2022 SMU Mustangs Preview

by Matt Fargo

SMU Mustangs

2021-22 Season Record 8-4 (4-4 American) - 6-6-0 ATS - 6-6-0 O/U

Returning Starters

Offense - 6
Defense - 7

Overview

It was another winning season for SMU, its third straight under head coach Sonny Dykes, which is the first time that has occurred since the early 1980s. The reward for the Mustangs was getting a second consecutive bowl game cancelled because of COVID which happened to come after the announcement that Dykes was leaving to take over the coaching job at TCU. The program is in a good place right now and with Cincinnati, Houston and Central Florida leaving the AAC after this season, SMU has a chance to take over the reins and can prove a point this season. Rhett Lashlee has been hired as the new head coach after a two-year stint as the Miami Fla. offensive coordinator which came after two years at the same position with the Mustangs so he knows the program which is a great starting point. A No. 19 ranking in returning production also helps with balance on both sides.

Offense

The Mustangs had potent offenses in all four years under Dykes and that will not change with Lashlee in charge. They finished No. 13 in total offense and No. 10 in scoring offense with pretty similar numbers from the previous two seasons and there is a lot to like with another go around. Quarterback Tanner Mordecai was great last season as he completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 3,628 yards with 39 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The picks are a concern but when you are slinging it as much as he does, it is bound to happen. Only one of his top receivers is back as Rashee Rice had 670 yards and nine touchdowns and will be surrounded by great incoming transfers. The running game has not been a focal point but they have a good one in Tre Siggers who had 727 yards and nine scores and he will be running behind a great offensive line that also pass protects well.

Defense

The defense has played second fiddle to the offense the last few years but the unit has improved its yardage and scoring averages each of the last three years and that should continue this season as well. The Mustangs were No. 95 in total defense and No. 86 in scoring defense which is not great but they did not have to be although it would help. The offense scored 37 and 31 points in two losses so any semblance of a defense could have turned those into wins and that is the hope now. Two starters are back on the defensive line that accounted for nine sacks and was very solid against the run. Jimmy Phillips. Jr. and Turner Coxe headline a strong linebacking corps as the two combined for 96 tackles, six sacks and three forced fumbles and transfers will fill in the rest. The secondary allowed way too many yards and did not have enough takeaways and both will have to and should change.

2022 Season Outlook

One thing was constant last season which was SMU took care of the teams they were supposed to but failed to beat some of the stiffer competition, namely Cincinnati and Houston but will have another crack at them this season. Lashlee has bumped around at six different programs as offensive coordinator since 2011 so while there was no stability, he learned a lot from a bunch of different coaches which will help him in his first head coaching gig. SMU opens at North Texas then hosts Lamar before a trip to Maryland followed by the return of Dykes and his TCU team. AAC action opens with a tough test at Central Florida with the other three road games not too bad. The highlight of the slate is Cincinnati and Houston both coming to Dallas. The O/U win total is set at 7 and right now we can foresee an 8-4 record once again and could be better with a win in one of those two big home AAC games. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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