2010 SMU Preview
SMU QB Kyle Padron
SMU QB Kyle Padron
Posted May 31, 2010

CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - SMU Mustangs

SMU Mustangs

Preview 2010

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By Pete Fiutak

Head coach: June Jones
2nd year: 9-16
Returning Lettermen
Off. 22, Def. 18, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 13
Ten Best SMU Players
1. WR Aldrick Robinson, Sr.
2. DE Taylor Thompson, Jr.
3. LT Kelvin Beachum, Jr.
4. LB Pete Fleps, Sr.
5. FS Chris Banjo, Jr.
6. QB Kyle Padron, Soph.
7. LB Youri Yenga, Sr.
8. DE Marquis Frazier, Jr.
9. RT J.T. Brooks, Jr.
10. CB Sterling Moore, Sr.
2010 Schedule

Sept. 5 at Texas Tech
Sept. 11 UAB
Sept. 18 Washington St
Sept. 24 TCU
Oct. 2 at Rice
Oct. 9 Tulsa
Oct. 16 at Navy
Oct. 23 Houston
Oct. 30 Tulane
Nov. 6 at UTEP
Nov. 20 Marshall
Nov. 26 at East Carolina

And that's why you open up the bank account to lure June Jones away from Hawaii.

Two years. That's all it took for Jones to completely transform a program that had been mired in misery for more than two decades. After winning just a single game in 2008, SMU authored the nation's most impressive turnaround, capping an unthinkable 8-5 season with a Hawaii Bowl rout of Nevada, the school's first postseason appearance since 1984. After stunning the nation, what will the Mustangs do for an encore?

Jones has SMU right where he wants it. The run and shoot is fully installed, with Kyle Padron set to become the coach's next in a long line of gunslingers. The bad apples are long gone. And the culture of losing is a distant, bad memory. The blueprint has been followed without a hitch, creating a buzz around a campus that's been quiet for way too long. Of greatest importance, as the momentum continues to build, it's going to have a profound impact on the quality of players that want to play on the Hilltop.

There's no doubt that future is eye-squinting bright at SMU, but how about the present? In other words, can the Mustangs move up another rung by competing for a Conference USA championship this soon? The offense will be fine, provided Padron builds on his debut and does his part to turn WR Aldrick Robinson into a borderline All-American. The defense, on the other hand, will continue to be an odd marriage of big plays and, well, big plays for the other guys. Oh, Tom Mason has done a fantastic job with this side of the ball, but nose tackle and the secondary are pressing issues that could take all year to solve.

As long as Jones stays in Dallas, the Ponies are going to win championships. The only uncertainty is whether or not the trophy case adds new hardware as early as this year.

What to watch for on offense: The evolution of Padron at quarterback. You can talk all you want about other needs, but if the passing game sneezes, the entire program catches a cold. While the sophomore was fantastic toward the end of his first season on campus, he still has just seven games of experience and no Emmanuel Sanders at his disposal on the outside. Amid all of the optimism and excitement concerning his coronation, the staff still wants to be sure that he takes the next step forward by getting a better grasp on the system and sharpening his reads and progressions.

What to watch for on defense: The young linebackers. Those close to Conference USA know Pete Fleps and Youri Yenga, the Mustangs' steady veterans at Buck and strongside, respectively. In all likelihood, they don't know second-year sophomores Taylor Reed or Ja'Gared Davis, but that's about to change. Reed brings a great motor and keen instincts to the middle. Davis has the most natural athletic ability and closing speed of any player at the position. After playing well as rookies, both are set to explode into playmakers for the defense.

This team will be far better if … the offense becomes more efficient when it matters most. Yes, the run and shoot took a step in the right direction in 2009, but too often, it was shooting itself in the foot. For all the passing yards SMU gobbled up, it didn't always equal points on the board. The Mustangs were a paltry 112th nationally in third down conversions, a trend that has to be reversed if the program is going to keep the defense on the sidelines and survive the inevitable shootouts.

The Schedule: It's not all that bad with a nice three-game September homestand after starting out the year at Texas Tech, and getting Houston at home could be the West game of the year. However, three of the last four games are on the road including the one bad break, going to East Carolina from the East. The other interdivisional battles are against UAB and Marshall, and both are at home. In all, there are only three games Navy, Tulane, and East Carolina) played outside of the Texas borders.

Best Offensive Player: Senior WR Aldrick Robinson. In just a little over two seasons, Robinson has caught 116 passes for 2,013 yards and 16 touchdowns, while sharing the field with Emmanuel Sanders. Now that he's the lone feature guy in a pass-happy attack, there's no telling what he might do in 2010. An explosive playmaker, who gets off the line in a flash and has the hops to play much bigger than his size, he's often way too athletic for Conference USA defensive backs to contain.

Best Defensive Player: Junior DE Taylor Thompson. Thompson is the uncommon Mustang lineman, who's big enough to play on the inside and quick enough to get to the passer from the outside. At 6-6 and 276 pounds, he's halfway to a shot at the NFL, making 40 tackles, six tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, four pass breakups, and six hurries in 2009. If he continues to fine-tune his pass-rushing technique, he could be headed to a prominent spot on the all-conference team.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore WR Darius Johnson. Despite the fact that three of last year's top four receivers are back, the loss of Sanders cannot be underestimated. He gave the Mustangs a second incendiary option in the aerial attack, which made it doubly difficult to put a blanket over these guys. Just a sophomore, Johnson isn't at that point yet, but the potential is in place for him to eventually get there. If he's as good as advertised, it'll open things up for Aldrick Robinson and the rest of the offense.

The season will be a success if ... SMU returns to the postseason for a second straight year. Of course the Mustangs have bigger goals on the radar, but it's way too soon to make a Conference USA or even a West Division title the new measuring stick. No, the program simply wants to continue building a head of steam and national recognition by making bowl eligibility the new normal on the Hilltop.

Key game: Oct. 23 vs. Houston. The Cougars are the heavy favorite to win the West and possibly a Conference USA title. The Mustangs will be looking to alter expectations and grab divisional control with an upset at Ford Stadium ... on homecoming. After getting spanked on the road last October, this has the ingredients of being the biggest regular victory for SMU in a generation.

2009 Fun Stats:
- Total offense: SMU 5,093 – Opponents 5,162
- Third down percentage: SMU 31% – Opponents 42%
- Second quarter scoring: SMU 124 - Opponents 66

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