Insiders Look: SMU Defense

SMU's defense has a ball-hawking safety in Chris Banjo. The Mustangs can bring a lot of pressure from up front and have a lot of speed.

Defensive Line – Taylor Thompson, Marquis Frazier, Torlan Pittman, Margus Hunt, Kevin Grenier
SMU's defensive line is big, strong and fast. Taylor Thompson leads the team with six sacks (eighth-most in C-USA) and forced four fumbles this season. The unfortunate thing about this season – and this could really go for all parts of the defense – is that this unit played well enough to win almost every game, but the offense didn't give them a chance.

Linebackers– Taylor Reed, Ja'Gared Davis, Cameron Rogers, Randall Joyner, Stephon Sanders Taylor Reed
Reed is the team's leading tackler with 93 and he averages about eight per game. SMU has the league's third-best rushing defense (No. 29 in the nation), allowing opponents 127.3 ypg. Ja'Gared Davis, although a jokester, is one of the best leaders on defense and leads the team with 11.5 tackles for loss. The most intriguing member of this group, however, is true freshman Stephon Sanders, who started in SMU's final two games and will likely start again in the bowl game. Sanders is smart, athletic, and the coaches rave about him being their next "big-time" guy.

Secondary – Richard Crawford, Kenneth Acker, Ryan Smith, Chris Banjo, Jay Scott, Justin Sorrel

SMU has the conference's fourth-best pass defense, allowing 223.9 yards per game. Seniors Chris Banjo and Richard Crawford lead a unit that played crucial roles in important games this season like TCU and Rice (the Rice game almost came down to a field goal, but Banjo tipped a pass on fourth down, preventing the Owls of gaining good field position and helping SMU clinch its Senior Day win). The defensive backs may not be the tallest guys, but overall are solid and can out-run receivers.

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