The SMU football team is entering the final leg of its season, with only two games left against Houston and UCF and another bowl appearance at stake. If SMU can pull off upsets against either of their two opponents, its case for a bowl game will become significantly stronger.
The first step in this process is an away game this weekend against the Houston Cougars. While the Mustangs got lucky last week when their defense bailed out the offense after Garrett Gilbert went down, they will have no such luck against a traditionally strong Houston attack. This will be a tough game for the Mustangs to win, but with the Cougars coming in on a three-game slide, this is as good of a chance as they could hope for.
Here are the five players to know going into this week's game against Houston:
1. WR Deontay Greenberry- Greenberry is the most dynamic weapon on this Houston squad and will require the majority of the attention from the SMU defense. Greenberry has 76 receptions for 1,106 yards this season. He also leads the Cougars with ten touchdown receptions. While there has been something of a quarterback controversy in Houston the last couple of weeks (see the next entry) Greenberry will be the target of whoever is calling the signals for the Cougars on Saturday.
2. QB Greg Ward- Last weekend, Houston head coach Tony Levine pulled his starting quarterback John O'Korn in favor of Ward. O'Korn had completed 59.4 percent of his passes for 2,644 yards, 24 touchdowns and six interceptions up until that point. Ward, a true freshman, has only attempted 26 passes and has only 300 yards and a touchdown to his name this year. Levine would not outright say that Ward would start in place of O'Korn this weekend but did promise that Ward would begin to receive more snaps in practice for the Cougars this week.
3. LB Efrem Oliphant. Oliphant is a beast of linebacker and will chase Neal Burcham down all day on Saturday. The junior is not much of a threat in pass coverage, but he has 111 tackles on the season (12.5 for loss), three sacks, five additional hits on the quarterback, two forced fumbles and an additional fumble recovery. If SMU's quarterback situation forces them to call more runs this weekend than usual, that could play right into the talented Oliphant's hands.
4. DB Trevon Stewart. Just a sophomore, Stewart has had a fantastic encore performance after leading all freshmen in tackles last season. This year, he has totaled 90 takedowns, but that is not even the most dangerous aspect of his game. Stewart is fantastic in pass coverage and has eight passes defended and four interceptions this season. He also has an uncanny ability to find the ball when it hits the ground. He has six fumble recoveries to go with his two forced fumbles.
5. KR Demarcus Ayers. Ayers is not much of a threat as a receiver but he is dangerous as a kick returner. This year, he has averaged 26.8 yards per return and even broke out for a 95-yard touchdown return. He could slash the terrible SMU special teams this week.
5 Houston Players To Watch
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