There are a handful of notable games this week, including UCLA vs Nebraska (Noon EST on ABC), Nevada vs Florida State (3:30 EST on ESPN), Tennessee vs Oregon (3:30 EST on ABC) and Wisconsin vs Arizona State (10:30 EST on ESPN), but I know many of you will be basing your day around one contest.
Alabama vs Texas A&M, 3:30 EST on CBS
Before I start listing off prospects worth checking out, I strongly suggest you read this piece from Ross Fulton, who takes an X’s and O’s look at how Nick Saban might try to slow Johnny Manziel down.
Also, I joined Kay Adams to go over a few notable names and matchups in this contest. Our Heisman watch video is located at the bottom of the page.
- QB Johnny Manziel (#2/6’0/208) has so much success in Kevin Sumlin’s Air Raid offense because of quick decisions, however, his success on broken plays is evident.
- Manziel keeps defenses off balance, forcing them to instantly react on quick throws and then carry out their responsibility for longer than normal on plays where he escapes the pocket or buys himself time.
- Quarterbacks who can stretch defenses laterally allow receivers, like redshirt sophomore Mike Evans (#13/6’4/225), to find gaps in coverage. Evans has some Marques Colston to his game.
- Expect to see stud ILB C.J. Mosley (#32/6’2/232) spy Manziel at the second level. Mosley started his career shining in nickel and sub-package situations thanks to his range. His game is now very well rounded, and as long as he keeps vision and works through trash the success will be there on Saturday.
- Junior S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (#6/6’1/208) told reporters that Saban has stressed to not take your eyes off your man. We think Clinton-Dix will emerge as the top safety prospect in the country and a potential top 30 selection.
- With Clinton-Dix manning the back half, expect to see junior S Vinnie Sunseri (#3/6’0/210) mirror more just behind the box. He will likely have to win open field battles against underrated senior Ben Malena (#1/5’8/198). Don’t be surprised if junior TE Cameron Clear (#85/6’6/270) has a few shot plays as well.
Walking the Fine Line
- We all know A&M LT Jake Matthews (#75/6’5/308) is outstanding, but I’ll keep saying this until someone listens: Don’t overlook junior RT Cedric Ogbuehi (#70/6’5/300) as another potential first rounder.
- Crimson Tide pass rushers, like redshirt junior OLB Adrian Hubbard (#45/6’5/252) and DE Ed Stinson (#49/6’3/282) will have to walk the fine line between getting upfield too much, which would allow for easy running and throwing lanes for Manziel, and purely containing, allowing for too much time in the pocket for a patient passer.
- Despite winning the National Championship last season, Alabama struggles to consistently generate a pass rush. Hubbard has skills, mainly length and strength at the point of attack, but he needs to maximize those in order to reach his potential.
Will McCarron Be Pressured Again?
- Alabama QB A.J. McCarron (#10/6’3/214) is unaccustomed to feeling pressure in the pocket, but that is exactly what happened against Virginia Tech in the season opener.
- Junior LT Cyrus Kouandjio (#75/6’5/310) has struggled to start the season, which is very uncharacteristic. He is overextending and allowing pass rushers to win on inside moves.
- Expect to see plenty of handoffs to sophomore RB T.J. Yeldon behind the inexperienced offensive line, and vertical shots to sophomore WR Amari Cooper and junior WR (#22/5’11/185).