Returning Players: William Barns (SO-SQ), Taylor Lasecki (SR-3L), Chad Pursley (FR-RS), Taylor Reich (SR-1L), Keyfer Roberts (FR-RS), Travis Fister (SO-SQ), Evan Brown (SO-1L), Daniel McCarty (JR-1L), Nick Natour (FR-RS), Tony Richards (FR-RS), Chauncey Briggs (JR-2L), Christian Chamagua (JR-2L), Braylon Hyder (SO-SQ), Jerry Saena (SO-SQ), Bozidar Antunovic (SR-SQ) and Seaver Myers (JR-1L).
Departing Players: N/A
2014 Recap: For essentially a year now we have talked about the struggles of the offensive line. We know that the offensive line struggled to open holes for K.C. Nlemchi and Prescott Line, and we know Matt Davis was consistently flushed out of the pocket because of poor pass protection in 2014. This unit failed to consistently protect their quarterback and they struggled to build any type of comradery along the line. No matter how strong of an arm your quarterback has, or how fast your receivers are, an offensive won’t flourish without strong play from the offensive line, which is why SMU offense scored just 15 touchdowns all season.
2015 Outlook: With the entire starting offensive line and key backups returning, this group is set to show at least some kind of improvement from last year. There’s no doubt new offensive line coach Dustin Fry will have his hands full trying to completely retool this group from the bottom up while also finding the right combination of players that will gel. There still should be a few bright spots along the offensive line.
Penalties were a big part of this unit’s struggles last year, so this group must become more disciplined. Upperclassmen Taylor Lasecki and Chauncey Briggs must step up as the leaders of the offensive line and lead by example. There also talented underclassmen though, and some like Braylon Hyder, Evan Brown and William Barns will be asked to be key contributors. If this unit can learn to play together, they’ll have the chance to improve significantly.
The Starters: Briggs and Lasecki will need to be the anchors along this unit. Both struggled some last season (especially Lasecki), but the framework is there. Junior Daniel McCarty started most of last season at left guard and should hold on to that spot for at least the beginning of the season. Barns, a Highland Park graduate, has been a pleasant surprise following a greyshirt year and is poised to take over the starting center role. Barns moves well, and his insertion into the starting group allows Lasecki to fill a void at guard. Right tackle is between Kris Weeks and former highly touted recruit Seaver Myers. With Weeks’ experience, I’m giving the spot to him, but if Myers and Weeks struggle, don’t be surprised if you see true-freshman Bryce Wilds get a shot at the spot later in the season.
The Backups: Sophomores Braylon Hyder and Evan Brown, both returning from off-season shoulder surgery, have the talent to be key contributors, and even starters, this season. Obviously Brown saw significant playing time last season, so as long as he is healthy, I’d expect him to get opportunities at both guard spots depending on if either McCarty or Lasecki struggle. Hyder can play guard as well, but I’d expect him to be the main center backup in case Barns can’t take over the starting role. Juniors Seaver Myers and Christian Chamagua will backup the tackle spots, but freshman Bryce Wilds has the size, strength and athleticism to push these guys for their spots in the rotation.
The Unknown: With a completely new, high-power offensive courtesy of Chad Morris, the biggest unknown is whether or not this unit can perform up to expectations. Morris and Fry will count on this group to take big strides from last year, and if this offense is going to be anything like what the former Clemson coaching are imagining, the offensive line is going to have to step up in a big way.
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART vs. Baylor:
LT: Chauncey Briggs, Christian Chamagua
LG: Daniel McCarty, Travis Fister, Braylon Hyder
C: William Barns, Braylon Hyder
RG: Taylor Lasecki, Evan Brown
RT: Kris Weeks, Seaver Myers, Bryce Wilds