, it was dead last in the AAC and 119th in the nation converting just 33% of the time.
The O only hit the 40% mark or more three times – and won all three games. SMU will never dominate the time of possession battle, but the defense needs more of a break, and the O has to keep things moving after not gaining enough third down plays. That should all happen with the skill spots all stronger. And then, if the offense does its job, then …
Biggest Key To The SMU Defense
Start to come up with a few third down stops. The pass rush was able to do its part more often than not to generate pressure, but it didn’t translate into enough big defensive stops. The D was able to come up with takeaways, but it got hit way too hard against decent scoring teams because it couldn’t get of the field.
The Mustangs allowed 40 points or more five times and went 1-4, and that’s partly because the defense was so miserable when it came to the money downs.
How bad was it? SMU allowed teams to convert 40% of the time or more in 11 of the 12 games, and failed 50% of the time or more five times including in each of the last three games.
Key Player To A Successful Season
QB Shane Buechele, Sr.
He might not have the next-level tools, and he might not be all that big or have the big-time arm, but he was a good player for Texas when he got his chances after a solid freshman season.
He’s accurate, smart, and a good fighter, but he has to keep the interceptions down. It’ll be up to him to take the Sonny Dykes/offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee attack to another level. With a good group of receivers to work with, and with a nice backfield to take the pressure off, Buechele should shine.
Key Game To The SMU Season
at USF, Sept. 28
Just how good is SMU? If it is, it should be able to start out 3-0 with wins over Arkansas State, North Texas and Texas State, and it’ll probably lose at TCU. That leads up for the AAC opener at USF with a chance to make a massive early statement.
With tough conference road games ahead, win, beat Tulsa at home, and the Mustangs will make a whole lot of noise over the first half of the season. The two programs have only played four times, with USF winning the last three after SMU took the first matchup in 2013.
– SMU Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2018 SMU Fun Stats
– 3rd Down Conversions: Opponents 94-of-196 (48%) – SMU 61-of-185 (33%)
– Average Rushing Yards Per Game: Opponents 198.4 – SMU 115.5
– Time of Possession: Opponents 32:46 – SMU 27:14