Needless to say, there are numerous areas that need to improve for the SMU Mustangs to become a competitive football team. But one of the position groups that most obviously needs to step up is the Mustangs’ inexperienced offensive line.
SMU has allowed its quarterbacks to get sacked 13 times so far in the 2014 season; that’s is the third-highest total in the FBS, even though they’ve only played two games through three weeks of college football play. The 98 yards lost on sacks is also the second-most in the country.
The pressure certainly hasn’t helped the Mustangs’ quarterbacks, who have struggled mightily in the two losses, and also led to starting quarterback Neal Burcham going down with a season-ending right elbow injury. And while nobody would ever expect a June Jones-coached team to run all over an opposing defense, SMU has been held to an embarrassing -14 yards rushing this season.
That’s not to say that all of the offense’s struggles should be blamed on the offensive line, but there’s no question that they have struggled and are a major factor in the offense’s stagnancy. However, these growing pains shouldn’t be all that surprising (except, perhaps, the magnitude of the struggles) when you consider the fact that the offensive line is composed of two sophomore (left tackle Seaver Myers and left guard Daniel McCarthy) and one freshman (right guard Evan Brown) starter. While center Taylor Lasecki and right tackle Kris Weeks came into the season with a combined 38 starts, their experience hasn’t made much of a difference through the first two games.
Interim head coach Tom Mason has hired veteran Tim Davis, who will split duties with current SMU offensive line coach Wes Suan, to try and provide a boost to the struggling line. He’ll really have his work cut out for him this weekend, as the Mustangs will face a Texas A&M front seven that boasts one of the best, young defensive players in all of college football.
The Aggies have recorded nine sacks so far this season, with a majority of those coming courtesy of defensive end Myles Garrett. Through just three games, Garrett has already tied the school record for most sacks by a freshman with 5.5. That total is the second-most in the country and has Garrett on pace to easily surpass Jadeveon Clowney’s SEC-record eight sacks during his freshman season.
Texas A&M has allowed an average of 457 total yards per game against its two FBS opponents this year (South Carolina and Rice), so there is hope that the SMU offense could show a little more life than it did in its first two contests. But if the Mustangs’ offensive line is dominated again and can’t protect new starting quarterback Kolney Cassel or create holes for the running backs, they could be in for yet another brutal defeat.