Matt Visinsky

What to watch for: SMU Spring Game

Billy and Patrick break down SMU's spring game and what they'll be watching for when SMU takes the field.

Ben Hicks’ expanded workload

If Matt Davis is held out Saturday, Ben Hicks figures to get the first snaps at quarterback. He’s improved throughout the spring, but still is prone to inaccuracy at times. If Hicks plays well Saturday, SMU has a true competition at quarterback going into the summer and eventually fall camp, as opposed to feeling like an “open-competition-because-we-went 2-and-10” competition like it has been for most spring. A good showing from Hicks would also help assure fans that SMU is set at quarterback beyond 2016. -Patrick

Offensive line rotation
Matt Visinsky

The offensive line has been battling depth issues with the likes of William Barns, Keaton Bates and Daniel McCarty to name a few that have been held out throughout the spring. SMU has been shuffling the offensive line for much of the spring looking for competition and potential starters. Evan Brown seems to have center anchored down and I expect him to get a large majority of the reps as a chance to show what he can do before Harrison Barton arrives on campus. Chad Pursley will anchor the left side of the line while I expect to see Bryce Wilds at the right side and on the left in relief of Pursley. This is a big day for Wilds, who is certainly a bit raw still, but a lot is expected of him this season. The interior will be influx for much of training camp too, but the competition inside has been fierce and I'm interested to see the rotation there and who shows out.

James Proche

Chad Morris has mentioned Proche in every spring press conference this year, and for good reason. He’s electric with the ball in his hands and in the open field, has been running with Courtland Sutton for most of spring and has fielded a lot of punts. Sutton was last year’s spring game star, and if there’s going to be a receiver to break out this year, Proche is as good a bet as anyone. Chad Morris said in an interview on FOX4 that he wants to get a preliminary idea of the depth chart after Saturday. Proche can be the early leader for starting slot receiver with a good game. -Patrick

Improvement from linebackers
Matt Visinsky

This is a group that struggled mightily last season and lost its top tackler. SMU signed a defensive-heavy freshman class, but much of that depth comes on the line and in the secondary. SMU signed four linebackers, but the group isn’t as much of a lock for early playing time as the other two defensive units are. Of course, the season is still four and a half months away and anything can happen. One freshman could surprise and have a great summer and fall camp. Regardless, the returning linebackers need to show something. Matt McNew and Jackson Mitchell have had good springs, but SMU needs depth behind them. Kyran Mitchell probably won’t be available Saturday, making star linebacker even more wide open. If two or three guys stand out from the rest, SMU should feel good. -Patrick

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Pass rushing options
Matt Visinsky

Hunter Thedford and Michael and Delontae Scott redshirted this past season and from what we've been hearing, have been having productive spring practices. They figure to contribute with Justin Lawler to SMU's pass rush this season along with Michael Badejo when he arrives in the fall. The Scott brothers are expected to really contribute this year while the surprise of the spring has been Thedford, who while still needs to add some weight has been in the backfield a lot as an edge rusher. Zelt Minor, Mason Gentry, Deon Green and Chris Biggurs will get a chance to showcase their skills along the interior, but for the ends, it's showtime and time to produce to earn more reps right off the bat in fall camp. -Billy

Kicking Game

SMU lost Jackson Koonce to transfer this offseason and while the Mustangs have punter Jamie Sackville coming in the fall that could definitely take on that roll and thrive it appears, but what about the field goal duties? Josh Williams will have the pressure on him to perform as Chad Hedlund graduated. Williams was signed as both a punter and kicker, but will likely focus just on kicking this fall. Reports out of the spring have been mixed that Williams hasn't been consistent or even at times, good in general. He'll have a chance to show off his leg that made him a highly-ranked kicker coming out of high school. The kicking game could certainly make a difference between some games this fall and Williams could either build confidence in him from Mustangs fans or worry them with his performance tomorrow. -Billy


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