2011 SMU Preview – Offense
SMU WR Darius Johnson
SMU WR Darius Johnson
Posted Jun 17, 2011

CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Preview - SMU Mustang Offense

SMU Mustangs

Preview 2011 - Offense

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What You Need To Know: The run-and-shoot will continue to be SMU's preferred mode of transportation, though the program is hoping to operate it more efficiently this fall. The 2010 squad had no problem moving the ball, but putting up points on a consistent basis was another story. The Mustangs were 33rd nationally in total offense, but just 74th in scoring, a divide that could be explained by turnovers. The offense had way too many of them. Hope for a revival, however, comes from the return of all but one starter. SMU retains the services of prolific QB Kyle Padron, league-leading rusher Zach Line, and all of its linemen. If the attack can simply fine-tune some of the details and iron out a few wrinkles, it has the firepower and experience to finally reach head coach and architect June Jones' expectations.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Kyle Padron
302-508, 3,828 yds, 31 TDs, 14 INTs
Rushing: Zach Line
244 carries, 1,494 yds, 10 TDs
Receiving: Cole Beasley
87 catches, 1,060 yds, 6 TDs

Star of the offense: Junior RB Zach Line
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior WR Darius Johnson
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Keenan Holman
Best pro prospect: Senior LT Kelvin Beachum
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Beachum, 2) Line, 3) Junior QB Kyle Padron
Strength of the offense: The passing game, balance, veteran offensive line, third down conversions, converting in the red zone
Weakness of the offense: Pass protection, turnovers


State of the Unit: Experience doesn't figure to be a problem for the Mustang quarterbacks, all of whom are back for another season. That's particularly important in this offense, a complex June Jones run-and-shoot system that requires plenty of reps and studying. The more time the SMU passers get to spend in Jones' classroom, the better off everyone will be.

It's not as if 6-4, 233-pound junior Kyle Padron had an off year in 2010. Heck, he set all kinds of SMU passing records, going 302-of-508 for 3,828 yds, 31 TDs, and 14 INTs. He also ran for 244 yards and four scores. However, he failed to show the progression many expected when he ended 2009 by shredding Nevada in the Hawaii Bowl. He wasn't quite as accurate, lacked the same swagger, and missed too many opportunities on deep balls. Rather than a sophomore slump, he reached a plateau, something the coach hopes to correct in 2011.

Senior J.J. McDermott is back to reprise his role as the backup to Padron. A former Hal Mumme recruit at New Mexico State, the 6-4, 227-pound has a good feel for his role in this offense. He played briefly in 2010, moving into the huddle for a couple of series in the Tulane game. Redshirt freshman Stephen Kaiser is being groomed as the eventual successor to Padron behind center. A 6-3, 217-pounder, he throws an accurate ball and was considered one of the steals of the 2010 class.

Watch Out For … Padron to make better decisions in 2011. In this system, it's all about the number of snaps you take and the amount of time you spend in the film room. The junior figures to get better with age, improving his reads and his timing, all of which will make him a more efficient passer.
Strength: Padron. Sure, he was sporadic in 2010, but he also accounted for more than 4,000 total yards and 35 touchdowns. He's also been a starter since midway through the 2009 season, flattening the learning curve and fully digesting the playbook. He's also light on his feet, rushing for positive yards in all but two games during the year.
Weakness: Consistency. It ought to come as early as this September, but Padron was a little erratic with his throws a year ago. Even worse, his play declined as the season unfolded, throwing 12 touchdown passes and eight picks over the second half of the year. The staff expects more production and fewer mistakes from its quarterbacks than Padron showed down the stretch.
Outlook: At first glance, Padron was fine last fall, putting up highly respectable numbers, especially for a first-time starter. However, those closest to the situation realize he failed to elevate his level of play in 2010. The coaching staff is hoping to see a little more of the player who looked like a budding superstar in the Hawaii Bowl 18 months ago.
Unit Rating: 7

Running Backs

State of the Unit: A league-leading rusher is one of the last things you'd expect to see out of SMU, but that's exactly what the program produced a year ago. The dirty little secret on the Hilltop is that the Mustangs will tap into their inner-Pony Express on occasion, exploiting the wide lanes of opposing defenses. With so much focus going to the passing attack, they've been sneaky-good on the ground, averaging 4.8 yards a carry in 2010.

Little about 6-1, 230-pound junior Zach Line makes sense. A recruit from Oxford, Mich., he looks as if he should be playing fullback for a Big Ten team or leading Wisconsin on the ground. Nope, he's a Mustang, a modern-day Craig James, using his thick frame and good balance to power through opposing tacklers. A revelation in his debut as a starter, he ran for 1,494 yards, second only to Eric Dickerson in school history, and 10 scores on 244 carries. He also caught 17 passes for 163 yards, showing just enough giddy-up to beat defenders to the first down marker.

Line will be backed up by 6-2, 215-pound sophomore Darryl Fields , one of the school's top recruits from the 2010 class. A Big 12-type talent playing in Conference USA, he earned his first letter as a rookie, and has the size-speed blend to be a feature back down the road.

Watch Out For … more of the same. Line is the perfect complement to the finesse, precision passing game. On draws and inside handoffs, he's virtually unstoppable as the change-of-pace as the other team tries to contain Kyle Padron as his cadre of wide receivers.
Strength: Power backs. Line is a 230-pounder who gets through the hole quickly and is especially tough to bring down when he gets a head of steam. Fields is a tough inside runner as well, giving the Mustangs a pair of backs who can wear down defenses and extend drives in short yardage.
Weakness: A game-breaker. No disrespect to Line, but he isn't going to frighten anyone with his wheels. A bruiser, he can be caught from behind and strung out to the sidelines. The Mustangs don't have that homerun hitter out of the backfield, who can get around tackle and really do damage on dump-offs in the passing game.
Outlook: What looked to be a weakness at this time last year has suddenly blossomed into a program strength. Line has already proven that he's feature back material, giving SMU the muscle and power it had previously been lacking. A safe bet for another 1,000-yard season, if opponents try to take him out of the game, Padron will eat them up through the air.
Unit Rating: 7


State of the Unit: Three years have afforded June Jones the time he's needed to build up the talent level and depth at wide receiver. In an offense that goes four-wide and clearly favors the pass, this has become a desired destination for some of the area's better high school pass-catchers. While explosive Aldrick Robinson has graduated, leaving a void on the outside, the Mustangs bring back last season's two most productive wideouts, and are ready to take the wraps off some gifted underclassmen.

Following in the footsteps of Robinson and Emmanuel Sanders, 5-10, 175-pound junior Darius Johnson is prepared to become the next star receiver for the Mustangs. The starter at "H", he possesses the speed and elusiveness to blow up into one of Conference USA's better playmakers. In his first season in the lineup, he caught 78 passes for 845 yards and six touchdowns in a precursor of things to come.

QB Kyle Padron will spend a lot of time this season searching for 5-9, 180-pound senior Cole Beasley , the team's best option out of the slot. A former dual-threat high school quarterback, he's flourished as a receiver, catching a team-high 87 passes for 1,060 yards and six touchdowns. While not particularly flashy, he knows how to find the soft spots in a defense and has the sticky hands needed to earn the confidence of the quarterbacks.

Rounding out the starting lineup at "X" and "Z" receiver, respectively, are 5-10, 180-pound senior Terrance Wilkerson and 6-1, 188-pound sophomore Keenan Holman . A converted quarterback, Wilkerson has made a smooth transition to the new position. A welcome return after sitting out all of 2010, he caught 42 passes for 527 yards and four touchdowns as a sure-handed starter a year earlier. Holman whet the appetite of the locals in his first year out of high school, starting three games and making nine grabs for 102 yards and a touchdown. He has the size and the speed to make a quantum leap this year. The most experienced of the reserves is 6-3, 237-pound senior Bradley Haynes , the super-sized complement to Beasley in the slot. A three-time letterwinner, with 18 career starts, he caught 35 balls for 326 yards and three scores a year ago.

Watch Out For … Johnson to blossom into the big-play threat that the offense is after. Now that Robinson is a Washington Redskin, the Mustangs are after a wide receiver that can stretch the defense and pick up yards after the catch. No. 3 has given hints that he can be that guy for the quarterbacks.
Strength: Veteran experience. It's taken a while, but with proper recruiting and a few timely position changes, SMU can now boast a receiving corps with a ton of reps. All four of the projected starters and Haynes off the bench have starts on the resume, meaning comfort level in the system is no longer a problem.
Weakness: Inconsistency. Yeah, the receivers have come a long way in Dallas, but they still drop too many passes and need to keep improving on their route-running. Despite the presence of so many upperclassmen, it can still be a raw group that needs to run tighter routes and put a helmet on someone on running plays.
Outlook: The Mustangs have quality depth and a good mix of seasoned vets and budding sophomores. What the passing game needs is a bona fide to complement the reliability of Beasley on the short and intermediate stuff. Johnson has the skills to be that guy. If he can become the new Robinson, the corps should be every bit as good as it was in 2010.
Unit Rating: 6.5

Offensive Line

State of the Unit: Building for years to get to this point, the coaching staff is hoping to unveil one of Conference USA's premier front walls. The Mustangs have patiently leaned on youth since the new staff arrived in 2009, which ought to really begin paying dividends this fall. SMU started five juniors in 2010, all of whom are back on an offensive line that's flush with returning lettermen and all-star candidates.

Back for one final year at left tackle is two-time all-star Kelvin Beachum , a 6-3, 306-pound anchor up front. One of the more underrated pass protectors in the country, he has the balance, feet, and technique to make it at the next level, even if his size forces him to play guard. He gets out of his stance quickly, uses his hands well, and seals the edge like a sentry. What doesn't show up on film is that he's also one of the program's respected leaders.

On the opposite side, at right tackle, 6-5, 330-pound senior J.T. Brooks is set to begin his third season as a starter. More of a road-grader than Beachum, he can overpowers defenders with his size, earning All-Conference USA honorable mention in 2010. For now, the top backup tackle at both positions is 6-5, 275-pound sophomore Ben Gottschalk , who appeared in 10 games and lettered in his first year out of high school. A coveted and athletic recruit, he'll likely be starting in 2012.

The heart-and-soul leader on the inside is 6-2, 290-pound senior Blake Chunking , who has 25 career starts on his resume. He plays with poise and makes clean snaps, setting the tone for the rest of the group. He'll be flanked to the left and right, respectively, by 6-2, 305-pound senior Josh Lories and 6-3, 301-pound senior Kelly Turner . Lories returns after sitting out last season, a trimmed-down version of the lineman who started all 13 games and was named honorable mention All-Conference USA in 2009. Turner was a steady addition to the lineup last fall, showing good strength at the point of attack and the ability to hold blocks on running plays. Versatile senior Bryce Tennyson is like having another regular coming off the bench. The 6-3, 290-pounder has 32 career starts, and can play either guard or center. Depth at guard will also come from 6-3, 302-pound junior Bryan Collins , who has earned starts in each of the last two years, including last year's final three games.

Watch Out For … the return of Lories. Forced to sit out last season, he used the time to drop a substantial amount of weight. After ballooning to as high as 370 pounds, he was close to 300 in the spring, moving well and looking eager to surpass his 2009 form.
Strength: Veteran depth. This offensive line is built for right now, a seasoned group boasting five seniors atop the depth chart and vets on the B team. Unlike a couple of years ago, they now know the blocking schemes and how this system operates.
Weakness: Pass protection. Sure, part of the problem stems from the sheer volume of throws the Mustangs make, but 34 sacks are still too many for this unit. Kyle Padron will benefit from an extra second to find receivers and from not having to make so many attempts with a man in his face.
Outlook: Very quietly, SMU might be home to the top front wall in Conference USA. An underrated component of the offense's success, the line has experience, talent, and the desired amount of depth. With Beachum leading the charge, the Mustangs could put three or four players on the all-league squad.
Unit Rating: 6.5

- 2011 SMU Preview | 2011 SMU Offense
- 2011 SMU Defense | 2011 SMU Depth Chart
- SMU Previews  2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006