SMU Defensive Preview

Joseph Yeager breaks down the SMU defense in preparation for the Red Raiders season opener.

In the Trenches: Starting at one defensive end spot in SMU's 3-4 scheme will be six-foot-six 265-pound sophomore Andrew McCleneghen. He saw limited action a year ago. In the middle of the line will be Darrian Wright, a six-foot-two 280-pound junior who saw action in all games last season and recorded a pick six against the University of Houston. Manning the other defensive end position will be Zach Wood, a six-foot-three 260-pound sophomore. He played in nine games last season.


None of SMU's starting defensive linemen is returning starters. Texas Tech's offensive line, currently regarded as a question mark, will remain so following the SMU game regardless of the outcome.


The Linebackers: One of the real stars of the SMU defense can be found at the strong outside linebacker position where six-foot-three 250-pound junior Stephon Sanders holds sway. Sanders is a returning starter who tallied 48 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and a pick six last season. Perhaps even better than Sanders is senior inside backer Randall Joyner. A strong All C-USA candidate, the five-foot-ten 235-pounder made 93 stops in only eight starts last season. He also had three interceptions, five pass breakups, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. SMU's other starting inside linebacker will be Kevin Pope, a five-foot-ten 225-pound senior who started one game last season, registered 20 tackles and scored one touchdown on a fumble recovery. The starting linebacker on the weak side should be sophomore Robert Seals, a six-foot-three 225-pounder who played in eight games a year ago.


All in all, this could be a good linebacker corps, and it will need to be given the fairly pedestrian nature of the Mustang front three.


In the Secondary: SMU returns starter Chris Parks at one cornerback spot. The six-foot-one senior had seven pass breakups and 48 tackles last season. Parks had a scholarship offer from Kansas State coming out of high school. Redshirt freshman Ajee Montes, a five-foot-eleven 185 pounder is expected to start at the other cornerback position. Jay Scott is a good player at safety from the Mustang. The six-foot-one 210-pound senior is a returning starter. He had 76 tackles, an interception and an impressive 10 pass breakups last season. Rounding out the SMU defensive starting lineup will be six-foot 205 pound junior Hayden Greenbauer. He started one game last season, recorded 20 tackles and a pick six. Greenbauer is an athlete with good speed.


This could be a pretty good secondary for the Mustangs. However, June Jones will be biting his nails with redshirt freshman Montes starting at corner. It goes without saying that Texas Tech will put Montes to the test and SMU will do what it can to help him out.

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