What to Watch For in SMU's spring game

The Pony Stampede staff each picked their key position they're watching in tomorrow's spring game!

Billy: Quarterbacks

Much of the spring has been spent talking about the offensive line and quarterbacks. What hasn’t been talked about enough is how big of a step forward Matt Davis took in spring practice. He’s looked comfortable, in control and confident for the most part. Unless the offensive line has a really bad day, Davis should be able to make plays tomorrow and show fans why he should be and is looking like SMU’s starter. Ben Hicks has not yet grabbed the starting or backup role like many expected he would. Hicks has to deal with the offensive line struggles as well, but he’s forced too many balls this spring. I’d love to see Hicks settle down and show some more command of the offense and understand situations better in the game. Darrell Colbert has made a claim to the backup job and with his running ability has made some really nice plays this spring. It’ll be interesting to see how he plays with the backups in the spring game. Jordan Severt is unlikely to see much time and appears to be the odd man out.

Scott: Linebackers

Jonathan Yenga and Robert Seals are the senior leaders on this team now, and it's time for them to both step up as vocal leaders. Yenga and Seals both have the potential to be very solid linebackers, but I'm most interested in seeing junior Nick Horton and redshirt freshman Inoke Ngalo. With only two linebackers on the field at a time, it'll be important for Horton and Ngalo to have the ability to sub in without the defense missing a step. Now that Horton is healthy, I expect big things from him, and Ngalo should be able to hold his own on the field as well. Anthony Rhone and Kyran Mitchell have been solid off the edge in place of Shakiel Randolph from the Star position so watch for them to have big days.

Hatts: Offensive Line

The biggest question heading into the spring game is the offensive line. This was the biggest problem last season and has had some questionable play throughout the spring. If this team is going to be successful in the fall, the line has got to gel well enough for the running game to get going and to give the quarterbacks some time. To delve a little deeper, my biggest focus will be on the right side of the line especially and seeing whether the new coaching staff can find some combination of players to provide protection in the backfield. The left side of the offensive line has had their moments of success with Chauncey Briggs showing up as one of the standouts throughout the spring. It will be up to guys like Taylor Reich, Daniel McCarty and Kris Weeks to show improvement during the spring game heading into the summer and fall practices.

Patrick: Defensive Line

Defensive line was a bit of wild card entering spring ball, but the unit has showed well. While some of the line’s good play can be attributed to the offensive line’s struggles, I’ve been impressed with Spencer Hollie’s ability to shed blocks and cause some pressure. Zelt Minor looks comfortable at defensive tackle after switching from end (a recent surgery will keep him out of the spring game though), Mason Gentry has adapted well to playing inside, and Zach Wood is a much better fit at defensive end in a four-man front. All have impressed me. During the game, I’m going to be watching to see how the pass rush looks. The defense really struggled to generate pressure the last couple seasons, but switching to a four-man front should help produce pressure on its own. The linemen look more explosive so far, but I want to see how they look in a game situation rushing the passer. I’m curious to see who will come out of it as the best-looking pass rusher and run-stuffer. I’m also looking to see how the line holds up during the course of a game playing against the fast-paced offense.

Matt: Wide Receivers

When it comes to receivers, there are two players that have the potential for a big spring game. First is Darius Joseph. He had a solid spring, particularly when there was tight coverage. If he can stay consistent with his catches, he could have a huge game. The other player to notice is Jeremiah Gaines. He and Matt Davis are building a strong connection on the field. If those two can keep trusting each other, Gaines will be very successful. Also, if Gaines can start making the catches that seem almost impossible to make, he will take his game to the next level. A player that has room for improvement is Shelby Walker. He's had a relatively quiet spring, but he showed his potential last year by averaging 9.7 yards per catch. If he can get more balls thrown his way, he's in for an impressive spring game.

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