Through the first four games of the 2013 season, and to put it mildly, SMU’s running game has struggled mightily.
That part of the Mustangs’ offense, though, will receive a shot in the arm — or leg, as the case may be — as the football program takes the field for its first-ever AAC game this weekend.
Running back Traylon Shead has been medically cleared to return to the playing field and will be in the lineup for Saturday’s game against Rutgers. The junior suffered injuries to both his ankle and his knee very early in the third quarter of the season opener against Texas Tech and has not played since.
Suffice to say, he’s champing at the bit for his return.
“I’m so ready,’” Shead said. “I’ve got a lot of frustration built up in me, so I can’t wait to let it all out.”
The Mustangs, who have fielded 1,000-yard rushers each of the past four years, could sorely use someone from the backfield to let it all out.
In the first four games, SMU has rushed for 355 yards; 144 of that total came against FCS-level Montana State in Week 2. They are currently 114th out of 123 FBS teams with 88.8 yards per game on the ground, and have scored just three rushing touchdowns.
Their leading rusher, Prescott Line, has 104 yards in four games; Zach Line, SMU’s leading rusher the past three years, topped or matched that mark 21 times in a single game.
Head coach June Jones has acknowledged that his rushing attack needs to step up its production.
“You’ve got to have some semblance of a running game,’” Jones said. “Even if you don’t get yards, it helps contain the pass rush. We historically average 4.5, 4.6 per carry and that’s what we need to be doing.”