SMU had played in a bowl game in four consecutive years between 2009-12, but have gone backto-back years without reaching the postseason. First-year head coach Chad Morris, a native of Dallas, returns to his hometown after a highly successful stint as Clemson’s offensive coordinator. Morris amassed a 169-38 record as a high school coach in the state of Texas. SMU’s nonconference schedule includes two games against teams ranked in the top seven of last year’s final poll (No. 3 TCU, No. 7 Baylor). SMU’s first six games of the season are in the state of Texas.
SMU used four different starting quarterbacks during the course of last season. QB Matt Davis, a transfer from Texas A&M, started the last five games of the year and finished as the Mustangs’ leading passer and rusher. WR Darius Joseph looks to regain his form of 2013, when he ranked second in the American Athletic Conference with 108 receptions. Joseph and WR Deion Sanders Jr. are both returning starters from a year ago. C Taylor Lasecki — who was named to the Rimington Trophy watch list for the second straight year —leads an offensive line that has all five starters returning.
SMU returns seven defensive starters from last year. The Mustangs have three starters back in the secondary and three on the defensive line. DE Zach Wood led the Mustangs with four sacks and had six tackles for loss and a fumble recovery last season. He joins DE Robert Seals to comprise a senior-laden tandem up front. CB Horace Richardson had a team-high two interceptions, while S Darrion Richardson had 69 tackles with a forced fumble, a sack and an interception to lead the secondary. LB Jonathan Yenga is the only returning starter at linebacker. Yenga had 65 tackles with two sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss last season..
P Jackson Koonce averaged 40.8 yards on 74 punts as a freshman last season. Deion Sanders Jr. was a first-team all-conference selection as a return specalist. Sanders was third in The American in all-purpose yards (105.2 ypg) and averaged 20.5 yards on kickoff returns. The Mustangs will likely turn to an incoming freshman for the regular placekicker duties.