2009 CFN SMU Preview
SMU QB Bo Levi Mitchell
SMU QB Bo Levi Mitchell
Posted Jul 16, 2009

CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - SMU Mustangs

SMU Mustangs

Preview 2009

By Richard Cirminiello

- 2009 CFN SMU Preview | 2009 SMU Offense
- 2009 SMU Defense | 2009 SMU Depth Chart
2008 SMU Preview | 2007 SMU Preview
| 2006 SMU Preview

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Head coach: June Jones
2md year: 1-11
11th year overall: 77-52
Returning Lettermen
Off. 23, Def. 27, ST 1
Lettermen Lost: 22
Ten Best SMU Players
1. WR Emmanuel Sanders, Sr.
2. WR Aldrick Robinson, Jr.
3. LB Youri Yenga, Jr.
4. QB Bo Levi Mitchell, Soph.
5. LB Pete Fleps, Jr.
6. C Mitch Enright, Sr.
7. CB Bryan McCann, Sr.
8. LT Kelvin Beachum, Soph.
9. WR Cole Beasley, Soph.
10. DE Taylor Thompson, Soph.

2009 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 3-9

2009 Record:

9/5 Stephen F. Austin
9/12 at UAB
9/19 at Washington St
10/3 at TCU
10/10 East Carolina
10/17 Navy
10/24 at Houston
10/31 at Tulsa
11/7 Rice
11/14 UTEP
11/21 at Marshall
11/28 Tulane

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

2008 Record:

8/29 at Rice L 56-27
9/6 Texas State W 47-36
9/13 at Texas Tech L 43-7
9/20 TCU L 48-7
9/27 at Tulane L 34-27
10/4 at UCF L 31-17
10/11 Tulsa L 37-31
10/18 Houston L 44-38
10/25 at Navy L 34-7
11/8 Memphis L 31-26
11/15 at UTEP L 36-10
11/29 Southern Miss L 28-12

Did you really expect a miracle in June Jones’ first season on the Hilltop?

The coach may indeed prove to be a miracle worker, but this is a process that’s going to take time. Jones had to break things down before building them back up again. From the moment he chose true freshman Bo Levi Mitchell to be his quarterback over veteran Justin Willis, you just knew 2008 would be used as a 12-game seminar. The players were asked to learn new systems and terminology. The staff got a better idea of what it inherited. And the community got its first glimpse of the future. Rather than wins and losses, success was measured in ways that were best gauged by watching film and talking to the coaches. Sure, 4-8 would’ve looked much better than 1-11, but most of all, Jones and his assistants wanted to know that the kids were adopting their preachings on and off the field. Those not toeing the line would suffer the consequences in the form of suspensions, dismissals, and reduced playing time.

Now that the storm of 2008 has passed, SMU and its fans are approaching the 2009 season with eager curiosity, wondering what the second chapter will reveal. After using so many underclassmen and first-year players last fall, the hope is that the Mustangs will be in a better position to compete and snap the trend of back-to-back one-win campaigns. Fans of the program know something about patience, which will need to be exercised a little longer before Jones’ presence really begins to pay tangible dividends.

What to watch for on offense: A better-oiled machine. No, this is not a finished product, but after breaking in a true freshman quarterback and installing a completely new system, a quantum leap is expected on offense. The Mustangs took a while to get going in the run-and-shoot last year, but gradually showed signs of knowing where they belonged on the field. With all of the skill position players back and a long offseason to digest the system, this attack will look more like a June Jones production than a year ago.

What to watch for on defense: The adoption of the 3-4 defense. Considering the program’s strength at linebacker and problems up front, the shift makes a lot of sense. Hey, the Mustangs are still going to get bullied on running downs, but at least they’ll be fielding a more athletic unit that can track down opponents and make more plays behind the line of scrimmage. While SMU is going to give up points and yards, if it can create more turnovers and get to the quarterback, the situation won’t seem so dire.

This team will be far better if … it grows up. Beyond the obvious need to execute better on both sides of the ball, the Mustangs have to mature as a program, especially in close games. They went toe-to-toe with more talented squads, like Tulsa and Houston, yet faded down the stretch. Turning the corner will require changing the culture of losing that permeates through the school, and learning how to win games in the final 15 minutes.
The Schedule: For anyone else, the first month of the season would be a walk in the park playing Stephen F. Austin, at UAB, and at Washington State, but things gets really nasty in a big hurry. The Mustangs have to go on the road to play TCU from the Mountain West and go away for back-to-back road games against Houston and Tulsa. There are winnable home games against Tulane, Rice, and UTEP, and the Mustangs have to win all three. One of the big problems is the lack of a week off after September 26th.

Best Offensive Player: Senior WR Emmanuel Sanders. This is a complete toss-up with junior WR Aldrick Robinson, who also has an argument for this spot. Sanders rates a slight edge because he’s the more polished overall receiver, and will be moonlighting in the secondary this season. One of the best pass-catchers to ever play for the program, he enters his final season with 187 receptions for 2,452 yards and 27 touchdowns. He’s a gamebreaker with a future on Sundays. 

Best Defensive Player: Junior LB Youri Yenga. After quietly having a great year at defensive end, Yenga is being moved back a level, where his speed is less likely to be halted by a 290-pound tackle. As a sophomore, he flashed outstanding pass-rushing skills, making 73 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, and 6.5 sacks. He’ll still be blazing paths to the quarterback in 2009, but instead of having a hand in the dirt, he’ll be a stand-up outside linebacker, blitzing on a regular basis.    

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore QB Bo Levi Mitchell. This is a June Jones team, so naturally, success is tied closely to the play of the quarterback. Mitchell endured a baptism under fire as a rookie, making a ton of mistakes, but learning just as many lessons. If he can make a quantum leap from 2008 and make the most of a talented receiving corps, the rest of the team is likely to follow his lead.

The season will be a success if
... SMU turns a few of last year’s close calls into wins. The Mustangs nearly upset Tulane, Tulsa, Houston, and Memphis, losing all four by a touchdown or less. If they’re truly moving down the right path, a couple of those close calls will wind up in the win column. The program is a year away from even thinking about the postseason, but after winning one game in each of the last two seasons, a 3-9 mark will qualify as a success.

Key game: Sept. 12 at UAB. The opener with Stephen F. Austin won’t uncover much about the Mustangs offseason progress. The trip to Birmingham, however, will. SMU has been especially abysmal on the road, losing 15 in-a-row dating back to the middle of 2006. Heck, the program has also lost 17 straight league games, so a win here would end two ugly streaks, while providing an injection of momentum.

2009 Fun Stats:
- Rushing yards: Opponents 2,707 - SMU 497
- Rushing TDs: Opponents 24 - SMU 3
- Third down conversions: Opponents 98-of-175 (56%) - SMU 48-of-139 (35%)

- 2009 CFN SMU Preview | 2009 SMU Offense
- 2009 SMU Defense | 2009 SMU Depth Chart
2008 SMU Preview | 2007 SMU Preview
| 2006 SMU Preview


Related Stories
2009 SMU Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 16, 2009
2009 SMU Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 16, 2009
2009 SMU Preview – Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 16, 2009

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