The Mustangs look to change the fortunes of the defense this year with incoming Defensive Coordinator Tom Mason. The Mustangs will use a 4-3 defensive scheme, playing fast, aggressive defense (see DCTF). The Mustangs return 5 starters at defensive line and linebacker after struggling last season giving up 197 rushing yards per game and 5 yards per rush. The new look front seven includes relocating Justin Smart from DE to MLB. Smart has begun the process of calling the plays and becoming a defensive leader (see DCTF). Also returning up front for the Mustangs is Sr. NG Serge Elizee (Miami, FL), So. DE Youri Yenga (Euless, TX), Sr. LB Will Bonilla (Corpus Christi, TX) and Jr. DT Chris Parham (Fort Worth, TX).
The two returning starters in the secondary for SMU is So. FS Tyler Jones and Jr. CB Bryan McCann. The Mustangs would love to have back Sr. FS David Haynes who recorded 53 tackles in 7 games before going down with a knee injury. One player that Mustangs might not have back is Jr. SS Bryce Hudman who was suspended in the Spring at the same time as QB Justin Willis. Hudman is still not listed on the roster at SMUMustangs.com. As for McCann, he played both corner and safety for the Mustangs, but seems to be set for CB this fall.
The Mustangs gave up 301 passing yards per game and an average of 39.8 points per game, and they will look to improve on those numbers with turnovers being a key as SMU had a -9 Turnover ratio. The Mustangs had only 12 INT’s last year, with only half of those by returning players. Nevertheless, with the retrun of Bonilla, McCann and Haynes, the Mustangs return 3 of their top 5 tacklers for the 2008 football season. In deed, with the return of 7 starters, the Mustangs have the core in place to develop into a better defense.
Special Teams is not an area of concern at SMU. The reason is Thomas Morstead. Morstead handles the Kicking and Punting duties and he is one of the best. Morstead was First Team Conference USA in 2007 and is a legitimate candidate for the Ray Guy Award which is given to the best punter in the country. Morstead had a 44.6 yard average per punt and hit 3 of 4 FG’s from 50 yards or longer. The Mustangs return all of their returners including McCann, Jessie Henderson, and Emmanuel Sanders. If Aldrick Robinson gets added to the mix, returns might become real interesting at SMU.