Matt Visinsky

Way too early look at SMU's 2016 Offense

Billy takes a way too early look at SMU's 2016 offense following National Signing Day.

SMU's 2015 offense was just 30 percent of what Chad Morris and offensive coordinator Joe Craddock. Matt Davis took some steps forward in the offense in 2015, but there's still a lot of development the coaches would like to see there. It's certainly his job to lose and he'll be operating behind a shuffling offensive line this spring as the staff looks to work out guys and find some sort of combination. That part of the offense won't be settled until fall camp when the freshmen arrive though. What is certain is the skill positions heading into spring, but even better, the offense will get more explosiveness from freshmen that will be looking to play immediately.

Quarterbacks

QB1: Matt Davis
QB2: Ben Hicks
QB3: Darrell Colbert
QB4: Ke'Mon Freeman
QB5: Jordan Severt

Departures: Garrett Krstich

It's Davis' job to lose as he's the leader of this team and took steps forward in becoming a better passer, but still was limited in what he could really do last year. Part of that, is the staff's decision to keep the playbook to about 30 percent and instead focus on doing things right instead of overwhelming the players. In year two, Davis will get more of the playbook and more talent around him. If Davis doesn't come out ready to rock week 1 in Waco, there will be questions as to whether or not he can get the job done in my mind. Davis has to protect the ball and get better in his progressions as both quarterbacks behind him will get even better by the fall. 

Ben Hicks is still the answer after Davis is done, but only if he can develop more consistency. That comes with more reps and a better understanding of the offense. Hicks has a chance this spring to grab the backup job coming out of it and I expect him to do that. Colbert played well in limited moments I thought, but has to improve too to beat out Hicks. With Ke'Mon Freeman in the mix, there might be an opportunity for some special packages for him too. Just something to watch.

Running Backs
Matt Visinsky

RB1: Xavier Jones
RB2: Braeden West
RB3: Jordan Carmouche
RB4: Aphonso Thomas
RB5: Ke'Mon Freeman
RB6: Darius Durall

Departures: Prescott Line

Another position that all of the sudden has depth and talent is running back. With the departure of Prescott Line, SMU filled a big hole at their big running back spot with Jordan Carmouche, but it also added two playmakers in Thomas and Freeman. One source told me Freeman is so strong and built already that even he could fill that big back role at 5-10, 210 pounds. Jones and West both had some electric plays last year, but also had a case of the fumbles at times. With more experience, Claude Mathis should help get those cleaned up. I don't think Thomas will redshirt, but there's a chance the staff could take a look at that if they like the three-headed attack of Jones, West and Carmouche. Not to mention Darius Durall, who probably will find himself buried on the depth chart, but could be serviceable if needed.

9-Man
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WR1: Courtland Sutton
WR2: Kevin Thomas
WR3: Alex Honey

Departures: Arrius Holleman

There's no doubt who the man is at this position right now and that's Courtland Sutton. The freshmen All-American was a highlight machine and while he had his ups and downs at times, he was either catching the ball deep or drawing a pass interference call. The SMU staff had to find some creative ways to try and get him the ball with other receivers being a little inconsistent and teams keying on Sutton. With an expanded route tree for the sophomore, Sutton should get more looks. With Honey coming off his redshirt year and Thomas already with a year of experience under his belt, both should push for playing time. Honey still needs to get bigger and stronger and Thomas needs to be more consistent. If both do that and can not have a big dropoff in production when Sutton comes out, SMU quarterback Matt Davis will be able to be even better.

2-Man & 5-Man

WR1: Xavier Castille
WR2: Ryheem Malone
WR3: Shelby Walker
WR4: Myron Gailliard

WR1: James Proche
WR2: Brandon Benson
WR3: Kevin Johnson
WR4: Joshua Shelmire

Departures: Darius Joseph, AJ Buffini

These positions are pretty interchangeable in Chad Morris' offense, but what you should know is they will usually be set on the same side or motioned to end up on the side opposite of the 9-Man. This is a group that you can't help, but be excited about. There's a lot of talent, versatility and some experience here as with the 9-Man. It's yet to really be seen how the group shakes out on the depth chart, but I've built this based on last year's with some younger players overtaking the past contributors. James Proche is the name to watch here. Word is that he's electric and might be the best receiver and now that he's off his mandatory redshirt, he should be able to step in and start right away. Xavier Castille will be another receiver to take a big step in his development. He's explosive, but looked at times like he was unsure and couldn't go full speed. That will change this year. He's more talented than Malone and Walker. Gailliard is another gadget player in the role of Kevin Johnson who could see time in some packages. Shelmire is a great candidate to redshirt.

4-Back

TE1: Jeremiah Gaines
TE2: Corey Rau
TE3: Hunter Herndon
TE4: Keyfer Roberts
TE5: Ryan Becker

Departures: Derek Longoria, Mitchell Kaufman (potential move back to LB)

This position now has some serious depth in it with Corey Rau arriving on campus and Hunter Herndon being healthy enough to push for playing time. In year two under Morris, Jeremiah Gaines needs a big step up in his ability to block and create separation. That will come with yet another year in the weight room and being more comfortable in this H-Back role that Morris' offense is almost centered around. Rau will certainly push for time as will Herndon. With the ability to now employ two H-Back sets with better results, that will help the running game, misdirection game, etc. The playbook will be able to opened up a little more with more reliable options out of this position in the passing and blocking game. 

Offensive Line
Matt Visinsky

LT1: Bryce Wilds
LT2: Chad Pursley

LG1: Chauncey Briggs
LG2: Braylon Hyder
LG3: Kadarius Smith

C1: Harrison Barton
C2: Travis Fister

RG1: Evan Brown (pictured)
RG2: Keaton Bates
RG3: Kadarius Smith

RT1: Jacob Todora
RT2: Braxton Webb

Departures: Kris Weeks, Taylor Lasecki, Bozidar Antunovic

With Kris Weeks and Taylor Lasecki departing, there's a youth movement along this offensive line as the team gets this influx of talent. Two true freshmen and one redshirt freshman highlight my group along the line and that might be a little aggressive of me, but with the need for talent more than anything along this line, the staff will be forced to go with the youth movement. This team is still a year away from truly being able to get rocking and rolling based on some conversations I've had and one area that has to see a big jump in talent is the offensive line. Build for 2017 and get some major experience under this group's belt in 2016. Briggs will be replaced of course after the season, but after his performance late in the year at guard, I think he sticks there to help the communication between two freshmen. Same goes for Brown inbetween Barton and Todora. The staff is extremely high on Barton and if he can get his weight up and the playbook down, he'll jump right in at center. He's that smart. 

I've said this before that I think Wilds and Todora are two high-quality bookend tackles for this team and they'll immediately get that chance as the starters. Down the line, Todora could move inside to guard as Braxton Webb develops into a tackle, but for now, Todora has the body to be ready as a right tackle. Brown and Briggs are two of the better holdovers from the June Jones era and will get their shot as starters on the interior. I think the staff would love to be able to redshirt a couple of the incoming linemen, but Barton and Todora are going to get that early look out of necessity and earning it. Smith is one to watch with some actual experience at guard that could keep him off the field behind Briggs, Hyder, Brown and Bates.


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