SMU prepares for 2012 season
Published: Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
SMU’s last season in Conference USA is one filled with high expectations for a conference championship as First Team All-Conference USA running back Zach Line returns for his senior season. The talented and experienced front seven on defense poised to improve on a good 2011 season.
The transfer of former University of Texas quarterback and five-star recruit Garrett Gilbert has also given the Mustangs’ passing game new life after an inconsistent 2011 season.
Gilbert has looked good in fall camp so far and has showed off his great arm strength.
Gilbert will not have a problem finding playmakers to get the ball to with senior star receiver Darius Johnson returning.
Johnson is electric from the slot and is on the Biletnikoff Award Watch list for the nation’s top wide receiver after an impressive 2011 campaign.
A star in the making could be the hero of the 2011 TCU game, junior slot receiver Jeremy Johnson.
The one question mark for the offense is the offensive line, which lost all five starters to graduation.
The line has looked somewhat suspect thus far in camp, but leading the line is sixth-year senior Blake McJunkin, who has plenty of experience to bringing the line together.
If the offensive line can keep Gilbert upright and open running lanes for Line, the offense has a chance to be dangerous in 2012.
The SMU defense features one of the top linebacking corps in all of college football with seniors Ja’Gared Davis and Taylor Reed, who are as athletic of linebackers as you will find.
The emergence of sophomore Stephon Sanders and the veteran Cameron Rodgers gives Mustangs fans hope that the defense will force more turnovers this year after a dismal 16-turnover margin.
The linebackers making plays in defensive coordinator Tom Mason’s 3-4 defense is key for the success of the defense.
Senior defensive end Margus Hunt returns to anchor the defensive line and is a freak athlete, who has come off the bench for three years.
Hunt will now look to make huge plays for the Mustangs after his breakout game in the BBVA Compass Bowl against Pittsburgh when he had three sacks.
Senior nose tackle Torlan Pittman returns as well after his first season as a starter in the middle.
The other defensive end spot will be manned by senior Kevin Grenier, who is also experienced and has been another steady player for the Mustangs coming off the bench.
The secondary is the defense’s biggest question mark and will be looked to for creating turnovers even when they are left in man coverages with Mason’s blitzing style. Senior Ryan Smith returns to anchor the safety position and fill the leadership gap left by Chris Banjo.
The Mustangs will head to Waco Sept. 2 to face the Baylor Bears in the season opener at Floyd Casey Stadium.