RB Jahad Thomas
The 5-10, 180-pound running back has had a huge start to the year with 979 yards through eight games and will be a huge priority this weekend for a SMU defense ranked 122nd in the country. The Mustangs have given just under 260 yards per game rushing and will arguably face one of their toughest tests so far. Despite the impressive start to the season, Thomas has slowed down with 66 and 82 yards respectively against East Carolina. Nonetheless he will be the guy SMU has to stop if they hope to get their second win of the season on Friday night. SMU will also have to deal with Thomas on kick returns and will have to look out as he’s already taken one kick back 100 yards for a score and has averaged just over 33 yards per return.
QB P.J. Walker
P.J Walker has also played a big role in Temple's 7-1 start this season by taking care of the ball and making just enough plays to win. Walker is coming off a tough performance against Notre Dame when he went 13-30 for 188 yards while also throwing one touchdown and one interception. The 6-1, 200-pound quarterback did show flashes running the ball for 38 yards which could be bad news for this SMU defense. In the games Walker has struggled, he’s turned it over a couple times and this will be the plan for SMU if they want to shut down this offense.
WR Robby Anderson
Aside from worrying about the running game, SMU is also going to have to keep their eye on Robby Anderson, a senior wide receiver with five touchdowns this year. The 6-3, 175-pound receiver is coming off a tough outing against Notre Dame but before that put up 126 yards and a touchdown in a win over East Carolina. Temple may not go to Anderson a ton, but with his great size, SMU will have to keep an eye on Anderson in the red zone.
SMU has had trouble at times this season taking care of the ball and for that reason, they better know where Matakevich is at all times during this game. The 6-1, 235-pound linebacker is a semi finalist for the Bednarik award for the nations top linebacker as a result of his five interceptions to start the year. To go along with his ability to force turnovers, Matakevich also has four sacks. Davis has been burned a couple times from blitzing linebackers off the edge recently and will have to keep an eye on Temple’s leader to avoid this happening once again. Not only can the talented linebacker do damage in the passing game, but also in the running game as he has eight tackles for a loss which is second best on the team.
LB Nate Smith
Not to be outdone by Matakevich is fellow pass rusher Nate Smith who provides the pass rushing punch to this defense. Smith spent much of his time at linebacker the past couple of seasons but switched to defensive end this season and has immediately provided the pass rushing presence Temple needed. Smith leads the team with 6.5 sacks and is also fourth on the team with seven tackles for a loss. SMU will likely pay a lot of attention to Matakevich which could lead to another big day for the