Neal Burcham Has Big Shoes to Fill for SMU Mustangs in 2014

By Tyler Brett
neal burcham
Troy Taormina – USA TODAY Sports

June Jones has developed a very distinct identity for his teams as a head coach. He’s going to spread you out and throw the football. The SMU Mustangs have taken to that philosophy quite well since Jones joined the program and will be looking to continue the wide open passing attack in 2014. Can Neal Burcham step into the starting lineup and keep rolling up the passing yards this fall?

Last season, SMU finished as the No. 8 passing offense in the country, averaging 341.4 yards per game through the air. They were led by the prolific arm of Garrett Gilbert, who finished fourth in the nation averaging 352.8 yards per game through the air with 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Burcham came on in relief of an injured Gilbert and started twice as a freshman in 2013 but struggled to find quick success, completing just 58.7 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and four interceptions.

There is reason to be optimistic about Burcham, however. In his two starts to close out the season, Burcham threw for 436 yards, showing that he could let it rip a bit. The 6-foot-3, 207-pound redshirt sophomore is the traditional drop-back passer that June Jones tends to like in his offense and the receiver corps has talent returning. Darius Jospeph, who recorded 103 receptions for 808 yards and five touchdowns in 2013, returns to lead the group with explosive Der’rikk Thompson looking for a bounceback season after his 2013 campaign was cut short.

Burcham has plenty of pressure on his shoulders heading into the 2014 season. SMU’s offense is predicated on a quarterback who can deliver the football and he’s following in the footsteps of a signal caller who was very good at it. Will he be able to step up his game and carry the Mustangs’ run and shoot back to a bowl game this fall?

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