Upon Further Review: SMU Scrimmage

Publisher Billy Embody broke down SMU's scrimmage on both sides of the ball and what it means for the Mustangs this year.

There was a lot to like about the scrimmage on Saturday, but here are a few things that I took away - both good and bad - from SMU's open scrimamge.


Offense

Backup Quarterbacks battling it out

There's no doubt that Matt Davis is the starter. Darrell Colbert (at top) and Ben Hicks (above) are locked in a battle for the No. 2 spot. Colbert has been the more consistent performer during camp and made some big strides in the offseason as he has jumped to No. 2 on the depth chart. Hicks, who ended the spring as the No. 2 quarterback, has looked like the No. 2 quarterback at times, but has also looked like the No. 4 quarterback as well. The staff looks for consistency and so far Hicks has not displayed enough to take the No. 2 job. No word yet on if that means Hicks will redshirt, but with Colbert's progression not only with the offense, but just fundamentals alone, he'd be a more serviceable backup at this time than Hicks.

Freshmen running backs shine

With Prescott Line held out of a lot of the snaps and Darius Durall out, Braeden West and Xavier Jones (above) both had solid days in the scrimmage. Both are going to be threats on screens and just in general. In my opinion, Jones looked better and more elusive than West even with the additional weight (15 or so pounds). Jones got out into the open field a little more than West while both looked comfortable hitting the holes. Jones has gotten more rave reviews than West because West had been out of camp for a week or so. Jones had a few long runs and took a screen a long way as well. With Line being moved around all over the field, Jones and West will be vital parts to the running game. There was no word on Durall's injury, but it could push Jones and West into an even bigger role. They looked ready on Saturday. Jones would get carries over West right now though.

Offensive Line looks set

Chauncey Briggs, Evan Brown, Taylor Lasecki, Daniel McCarty and Kris Weeks appear to have grabbed the starting spots along the offensive line. This is the group most consistently together and they've performed well for the most part. Behind them, no one really impressed me much out there. The line shot the gaps well against the second and third units and the quarterbacks were under pressure. So everyone hope the line stays healthy this year because if there's a lot of shuffling around and replacing players, it could be ugly.

Waiting on another receiver to step up

Look there's no doubt that SMU wide receivers Kevin Thomas (above) and Xavier Castille ooze with talent, but neither really made a ton of plays out there. Thomas connected with Hicks on a couple throws, but overall, had some drops and some blown assignments. Justin Stepp, Joe Craddock and Chad Morris all lost it when Thomas ran the wrong route on a goalline play. Thomas has everything going for him with size, willingness to block and athleticism, but he might not start if he doesn't correct some of these little things. He's a young receiver, but he'll be great. Castille was also held to a pretty quiet day. SMU got him the ball in space a couple times, but really he was penned in pretty well. Again, a situation where he has all the talent, but just has to put it together. Confident he'll be moved around and used extensively this year. Ryheem Malone and Shelby Walker were the two receivers running with Courtland Sutton so it appears they're the starters, but were relatively quiet as well. The staff needs a receiver to step up big time in the next two weeks. The battle for the spot opposite of Sutton won't be even close to settled by the Baylor game.

Defense

Not as many notes here, but still saw some good things and bad things. Most of the things are set on defense it appears although there's still some shuffling i nthe defensive backfield.

Defensive Backs lock down receivers

This could be more of a hit on the receivers, but outside of Sutton and glimpses of the talent with Thomas and Arrius Holleman, the receivers didn't do much. I liked David Johnson's physicality on the field. He has solid length and should be a regular contributor out there. A.J. Justice (above) and Jordan Wyatt locked it down on the backend well too. Overall, I feel comfortable with where SMU is at with corners and the future at that position. They did a solid job for the most part. Some of the throws were just great and beat coverage and yards after the catch (except for Sutton) were limited. Ajee Montes has slipped down the depth chart it appears while William Jeanlys was a big climber. He was featured at both the field and boundary corner spots. Horace Richardson is another one that I expect to see a lot of time.

Defensive Line will be solid

We don't know exactly where Zelt Minor (above) fits in, but if you're hurt, you can't contribute much. Zach Wood was also held out for precautionary reasons. That left Justin Lawler, Mason Gentry, Deon Green and Andy McClenghen working as the first group. Does Wood jump in for Gentry or Green inside? Green showed some flashes and Gentry has gotten solid reviews from the staff. Add in Robert Seals working at the weakside defensive end spot with McCleneghen and it's somewhat of a long jam all of the sudden. The running game had their way with the line a lot of the scrimmage, but the first unit really didn't see much time. When they were out there, there was pressure on the quarterbacks and the running game was generally held to minimal gains. There's suddenly depth (albeit unproven) along the defensive line.

The staff is uber comfortable at linebacker

Shakiel Randolph (above) didn't play much at the Star, which allowed R.C. Cox to have a good day at that spot. Kyran Mitchell was also out and that's another player that Shak praised in interviews after. That position generally will see a ton of production so it's nice to see the walk-on Cox making plays. Nick Horton didn't play and Jonathan Yenga played a couple snaps. That means that SMU must be really comfortable with them there. Anthony Rhone also played inside and was responsible for calling all of the plays. Randolph spoke about how well Rhone did doing that. Rhone impressed in the spring at the Star, but has since moved inside and did a solid job. With the likes of Caleb Tuiasosopo, Derek Longoria, Matt McNew and Jackson Mitchell also seeing time, SMU is in a good spot at linebacker. I was impressed with McNew on the field, but more so by how much size he's put on. He looks ready to go.


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