NEPD Staff Writer: CJ Sousa
Party of one, you may be seated Mississippi State. In what is by far the best division in college football (SEC West), Mississippi State finally deserves to sit at the contenders’ table.
The Bulldogs owned week 4 by going into Death Valley and beating #8 LSU and ending their 14 game losing streak against the Tigers. MSU QB Dak Prescott threw for 268 yards and 2 touchdowns, while also beating the Tigers on the ground with 105 yards and 1 touchdown. While that upset was going on, another one was brewing.
The Jameis Winston-less #1 Florida State Seminoles had multiple nervous moments Saturday, MULTIPLE, but somehow held on to win 23-17 in OT. No Jameis though, so I won’t kill Florida State on that one. #22 Clemson played about as sloppy a game as possible with a true freshmen QB, yet still should have won the game. Clemson had some guys impress me especially Vic Beasley. I’ve been critical of Beasley. He made some plays in the backfield, cool. We all know he can do that. What I loved is I saw a legitimate want and desire from him to stop the run. He shed some blocks and made some plays. He left an impression. Speaking of impressions, welcome to the party true freshmen QB Deshaun Watson. The former #1 QB recruit in America looked composed, and threw for 266 yards while rushing for a touchdown as well. The future is now for the Clemson offense.
#4 Oklahoma had a difficult road test this weekend in Morgantown. Their defense looked vulnerable at times, and perhaps may not be the force we all thought. Nonetheless, they still went on the road, in primetime, and beat a sound West Virginia team by 12. They got the timely stops they needed along with solid special teams play early on. If that continues I don’t see a team on their schedule who can beat them. #3 Alabama took care of Florida about the way I anticipated. Florida is better, but Bama is loaded. Amari Cooper is truly special and after a quiet sophomore campaign Cooper is exploding on the scene this year (200+ yards, 3 touchdowns vs. UF). Cooper wasn’t the only Tide player rolling, as Derrick Henry took control of the Bama backfield Saturday with his powerful back-breaking running style. He looked the part of a bell cow and just dominated the Florida front line. It seemed like he broke at minimum 3 tackles on every single run Saturday, and he ended with 111 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. #2 Oregon for once struggled; they escaped on the road at Washington State 38-31. In a entertaining noon game, Virginia Tech absolutely choked at home vs. Georgia Tech. That game seemed to be over, before what’s regarded as the ‘nations’ best secondary’ gave up big play after big play late to an option team in Ga. Tech. Ouch. Worse than that collapse, what about one of an entire conference? The BigTen is just comical at this point. Michigan got outclassed at home, to Utah 26-10. Indiana had a big time win at Missouri however, and that’s what the conference is going to hang its hat on this week. And don’t let me forget about ECU. The Pirates are now ranked and deservedly so as they hung a 70 spot on in state rival North Carolina this weekend. Pirates’ QB Shane Carden has really improved his draft stock this season. After lighting up North Carolina, the senior QB now has 1,469 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 3 picks through just four games.
Race for the Heisman: Still see it as a 2 horse race right now between QB Marcus Mariota and RB Todd Gurley. Wish I could have scene Gurley unleashed against inferior competition last week vs Troy like Melvin Gordon was vs BGSU, but that would have just been unfair. Bama WR Amari Cooper is my 3rd in line, followed by A&M QB Kenny Hill. My last seat in New York goes to ECU QB Shane Carden. Not getting the national love yet, but when ECU finishes 11-1 and Carden has 35 touchdowns (BOOK IT), it will be tough to leave him home.
#11 UCLA vs #15 Arizona State *Thursday, 10:00 Fox Sports 1
Drink your coffee, take a nap before, people on the east coast are going to want to watch this game. The big question mark surrounding this game is if UCLA QB Brett Hundley will play in the game. He is practicing, ASU expects him to play, however there is no official word yet. New ASU coach Todd Graham has his team improved, and they believe ready to compete in the Pac 12. They haven’t been tested yet, but the Sun Devils offense looks explosive. So far, they are averaging over 38 ppg and 500 ypg on offense. UCLA isn’t the only team with QB question marks Thursday. JR QB Mike Bercovici will start for injured starter Taylor Kelley. ASU averages over 300 ypg on the ground, and one would assume they’ll try to smash it down UCLA’s throats Saturday night. I predict Hundley will play, and play well. But I think ASU pulls the home upset. Give me 34-31, Sun Devils.
QB Brett Hundley: Is he playing or is he not? If so, a great opportunity on national TV to prove he’s healthy and back. I doubt he still can make a run at the Heisman, but if so, he needs Thursday as a coming out party type of game.
DT Ellis McCarthy: Will be in the spotlight as ASU will be pounding the rock plenty Thursday. Physical, gap plugging kind of DT
ILB Eric Kendricks: Kendricks’ has impressed this season, as he leads the Pac-12 with 37 tackles through three games, including a conference-high 21 solo stops.
Other prospects: OL Malcolm Bunche, FS Anthony Jefferson, OC Jake Brendel
Arizona State Prospects
WR Jaelen Strong: One of my favorite prospects to watch in the entire country. At 6’4 205 lbs, Strong possess great body control and jumping ability. He has a good first step off the line and is a force to bring down once he gets the ball in his hands. His route running, and top end speed must and I believe will improve. Strong so far has 19 rec 266 yards and 2 touchdowns. A very, very exciting prospect.
RB DJ Foster: Smooth, composed, and confident with the ball in his hands. Never seems to be in a hurry. Let’s blocks develop and has great field vision. Good receiver out of the backfield too. So far this year he has put up some impressive numbers (510 rush yards 5 TDs 9.4 ypc/ 11 rec 139 yards 1 TD).
OG Jamil Douglas: Better in the passing game then the running game, at least at this stage in his career. He has good flexibility and has good balance in the passing game. On film he tends to get higher then you’d like when engaging defenders, he also has a bad habit of then ducking his head to compensate. Still though, a good prospect to watch.
Other prospects: DE Marcus Hardison, FB/H-Back De’Marieya Nelson, S Damarious Randall, DT Jaxon Hood
Arkansas vs #6 Texas A&M 3:30 CBS
The CBS spotlight game should be a doozy to watch Saturday. The old SouthWest Conference rivals’ offensive philosophies could not be any more different if they tried. Arkansas is averaging a whopping 362 rushing yards per game this season. They have a talented assortment of running backs led by sophomore Alex Collins (Remember the guy whose mom stole his L.O.I. on signing day because she didn’t want him to go to Arkansas? Yeah, him). Collins has been stellar this year for the Razorbacks with 490 yards rushing and 5 touchdowns averaging 7.5 ypc. Arkansas threw the ball only 12 times back in week 3 against Texas Tech (W 49-28) and I expect them to have a similar game plan vs the Aggies. A&M looked like world beaters on opening weekend, but hasn’t been tested since. Their schedule gets immensely more difficult over the next few weeks (Ark, @ #14 Miss St., vs #10 Ole Miss, @#3 Bama) so we’re about to learn how good these guys really are. They have endless weapons on the perimeter (Malcolm Kennedy, Josh Reynolds, Speedy Noil, Ricky Seals-Jones), but what happens when they play a physical team like Arkansas? I expect Kenny Hill to answer the call and have a big day. I think Arkansas will get their yards on the ground, no question, but it won’t be enough. Points will be scored in bunches at Kyle Field. A&M by 2 scores.
OT Cedric Ogbuehi: Has been in the spotlight this year and I think he’s handled it well. Has done nothing to hurt his top 10 billing, but I see him as a mid to late first round prospect.
OG Jarvis Harrison: A versatile guard who can play any of the interior positions, he should project as a mid-round prospect.
WR Malcome Kennedy: Has been QB Kenny Hill’s favorite and most reliable target so far. He’s a good route runner with so-so speed and average size. Potential late round selection. So far he has 30 catches for 334 yards and a touchdown.
Other prospects: DE Myles Garrett* FR, RB Trey Williams, TE Cam Clear, DB Deshazor Everett, WR Malcome Kennedy, FS Floyd Raven Jr.
DE Trey Flowers: Great size and length for the position. A&M will run countless screens and try to get Flowers & Co. to run sideline to sideline. I am intrigued to see if he can make an impact the way the South Carolina line could not vs the Aggies.
OLB Braylon Mitchell: Has been quiet so far this year. Must be more decisive in his movement’s especially towards the hole. His sideline to sideline quickness will surely be tested by A&M.
RB Alex Collins*: Just a sophomore (2016 prospect), I got him today as my 3rd best RB in the SEC behind Todd Gurley and Derrick Henry. He has good burst through the hole, he lets his blocks develop, and he’s decisive. A hard charging downhill runner who is a load to bring down, expect Collins to be a big name of interest come 2016 draft day.
Other prospects: OT Brey Cook, P Sam Irwin-Hill
#1 Florida State vs North Carolina State 3:30 ABC/ESPN2
What a chaotic week for Florida State last week. The half suspension of Jameis Winston, then the full suspension of Jameis Winston, then the full dressed Jameis Winston on game day. Not even a Florida State fan and my head hurt following that saga. Now it’s back to all football, mercifully. Jameis Winston and the #1 Florida State Seminoles will travel to NC State this weekend. Florida State has not lost a conference game since NC State beat them back in 2012, 17-16. The Wolfpack have a stud at QB in Jacoby Brissett. He’s looked very efficient (albeit against a weak schedule) so far throwing for 10 touchdowns to just 1 interception. NC State loves to run the ball as well, as they have a 3 headed attack led by Shadrach Thornton (283 yards 5 touchdowns). All eyes however, of course, will be on FSU QB Jameis Winston. How does he respond to watching his team luckily beat Clemson at home without him. I expect Winston and his favorite target WR Rashard Greene to both have huge days. The FSU defense should play well, but I believe Jacoby Brissett is good enough to make some plays. FSU will win, I’ll say by 14.
QB Jameis Winston: Enough off the field, more on the field. I expect him to come out guns blazing attacking the younger NC State secondary all game long.
RB Karlos Williams: Not sure what’s going on here, but his touches are dropping. Without Famous Jameis, one would have expected to see a lot of Williams Saturday vs Clemson. Not to be, as he only had 10 carries for 45 yards (did have a nice cut to the outside for the GW touchdown).
WR Rashad Greene: Huge role in the win over Clemson. 9 catches, 135 yards, 1 touchdown. Will be FSU’s leading all time receiver shortly.
TE Nick O’Leary: Played well in all aspects vs Clemson. Caught 6 passes for 78 yards, and was useful in run blocking too.
OT Cameron Erving: Considered a top five OT prospect by most at the start of the year and he’s done nothing to disprove that so far. Erving could be a first round pick next spring.
DE Mario Edwards Jr.: FSU’s best pass rusher was questionable to play vs Clemson. Played well early making some disruptive plays before leaving with a concussion. Questionable to play as of mid-week.
Other prospects: CB P.J. Williams, CB Ronald Darby, OG Tre Jackson, SS Tyler Hunter, DT Desmond Hollin
NC State Prospects
DT Thomas Teal: Doesn’t have great get off, but managed to get 3 sacks in 2013. More of a run stuffer. He can be tough to move and versatile on the defensive front. Mid to late round prospect.
OT Rob Crisp: At 6’7, 300 lbs, Crisp has the attention of NFL Scouts. He has yet to put it all together, but he has the physical tools to play at the next level if he can continue his development.
QB Jacoby Brissett: The Florida transfer has looked good so far for NC State in ’14. He was highly recruited out of high school and with good reason. He has a good strong arm and isn’t afraid to step up and make a throw. Right now on film he’s inconsistent once you move him off his mark in the pocket throwing wise, but he possess good athleticism with his feet to make plays down the field. I expect him to stay in school after this year and play his redshirt senior year. Look at him as a 2016 prospect with plenty of upside. What a place to start vs a defense loaded with NFL prospects with Florida State.
Other prospects: K Nicklas Sade
Missouri vs #13 South Carolina 7:00 ESPN
Columbia, SC will be the sight of ESPN’s College Gameday Saturday for a pivotal SEC East matchup between the limping Missouri Tigers and the suddenly surging South Carolina Gamecocks. This is a rematch of the insane game last year where Mizzou had its undefeated season snatched from them after a missed 24 yard field goal. After the embarrassing opening weekend loss to Texas A&M, South Carolina has responded with big back to back home wins (ECU, Georgia) and a conference road win at Vanderbilt. Star JR RB Mike Davis still clearly isn’t 100%, but has been playing better by the week. South Carolina has looked great at times this year, and also equally as bad…sometimes even in the same game. USC coach Steve Spurrier put it best when in a post-game interview last week said “We just do a lot of stupid stuff sometimes”. Missouri is coming off a tough home loss to Indiana (Finally, score one for the BigTen). Mizzou QB Maty Mauk has looked good at times this year, but has been indecisive at times and has turned the ball over a little much against inferior competition. Mizzou hasn’t truly been tested yet, and I think their season is about to blow up in their face. The next three games on the schedule are at South Carolina, home vs Georgia, and then at the Swamp. Very realistic the Tigers can drop four in a row here. I expect South Carolina to remain at the top of the SEC East standings and take care of Missouri, big.
RB Mike Davis: Has been banged up all year, and is easy to forget about with guys like Todd Gurley, Alex Collins, TJ Yeldon, and Derrick Henry in your own conference (to only name a few). Once he fully gets healthy again I expect him to become the bell cow of the Gamecock offense.
OT Corey Robinson: Has been up and down at times this season, particularly vs A&M, but has played well. A big, massive OT prospect who has good feet and long arms.
OG A.J. Cann: Has been great this year and really played well against a talented Georgia front 7. Safe to say he is moving on up draft boards.
DT J.T. Surratt: Has become the unquestioned leader of the defense. Very active for a big guy, as he blocked a field goal vs Vanderbilt last week.
Other prospects to watch : FS Kadetrix Marcus, SS Brison Williams, TE Rory Anderson (hurt), QB Dylan Thompson
DE Markus Golden: Golden didn’t play last week vs Indiana (left hamstring), and he’s questionable to play vs USC. Has been great so far, with 6.5 tfl and 4 sacks through 3 games. Very active pass rusher.
DE/OLB Shane Ray: Currently have him as a first round pick. Already has 5 sacks and 9.5 tfl. He’s a freakish athlete with reported 4.4 40 speed and a 40 plus inch vertical. He is great in pursuit and on film shows he has an elite level first step for a college defender.
Other prospects: OT Mitch Morse, ILB Kentrell Brothers, OC Evan Boehm, RB Marcus Murphy
Some other games of note include: Texas Tech vs #24 Oklahoma State, THURS, 7:30 ESPN, Tennessee vs #12 Georgia Noon ESPN, Maryland vs Indiana 1:30 BTN, #16 Stanford vs Washington 4:15 FOX, Cincinnati vs #22 Ohio State 6:00 BTN