SMU 2006 Preview - Further Analysis
SMU Mustangs
Posted Aug 7, 2006

SMU Mustangs Preview 2006 - SMU Further Analysis

1st and Ten – Cheer, Cheer for ‘ol Phil Bennett – After the hockey lockout ended, ESPN radio host Erik Kuselias went on a crusade of sorts to ‘adopt’ a hockey team.  After long consideration, he settled on the Anaheim Mighty Ducks for a combination of reasons.  Well, if you find yourself wanting to go on a similar trek for a college football team/coach to latch onto, take a look at Phil Bennett and his SMU Mustangs, a Cinderella story if there ever was one.  Bennett’s tenure at SMU hadn’t been fruitful, as it pertained to W’s in his first three years as head coach, but his hard work laid the foundation for the 2005 season, when the Mustangs registered the most wins the program’s had in eight seasons.  But, it’s the way that Bennett has done it, fighting through adversity that would’ve taken down an ordinary man, along the way.  The SMU head man has been raising his two kids on his own (he lost his wife to a freak lightning accident when he was at Kansas State), all the while shaping the Mustang program the way that he felt would make SMU alums proud.  He fostered relationships with as many high school coaches that he could, from the head man at a power like Southlake Carroll to the assistant coach of the freshmen “B” team at a school in west Texas.  He’s gained the trust of those men throughout his time in Dallas, and it’s starting to pay huge dividends.  You don’t get attitude or arrogance with Bennett – you get humility, heart and courage.  And, that’s how his team plays.  Now that the talent level is rising to match the technique and discipline that Bennett has worked to instill, the Mustangs have become extremely dangerous in CUSA.  The Ponies haven’t been to a bowl game since before the, uh, the, well, the (whisper) death penalty, but it may happen soon with Bennett in town.  And, it couldn’t happen to a better coach, and an even better man.  When you ‘adopt’ him, he’ll make you proud. 

2nd and Seven – Settled on a QB? Uh, nope – After so much upheaval at the quarterback position since the departure of David Page in 2001, the Mustangs finally found a relatively consistent role player in Jerad Romo.  He wasn’t fabulous, but he won games, unlike his predecessors.  The former, yes former, so you know where this is going, former Mustang QB helped lead SMU to five wins, including an upset over TCU, who finished the season with only one loss.  But, Romo’s departure leaves the position wide open to interpretation, and a potential step backwards, which isn’t saying much considering how little the offense produced last season.  Justin Willis, Eric Johnson and Corey Slater haven’t played one down at the QB position and Chris Phillips hasn’t been healthy enough to play more downs, so he could change positions.  Willis has a tenuous hold on the position and came to SMU with some serious hype, but putting it on the field is a different story altogether. 

3rd and Three – Not your every day Joe – For as much that has changed with the SMU secondary, the one constant is safety Joe Sturdivant.  The second team All-CUSA honoree led the Mustangs with 112 tackles and is all over the field.  All the time.  It might be cliché, in a sense, when talking about Sturdivant, but he’s a football player - tough, gritty, watches film incessantly, the proverbial coach on the field.  Bennett prides himself on having a strong defense, and with Sturdivant in the lineup, he can feel good about the product he’s putting on the field.

4th and One – DeMyron is DeRunning – SMU has had its share of good running backs, wouldn’t you say?  Well, it shouldn’t surprise you that they’ve got another one who’s on his way to being an All-CUSA star very soon.  DeMyron Martin got everyone’s attention last season with four hundred yard games that led to freshman All-American honors.  With a year under his belt and some talented youngsters behind him, don’t be surprised to see Martin used in different ways this year.  Martin is a good blend of power, speed and vision and can pick ‘em up and lay ‘em down in the open field.  Dickerson and James he may not be just yet, but Reggie Dupard better look out.

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