With Chad Pursley out, we saw a starting offensive line of Nick Natour, Daniel McCarty, Evan Brown, Jerry Saena and Chauncey Briggs last weekend, but because of a lackluster performance, that could easily change. The only one that truly has their starting spot secured however is Evan Brown. If guys like Saena, Briggs and McCarty cannot perform like they’re expected to as veterans, some of the younger players will get looks.
Topping the reserves list are Kadarius Smith, Jacob Todora, Braylon Hyder, Bryce Wilds, Travis Fister and Harrison Barton. If those in the first unit cannot perform, these six will likely be the first to get chances to steal a starting spot, especially smith because of his versatility. We saw Smith, the Plano native, get second team reps at left tackle, which could be a potential fix for losing Pursley for an extended period of time.
Junior Braylon Hyder was in a yellow jersey for last week’s scrimmage, but he could earn a starting spot at either guard position because of his strength as he continues to get into better shape. Despite losing a number of key seniors from last year’s offensive linemen, the talented freshmen coming in help with the unit’s depth.
Now that Chad Pursley is out for the foreseeable future, the big question is, who is going to fill in for him? At this point, it’s between Nick Natour and Kadarius Smith, and while Natour has the leg up right now, that could change depending on how these first two games go for the junior.
Smith, who originally projected as an interior lineman, has shown that he has the ability to hold is own on the island that is left tackle. But Natour has more experience after starting four games last year, so we will have to see if he can build off of those games.
Kadarius Smith will step up beyond expectations and earn the starting left tackle spot by the Baylor game. Personally I always saw Smith as an interior lineman, but he has show he has the athleticism to lockdown the edge. The fact that he has already shown he can play two different positions is impressive, and he is the most ready freshman to step in if there’s a need.
This position outlook is very similar to the defensive line: there’s some young talent, but we will have to wait and see if the veterans can step up or if the youngsters will be forced to play early. The Mustangs lose two starters from last year, but the unit struggled as a whole, so while they lose experience, they are gaining talents because of their freshmen class.
Ideally, you always want to redshirt freshmen linemen, but that isn’t a luxury this team has. Smith and Todora are the most game-ready freshmen, but their playing time is going to be based of the performance of the older guys. If guys like Natour and McCarty can’t perform, expect to see a heavy dose of this latest signing class.