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Know the Foe: SMU

SMU junior Prescott Line is part of a Mustangs offense averaging nearly 425 yards a game.

James Nielsen | Houston Chronicle

SMU junior Prescott Line is part of a Mustangs offense averaging nearly 425 yards a game.

21

October

A look at SMU, which plays USF on Saturday at Raymond James Stadium

Nickname: Mustangs

Record: 1-5, 0-2 in American Athletic Conference
Win: 31-13 vs. North Texas
Losses: 56-21 vs. Baylor, 56-37 at TCU, 48-45 vs. James Madison, 49-23 vs. East Carolina, 49-28 at Houston

Coach: Chad Morris (first season)

The breakdown: Few teams have navigated a schedule as daunting as SMU's. Baylor and TCU are ranked second and fourth, respectively; and Houston is 22nd. Viewing their body of work through that prism, the Mustangs' feeble defensive statistics (they rank 100th or worse in 10 defensive categories) are a bit deceiving. Nothing, however, is fraudulent about their offense. Morris, rebuilding the program with Texas-based talent, has installed an up-tempo scheme that has proven surprisingly efficient early on. SMU already has scored 185 points, 52 more than it scored in its 1-11 campaign last season. Additionally, the Mustangs trailed Baylor by seven at halftime and TCU by eight after three quarters. "They've really kind of changed the whole culture of that place offensively," Bulls defensive coordinator Tom Allen said. "I kind of thought (Morris) would, but he got some really good young freshmen that have had an immediate impact that I think has kind of sped up the process." Dual-threat junior QB Matt Davis, who totaled 396 yards at TCU, is the catalyst, flanked by a supporting cast rife with first- and second-year players. Allen is especially wary of 6-foot-4 WR Courtland Sutton (27 receptions, 498 yards, six TDs), among seven players with at least eight catches. The Mustangs typically are efficient and brisk; they've scored on 20 consecutive red-zone trips, and more than 40 percent of their TD drives have lasted less than two minutes.

Odds and ends: SMU has scored on its first possession in four of six games. ... Morris' entire 2015 signing class hailed from Texas, and SMU began the season with 77 Texans on its roster. ... Despite its high tempo and propensity for quick scores, SMU still ranks 15th nationally in time of possession (32:50). ... Among the handful of Floridians on the Mustangs roster is freshman WR Cam Winter (Plant).

Taggart's take: "Very talented football team that can score points on anyone. It's gonna be a challenge for our defense and for our entire football team. ... They're a much-improved football team than they were last year, and again a team that's been in every ball game they've played so far -- with a tough schedule."

[Last modified: Wednesday, October 21, 2015 7:36pm]

    

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