Five Players to Watch: SMU vs. James Madison

Demo breaks down five James Madison players to watch on Saturday against SMU.

QB Vad Lee

RS Jr. | 6-1, 225
906 passing yds, 8 passing TDs | 227 rushing yds, 2 TDs

Vad Lee (above) is the Duke’s most dangerous offensive weapon. He has size, speed, and an arm that can make all the throws. Through just three games, he averaging just over 300 passing yards a game and has thrown for eight touchdowns….unfortunately he has also thrown seven interceptions this season. Five of those came against Albany last week. Still, despite his turnover issues, he managed to put up four of his total touchdowns in a winning performance. Because of his ability to get out of the pocket and extend plays, containing Lee is going to be very important on Saturday.

RB Khalid Abdullah

JR. | 5-10, 206 | 340 yards rushing yds, 6 TDs

Behind every strong quarterback is a solid running back. The Dukes happen to have two effective runners this season. Abdullah and Cardon Johnson have each ran for over 300 yards this season in three games and have a combined 10 touchdowns—with Abdullah dominating most of the goal line work. Having a strong run game and a very potent passing attack is a testament to the quality of the JMU offensive line. Stopping Abdullah, particularly in the red zone will go a long way to throwing off this offense’s rhythm.

WR Ishmael Hyman

RS. Soph. | 6-0 185 | 7 catches for 153 yds, 2 TDs

Speaking about that passing attack—Lee has managed to spread the ball around rather easily this season. Five JMU receivers have at least seven catches. While Hyman is on the lowest end of that group he is probably the most explosive. He is tied for the team lead in receiving touchdowns, but boasts the best yards per catch average (21.86). Hyman also has the longest receiving play for JMU this season with a 66 yard reception. He might not be there focal point of the passing attack and that means the danger of overlooking him and getting burned is very real.

DL Cornell Urquhart

Soph. | 6-4 255 | 13 tackles, 4 TFL, 3 sacks

Nothing helps a defense more than a solid pass rush. Urquhart not only gets after the quarterback he can also step down and plug a hole. He anchors that defensive line and could give SMU some trouble. While Matt Davis knows how to move around in the pocket and avoid pressure, you still want to keep as many bodies off of him as possible. If Urquhart can get penetration, it could be a long day for SMU’s offense.

CB Reynolds Taylor

RS. JR | 6-0 195 | 13 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 5 pass break ups

JMU has three guys with one interception. Taylor isn’t one of those guys. But he does lead the team with his five pass breakups. Last season he started all 13 games and was named second team All-CAA and VaSID Second Team All-State. With his size and ability to get between the ball and the receiver, it’s only a matter of time before he gets interceptions. Last season he was a turnover machine—he had four interceptions, three fumble recovers, and three forced fumbles. He can have an impact on this game, especially if Urquhart can generate some pressure from the defensive front.

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