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Team: Southern Methodist University
Location: Dallas, Texas
2012 Record: 7-6 (5-3) Conference USA
2013 record: 4-5 (3-2)
Head Coach: June Jones, 6th year
Game time: 7 PM, Raymond James Stadium. ESPN 3
The Bulls, 2-7 (2-3) are coming off of an ugly performance against Memphis in a game where they managed just 10 points. SMU, winners of 3 of their lat 4 games, comes in with a powerful offense that averages over 38 points a game and throws for nearly 380 yards a game through the air.
Senior Garrett Gilbert (6'4" 22 lbs.) is the heart of the spread, quick pass system that Coach Jones runs with SMU. Gilbert has completed 316 passes out of 481 attempts for 3390 yards (65% completion percentage) including 21 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. The SMU offense relies on a fast pace, quick passes, allowing receivers to get out in space and create. For the Bulls to slow the SMU pace down, getting pressure on Gilbert will be key but not easy to do with the tempo and protection he gets in the pocket.
SMU's leading rusher is Gilbert. Gilbert has 82 carries for 261 yards and leads the team with 6 touchdowns. He isn't the fastest player on the field, but plays smart and know when to get down the field for positive yard. Sophomore running back K.C. Nlemchi (6'1" 220 lbs.) has 37 carries for 198 yards and 1 touchdown (13 catches for 71 yards). Junior Traylon Shead (6'2" 230 lbs.) has 51 carries for 197 yards and 3 touchdowns (6 catches for 26 yards) and freshman Prescott Line (6' 233 lbs.) has 56 carries for 186 yards and 2 touchdowns (7 receptions for 31 yards). SMU only averages 101 yards a game on the ground, relying on the quick passing offense to do the majority of the offense.
Senior wide receiver Jeremy Johnson (6' 179 lbs.) has 87 receptions for 925 yards (10.6 per catch) and has 6 touchdowns. Sophomore Darius Joseph (6' 195 lbs.) has 79 receptions for 691 yards and 5 touchdowns. Senior Keenan Holman (6'1" 185 lbs.) has 57 receptions for 895 yards (15.7 per) and leads the team with 8 touchdowns. Junior Der'rikk Thompsen (5'11" 190 lbs.) has 26 receptions for 365 yards (14 per) and 1 touchdown to round out their receiving corps.
The SMU offense doesn't take a lot of shots deep down the field, but throws short passes in space, allowing receivers to get yardage after the quick catch. There will be a lot of passes seen in this game and a fast pace from the SMU offense.
SMU utilizes a base five man front with no tight end. The line has three freshmen starting, along with two seniors. Both guards Ben Gottschalk (6-5, 275) and Kris Weeks (6-5, 285) are seniors with center Taylor Lasecki (6-3, 288) a redshirt freshman as are the two tackles.
The defensive line runs on a 3-4 base system. Junior defensive end Beau Barnes (6'5" 241 lbs.) has 37 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 5 sacks, and 1 interception. Fellow end sophomore Zach Wood (6'3" 258 lbs.) has 38 tackles, 5 TFL, and 1 sack. Both are active pass rushers and will be huge challenges for the USF tackles that have struggled all season in pass protection.
The unit is led by senior Randall Joyner (5'10" 236 lbs.) who leads the way with 74 tackles, 4.5 TFL, and 1 sack. Junior Stephon Sanders (6'3" 250 lbs.) has 63 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, and 1 interception on the year. Senior Kevin Pope (5'10" 225 lbs.) has 68 tackles, 9 TFL, and 3 sacks. Sophomore Jonathan Yenga (6'2" 215 lbs.) has 40 tackles including 8.5 TFL and 4 sacks.
Pope and Sanders are smaller linebackers, but together as a unit, they attack the gaps and make a lot of plays in the backfield. The get pressure and cause a lot of problems for opposing offenses.
The top players in the secondary for SMU are defensive back Kenneth Acker and free safety Jay Scott. Acker, the 6' 185 lb. senior, has 41 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 sack, and leads the secondary with 2 interceptions. Senior free safety Scott (6'1" 210 lbs.) has 51 tackles including 4 tackles for loss and 4 pass break-ups. For freshman Mike White who threw 4 interceptions last week against Memphis, he will have to be wary of where Acker and Scott are lining up in the secondary.
Senior Chase Hover (6'2" 185 lbs.) is 15 for 18 on the season, hitting a long of 51 yards and hitting 83% of his field goals this season. The returners for SMU are effective, but most of the focus this week will be on their passing offense.