QB Paxton Lynch
Standing at 6-7 and weighing over 230 pounds, Lynch is a big quarterback. As a passer, the red-shirt sophomore is having moderate success in 2014. Through six games he has compiled 1401 passing yards with nine touchdowns and six interceptions. He hasn’t been extremely dangerous with his feet and is averaging only 2.4 yards every time he runs. However if Memphis can move the ball into the redzone, that is when Lynch is most dangerous. Despite his pedestrian rushing average, Lynch has a team-high six rushing touchdowns. He isn’t the most dynamic quarterback SMU has faced this season, but he has the ability to cause some serious damage, especially once he gets into SMU territory.
WR Tevin Jones
Just like Cincinnati, Memphis likes to spread the ball around to a bunch of different receivers and Jones is one of two most targeted by Lynch. He is second on the team in receptions with 20 and in touchdowns with two. The 6-2, 218 pound junior saw limited playing time prior to this season is five catches shy of matching last year’s total. Memphis is still figuring out how to use him and given that he appears to be one of Lynch’s favorite targets he should get plenty of opportunities to show what he can do on Saturday.
TE Alan Cross
While he is fifth on the team in total receptions (14) he leads the team in receiving touchdowns with three. At 6-1 245, Cross is Lynch’s go-to-guy in the redzone. With receivers like Keiwone Malone and Jones drawing most of the attention from opposing defenses, Cross has the potential to make a lot of catches and have a serious impact on the outcome of Saturday’s conference matchup.
DB Bobby McCain
McCain does it all for Memphis: he leads the team in interceptions with three, in fumble returns with one (which he returned 59 yards for a touchdown), and he is the Tigers’ best kick return man- averaging 25.5 yards a return. At 5-11 and 195 pounds, McCain isn’t the biggest corner, but he certainly plays like it. Despite missing three games in 2013 due to injury, McCain’s six interceptions were good enough to tie for the NCAA lead. Coincidently one of the games he missed last season was against SMU. With the nose he has for the football, it’s a safe bet to assume he will make at least one great play against the Mustangs on Saturday.
LB Tank Jakes
With a name like Tank, it is fitting that this 5-11, 227 pound senior is the Tigers defensive enforcer. Jakes leads Memphis with 50 total tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, six sacks, three pass breakups, four forced fumbles and one safety. Jakes also recovered a fumble and picked off a pass through six games. Jakes was honored with the John Bramlett Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2012 (first season with Memphis), and was All-Conference USA Honorable Mention in 2013. Jakes makes plays. No matter what SMU does, they are going to have to go through him.