The Pony Stampede staff debates who needs to step up for SMU football by fall camp!
Billy: Pass Rush
I'm more inclined to think that SMU
's pass rush this spring was more about SMU's offensive line than the defensive line's steps forward. SMU is still hurting at cornerback due to the team's inability to stay healthy and good quarterbacks will still be able to take their shots deep. Matt Davis
looked like Tajh Boyd
at times back there this spring when he had time. So Robert Seals
, Kyran Mitchell
, Zach Wood, Andy McCleneghen
, Justin Lawler
and others better be working on those pass rushing moves this summer. SMU runs an aggressive style of defense and while some of the defensive backs made some plays, SMU has to have a pass rush to take the pressure off the pass coverage. All of this is not to say I wasn't impressed with the defense's ability to get pressure, but rather that it will take even more playmakers along the line to get some serious pressure on opponent's quarterbacks this fall.
Scott: Interior Offensive Line
The big guys up front on offense were clearly the ones who struggled the most this spring. 3-year starting center Taylor Lasecki
was even moved over to guard to try and create some improvement with William Barns
, but there was little difference. With Braylon Hyder
and Evan Brown
both expected to return from injury in time for fall camp, there's no question those two will compete for the interior linemen positions. Brown, who started most of last season, has some improvements to make, but should still be able to come in and snag one of the guard spots. Then it comes down to Lasecki, McCarty and Hyder for the center and last guard position. My guess is Lasecki and McCarty get the first looks, but if the unit continues to struggle as a whole, don't be surprised to see Hyder get some meaningful playing time.
The front seven is expected to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks next season but one grouping that has a little bit of work to do is SMU’s secondary. It is an area that SMU is well aware they are going to have to improve and have the potential to get better but have a little bit of work to do. After losing Hayden Greenbauer
to graduation, and Shakiel Randolph
to the star linebacker position, it will be up to Horace Richardson
and Darrion Richardson
, as well as, Ajee Montes
but other guys have got to continue to make progress such as Jordan Wyatt
and A.J Justice. It would also help this team out tremendously to have William Jeanlys
take that next step and become a physically imposing cornerback. The secondary played okay during the spring game but did give up a few too many big plays that they will need to limit. The defense also did not force as many turnovers throughout spring as they would have liked so that is something heading forward they will need to work on as well.
After a shaky spring, no offensive lineman should feel his starting spot is safe, but right tackle Kris Weeks really needs to show more to keep his starting spot. He looked slow off the snap and consistently was beat 1-on-1. He didn't look like he has benefitted from the offseason strength workouts either. Weeks needs to get in better shape and come out strong at the start of fall camp, or he could lose his starting right tackle job in a matter of days.
Matt: Other Running Backs
Other than Prescott Line
, the running backs overall were not impressive this spring. The only player who has been noteworthy is Daniel Gresham
. His productivity has slowly increased each week, but it could still take time for his knee injury to be of minimal concern. Darius Durall
had a quiet spring, and that could cost him his spot when Braeden West
and Xavier Jones
get to campus. The running backs will struggle because the offensive line is not where it needs to be, but they cannot afford to struggle due to lack of talent. Line will continue to be solid, and Gresham will slowly become the player he was before his injury, but those two cannot do it on their own.