Happy Saturday everyone, and welcome to week 7 of the college football season!
It’s a sad state of affairs that draft season has come so early to us, but with that in mind I picked out some (potentially) entertaining games with intriguing prospects. I have been concentrating on games featuring talented offensive linemen, but let’s take a break from that and expand our horizons a bit.
West Virginia vs. Texas Tech
To start your Saturday we’re killing two birds with one stone* and possibly covering two sports at once.
*Note: No birds were harmed in the writing of this post
Starting off with West Virginia and Texas Tech, we not only have a football game, but as two Big 12 Air Raid teams, this is liable to turn into a track meet as well. Both of these teams like to play fast and put up points, and neither is known for fielding much of a defense.
We’ll start with the home team and wide receiver Keke Coutee. Coutee is on the small side at 5’11,” 180 pounds, but he is a home-run hitter and a dangerous returner. As an undersized but athletic player from the Big 12, the obvious comparison is Tyreek Hill, but Coutee doesn’t appear to have the same raw, electric, athleticism as Hill. However, he has a way of making the field seem shorter and has a surprisingly thick lower body to run through arm tackles that you wouldn’t expect from a smaller player.
Balancing out Coutee is Dylan Cantrell, a big-bodied possession receiver who does a lot of the dirty work for Texas Tech. Cantrell is a willing blocker who often found himself blocking for more athletic teammates on the various screen plays that the Red Raiders run. When the ball comes to him, he shows the ability to use his frame to shield the ball from defenders and reliable hands to make difficult catches.
Surprisingly, the WVU player to watch is on the defense, “safety” Kyzir White. White is a big safety, listed at 6’2,” 215 pounds and is a punishing hitter. In fact, he spends much of his time playing in the front seven, and even on the line of scrimmage. His future might be as a “Telvin Smith” like undersized WILL (or nickel) linebacker.
Texas vs. Oklahoma
ESPN - 3:30 p.m.
Staying in the Big 12, Oklahoma has a few prospects worth watching, starting with quarterback Baker Mayfield. Mayfield might be the second most polarizing quarterback in the draft behind Louisville’s Lamar Jackson. Incredibly competitive and efficient, he is putting up some of the best numbers in college football. However, he is undersized and there are questions about his ability to consistently make the throws that are the bread and butter for NFL quarterbacks.
Mayfield is protected by massive offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. Listed at 6’8,” 360, Brown will be something of a difficult evaluation heading in to the NFL. One one hand he uses his size well as a powerful, mauling run blocker. But on the other, he might struggle with movement in space on the edge against NFL speed in pass protection. He might get tagged with the “right tackle only” designation in the draft process, but he is still a player worth keeping an eye on.
On the other side of the ball, we could have had a match-up in extremes with Texas left tackle Connor Williams, however his season is over due to a knee injury.
With Williams off the field, the player to watch for the Longhorns is linebacker Malik Jefferson. Jefferson isn’t the most instinctive linebacker around, but he makes up for it with tremendous athleticism. He is finally capitalizing on his upside this season and drawing comparisons to Jaylon Smith at Notre Dame — though he doesn’t have the almost prescient instincts on top of his athleticism which made Smith so special.
Georgia vs. Missouri
SEC Network - 7:30 p.m.
Finally moving along to the SEC, for those of you who get the SEC network, its time to check back in on the Georgia Bulldogs, and more specifically, Nick Chubb.
Chubb has exploded into his senior year, already tying the number of touchdowns he had in his 2016 campaign. Another year removed from his career-threatening knee injury, he looks like the player who was poised to make Georgia fans forget about Todd Gurley back in 2014. As I mentioned already, he has tied his 2016 total of eight touchdowns, while adding two yards per carry to his average. It is worth noting that Georgia is keeping mileage off his legs and has limited him to 16 carries or fewer in each game. Chubb has the size, explosiveness, power, and speed to be an every down back in the NFL and could wind up being a tremendous value for the team that takes a chance on him.
On defense, Georgia linebacker Lorenzo Carter is an EDGE player who is certainly worth keeping an eye on. He has the frame and athleticism to play in any defensive front and already has 4.5 tackles for a loss, 3 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles (3 recoveries) on the year. He isn’t being talked about in the same breath as Harold Landry, Bradley Chubb, or Arden Key, but he is definitely a talented edge rusher.