When you think of SMU football the first words that came to mind are “death penalty”. We all know what sanctions the school was given in the 80’s. But that doesn’t mean there can’t be some great moments in a dark time in the school’s history! At its height, SMU’s Pony Express was one of the best running back duo’s in college football. This season the offense will take the AAC by storm and have a lot of defensive coordinators scratching their heads.
Anytime you throw a freshman QB onto the field, there’s always a chance that something terrible will happen. SMU QB Ben Hicks had an above average season for the Mustangs, but the running game is what fueled the attack. Led by the two-headed monster of Braeden West & Ke’Mon Freeman, the SMU offense will be the biggest surprise in the AAC.
These young players have the opportunity to be the most dominant running duo for the Mustangs since Craig James and Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson stepped onto the field. With Ben Hicks looking to become an improved passer, he will rely heavily on the running game as the season progresses. Am I crazy to compare two young players to an NFL Hall of Famer and one of the best players in school history? The numbers don’t lie:
Eric Dickerson’s Sophomore Year: 188 attempts, 928 rushing yards, 4.9 yards per carry, 5 touchdowns.
Braeden West’s Sophomore Year: 202 attempts, 1036 rushing yards, 5.1 yards per carry, 6 touchdowns.
The numbers are strikingly similar. Dickerson still carried the load with Craig James during the early parts of their career, and West has fellow running back Ke’Mon Freeman carrying a piece of the workload. West has exceptional playmaking abilities and was a preseason AAC All Conference selection at kick returner.
Eric Dickerson’s Junior Year: 255 attempts, 1425 rushing yards, 5.6 yards per carry, 19 touchdowns)
Braeden West’s Junior Year (projections): 236 attempts, 1274 rushing yards, 5.4 yards per carry, 15 touchdowns.
With more experience on the offensive side of the football West should come close to putting up the types of numbers Dickerson did his junior year.
His counterpart in the backfield Ke’Mon Freeman is a strong threat between the tackles.
Craig James’ Freshman Year: 177 attempts, 896 rushing yards, 5.1 yards per carry, 6 touchdowns.
Ke’Mon Freeman’s Freshman Year: 185 attempts, 925 rushing yards, 5.0 yards per carry, 9 touchdowns.
Looking a lot like Craig James when he runs the ball, Freeman is clearly headed toward a possible 1,000-yard campaign.
Craig James’ Sophomore Year: 177 attempts, 896 rushing yards, 5.1 yards per carry, 6 touchdowns.
Ke’Mon Freeman’s Sophomore Year (projections): 185 attempts, 925 rushing yards, 5.0 yards per carry, 9 touchdowns.
I’m pegging this SMU offense to be incredibly explosive this year, as the QB and RB play should be much better than last year. Naturally, you would think having a 4* recruit means the offense will air it out more, but Coach Morris will look to keep the games from becoming shootouts, and the Second Pony Express (yeah I just coined that) should help the team reach a bowl bid this year.