What We've Learned

After the first spring scrimmage, I take a look at what the two open practices have told us about SMU football.

The change has come as quickly as SMU head coach Chad Morris wants to run his offense. Brutal spring conditioning led into the up-tempo practices we've seen in the spring. If you haven't been able to make it out, here's what we've learned about SMU football so far.

Davis is the guy...so far

Morris has talked about the game slowing down even as the offense tries to go faster on the field. For Matt Davis, he took some big steps forward with his performance Saturday. Davis started slow, but turned it on in the scrimmage portion of practice. Remember, Davis is not only adjusting to the offense, but tweaks to his technique. Offensive coordinator Joe Craddock is working constantly on making Davis' delivery quicker and more compact. That's a big adjustment.

If Davis continues to develop, it will be an easy decision for Morris on who to start vs. Baylor. Not that Ben Hicks hasn't played well, but the game just hasn't slowed down for him just yet. Davis is stepping up with big-time throws, smart decisions and has the quickness to disguise some of the offensive line issues. Davis has been the biggest beneficiary of the new coaching staff without a doubt and is a leader out on the field as well.

Durall is a versatile weapon

SMU got bad news with K.C. Nlemchi going down, but Darius Durall displayed the versatility that SMU will expect out of its running backs this season. Durall displayed the solid pass catching ability and the burst through the hole. He's not going to be the physical running back Daniel Gresham or Prescott Line is, but Durall is another player trying to prove that a freshmen won't come in and take his spot.

Receivers emerging, but help still coming

Courtland Sutton has been the breakout player of the spring without a doubt. He's been physical, he's caught everything and he's making a huge connection with Davis. Sutton will have to hold off Kevin Thomas, Alex Honey and James Proche at his spot, but with his size and a spring under his belt, shouldn't have an issue. That's not to say that the freshmen won't get playing time, but Sutton is staking a big claim to the outside receiver spot. Xavier Castille is someone I do expect to come in right away and start. He's looked bigger each time I've seen him, is working constantly on his routes and is just a gamebreaker. Ryheem Malone has displayed some shiftiness and Darius Joseph has been getting reps on the outside, leaving the door open for Castille to come in as the team's do-it-all player. Joseph has made a name for himself with his blocking, a key factor in this offense with the amount of perimeter quick passes the offense has. Thomas is a great blocking receiver so SMU having those two at their disposal will dramatically improve the screen game. Overall, the receivers have shown signs of improvement, but the much-needed depth and talent is also on the way.

Secondary must stay healthy

Last year was unlike anything most everybody had ever seen with injuries ravaging SMU. On Saturday, Shakiel Randolph went down. No word on if it's bad or not, but this secondary can't get much more banged up. Ajee Montes, Jesse Montgomery and Horace Richardson all were limited Saturday. Randolph was working at the rover/linebacker position, but his cover skills and secondary experience are invaluable and SMU can't lose him. A.J. Justice played well in his absence and Jordan Wyatt stepped up at corner too, but SMU just doesn't have the depth. William Jeanlys has shown up to spring ready to compete though. Morris can't like seeing one of his better players go down like that.

The lines

I'll just cover the offensive and defensive lines here with some quick hits. Taylor Lasecki needs to step up for the offensive line. The guards have struggled overall and Lasecki needs to get them in line. Taylor Reich and Daniel McCarty have been hot and cold so far, struggling with the bull rush from Spencer Hollie and Zelt Minor's quickness. Chauncey Briggs and Christian Chamagua has played well at left tackle. Both look to have bought in, have the athleticism for the position and the knowledge to pick up the offense. Kris Weeks needs to improve drastically in his conditioning. Evan Brown needs to get healthy. If Zelt Minor and Spencer Hollie can play like this in the fall, SMU will have a stout defensive line with the size and addition of that fourth defensive lineman. Mason Gentry is also impressing and is athletic for how much weight he has on him.

Welcome to the show

Anthony Rhone, Kyran Mitchell and Inoke Ngalo. Welcome to the big times. Rhone has been an absolute tackling machine out there on the first team. Mitchell has been great in his role as the Star — coming off the edge and being great in pass coverage. Inoke Ngalo can blitz from just about anywhere and grab a sack. His quickness is impressive and with the stunts the defense is implementing, he could see some serious sack numbers from his linebacker spot.

Random Thoughts

— SMU has to get healthy. Way too many guys in limited or no-contact jerseys.

Jordan Severt looks like he's getting left out.

Deion Sanders, Jr. has been non-existent on the field. I don't even think he participated. Could be wrong, but that's how little of an impact he had.

Jeremiah Gaines is going to allow Hunter Herndon to have a shot at redshirting.

Christian Holloway as a backup tight end is going to force Morris to not redshirt Herndon.

— Daric Riley is going to drastically improve SMU's special teams performance this season.

— Still need an answer at kick and punt returner. Don't think it's Malone, Joseph or Shelby Walker.

Justin Lawler is making the right move by staying at defensive end.

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