Last year couldn't have started any better for SMU quarterback Matt Davis with his first pass going for a touchdown to Courtland Sutton. After that, it was an up-and-down season for Davis, who although took steps forward from the 1-11 season in 2014, still has a lot of work to do. Freshman Ben Hicks redshirted and Darrel Colbert, Jr. was ineffective during some time he saw. Where does that leave the quarterback situation heading into 2016, let's dive in.
Davis really is the unquestioned starter. There's not much doubt about that. He's the leader on the team and he's expected to do big things this year for SMU. If he doesn't, SMU is in for a really long year.
Davis' ability to run and pass is a big boost for the position with some questions now with the offensive line as well as receivers who struggled to get open at times last year. Davis has Sutton back, who will only get better, but now has secondary options to go to with the ball that are poised to breakout. If Davis can't put it together with those options, plus a ground game that should only get better, SMU will have to turn to one of the younger quarterbacks.
Now with all that questioning done, Davis has the chance to be really effective. He'll be in the same system for a consecutive year for the first time in his career. That in itself will help tremendously. He's got the tools and has progressed enough for the staff to hold him out of the spring game (even with a minor injury). Chad Morris didn't name a starter out of spring, but everyone knows Davis is the man going into this year.
Hicks and Colbert, Jr. are in a competition for the backup spot and while we haven't been able to see much in camp, the August 20 scrimmage will tell a lot. That'll be when we really see who comes out on top. Hicks is your prototypical pocket passer, but has been wildly inconsistent while Colbert brings that dual-threat edge, but again, consistency in the passing game is where he's struggled.
I'll go with Hicks as your backup because if he's not and SMU doesn't get his feet wet when there's opportunities to, the staff has lost hope on Hicks as the quarterback of the future. When SMU has chances to, they'll need to see what they have in Hicks, which is why he'll be the backup.
Can Davis be consistent enough to drastically improve SMU's record? After throwing two interceptions against Baylor, Davis didn't throw an interception until the South Florida game, which started a streak of four straight games with one interception and a QB rating under 120. That ended with the Tulane game with SMU's win, but then Davis was horrific in the season finale loss to Memphis. SMU needs consistency out of Davis this year for it to have a chance to really take a step forward.
Davis hasn't exactly been mistake prone at SMU. Davis totaled over 3,000 yards of total offense with a couple games with brutal rushing performances and poor passing performances. I'll go with Davis topping the 4,000 yard mark of total offense plus having 40 total touchdowns and limiting interceptions to six on the year. That's a lofty goal, but with the playmakers returning, Davis can hit that.
Davis has all the tools to get the job done this year. SMU fans should be expecting a lot out of the offense. If Davis and the offense can stay healthy, there's a real shot for SMU to set some school records. Everyone is on the same page and the team loses little production from the previous year. Get ready to grab your popcorn, if Davis can be consistent, SMU will at least be fun to watch offensively.