Returning: Chauncey Briggs (So.-RS), Christian Chamagua (So.-RS), Travis Fister (Fr.-RS), Christian Holloway (So.-RS), Ben Hughes (Sr.), Taylor Lasecki (Jr.), Daniel McCarty (So.), Seaver Myers (So.-RS), Taylor Reich (So.-SQ), Sam Rice (So.), Chase Walling (So.-RS), Kris Weeks (So.), Jerry Saena (Fr.-RS).
Incoming: Nick Natour, Tony Richards, Evan Brown, Chad Pursley, Braylon Hyder
Leaving: Thomas Ashcraft and Ben Gottschalk.
2013 Takeaways: The offensive line group in 2013 was inconsistent to say the least. The line, led by two-year starter Taylor Lasecki, had trouble developing a consistent run game and were inconsistent when it came to protecting Garrett Gilbert from pass rushers. With only two returning starters from 2012, the group struggled to find a consistent starting five that could gel together. Towards the end of the season, the offensive line did play some of their best football, including games against Memphis, Temple and Cincinnati, where they allowed one, none and two sacks, respectively. Around mid-season, Lasecki, along with Ben Hughes, Ben Gottschalk, Chauncey Briggs and Kris Weeks developed a camaraderie and developed into a solid starting group. One of the big disappointments of the season was Texas transfer Thomas Ashcraft who was expected to start and be a valuable contributor, but ended up only starting in one game.
2014 Outlook: SMU returns four out of five starters in 2014, so don't expect much change from 2013. Taylor Lasecki will, again, be the leader of this offensive line group. Lasecki, who will be in his third season as the starting center, has been the Mustangs' most consistent offensive lineman and has showed people why he has deserved to start since he was a redshirt freshman. Lasecki plays intelligently with a low center of gravity and a nasty streak like no other. With another off season of work outs, expect Lasecki to continue to get bigger and better.
With Ben Gottschalk graduating, expect Sam Rice to get another shot at the starting left guard spot. Rice, who started the season at left guard but lost his spot to Gottschalk midway through the season, will have another offseason to learn the position and get better with some guidance from Lasecki and others.
One player that could push Rice for his job is Christian Chamagua. Chamagua showed during spring ball last year that he could compete and was penciled in as the back up to Rice at left guard, however once Gottschalk was moved inside, Chamagua was moved out to tackle and actually saw some playing time in six games there. As long as Seaver Myers improves on his troubling 2013 campaign, Chamagua should move back inside and provide some needed depth.
Ben Hughes started 10 games at right guard in 2013, so he should have no problem returning as the starter there. Hughes will be the lone senior on the line, so expect him to take somewhat of a leadership role along with Lasecki.
One of the surprises in 2013 was Chauncey Briggs taking over the left tackle position midway through the season. Briggs started the final seven games and although he struggled at times, he played well enough to keep his starting job and he should head into spring ball as the starting left tackle.
After starting all 12 games at right tackle, Kris Weeks will likely head into spring as the starter at that position. Myers was penciled in as the starting right tackle following spring ball in 2013, but only played in three games and did not recover from his slow start. It will be interesting to see if Myers, who was highly thought of out of high school, can bounce back and push Weeks for his job. Weeks, like most of the offensive line, had his struggles, so don't be surprised if Myers comes motivated to take his job in spring ball.
What to watch for: Since signing day last February, June Jones has been high on offensive lineman Jerry Saena. Saena, who hadn't lifted a weight before coming to SMU, put on a substantial amount of weight during his redshirt year and looks like a completely different person. It will be interesting to see how Saena's footwork and mobility develop during the coming months, but don't be surprised if Saena gets some looks during spring ball.
Bold Prediciton: Taylor Lasecki will make an AAC post-season team and once heralded tackle Seaver Myers will push Kris Weeks for his starting job.
Projected Depth Chart:
RT: Kris Weeks, Seaver Myers, Taylor Reich
RG: Ben Hughes, Daniel McCarty
C: Taylor Lasecki, Ben Hughes, Braylon Hyder
LG: Sam Rice, Christian Chamagua, Evan Brown
LT: Chauncey Briggs, Christian Chamagua, Chase Walling
An Early Look At 2014: Offensive Line
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