Josh Norris

Weekly Prospect Matchups

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Week Four Matchup Preview

Friday, September 21, 2012

Saturday 8:00 pm EST on ABC
Clemson vs Florida State

Clemson QB Tajh Boyd vs Florida State junior DE Bjoern Werner and DE Tank Carradine
The progression of junior QB Tajh Boyd (#10/6’1/225) has been well received. The Tiger is moving much better in the pocket, stepping up to evade and escape rather than falling off of his back foot and throwing interceptions. However, he could be running for his life against top-ten caliber junior DE Bjoern Werner (#95/6’4/255) and JUCO transfer DE Cornellius “Tank” Carradine (#91/6’5/265). This could be Tank’s breakout game on a national stage, since Werner already has the focus of every evaluator. Junior T Brandon Thomas (#63/6’3/300) and C Dalton Freeman (#55/6’4/286) will have a long day on their hands but if they show positively it would be a huge plus. Perhaps the best way to slow down the Seminoles rushing attack is by utilizing RB Andre Ellington (#23/5’9/192) on draws and screen passes in order to suck the line upfield.

Clemson junior WR DeAndre Hopkins and sophomore WR Sammy Watkins vs FSU Secondary
Sophomore WR Sammy Watkins (#2/6’1/200) returned last week, but junior WR DeAndre Hopkins (#6/6’1/200) stole some of his spotlight in the first two weeks. Hopkins has been an excellent downfield target and tough at the catch point, but junior CB Xavier Rhodes (#27/6’2/210) is an excellent prospect in his own right. The FSU secondary is full of juniors, like S LaMarcus Joyner (#20/5’8/195), but they have plenty of speed to stay with the Tigers receivers. QB Tajh Boyd loves to leave the pocket on broken plays, so that may be where Watkins, Hopkins and WR Jaron Brown (#18/6’1/200) do most of their damage.

Florida State QB EJ Manuel vs Clemson DE Malliciah Goodman
Seminoles QB EJ Manuel (#3/6’5/240) has to have a good game. Has to. This will be one of the matchups scouts look back on to see if Manuel has progressed as a player of if he will carry the “project” label for his entire career. The senior really struggles to hit targets downfield, like WR Rodney Smith (#84/6’6/219) and needs to learn to use touch on shorter attempts to sophomore TE Nick O’Leary (#35/6’3/238). Clemson power DE Malliciah Goodman (#97/6’4/280) could really test the young FSU offensive line and press the pocket from the outside.

Florida State running game vs Clemson’s linebacking group
Last week, RB Chris Thompson (#4/5’8/187) broke out for 197 rushing yards on nine carries, beating every defender to the sideline and showing off excellent straight-line speed. LB Jonathan Willard (#46/6’1/223) and junior LB Quandon Christian (#34/6’2/224) have their work cut out for them, especially with the depth the Seminoles have at in the backfield. RB Lonnie Pryor (#24/6’0/229) can be used in short yardage situations, as well.

More Clemson Prospects
LB Corico Hawkins (#42/5’11/230)
TE Brandon Ford (#80/6’4/235)
S Jonathan Meeks (#5/6’1/210)

More Florida State Prospects
DE Brandon Jenkins (#4/6’3/260) injured for season
DT Everett Dawkins (#93/6’2/301)
DT Anthony McCloud (#92/6’2/322)
LB Christian Jones (#7/6’3/232) junior
LB Nick Moody (#10/6’2/237)
LB Vince Williams (#11/6’1/250)
K Dustin Hopkins (#18/6’2/190)

Saturday 3:30 pm EST on CBS
Missouri vs South Carolina

Both teams enter the contest with questionable injuries at the quarterback position. For South Carolina, junior QB Connor Shaw (#14/6’1/205) sustained a shoulder injury during the team’s opening game and has missed a large chunk of time since. His ability to stretch the field laterally with his feet while occasionally hitting a receiver downfield is critical for the success of junior RB Marcus Lattimore (#21/6’0/220). One of the top OLBs in the senior class, Zaviar Gooden(#25/6’2/230), will be chasing Lattimore and forcing him upfield in the Gamecocks one cut running game. C T.J. Johnson (#55/6’5/318) will attempt to get upfield on the second level while dealing with upfield DT Sheldon Richardson (#34/6’3/295). Missouri DE Brad Madison (#57/6’4/265) can also be productive off of the edge and force Shaw out of the pocket.

With the Tigers’ on offense, it all revolves around junior QB James Franklin (#1/6’2/228), who made headlines after refusing to take a pain injection prior to last week’s game. In fact, the entire Franklin family refuses to use medication to relieve pain. A majority of Missouri’s offensive play calls either involve play action or screens, which will force the South Carolina defensive front seven to read linemen, react quickly, and close hard. Many of those throws go to rugged WR TJ Moe (#28/5’11/200), and big targets Marcus Lucas (#85/6’4/214) and L’Damian Washington (#2/6’3/295). The Gamecocks defensive line is obviously led by sophomore DE sensation Jadeveon Clowney (#7/6’6/256) but DE Devin Taylor’s (#98/6’7/267) length could come in handy and teams will see how he reacts in space. At the second level, S/LB DeVonte Holloman (#21/6’2/241) will be waiting to clean up hits and he will be without S D.J. Swearinger (#36/5’11/210), who is serving a one game suspension that was handed down by the SEC.

More Missouri Prospects
LT Elvis Fisher (#72/6’5/300)
Kip Edwards (#1/6’1/200)

More South Carolina Prospects
LB Shaq Wilson (#54/5’11/225)
TE Justice Cunningham (#87/6’4/264)

Saturday 7:00 pm EST on ESPN
LSU vs Auburn

The LSU Tigers have already suffered a few significant injuries this season, namely starting junior LT Chris Faulk (#76/6’5/323), who will miss the season, and junior RB Alfred Blue (#4/6’1/220), who is out with a knee injury. The most important aspect of the LSU offense is to keep junior QB Zach Mettenberger (#8/6’5/230) upright since the first-year starter struggles to evade and move in the pocket. Auburn junior DE Corey Lemonier (#55/6’3/242) added weight in the offseason but appears to have the same burst off the edge, and along with junior DE Dee Ford (#95/6’2/245) will attempt to give the statue-eque quarterback fits. LSU has thick-bodied senior RT Alex Hurst (#72/6’6/332), but LT Josh Dworaczyk (#68/6’6/301) should have his first test on the blind side. Junior DT Jeffrey Whitaker (#54/6’3/302) can be a lot to handle on the interior while CB T’Sharvan Bell (#22/5’11/185) and CB Chris Davis (#11/5’10/185) battle downfield with the LSU receivers, specifically WR Russell Shepard (#10/6’0/195).

With Auburn on offense, sophomore QB Kiehl Frazier (#10/6’1/220) is at the helm, but junior DEs Sam Montgomery (#99/6’5/260) and Barkevious Mingo (#49/6’4/240) can disrupt any passing attack. Not to mention junior DT Bennie Logan (#18/6’3/295), who will see plenty of time against G John Sullen (#71/6’4/336). Junior LB Kevin Minter (#46/6’1/245) should keep a close eye on speedster RB Onterio McCalebb (#23/5’10/176), who can be dangerous if given the sideline. However, do not overlook one of the most versatile targets in the country, TE Phil Lutzenkirchen (#43/6’4/250). The tight end/H-back will have a must watch showdown with junior FS Eric Reid (#1/6’2/212), who certainly plays sideline to sideline and loves to punish at the catch point.

More LSU Prospects
RB Spencer Ware (#11/5’11/225) junior
RB Michael Ford (#42/5’10/215) junior

More Auburn Prospects
WR Emory Blake (#80/6’1/170)

Saturday 7:30 pm EST on NBC
Michigan vs Notre Dame

This game is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. First, Michigan QB Denard Robinson (#16/5’11/197) is always an exciting player to watch, but evaluators will not know what to expect from him until after the season. Junior T Taylor Lewan (#77/6’7/310) is one of the best in the country, and along with junior T Michael Schofield (#75/6’6/300) and G Patrick Omameh (#65/6’4/305), the trio will have a formidable opponent in stout redshirt sophomore DT Louis Nix (#9/6’3/326) and DE Kapron Lewis-Moore (#89/6’4/306). With WR Roy Roundtree (#21/6’0/180) missing some time, junior WR Devin Gardner (#12/6’4/203) appears to have made the full time switch from quarterback, while junior RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (#28/5’9/202) returned recently with minimal results. S Zeke Motta (#17/6’2/215) is super dependable, but there has been talk all week of how the Irish will replace S Jamoris Slaughter (#26/6’0/200) defensively after it was announced that he will miss the season. As always, ILB Manti Te’o (#5/6’2/255) will be a consistent force plugging lanes but pay attention to how he handles Michigan’s lateral movement and if he can reach the edge point quickly enough.

Junior RB Cierre Wood (#20/6’0/215) returned last week and displayed the same smoothness and burst to pick up solid yards. Michigan DT William Campbell (#73/6’5/308) and strong side DE Craig Roh (#88/6’4/280) will need to keep contain while still getting upfield to prevent big plays while allowing LB Kenny Demens (#25/6’1/242) to spy. C Braxston Cave (#52/6’3/305) did fairly well last week against Michigan State, but the matchup with the Wolverines is another stiff test. RB/WR Theo Riddick (#6/5’11/200) has been moved to more of a slot threat, while S Jordan Kovacs (#32/5’11/202) and CB J.T. Floyd (#8/5’11/184) could have a long day stopping leaping downfield TE Tyler Eifert (#80/6’5/252).

More Michigan Prospects
C Rocko Khoury (#63/6’4/288)

Saturday 7:50 pm EST on Fox
Kansas State vs Oklahoma

Another talent laden game features the Oklahoma offense led by QB Landry Jones (#12/6’4/230), who undoubtedly has arm talent but pocket comfort remains an issue. The Sooners have so much backfield talent that it exceeds the amount of possible touches. First, junior FB Trey Millard (#33/6’2/250) leads the way for tough RB Dominique Whaley (#8/5’10/195) and junior RB Brennan Clay (#24/5’11/201). Super shifty junior RB Roy Finch (#22/5’7/165) has become the odd man out, seeing very few touches and even spending time as a slot receiver. Kansas State ILB Arthur Brown (#4/6’1/228) will have his work cut out for him, but the senior is absolutely a top three player at his position. T Lane Johnson (#69/6’6/295) is an intriguing prospect but has yet to show consistency. CB Nigel Malone (#24/5’10/185) and junior S Ty Zimmerman (#12/6’1/202) will face junior WR Kenny Stills (#4/6’1/190), who is known for big plays vertically, and Penn State transfer WR Justin Brown (#19/6’2/209).

Optimus-Klein, Wildcats QB Collin Klein (#7/6’4/226), always puts the team on his back, therefore junior LB Tom Wort (#21/6’0/230), DE RJ Washington (#11/6’3/250), converted defensive end now DT David King (#90/6’5/286), and DT Casey Walker (#53/6’2/310) will all have to deal with the ground game. Klein has improved his passing, completing 75 percent of his passes longer than 20 yards downfield, after completing just 43.8 percent of those passes in 2011, so CB Demontre Hurst (#6/5’10/180) and recently returned junior S Tony Jefferson (#1/5’10/200) have to worry about targets going to WR Chris Harper (#3/6’1/228), TE Travis Tannahill (#80/6’3/253), and junior WR Tramaine Thompson (#86/5’7/165).

More Kansas State Prospects
FB Braden Wilson (#37/6’3/254)

More Oklahoma Prospects
DT JaMarkus McFarland (#97/6’2/295)
OLB Joseph Ibiloye (#5/6’3/220)
OLB Corey Nelson (#7/6’1/220) junior
CB Aaron Colvin (#14/6’0/175) junior
CB Gabe Lynn (#9/6’0/195) junior
SS Javon Harris (#30/5’11/210)
P Tress Way (#36/6’1/220)

Saturday 10pm EST on Pac 12 Network
Utah vs Arizona State

The discussion has to start with Utah DT Star Lotulelei (#92/6’3/318), who has done a much better job getting backfield vision and locating the ball carrier in order to cut down on wasted movement. He is flanked by The Kruger brothers, DT Dave Kruger (#44/6’5/295) and junior DE Joe Kruger (#99/6’6/270), and both will likely see time against G Andrew Sampson (#72/6’3/298) and junior T Evan Finkenberg (#62/6’6/292). Utes CB Ryan Lacy (#26/5’9/187) does not get enough credit for the kind of prospect he is and should do very well against WR Jamal Miles (#32/5’10/180) and WR Rashad Ross (#15/6’0/175), but perhaps more evident will be how he holds the edge and attacks the run against RB Cameron Marshall (#6/5’11/215).

Offensively, Utah looks a bit different this season. Instead of relying on RB John White (#15/5’8/186), the senior has failed to consistently beat tackles and is going down too easily on first contact. OLB Brandon Magee (#8/5’11/230) is an intriguing prospect that many have touted, so that matchup is one to watch. Also, WR DeVonte Christopher (#10/6’1/200) will face off against CB Deveron Carr (#1/5’11/190).

More Utah Prospects
DE/OLB Trevor Reilly (#9/6’4/238) junior

More Arizona State Prospects
OLB/DE Junior Onyeali (#5/5’11/244) junior
NT Mike Pennel (#99/6’5/340) junior

Josh Norris is an NFL Draft Analyst for Rotoworld and contributed to the Rams scouting department during training camp of 2010 and the 2011 NFL Draft. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Josh Norris

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