Before the season, the SMU offensive line was an area of huge concern for the Mustangs with a completely new group coming together and everyone wondered if the line could keep Garrett Gilbert upright. The offensive line played admirably this season but did have moments where the unit could not get any consistency going. The most important thing was that the line was healthy almost the entire year with only left tackle Ben Gottschalk and left guard Jordan Free missing a game each. Otherwise, Taylor Lasecki, Blake McJunkin and Bryan Collins started every game, which helped the chemistry along the offensive line.
The line opened up holes for Zach Line to run through, helping Line to be the second leading rusher in C-USA. One negative was sacks allowed, 2.42 per game this season, which was good for 90th in the country. While some sacks are due to Gilbert waiting on routes to develop or holding the ball too long, that is an area where the offense must improve to get momentum going early in games.
The Other Guys
There wasn't much from the other guys along the line this season. Kris Weeks played well against Stephen F. Austin while filling in for an injured Gottschalk. Ashton Duhe finally got an opportunity to play against UTEP after being in former line coach Adrian Klemm's doghouse most of the time he was here. Duhe started for an injured Free and the Mustangs pulled off a big win in UTEP. Transfer Stavion Lowe was also expected to contribute and even start, but he was rule academically ineligible.
With Collins, McJunkin and Free graduating, the Mustangs will again have to look for some new players to step up and come together. Whether June Jones and the coaching staff finds that group in the spring is yet to be seen, but it will probably not be determined until the fall. Gottschalk will be back at left tackle along with Lasecki at center, who people have continued to rave about. Lowe is someone to watch a right tackle if he can get in shape after not being able to get it together both on and off the field after transferring to SMU before the season.
Seaver Myers and Taylor Reich are also two guys that could earn a starting job at tackle, which has some nice young depth on the roster. Look for a combination of Kris Weeks, Sam Rice, Ben Hughes and Duhe to battle it out for the two guard positions vacated by McJunkin and Free. With the incoming class, there are not many players that appear physically ready to step in like Reich and Weeks were thought of when they got to SMU so look for current players to fill the voids.
Position Review: Offensive Line
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