August 15, 2007

SMU could ride ground game to glory

There are high hopes for the Mustangs this season. With a solid core of returning players coming off a season that left them wanting more a year ago, these Ponies should be poised to take the program to the next level.

DeMyron Martin is full of football again.

SMU's junior running back is all business in practice, and the well-groomed chops on his face almost give him a second smile in the locker room. It's a far cry from the frustration and anger he had during the 2006 season, when injuries kept him out of almost half the season.

Now healthy, rejuvenated, and much slimmer than a year ago, Martin is ready for an extra load of work as SMU's promising season begins. Quarterback Justin Willis will carry the mental load on offense, but the Mustangs' success might be Martin's to bear if SMU is to go bowling for the first time in 23 seasons.

While Willis is getting the lions' share of preseason attention, Martin's disappointing 2006 has him outside the limelight everywhere but in the Mustangs' huddle. Big things are expected from the bullish runner from Allen. But whether it's Martin carrying the load or others, success in the running game is what will likely put SMU into the upper tier in Conference USA.

SMU has runners of every style and a depth most teams envy. But whether it's Martin, Cedrick Dorsey (who will start at the other running back spot), James Mapps, Fred Turner, or Chris Butler, their combined efforts must near a 2,000-yard rushing season for the Mustangs to reach their goals. The strongest, deepest, and most experienced offensive line this decade will help the process.

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