SMU has endured a brutal start to the season in part thanks to a tough strength of schedule. Luckily for Mustang fans who have endured enough misery to last the season during this 1-4 start, SMU will face the Memphis Tigers this Saturday. Memphis boasts the same record as SMU. The difference is that SMU's most disappointing loss was to one of the AAC's top teams in Rutgers while Memphis was defeated by Middle Tennessee State. Here are five players they should know before Saturday morning's kickoff.
1. QB Paxton Lynch- Lynch has been an average but efficient quarterback this season, completing 58.3 percent of his passes for 995 yards. The problem has been his sloppy play- he has thrown four interceptions but only two touchdowns. Now, this isn't completely Lynch's fault. His offensive line has allowed twelve sacks this season. Also as a redshirt freshman, it is expected for Lynch to have a learning curve. But if SMU can force Lynch to make mistakes, it can easily win the game. Another plus for the SMU defense- Lynch is not a threat to run (41 attempts for a measly 19 yards).
2. RB Brandon Hayes- Hayes is the work horse for a two-headed Tiger rushing attack. Hayes has rushed 72 times for 379 yards and is averaging 5.3 yards per carry. The fifth-year senior only has two touchdowns, but that is more a reflection of the Memphis offense as a whole than of Hayes personally. Hayes also has the ability to gain ten yards after a catch in the backfield so SMU linebackers will have to make sure he doesn't slip away from them. You should also keep an eye on Marquis Warford (40 attempts 275 yards and a touchdown) as a running threat.
3. DB Bobby McCain- McCain is the biggest threat on the Tigers to force a turnover on Saturday. He leads the team with two interceptions this year, one of which he returned for a touchdown. He also has a fumble recovery. He's not a great tackler, with only 12 on the year, but his overall pass coverage is solid- three break-ups and five passes defended.
4. LB Tank Jakes- In his first full year as a starter after playing in all twelve for Memphis last year, Jakes leads the team with 30 tackles (22 solo) and also has two sacks and a forced fumble, all despite playing linebacker at 5-foot-11 and 225 pounds. Jakes has a knack for shedding his blocker and taking down the ball carrier in the backfield. SMU should avoid running at Jakes when possible.
5. DL Martin Ifedi- Ifedi is a big presence in the Memphis defense. He stands at about 6-foot-3, 26- pounds and is more than a handful for offensive lines. Considering what a weakness the SMU o-line has been thus far, Ifedi could pose a real problem for the Mustangs. The redshirt junior from Houston Westside has 29 tackles including ten for loss and 6.5 sacks. He also has shown a knack for knocking the football loose throughout his career, so watch out for this multi-dimensional threat to disrupt in June Jones' offense during Sat
5 Memphis Players To Watch
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