Game-By-Game Predictions for SMU's 2014 Season
Southern Methodist fans are wonder just how long it will take before they start seeing the same production. Jones has compiled a 36-41 record in his five years with the Mustangs, and hasn’t surpassed the eight-win plateau.
If there was ever a time for a breakout season, it would have been in 2013. Behind the arm of former five-star recruit and Texas Longhorn Garrett Gilbert (who was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft), SMU was poised to compete for an American Athletic Conference championship.
But instead, it finished with just five wins – the worst product Jones has put on a field since 2005 – and was flat out average at best.
With Air Raid founder Hal Mumme out as the offensive coordinator after one short season and a new quarterback under center (which has yet to be named), the offense will probably take a step back. So how does that fare for the Mustangs, who regressed in 2013 and have little experience in the backfield?
Here’s a game-by-game prediction for SMU’s 2014 season, which could end up putting Jones on the hot seat by December (despite signing a new three-year contract):
8/31 – at Baylor: LOSS
A Sunday opener? I’ll take it. Like last year, Baylor’s offense will be going vertical – it’s going to take a miracle for SMU’s void in the secondary to hold Bryce Petty and company to less than 500 yards passing.
9/6 – at North Texas: WIN
North Texas took a significant step forward under Dan McCarney with nine wins in 2013, but lose a ton of experience and production. The Mean Green won’t be a pushover, but SMU should be able to come away with the win.
9/20 – vs. Texas A&M: LOSS
Even without Johnny Manziel, the Aggies will take care of business on the offensive side of things and will have no problem making big plays against an underwhelming SMU secondary.
9/27 – vs. TCU: LOSS
What a challenging non-conference lineup for a team that has so many questions heading into the season. TCU was a letdown in 2013, but with a new offensive strategy and reloading defense, the Horned Frogs will be a far more complete team this fall. SMU quarterback Neal Burcham – my projected starter – will have a difficult time finding any sort of rhythm against Gary Patterson’s different blitz packages, and will be seeing Devonte Fields in his nightmares for weeks to come.
10/4 – at East Carolina: LOSS
While this has shootout written all over it, ECU is simply the better team with more answers and explosiveness on offense.
10/18 – vs. Cincinnati: WIN
Here’s where SMU gets lucky, by grace of the scheduling gods. Cincinnati will have traveled to Miami Beach and back before heading straight to Dallas all within seven days, and the Mustangs will be coming off a bye week. While less talented, the odds are still in their favor here.
10/25 – vs. Memphis: LOSS
Not that it changes much, but Memphis’ vicious defensive line will force SMU to throw the ball a ton. Usually this would be fine for a Jones offense, but the Mustangs will be inconsistent via the passing game, and a big part of it will be due to a shuffling offensive line.
11/8 – at Tulsa: WIN
I’m not going to completely discount Tulsa here, but there’s nothing there to make me believe that it can score enough points to actually win in this matchup.
11/15 – vs. South Florida: WIN
South Florida will slowly but surely make some progress, but it’s going to take more than a year and a half to get to the same level as an above-average program like SMU.
11/22 – at Central Florida: LOSS
Interceptions won’t be scarce in this game, and they’ll be one-sided. UCF’s fast and hard-hitting defense will cause plenty of problems for whoever is under center, forcing lots of out-of-pocket decision-making.
11/28 – vs. Houston: LOSS
When Gilbert went down with injury, we got a small sample of how SMU will look in 2014. Part of that sample was when the Mustangs fell to Houston, 34-0.
12/6 – at Connecticut: LOSS
There’s a 20-degree difference in average temperatures for the month of December between Dallas and Hartford, the latter containing much more precipitation in the form of snow. UConn, familiar with playing in this environment, will take advantage of an SMU offense that is used to throwing the ball around in pass-friendly climates.
2014 SMU Projected Record: 4-8 (3-5)
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