1. RB Kenneth Farrow
Last week, Farrow went off for 116 yards and four touchdowns on just 21 carries against Tulsa. That puts his season totals at 686 yards and nine touchdowns. Houston has been using him in combination with Ryan Jackson as a two head rushing attack, with a sprinkling of quarterback keepers too- however, he is the Cougars’ lead back. Like we’ve been saying all season long, SMU is not good against the run, and we don’t expect that to change this week. Either Jackson or Farrow could go off—maybe even both—but you can bet Farrow will get his 68.6 yards per game average.
2. QB Greg Ward Jr.
This week, SMU faces a quarterback who is a dual-threat, but simply chooses not to run that often. Ward has rushed for 304 yards this season and is only averaging about 3.4 yards per attempt. Keep in mind though, he does have some wheels on him- his 64 yard run is his and Houston’s longest run of the season. He has started nine of ten games under center this season and has thrown for 1232 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions. He doesn’t always make the best decisions, and he isn’t a prolific passer. He does with his arms and legs to keep Houston in the game. Against SMU, there isn’t much else you need.
3. WR Deontay Greenberry
With the exception of last week, Greenberry has been Houston’s go-to receiver in the passing game. He leads all Cougars with 54 catches, 617 yards, and four touchdowns. The next closest receiver to him in catches has 24. The 6-3 200 pound junior is a big target and can make a lot of impact plays for Houston. With his size and speed, he should be a mismatch for whichever Mustang lines up over him on Friday.
4. SS Adrian McDonald
The 5-10 190 pound Oklahoma native is unquestioned leader of Houston’s secondary. The junior safety leads the Cougars with five interceptions, seven passes defended and three fumbles recovered. McDonald is third on the team in total tackles with 55, second in tackles for a loss with six, and tied for third with two sacks. He has made an interception in each of the last three games and has forced five total turnovers during that stretch. McDonald is a ball-hawking safety that makes plays. SMU quarterback Matt Davis has been known to make a poor decision or two, and if does, don’t be surprised if McDonald is there to make him pay.
While McDonald is the leader in the secondary, there is no doubt that Oliphant is the leader of the front seven. At 6-1 220 pounds, the Houston native has been the Cougars leading tackler for two straight seasons (including this year); his 112 total tackles are 53 ahead of the next closest Houston defender. Oliphant also leads Houston in sacks with 3.5, tackles for a loss with 8.5, and quarterback hurries with five. The senior linebacker has also made two interceptions and forced a pair of fumbles. Oliphant can drop back in coverage, step up and play the run, get after the quarterback- he does it all. We can expect to hear his name a lot on Friday.