Grade Book: SMU Offense

We give out grades to each offensive position group inside!


After watching Garrett Gilbert put up a ton of yards, but only a few scores in non-conference play, his game took off. While a lot of people put it on Gilbert that SMU wasn't converting in the redzone early in the season, Gilbert responded in conference play, completing over 69 percent of his passes for over 2,200 yards, 17 touchdowns against two interceptions. Even with missing the last two games, Gilbert put up those gaudy numbers, but he was most impressive at home, averaging over 400 yards per game, throwing for 14 touchdowns and zero interceptions. As much as Gilbert struggled last season, he showed how tough he was and went out with a strong season to cap his career and would earn an A- on the year by himself.

Neal Burcham saw limited playing time this season, with mixed results. After coming in after Gilbert was injured, Burcham threw a touchdown to extend SMU's lead over USF and get the win. Against Houston, he was terrible, throwing four interceptions and completing just over 50 percent of his passes. Against UCF, he was able to complete 70 percent of his passes for 222 yards and a touchdown and although he couldn't get the win for SMU, he showed enough promise for SMU fans to be optimistic about his development.

Garrett Krstich threw an interception in his only action of the season against UCF, crushing SMU's hopes of the upset win.

Grade: B

Running Backs

The SMU runners gained 1,125 yards on the season and could not develop any sort of momentum due to injuries and play calling that did not focus on the running game. The total was the lowest of the June Jones era aside from the 2008 season. Prescott Line took over after Traylon Shead went down with an injury and just wasn't the same. Line is a solid blocker, but has not developed the vision and patience that made his brother one of the best backs in SMU's history.

K.C. Nlemchi also had an up-and-down season being in and out of the coaching staff's doghouse. His 4.67 yards per carry led the team with runners who had over 50 carries on the year. Physically, Nlemchi looks good on the field, but he must put the entire thing together if he wants to be an every down back for SMU.

Kevin Pope came on at the end of the year to give SMU a little bit of a burst back there, but other than that, it was a terrible year for the SMU running backs.

Grade: D

Wide Receivers

SMU had two 1,000 yards receivers in Jeremy Johnson and Keenan Holman for the third time in the June Jones era and the group was much improved this season. There were still games that Keenan Holman and Der'rikk Thompson would disappear, but Holman was a nice surprise for Gilbert to be able to go to. Darius Joseph got off to a hot start and was a solid target for Gilbert, but somewhat faded down the stretch, totaling 137 yards in the final four games. Jeremy Johnson was the star of the group, yardage wise, but also only caught six touchdowns and none in the final three games. Image if Johnson hadn't had his redshirt burned his freshmen year.

Overall, the receivers were much better than last season and worked well at sharing the load of making plays for SMU this season. When one receiver was having a quiet game it seemed like another would step up for Gilbert. JaBryce Taylor was a receiver that could have seen more targets or kept his redshirt on considering he only caught seven balls, but for 127 yards. Taylor will be solid for SMU, but you wonder if the staff should have kept his redshirt on.

Grade: B-

Offensive Line

The SMU offensive line was a big question mark going into the season with three new starters expected along the line and constant tinkering with the groupings. There was always a question it seemed about who would start each week, but also if a starter (aside from Taylor Lasecki) would be shifted around the offensive line.

Lasecki, Ben Gottschalk and Kris Weeks started every game for the Mustangs plus Ben Hughes started all but one game, which allowed for SMU to have some consistency, but the results were not great on the field. SMU couldn't really run the ball all season, and Gilbert was under pressure for a fair amount of the season. SMU did control the pass rush of other teams a little better in conference play, but overall it was a very average season for the offensive line.

Grade: C+

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