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Sonny Dykes’ SMU should be an AAC contender by 2019

Bill C’s annual preview collection of each FBS staff in faculty soccer continues. Catch up right here!

In a contemporary episode of Podcast Ain’t Played Nobody, across the six-minute mark, my co-host Steven Godfrey laid out why SMU nailed it with its rent of former Louisiana Tech and Cal head trainer Sonny Dykes.

I feel they made an superb rent in the case of are compatible. Sonny Dykes was once a P5-quality who were given right into a scenario that — like, he made a nasty transfer in going to Cal and simply type of didn’t realize it.

I feel it really works in point of fact neatly for his connections in Texas, the offense he runs, the coaches he can draw in, and his skill to recruit. I feel for SMU it makes in point of fact, in point of fact excellent sense. And he additionally doesn’t have to move throughout the grittier a part of the rebuilding procedure as a result of his predecessor did all that.

I used to be to begin with proof against the phrase “amazing” there, however there’s no query that sure hires make highest sense from the viewpoint of are compatible.

If we neglected the final thing on Dykes’ résumé, this could really feel near to highest. Dykes is a Texas Tech product who landed a graduate assistant task for Kentucky head trainer Hal Mumme and offensive coordinator Mike Leach in 1997, turning into one of the vital first branches at the air raid tree. He adopted Leach again to Tech in 2000, then landed the Arizona offensive coordinator task in 2007 and the Louisiana Tech head training gig in 2018.

From there, he landed the Cal task, and that blurred issues. Cal is very tough — the varsity helps a ton of sports activities, soccer doesn’t essentially get the similar preferential remedy it does in Texas, instructional requirements are upper than for a few of Cal’s Pac-12 North competitors, and so on.

Dykes by no method did poorly in Berkeley. After razing this system with a 1-11 Year Zero season, he stepped forward to Five-7 in his 2d yr and Eight-Five in his 3rd. He misplaced big name quarterback and No. 1 select Jared Goff, his shaky protection grew to become terrible in 2018, and his ultimate Cal staff slipped again to Five-7 prior to he and the varsity gave the impression to settle for that the wedding wasn’t going to paintings. After spending a yr as a TCU analyst, he pounced on the very best opening.

SMU is immediately a tantalizing task and a heavy boulder to push up the hill. Since reinstating soccer after its late-1980s dying penalty, it has constructed and struggled to handle.

Phil Bennett went from Zero-12 in 2003 to 6-6 in 2006 after which 1-11 once more in 2007. June Jones took over and went 1-11 in his first season however broke via with an Eight-Five yr and Hawaii Bowl win in 2009. He proceeded to win both seven or 8 video games over the following 3 years however misplaced steam — the Mustangs fell from a height of 39th in S&P+ in 2018 to 61st in 2018 and 92nd in 2018. In 2018, it was once so glaring there was once not anything within the tank that Junes resigned after simply two video games. SMU would end 1-11 and rank 127th, forward of simplest EMU.

Chad Morris needed to get started over identical to Jones did. He did have an attractive, new stadium to promote and an offense that made numerous sense in Dallas, and after going 2-10 and score 103rd in 2018, his Mustangs stepped forward to Five-7 and 90th, then 7-6 and 67th.

Well, 7-Five, in truth. Morris took the Arkansas task, and Dykes was once on the town early sufficient to train the bowl recreation. It didn’t pass neatly, however no matter, it was once a bowl recreation.

Dykes should know what to do with the staff. Junior quarterback Ben Hicks threw for greater than Three,500 yards closing season, and a trio of returning operating backs mixed to hurry for almost 2,200 yards at the back of a line that continues to be most commonly intact. The protection hasn’t been excellent shortly, however, neatly, that’s now not an unfamiliar thought for Dykes.

Dykes with a seasoned unfold quarterback? Yeah, that’ll more than likely play.


Morris didn’t see the rebuild all of the option to finishing touch. He were given the Mustangs again to a bowl, however his protection by no means ranked upper than 91st in Def. S&P+. Last yr, it ranked 119th.

But the offensive rebuild was once certainly entire. SMU ranked 11th in Off. S&P+ in 2018, its perfect for the reason that 1981 Pony Express staff noticed Eric Dickerson and Craig James mix for two,575 dashing yards.

The steadiness was once immaculate. SMU ranked within the peak 30 in total good fortune price, IsoPPP (an explosiveness measure that appears on the magnitude of your a success performs), and issues consistent with scoring alternative. They produced potency throughout the air and large performs at the floor. They performed at a top-35 pace and compelled you to make solo tackles in area.

These are all issues Dykes and Lashlee are reasonably acquainted with. Lashlee is a Gus Malzahn protege who spent 2018 making an attempt to carry some semblance of unfold and pace to UConn, making improvements to the Huskies from 127th to 74th in Off. S&P+.

NCAA Football: Southern Methodist at Memphis

Ben Hicks
Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

One has to determine Dykes and Lashlee will like Hicks. The junior from Waco has two years ultimate however has already thrown for six,499 occupation yards and 52 touchdowns.

Granted, just about part of the ones yards went to Courtland Sutton and LSU switch Trey Quinn, who each declared for the NFL draft. Sutton and Quinn mixed to take in just about 60 % of SMU’s move goals closing yr, leaving James Proche as the one different receiver to hit 20 receptions. Proche is superior, thoughts you — he was once a cast ownership guy and No. 2 possibility at the back of Sutton in 2018, then transitioned right into a big-play position as closing yr’s No. Three and stuck 40 balls for 816 yards.

Junior Myron Gailliard has 14 occupation catches for 223 yards, junior Alex Honey has 3 for 70, and sophomores Tyler Page and Brandon Benson had one catch each and every closing fall. (Benson’s went for 72 yards and a landing.) They’ll all want to turn out they may be able to tackle better roles; that is going double for Honey and Benson, the one two contributors of this quintet indexed taller than 6’.

A Dykes offense spreads the ball round. In his closing yr at Cal, one man stuck 90-plus passes, 3 stuck between 40 and 50, and every other six stuck between 15 and 25. That more than likely method alternatives for TCU switch Armanii Glaspie, three-star redshirt freshman Judah Bell, and no less than one true freshman — in all probability high-three-star signee Treveon Johnson?

Maybe it’s the Malzahn affect, however Lashlee confirmed at UConn that he didn’t thoughts leaning at the run. It will be great having that card, if the receiving corps hasn’t gelled by the beginning of the yr. Xavier Jones, Ke’Mon Freeman, and Braeden West have been an superb mixture closing fall, serving to SMU rank 37th in dashing good fortune price and 21st in dashing IsoPPP. Jones and Freeman are formed like characteristic backs (round Five’10 and 205 kilos), whilst West mixed 73 rushes with 24 move goals and may just play a number of roles.

Jones went for 146 yards in a blowout of Arkansas State, and in back-to-back monitor meets towards Navy (a 43-40 loss) and Memphis (a 66-45 loss), he went for a mixed 38 carries and 281 yards. He mixes cast potency and cast explosiveness, whilst Freeman seems to be a tight short-yardage possibility.

They should have a robust, if undersized, line. SMU ranked 24th in Adj. Line Yards and 39th in Adj. Sack Rate closing fall, and whilst two starters are long past (middle Evan Brown and guard Will Hopkins), 5 gamers with no less than 5 occupation begins are again, together with two-year beginning left take on Chad Pursley. These 5 reasonable simplest 6’Five and 281 kilos, and just one returnee is indexed heavier than 288. But they opened some holes closing yr, so hello, dimension will have to now not be the whole lot.

NCAA Football: Houston at Southern Methodist

James Proche
Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports


The Mustangs in point of fact sought after to get competitive. They have been rattling close to reckless in dashing the passer (22nd in Adj. Sack Rate), and so they ranked 11th in energy good fortune price and a tight 32nd in line havoc price and 65th in stuff price (run stops at or at the back of the road).

They didn’t just about make sufficient performs to offset those they have been giving up, although. Despite the aggression, they ranked simply 104th in good fortune price, and the a success performs they allowed have been a few of the largest massive performs within the nation. They gave up 16.Nine good points consistent with recreation of 10-plus yards (120th in FBS) and three.2 consistent with recreation of 30-plus (124th). As excellent as Hicks could have been, opposing QBs produced a passer score 10 issues upper.

There’s numerous enlargement alternative for coordinator Kane, in different phrases.

The former Kansas linebacker is simplest in his mid-30s and already has a rebuild on his résumé: below his steering, the NIU protection stepped forward from 94th to 14th in Def. S&P+ closing yr. Compare this radar to the only above:

It would be unfair to think quick development — believe this a defensive Year Zero — however it would now not take him too lengthy. Part of SMU’s drawback in 2018 got here from early life; a few of the 22 defenders to make no less than 10 tackles closing yr have been 13 rookies and sophomores. Plus, some key anticipated senior participants like finish Dimarya Mixon and linebacker RC Cox each neglected part the season.

NCAA Football: Houston at Southern Methodist

Kyran Mitchell (11)
Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

There may just be as few as 3 or 4 seniors within the rotation this yr, so no matter good points Kane can generate should be sustainable into 2019. And there’s no less than a little little bit of big name energy right here. Linebacker Kyran Mitchell mixed 15.Five tackles for loss and four.Five sacks with 4 passes defensed, and protection Rodney Clemons and nook Jordan Wyatt mixed for Eight.Five TFLs and 23 PDs. Junior ends Delontae Scott and Tyeson Neals mixed for 14.Five TFLs and 7 sacks, as neatly.

Throw in Utah linebacker switch Gerrit Choate, three-star JUCO nook Robert Hayes, a batch of redshirt freshman ends, and possibly a freshman like take on Shabazz Dotson, take on Darren Brown, or protection Preston Ellison, and also you’ve were given some disruptive choices. But with a protection as dangerous as SMU’s was once closing yr, let’s now not think Kane figures issues out too briefly.

NCAA Football: Central Florida at Southern Methodist

Rodney Clemons
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Special Teams

SMU was once dangerous at kickoffs and mediocre at the whole lot else. Josh Williams was once respectable at place-kicking (10-for-11 below 40 yards, albeit with 5 neglected PATs) however bombed 5 kickoffs out of bounds prior to in part dropping that task to Kevin Robledo, who gave up a bigger kick go back reasonable however most commonly stayed within the traces.

Both are again, as is punter Jamie Sackville. There’s not anything inspiring about this unit, but it surely more than likely gained’t be horrible.

2018 outlook

2018 Schedule & Projection Factors

DateOpponentProj. S&P+ RkProj. MarginWin Probability
1-Sep at North Texas 86 Zero.2 50%
7-Sep TCU 22 -Nine.Eight 29%
15-Sep at Michigan 10 -21.Eight 10%
22-Sep Navy 85 Four.Nine 61%
29-Sep Houston Baptist NR 44.Nine 100%
6-Oct at UCF 17 -17.Three 16%
20-Oct at Tulane 98 Three.1 57%
27-Oct Cincinnati 88 Five.Five 63%
Three-Nov Houston 59 -Zero.Five 49%
10-Nov at Connecticut 124 11.Three 74%
16-Nov Memphis 42 -Three.Five 42%
24-Nov at Tulsa 108 Five.7 63%

S&P+ isn’t projecting the rest sudden from SMU this yr. Offense: excellent (projected 29th). Defense: dangerous (112th).

The time table options 3 projected top-25 warring parties (Michigan, UCF, and TCU) and a certain win towards Houston Baptist (plus a beautiful certain win at UConn), however there are many relative tossups, so this may pass in numerous other ways, relying on how briefly the offense will get up to the mark (I’m now not too frightened about that) and the way briefly Kane could make one thing, the rest, of the protection.

If he good points quick traction, then Eight-Four or Nine-Three is at the desk. But merely creating a bowl and maintaining good points is the principle purpose, and it’s an attractive reachable one.

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