Expect your Saturday to feel a bit loaded, with plenty of big games throughout the day compared to last weekend's spaced-out schedule. I'll be tweeting throughout, so follow me @JoshNorris. All times are EST.
Florida at Miami, Noon, ESPN
Stephen Morris’ composure versus Florida’s entire defense
- There’s a lot to like about Stephen Morris (#17/6’2/215), namely his tendency to move in the pocket and take vertical shots, but he struggled at times against FAU last week. Here’s my extended evaluation on the quarterback.
- Morris did find some nice windows along the sideline, specifically a touchdown pass to TE Clive Walford (#46/6’4/249), and was let down by on two should be scoring throws by a freshman receiver.
- I believe interior pressure is more important and causes more disruption than edge pressure, despite the latter drawing far more attention. Few impressed me more than Florida DT Dominique Easley (#2/6’2/295), shifting over from DE, at 1 and 3 technique last week against Toledo. His hands were on the opposition after the ball had only moved an inch, forcing interior blockers back three to five yards. Here’s my extended evaluation.
- It wasn’t just Easley who impressed, Florida’s entire front four displayed strong and active hands to disrupt the flow of the offense. Redshirt junior LB/DE Ronald Powell (#7/6’4/234) and sophomore DE Dante Fowler (#6/6’3/263) will certainly battle stud RT Seantrel Henderson (#77/6’8/345).
-Speaking of Henderson, his talent is ridiculous. However, Al Golden insists on rotating in junior Jon Feliciano. Perhaps it is an off-field issue keeping Henderson from starting, but he’s the most talented player on that offensive line. Watch his punch on a few snaps and lateral mobility for such a big body.
-To quickly run through Florida’s secondary, junior CB Loucheiz Purifoy (#15/6’0/185) gets the attentions, but junior CB Marcus Roberson (#5/6’0/195) might be the better player. Jaylen Watkins (#14/6’0/182) likely has an NFL future.
- One last note, check out how TE Trey Burton (#8/6’2/225) is used and if his skills project to a Joker/move role in the NFL.
Buffalo at Baylor, 3:30, Fox Sports
Can Mack continue last week’s success against another tempo based offense?
- Buffalo LB Khalil Mack (#46/6’3/248) jumped on to the national stage last week against Ohio State. I won’t attempt to break it down like our own Ross Fulton did, so check out his extensive feature here.
- Ohio State loves to utilize tempo, but few do it better than Baylor. This allows junior RB Lache Seastrunk (#25/5’9/190) to wear down defenses. Some lateral runs could be clogged early in this game, but look for a couple of big plays once Seastrunk plants his foot in the ground and gets vertical.
- WR Tevin Reese (#16/5’10/160) is one of the best, albeit possibly limited to this area, and getting behind coverages for big gains.
- S Ahmad Dixon (#6/6’0/200) likely projects as a spur, or linebacker/safety hybrid in the NFL. These big safeties might be role players, but will be more coveted moving forward.
South Carolina at Georgia, 4:30, ESPN
Will Clowney make an impact on the box score to quiet the questions?
- DE Jadeveon Clowney’s (#7/6’5/268) impact was visible last week, just not on paper. It is a small sample size, but UNC QB Bryn Renner’s completion percentage jumped 23 points with Clowney off the field. The Tar Heels offense was noticeably altered to compensate for Clowney, with seemingly every play moving away from the talented defensive end.
- Georgia’s offensive line allowed four sacks last week, so expect roughly the same number against the Gamecocks. Many occurred on tight corner turns from defensive ends, which Clowney has shown the ability to do.
- Many question Aaron Murray’s (#11/6’1/212) big game performances. I’m not one to put an entire win or loss on a single position, but I think there’s a connection worth exploring here. Murray works best as a rhythm passer in a clean pocket, but his game drops a few notches when forced to move off his spot, find passing lanes, reset, and fire to an alternate read. Pass rush separates good teams and defenses, so the top teams possessing athletes who can get to Murray have hurt his performances.
- Here is my extended evaluation on Murray. Watch his go-to target in WR Michael Bennett (#83/6’3/204), who returns this season following an injury.
Notre Dame at Michigan, 8:00, ESPN
Can Devin Gardner win in the face of interior pressure?
- We know Michigan QB Devin Gardner (#12/6’4/212) is a special athlete who flashes real quarterback skills, but that needs to be on a consistent basis. The NFL has started to highlight quarterbacks who can spread defenses laterally and then hit them vertically, but the passers who sustain success win from the pocket. It isn’t an either or, but rather a combination. Gardner has the arm and the mobility, but does he have the patience to allow things to develop in front of him without escaping to the boundary?
- Notre Dame NT Louis Nix III (#1/6’2/326) is an outstanding talent. There are some real flashes of Vince Wilfork in his game. Whether it is holding up multiple blockers, driving a single block into the quarterback’s face, or splitting a double team with pressure, Nix can do it. As previously mentioned, interior pressure causes all sorts of issues for offenses.
- Irish 5 technique Stephon Tuitt (#7/6’5/303) has earned plenty of hype, but we wonder if he’s benefiting from some overhyped athleticism. He gained 20 pounds this offseason, so pay attention to how he wins and if that translates to the NFL.
- Michigan T Taylor Lewan (#77/6’7/315) is another prospect being mentioned in the top 10, but I think he is clearly a notch below Jake Matthews and Cyrus Kouandjio.
San Jose State at Stanford, 11:00, Pac-12 Networks
Will Fales show enough downfield ability, and can Hogan emerge as the top Sophomore QB?
- I really love how SJ State QB David Fales (#10/6’2/220) works in the pocket, moves in tight spaces, works through progressions, and finishes his throws with good placement. Many will question his velocity downfield to keep defenses honest, but I think he has just enough to succeed. Here is my extended evaluation.
- Be sure to check out his shifty WR Noel Grigsby (#23/5’10/175).
- West coast redshirt sophomore QBs Brett Hundley and Marcus Mariota (my personal favorite) have generated plenty of draft attention already, but Stanford QB Kevin Hogan (#8/6’4/225) has seemingly been skimmed over. That might be because he won’t enter May’s draft, but don’t be surprised if he emerges as the young quarterback to watch before next season.