Armed Forces Bowl Breakdown: DBs

SMU will be without the services of one of its best defenders - senior cornerback Sterling Moore - in the Armed Forces Bowl. Will the rest of the secondary be able to step up and sufficiently halt Army's triple option? Also, who are the players to watch in the Black Knights' defensive backfield? How do Army's DBs stack up against the explosive Aldrick Robinson and his sidekicks at WR?

Unfortunately, Sterling Moore will miss the Armed Forces Bowl after getting injured in the C-USA title game vs. Central Florida.

When Moore was on the field this fall -- he played in 8-of-13 games -- it seemed that the Mustangs' defense played with more swagger. At any rate, Moore will be forced to root for his teammates from the sidelines vs. Army, and hopefully the Ponies can send him out with a victory.

Chris Banjo
Safety Chris Banjo was the top returning tackler from last year's squad, and the junior has delivered another solid performance this year, ranking third on the team in tackles (83).

Banjo owns two of the team's 10 interceptions. Moore also had two picks. Junior Richard Crawford has played well and is tops on the team with four interceptions, including a game-clinching swipe against East Carolina.

Crawford also ranks sixth on the team with 56 tackles, 40 of the solo variety. Sophomore safety Ryan Smith accounted for two interceptions and recorded 44 stops.

With Moore out, Bennie Thomas will see ample action at CB. Thomas has 14 tackles, a TFL, and three PBU. Justin Sorrell has quietly put together a nice season, playing in 12 games and registering 19 stops.

Richard Crawford
Since Army runs the football the overwhelming majority of the time, the secondary will face a different challenge than they usually saw on a week-to-week basis in the pass-happy Conference USA.

SMU, of course, isn't coming into this game blind against the triple option. The Mustangs faced a similar offense in the Navy game, and the defense was ferocious in the first-half (pitching a shutout) vs. the Midshipmen.

Sorrell was on fire versus Navy, finishing third (behind Taylor Reed and Pete Fleps) with nine tackles that afternoon.

Donovan Travis
The Black Knights' secondary is dominated by players from Texas. Their star DB is senior strong safety Donovan Travis, who led the team in INTs both last year (four) and this year (five). Travis, a graduate of Converse Judson, also ranks third on the team with 53 tackles.

The Black Knights get strong play from their other safety as well. FS Donnie Dixon, another senior, is fifth on the team with 45 tackles, and he's aggressive to boot (5.5 TFL).

Cornerback Richard King (yet another senior) is second on the team with four interceptions. He's a 5-foot-11, 188-pounder from Klein Forest HS in Houston.

Junior CB Antuan Aaron has been hampered by a hamstring injury, but the 5-foot-9, 188-pounder from Crandall HS in Dallas has performed well when healthy. Aaron has 27 tackles (20 solo).

-Josh Harvey-

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