Chad Morris' up-tempo offense comes to SMU and will be a huge improvement over the Run N' Shoot, but what players fit where? How many 2015 signees will see early playing time and will there be any transfer casualties? All these questions still need to be answered. Billy breaks down SMU's 2015 offense. Predictions do not account for potential transfers, but I did list in parenthesis when I thought a kid could be a potential transfer.
DEPARTURES: Kolney Cassel
There's part of me that says Ben Hicks is going to get the nod vs. Baylor to open the Chad Morris era and then there's the side of me that says Morris would want a veteran presence in the huddle against the Bears. That being said, Morris praised Hicks in his signing day press conference, saying Hicks is acting like a three-year veteran. This really is a toss-up for this position. If Davis can show progress in the spring, the starter will not be decided until the fall. If Hicks can show the same leadership Davis has in the spring offseason program, that will go a long way to earning him the starting spot.
SMU filled a huge need in the 2015 class by bringing in two running backs that are game breakers and versatile. West and Jones can combine for a potent backfield, West will get the nod. In Morris, up-tempo offense, running backs aren't getting 25-30 carries a game. Andre Ellington had just 10 20+ carry games in his two seasons under Morris. Since Morris took over at Clemson, the top running back for Clemson received less and less carries, starting with Ellington's 223 carries in 2011 to Wayne Gallman's 161 in 2014. Clemson also had plenty of backs involved in the offense, something SMU will have some sort of luxury with West and Jones coming in. Daniel Gresham is a candidate to be a big bruiser and K.C. Nlemchi and Darius Durall will also have the chance to compete for playing time.
The reason why Thomas will get the start over Proche will be his ability to block. Thomas' long arms will help immensely in that regard. In Morris' offense, it may be up-tempo and spread, but it is a smashmouth offense. Receivers have to be able to block and while Proche will contribute early, he's not the complete package that Thomas is. Shelby Walker will get a look here as well if he can put some weight on. The biggest knock on him will be his ability to hold his own in the run blocking game. Thomas and Proche have the ability to contribute right here unless players like Cedric Lancaster, Nate Halverson and moved around and make an impact.
Another tough one to call here. The staff brought in Alex Honey to be that big-bodied receiver, but also brought back Ace Holleman. Courtland Sutton has the athletic ability to win jump balls as well, but this receiver has to be able to block and win balls down the field just like the X receiver. Clemson's receivers aren't all 6-3, 6-4, but the offense needs a receiver that can play to the boundary. Honey has the longest arms on the roster just from looking at him. His ability to leap for balls and use his body control will be critical. Honey is raw in his routes, but if Justin Stepp can work some magic, Honey will see the field as a starter right away. SMU does have three receivers that certainly have the talent to be physical, outside receivers here at least. It's a matter of getting it out of Holleman, and developing Honey and Sutton.
The key to the H-Back/Tight End position in Morris' offense will be if Jeremiah Gaines moves over to add depth to the position. In 2011, Clemson had Brandon Ford and Dwayne Allen both on the roster and worked both into two tight end packages. With SMU's talent level an issue along the offensive line, Morris will likely utilize two tight end sets to help in the running game. With one tight end down and the other playing H-Back, SMU could be able to run multiple plays out of that set and have success on the ground and in the play action game with Herndon and Gaines both being capable pass catches. Line will likely switch to more of an H-Back role and will come in on Morris' full house packages. This position is key to Morris' outside run game that includes pitches and jet sweeps.
Fast forward below to :34. You'll see exactly why Xavier Castille will start right away. His ability to come on the jet sweep, move into the backfield and lineup all over the field will have Castille starting right away. Joseph has been one of SMU's go-to receivers in recent years and is a playmaker in his own right, but is more of a prototypical slot. Joseph will spell Castille without a doubt, but I expect Castille to overtake Joseph for the starting roll here. The good thing about the slot position is Lancaster and Halverson both have the speed to see the field in some capacity in Morris' offense.
Chauncey Briggs is no doubt going to be the starter here at left tackle. The question is does Seaver Myers or Taylor Reich win the backup job. Reich has been hurt on and off the last few seasons and has the talent to stake a claim to a spot along the line and Myers does too. Wilds is just too raw right now to start right away. If the offensive line continues to struggle, Wilds may see time somewhere, but for now, he's being groomed to take over for Kris Weeks in my mind for one season and then move over to left tackle following Briggs' graduation.
McCarty has the ability in the run blocking game to retain his starting job along the offensive line, but there will be fierce competition and players behind him pushing for time. Chamagua, Bates and Fister all can see time if McCarty struggles in pass protection. For the entire offensive line, the strength program will be key to getting them on track. Whoever buys in the most, will reap the benefits and probably end up starting.
C1: Taylor Lasecki (pictured)
C2: Baylon Hyder
C3: William Barns
Lasecki and Weeks will be the two seniors along the offensive line and will need to be the leaders as the rest of the interior of the line develops. Lasecki has been listed on the Rimington Award watch list before and has the smarts to pick up Morris' system right away. Lasecki will have to be the best lineman for SMU as the team learns Morris' new blocking schemes.
RG1: Evan Brown
RG2: Christian Chamagua
RG3: Keaton Bates (pictured)
RG4: Travis Fister
Evan Brown came in and contributed right away for SMU last year to mixed results. Both McCarty and Brown struggled at times with technique especially. Bates is a very athletic guard that could see some early playing time if he can add the necessary weight to be a force. Chamagua is a big body that could be more of a road grader for SMU and if no one steps up at guard, is certainly an option to start. Fister and Chad Pursley will need to continue to develop if they hope to earn playing time.
RT1: Kris Weeks (pictured)
RT2: Seaver Myers
RT3: Taylor Reich
RT4: Bryce Wilds
Weeks will need to put in the work to return to his starting role as Weeks was consistently whistled every game it seemed for at least one or two holding penalties. Weeks has the size and athleticism to play in Morris' system, but Weeks must work with Dustin Fry on his technique if he's going to hold off Seaver Myers and Taylor Reich. If all three of them can't get a handle, SMU will be more than happy to groom Bryce Wilds earlier than expected to be right tackle.