SMU does not have a powerhouse football program. But under head coach Sonny Dykes, it has been working its way up to becoming a respectable one. A third consecutive winning season for the Mustangs would undoubtedly help, a goal that becomes easier if Dykes makes the right decision at one position.
After getting two solid seasons out of Shane Buechele, the SMU offense will need to find a new signal-caller this season. As luck would have it, the Mustangs are not going to have to settle for one guy and hope for the best. They have a competitive three-way battle going on for the job.
It is hard to say who the frontrunner is between Derek Green, Tanner Mordecai, and Preston Stone. No one had a clear-cut advantage over the others once spring practice concluded. That could be good or bad, depending on your perception.
But the team does not sound like it is in a hurry to make a decision. Offensive coordinator Garrett Riley said as much while talking to the media following spring practice:
“We’ll make a decision whenever we feel like it’s right and when it’s clear enough that we make that decision, but I think all three of them did enough to where they’re going to get a shot here in fall camp to see how they progress and see how they’re doing post-spring.”
Green, a former walk-on, was Buechele’s back-up last season. While he has not played much (career stats: 1-3 for 0 yards with one interception; 3 rushes for 39 yards), he has surprised some by staying in the thick of the competition.
Mordecai and Stone are both former four-star recruits, while Green was not rated. However, Green has an NFL pedigree attached to his name; his father is former NFL quarterback Trent Green. Stone is the only freshman; Mordecai and Stone are both juniors.
All three bring a dual-threat aspect to the position that Buechele did not, which can only mean good things for a Mustangs offense that ranked 12th in the nation in total yards last season. Most of it came via the passing game (13th; 318.0 yards a game) though.
The run game was not bad (53rd, 176.5 yards a game), but both stand to be better with a mobile quarterback behind center. It helps that most of the offensive line is back, the wide receivers are excellent, and the running backs are talented, as well.
Factor in a quarterback that can elevate the team’s offense (which could be any of the three) to be even better this season, and SMU could make some noise. It certainly helps that most of the starters are returning on the defensive side of the ball too. SMU could be a strong dark horse candidate to win the American Athletic Conference if the defense can improve.
At the least, they will make the Conference a whole lot of fun to watch.