In this edition of what to expect from SMU football in 2011, we will focus solely on the offensive side of the ball.
First we will take a look at where SMU ranked offensively in Conference USA last season:
Pass yards: 3rd
Rush yards: 7th
Total Yards: 5th
SMU’s offensive attack is very reliable, and Conference USA is loaded with high octane offenses. SMU was ranked proportionally more highly nationally than in their own conference.
With practice beginning for the SMU football team recently, here is a small preview of what we can expect from the Mustangs at every offensive position in the upcoming season.
Quarterback– Kyle Padron. Although June Jones has said that the Quarterback job is not entirely Padron’s at this point, I see it hard for anyone to beat out the guy that threw for 3800 yards and 31 touchdowns last season. Padron has two main areas that he needs to work on in the offseason.
First of all, Padron had the tendency to stare down receivers way too much, leading to some very unnecessary interceptions. Secondly, he needs to work on his quarterback clock. By this, I mean that he could never feel the pocket collapsing and when to just get the ball out rather than taking the sack. Padron was still a young player last season, and much of his mistakes can be eliminated as he becomes more comfortable and increases his football acumen.
Running Back– Zach Line had an break out year last year, and the Mustangs would be happy if he could just repeat the numbers that he put up last year. Averaging over 6 yards a carry, Line finished 11th in the country with 1,494 yards and was a first-team all-C-USA player. His 1,494 yards were second in SMU history all time to non-other than the great Eric Dickerson.
Now besides Line, the Mustangs have a running back loaded with potential in Darryl Fields. Fields was all-Freshman C-USA as a kick returner last year and if Line ever gets hurt the Mustangs have a more than adequate back up for him. Fields lateral quickness makes him very elusive out of the backfield, and he is a headache for linemen and linebackers to tackle in the open field. In college football now, it is customary for a team to use atleast two running backs, so look for Fields to get some carries as well this season as a change of pace back to play off of Zach Line.
Wide Receiver– SMU returns their leading receiver in terms of catches for his senior season in Cole Beasley. Beasley caught 87 passes for 1,060 yards out of the slot for the Mustangs, which earned him second team All-C-USA honors.
It may be tough for him to thrive without a true number 1 to play off of like Aldrick Robinson from last season. Although Beasley led the team in catches, Darius Johnson is the best bet to fill Robinson’s shoes. As a sophomore he caught 78 passes for 845 yards and 6 touchdowns.
The third wide receiver proved to be important for the Mustangs last season, and this year, that guy should be senior Bradley Haynes. Haynes has played in each of his 4 years at SMU and looks like he could be a great option for Padron but will have to fight for playing time in preseason practice. Sophomore Keenan Holman should also factor into the mix when SMU uses spread formations. Despite Robinson’s departure, SMU has more than adequate wide receiver talent for 2011.
Offensive Line– The Mustangs return their entire offensive line that had a very good year in 2010 and will all be seniors in 2011. Senior center Blake McJunkin will be the anchor to the offensive line. Named to the Rimington watch list, McJunkin looks to build on a very impressive Junior season where he was All-Conference Honorable Mention.
Starting to his right will be senior Kelly Turner and at the tackle on the right will be J.T. Brooks who is looking to build on a good 2010 season. At left guard will be the most experienced offensive lineman, Bryce Tennison, who has started at guard every year he has played at SMU. Probably the most talented offenseive lineman, Kelvin Beachum Jr., will start at left tackle after being All-C-USA last season.
Biggest Strength– The Mustangs clear strength is their passing attack. Padron is one year older and his offensive weapons are numerous even with the loss of Aldrick Robinson. Following a season where he threw for 3800 yards and 31 touchdowns, Kyle Padron will be looking to lead the offense to even better numbers this year.
Biggest Weakness– Turnovers. The Mustangs on average turned the ball over 2 times a game last season, which was almost two times more than they forced. One would think that this would be because of the passing attack, but it was not. The Mustangs lost 13 fumbles on the year which is more than 3 times more than they recovered. When you have an offense that can score so effectively you have to feel like you are truly throwing away points with turnover.
In the next article, the defensive side of the ball will be featured as will freshmen that could get playing time, and predictions for the 2011 season later on this month.
You can follow Tyler Paslick on Twitter @tpaslick