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Mission Planning: SMU Mustangs

The Mustangs are looking for their first win of the season as Navy looks to go 2-0 in the AAC

SMU v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Mustangs of SMU are 0-3 to start the season, but don’t let yourself believe they will be a pushover this Saturday at Gerald R. Ford Stadium in Dallas, Texas. Let’s take a look at how their season has played out so far:

North Texas v SMU Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

A Week 1 loss at North Texas 46-23

At first you shake your head and say “North Texas? Seriously?” Then you feel bad about it after you realize that same Mean Green whooped up on SEC opponent Arkansas 44-17 at Razorback stadium this past weekend. That week 1 loss looks significantly less bad once you put into perspective how much North Texas has steadily progressed over the last four years.

TCU v SMU Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

A Week 2 loss at home to #16 TCU 42-12

Nothing much to see here, TCU is going to have a great season. But this is obviously not how you want your home opener to go.

SMU v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

A Week 3 loss at #19 Michigan 45-20

Michigan probably isn’t making a run at a national championship, but they’re still the Wolverines; and playing at The Big House in front of 110,000 hostile fans is tough for anyone. The Mustangs actually had their best overall performance of the season and gave themselves a lot of positive things to build on as they enter conference play this weekend.

Now that we know how the season has gone for the Mustangs so far, lets get some deeper analysis going.

New Head Coach, Same SMU Style of Play

Head Coach Sonny Dykes is 0-4, including a bowl game last year, as the headman in SMU. Dykes has demonstrated he knows how to be successful both at Louisiana Tech and Cal, and there is almost always a learning curve for both coaches and players when a new staff comes on. I wouldn’t be too worried about the start for the new guy, they have played some very stiff competition up front, and a bowl season appearance isn’t out of the question yet.

Depth at Wideout and an Ability to Sustain a High Tempo Offense

Navy is basically Slotback-U and known for its history of keeping a deep stable of slots at all times. Southern Methodist University does the same thing with their wideouts, which appears to be the case again the season. With their extremely fast pace of play and great depth, this offense can keep their foot on the gas and try to wear down the Navy defense.

A Defense that’s Aggressive to a Fault

SMU’s Defense was absolutely torched through the air by North Texas. The defense didn’t fair much better the next two matchups, but TCU and Michigan tore up the Mustangs with a balanced attack. SMU plays a very aggressive style, which is very boom or bust. It’s mostly bust so far this season as they have allowed at least 40 points in each contest. There haven’t been many bright spots with the D.

Players to Watch

SMU is packing a one-two punch in running back duo Braeden West and Xavier Jones—West is also an effective pass catcher.

James Proche is the team’s leading receiver, averaging more than 15 yards per carry; he also has 3 touchdowns.

Rodney Clemons is the team’s leading tackler with 23 on the season.

William Brown is an unknown quantity as a true freshman. He has been on the bench until the second half of the Michigan game last weekend, in which he looked incredibly dynamic. As of Thursday afternoon we still don’t know who the starting QB is going to be this weekend, but based on how the offense stagnated with Ben Hicks, my money is on Brown getting the nod. At the very least Hicks is on an extremely short leash.