Returning: Neal Burcham (RS. So.), Cayman Carter (RS. Fr.), Kolney Cassel (RS. Fr.), Austin Kent (RS. So.), Garrett Krstich (RS. So.) and Conner Preston (RS. So.)
Coming in: Darrell Colbert and Jordan Severt
Leaving: Garrett Gilbert
2013 Takeaways: Garrett Gilbert responded after a tough first season at SMU with one of the most prolific offensive seasons in SMU history. Even though he missed the final two games of his career at SMU, Gilbert left SMU fans with a good feeling about what the Texas transfer accomplished in his last season. Neal Burcham stepped in and even Garrett Krstich at the end of the season and posted mixed results as SMU missed out on a bowl game for the first time in four years.
2014 Outlook: With Burcham returning for his sophomore season and Conner Preston's career possibly in jeopardy, it appears that Burcham is the heir-apparent to Gilbert for the starting job. Burcham displayed a couple flashes of what made him the Elite 11 Co-MVP with Jameis Winston coming out of high school. With Burcham's knee only getting stronger and the likelihood growing everyday that coach June Jones will be back for seventh season, Burcham's understanding of the SMU offense will be key.
One thing that will have to change is Burcham's time spent in surveying the field and the offensive line protection. Burcham was sacked 11 times in his three games against AAC opponents and some of the time it was his fault, but other times he held the ball too long. With Der'rikk Thompson and Darius Joseph returning, Burcham will have two quick players to get the ball too. The key for Burcham though may be with Jeremiah Gaines and JaBryce Taylor's involvement and success in the offense.
Burcham has solid mechanics and footwork, but he must put it all together to be successful. SMU will undoubtedly throw the ball plenty of times, and the offense will likely run through Burcham so it will be up to Burcham to limit mistakes and hit the big plays. SMU needs Burcham to step up more than he did in the final three games, but with a whole offseason to prepare, Burcham has the tools and time to prepare for what could be another successful season of passing the ball for SMU.
Aside from Burcham, there is inexperience and questions regarding who the backup will be and just how much success SMU could have if Burcham went down. Not wanting to burn a redshirt, Jones inserted Krstich into the lineup after Burcham went down and Krstich showed he isn't ready to lead the offense. Austin Kent hasn't shown any signs that he will be ready and neither has Kolney Cassel, but the backup will have to be ready to go if Burcham goes down.
Bold Prediction: Kent is named the backup to Burcham. With his size and another offseason to develop, Kent will have a good spring and continue that into the fall.
Projected Depth Chart
1. Neal Burcham
2. Austin Kent
3. Kolney Cassel
4. Garrett Krstich
5. Conner Preston
6. Jordan Severt
7. Darrell Colbert
8. Cayman Carter
An Early Look At 2014: Quarterbacks
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