SMU hopes to keep moving forward

September, 2, 2010
9/02/10
11:50
PM CT

The SMU Mustangs made huge progress under June Jones last season, going 8-5 and making a bowl game for the first time since the death penalty. That bowl game has helped with recruiting and given the program a boost headed into 2010.

"We want to keep moving forward and improving," Jones said. "We said it would take 4 or 5 years to get to a point where we were consistent contenders and I still think that's the case. We have to keep working."

A glance at the Mustangs:

2009 record: 8-5, won Sheraton Hawaii Bowl

Starters remaining: 13

Offensive starters returning: 6

Defensive starters returning: 7

Key offensive returners: QB Kyle Padron returns for his true sophomore season after going 4-1 in the regular season after stepping in for injured starter Bo Levi Mitchell in the middle of the Houston game in 2009. Padron was named the MVP of the Hawaii Bowl, passing for a school record 460 yards and two TDs in the 45-10 win over Nevada. ...RB Zach Line should see plenty of action around the goal line. The power runner had 49 carries in 2009 and seven of them were TDs. ...Aldrick Robinson is the No. 1 WR. He had 176 receiving yards in SMU's bowl victory.

Will be missed: WR Emmanuel Sanders was the team's leading pass catcher and a leader. ...RB Shawnbrey McNeal is gone after rushing for 1,188 yards and 12 TDs.

Key defensive returners: DE Margus Hunt, from Estonia, hadn't ever played football until last season. He caught on quickly, especially when it came to blocking kicks. Hunt had seven blocks as a freshman, tying for second in NCAA history. ...SMU returns some linebackers with experience in the 3-4 with Pete Fleps, Youri Yenga and Ja'Gared Davis. Sophomore Taylor Reed is on top of the depth chart at the Mike linebacker spot. ...Watch junior free safety Chris Banjo, who can make things happen with good closing speed. It's a defense that was third in Conference USA in turnovers, so they are aggressive and ball hungry.

Will be missed: LB Chase Kennemer was always around the ball, leading the Mustangs with 135 tackles. Bryan McCann was an important piece in the secondary, which means Sterling Moore must step in and do the job in his place.

Toughest schedule stretch: Sept. 5 at Texas Tech, Sept. 24 vs. TCU

By the numbers

7: The number of wins SMU had in 2009 over what they did in 2008. It was a remarkable improvement to go from 1-11 to 8-5.

13: Consecutive losses to Texas Tech, dating back to 1989.

11: TV games for SMU this season, a school record.
Richard Durrett joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He writes about colleges, the Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers. Richard spent nine years at The Dallas Morning News covering the Rangers, Stars, colleges, motorsports and high schools.

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