NEPD Staff Writer: CJ Sousa
Wow. WOW. What a weekend in college football. Week 6 saw huge upsets, thrilling conclusions to games, and with Katy Perry getting substantial ESPN TV time, everyone truly went home winners Saturday (Except you, Alabama fans). Week 7 poses some just as important big time match-ups, but first let’s recap quickly.
SEC Battle Royale: It was truly separation Saturday in the SEC. First, Mississippi State took care of Texas A&M, and in convincing fashion. MSU QB Dak Prescott looked like a Heisman contender, and even though Prescott’s counterpart Kenny Hill compiled nice stats, he didn’t play so well. His favorite receiver was MSU LB Richie Brown, who caught 3 interceptions. The prospect everyone is talking about, MSU OLB Benardrick McKinney impressed throughout. Great flow, great anticipation… I’ve officially bought into the Junior ILB/OLB’s hype. In what was one of the ugliest games you’ll ever watch, Florida remains a contender in the SEC East after outlasting Tennessee 10-9. UF DE Dante Fowler Jr. was an animal and dominated the under matched Volunteers’ line.
In the biggest surprise of the day to me, Ole Miss beat Alabama, and QB Bo Wallace was the primary reason. I just didn’t think the Rebels, or Wallace, had it in them. Wallace threw for 251 yards, 3 touchdowns, and most importantly, 0 picks. My two receivers to watch in the game, Bama WR Amari Cooper and Ole Miss WR Laquon Treadwell both played well and made their presence felt with 9 and 5 catches, respectfully. It was Bama RB TJ Yeldon who was the more effective of the 2 headed monster with Derrick Henry, as Yeldon ran 123 yards on the day.
And in the nightcap, what a performance by Auburn. In my article last week, I said it was all about the start. LSU simply can’t generate the offense right now to play catch-up. Aubie scored early and often, cruising to a 41-7 win. Auburn WR prospect Sammie Coates had his best performance of the season, catching 4 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown.
Other Impressions: TCU defended home turf and landed a huge upset over Oklahoma. For what could be the most talented defense in the country (OU), they sure struggled giving up over 450 yards. Notre Dame won a hard fought game vs Stanford. Is Everett Golson slowly turning into a quality prospect? Maybe… I need to see more, particularly with how he does vs Florida State. But nonetheless, he’s played well enough to be in the conversation. And, maybe I need to cool it with the Ameer Abdullah hype (I won’t). I predicted the Heisman contender to have a huge game and carry Nebraska to a win at Michigan State. He did score twice in the 4th quarter to make things surprisingly interesting late, but averaged less than 2 yards per carry on the day with his team taking the L.
Playoff 4: Currently, I have it as follows 1) Auburn 2) Mississippi State 3) Florida State 4) Ole Miss.. and yes, Todd Gurley will be and still is your Heisman winner.
#2 Auburn vs #3 Mississippi State 3:30 CBS
You thought the cowbells were ringing’ last Saturday? With the Bulldogs taking care of Texas A&M and flying up the AP top 25, I expect the cowbells to be extra obnoxious Saturday. All kidding aside, this game could very well determine who goes to the SEC Championship game in December. Both Auburn and MSU are undefeated in the SEC west, both have Alabama remaining and both control their own destiny. LSU looks to be out of it, and with it still being a 5 horse race (A&M, Bama, Ole Miss, Auburn, MSU) every game is crucial. Can QB Dak Prescott continue to light up the scoreboard? Can Nick Marshall continue to be the devastating dual threat (100+yards rushing in 3 of last 4 games)? Those are intriguing questions, but to me all eyes are on LB Benardrick McKinney. Auburn loves to attack the center of the rush defense, over, over and over again. McKinney will be in the spotlight all game long, for better or for worse. I’m going to pick Auburn here. I think although LSU and A&M are very quality opponents, Auburn is a different animal and will expose some of MSU’s weakness’. Too much Nick Marshall, too much Williams and Coates on the outside. I’ll say 38-30, Tigers.
WR D’haquille Williams: Williams had a quiet day vs LSU in the 34 point blowout. I still think he is Auburns best pure receiving threat even with Coates being healthy now. Excited to see the passing attack when both are in there and contributing. He runs better routes then he gets credit for and has good hands. Great athlete for his size (6’2 215 lbs).
RB Cameron Artis-Payne: Another night at the office vs LSU for Artis-Payne. One of my fastest rising prospects rushed for 126 yards on 24 carries Saturday.
WR Sammie Coates: Looked to be finally healthy Saturday and had a big impact (4 catches 144 yards and a TD). I’ll re-rank my prospects next week, currently have him as the 9th WR prospect for the 2015 NFL draft.
Other prospects: C Reese Dismukes, DT Gabe Wright, S Robenson Therezie, OLB Cassanova McKinzy (Best name in CFB), RB Corey Grant, TE C.J. Uzomah, QB Nick Marshall
OLB Benardrick McKinney: Flew around and looked great last week. Flowed very well sideline to sideline, something A&M will expose if your skills aren’t up to par. Auburn’s jet sweep/dive run attack will place McKinney in difficult positions all game forcing MSU’s hand defensively. Gus Malzahn is my favorite play caller in CFB, and he knows how to put a defense in a bind. His scheme will put McKinney where Auburn wants him, not the other way around. This is McKinney’s biggest test so far, I can’t wait to see how he handles it.
RB Josh Robinson: Did you know, Robinson is one of 4 SEC Running backs to be averaging over 100 yards per game? Auburn did a nice job against Arkansas 2016 draft prospect Alex Collins, so it will be nice to see just how good Robinson is. He is averaging an astounding 7.5 yards per carry.
QB Dak Prescott: I’m not buying into the ‘next Cam Newton’ hype, but Prescott certainly is playing as well as any player in the country right now. Everyone talks about his rushing ability, but what will get him into the NFL is his ability to throw. He has improved, throwing a sharp ball and normally seems to be on time. I still don’t see him as a top 4 round prospect, but he will have his opportunities to shine (Auburn, Alabama, Ole Miss) to launch himself up draft boards.
Other prospects: WR Jameon Lewis, CB Jamerson Love, Justin Cox, TE/FB/ATH Malcolm Johnson
#9 TCU vs #5 Baylor ABC / ESPN2 3:30
Saturday will be the first AP top-10 game in Waco since 1956. Wowza. The Baylor Bears come in after handling in state rival Texas 28-7 (Boy have the times changed). Baylor QB Bryce Petty struggled, while only completing an abysmal 32% of his passes. Sophomore RB Shock Linwood carried the ball 28 times vs Texas for 148 yards and a score, and I expect him to see a heavy workload once again. TCU comes in riding one of the biggest wins in school history, upsetting #4 Oklahoma. TCU Junior QB Trevone Boykin played outstanding last week in my eyes. Was a legitimate threat on the ground with 77 rush yards, as well as through the air with 318 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception. His solid play has elevated TCU from a back end top 25 team to a top 10 team. At the end of the day, I think it will be too much for the Horned Frogs to handle in Waco. Baylor has some excellent playmakers who are finally back and healthy (Goodley and Norwood) on the outside and I just don’t see TCU sticking with them for 60 minutes. After a good fight from TCU, I expect Baylor to win this game, only question in my eyes is will they cover that 11 point Vegas spread.
QB Bryce Petty: I’m sorry, I just don’t see it with Petty… at least right now. Some have flirted his name into the first round and I don’t even see him as a day 2 prospect. He’s had times of inconsistency on film especially from the pocket. On throws he seems to have time for he tends to rush his footwork which leads to some bad mechanics. I want to see him vs Oklahoma until I can really have a definite opinion on him.
DE Shawn Oakman: Everyone talks about Petty, but to me Oakman is far and away the best pro prospect on the team. At 6’9, 275+ lbs, he is an absolute freak coming off the line. He has the ability to beat OTs with his pure length and his speed. A very impressive prospect to keep your eyes on. So far he has 5 sacks and 7 TFLs.
WR Antwan Goodley: Has had injury issues, but seems to be back and healthy now (6 catches 114 yards last week). Built like a stocky running back (5’11 220 lbs) who can flat out fly, Goodley is a playmaker to keep your eyes on.
Other prospects: WR Levi Norwood, RB Shock Linwood, OT Spencer Drango, Bryce Hager ILB
S Sam Carter: Shows good athleticism and very good ball skills on film. He seems to have that knack to make the big play when needed. Good size for a safety as well at 6’1 215lbs. Should be a day 2 prospect.
DT Chucky Hunter: Moves well for his size and has great feet. Not often a DT leads his team in tackles, but that’s exactly what Hunter did last season. Quick first step and great hands. Most draft experts have Hunter around the day 2 to 3 range… I think he has a very high ceiling and I have him as a 3rd round DT right now.
Other prospects: QB Trevone Boykin, DT Davion Pearson
#12 Oregon vs #18 UCLA FOX 3:30
Both teams had very disappointing weekends, and will have to respond after losing to two inferior opponents at home. Oregon lost Thursday night to Arizona at home in the Autzen Zoo, while UCLA lost at home in extremely sorry fashion to Utah. This game pits two of the best QB’s in the country against one another. Potential #1 overall pick Marcus Mariota has played well for the most part this year. He is completing 74% of his passes, however in last week’s loss vs Arizona, he completed just 62.5%. When he struggles, Oregon struggles. Same could be said for UCLA and Brett Hundley. He isn’t playing terrible, but he’s not living up to the post 2013 season hype. Both teams have offensive line issues, both teams have defenses that can be vulnerable at times…so I’m going to go ahead and pick the team with arguably the best player in all of college football (Mariota). Oregon, on the road.. I’ll say by 10.
QB Marcus Mariota: My overall number 1 player, although he still hasn’t played up to the (probably way too high) high expectations placed on him in the preseason. Through 5 games, he has yet to throw an interception while throwing for 15 touchdowns. I feel more comfortable personally with Mariota rather than Winston, both off and on the field, so he is still my clear #1.
CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu: Has made some freakish athletic plays this year (diving interception vs Mich State), but has also been vulnerable in coverage at times. Lacks good size 5’9 195lbs but can make up for that with his great overall competitiveness. I see him as a 2nd round caliber prospect who by positional need will find a way to be a first round pick.
OT Jake Fisher: Stock is on the rise. Great frame, good extension… he has a mid-round grade from me at this point.
OC Hroniss Grasu: One of the best centers in college football. Ideal for a zone blocking scheme. First really impressed me on film last year vs current Pittsburgh Steelers mammoth DT Daniel McCullers when Oregon played Tennessee. I have him among my top 40 prospects and could easily see him as a first round pick.
Other Prospects: DE/OLB Tony Washington, DE Arik Armstead, RB Byron Marshall, OLB Derrick Malone
QB Brett Hundley: He’s been great this year, and then he’s been bad. And at times, he’s been both. His physical talent is unquestioned, but his decision making, durability, and overall consistency is definitely a concern. If EJ Manuel can be a first round pick so can Hundley, but at this point I don’t expect him to be a major factor at the next level. Can he improve? Definitely. He will have to at least be on par with Mariota Saturday if the Bruins expect to be in the game for 4 quarters.
DT Ellis McCarthy: Was inconsistent at times vs Arizona State when I really watched the Bruins defense in depth. High upside though, still probably a day 2 prospect.
ILB Eric Kendricks: Kendricks has been all over the field this season. I see 5 ILB prospects that I really like, and who should all be second round picks or higher. They are ranked as follows: 1) McKinney OLB/ILB (Miss State), Johnson (Tennessee), Kendricks OLB/ILB, Perryman (Miami), Wilson (UGA). I like Kendricks because I believe he’s athletic enough to play multiple LB spots at the next level, and I don’t see him making it out of the first round. Then again, I didn’t see his brother (Mychal) getting out of the first round either.
Other prospects: OL Malcolm Bunche, FS Anthony Jefferson, OC Jake Brendel
#3 Ole Miss vs #14 Texas A&M ESPN 9:00
What a win for the Rebels last week. It was only the schools ninth ever win vs Alabama and only the 3rd since 1989, no wonder Rebs’ QB Bo Wallace was carried off the field. However in the SEC, there’s never any time to celebrate. Up next is the slowly sinking, yet potent Texas A&M Aggies. A&M’s biggest issues have been self-inflicted wounds. You think Patriots’ fans are upset about their team’s receiving core? A&M had an astounding, an absolutely astounding 15 drops on offense Saturday against Mississippi State. That is just absurd. Obviously, this must be turned around to beat Ole Miss. Senior QB Bo Wallace has seen his draft stock rise, however I’m still skeptical. A&M has some freaks on the defensive front who I could see give Bo Wallace all kinds of issues. There will be no cowbells at Kyle Field Saturday night, and I see A&M coming out with the win to move to 3-1 in SEC play. I think A&M has a good size advantage on offense and will be able to run the ball setting up easy passing lanes. If the A&M receivers can actually catch the ball this week, I think A&M will take this one at Kyle Field in what should be a shootout. A&M points, Ole Miss… less points.
OT Cedric Ogbuehi: Currently my 3rd OT prospect behind Stanford’s Andrus Peat and LSU’s La’el Collins. Has played well this year and still on track to be a first rounder.
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: His presence was dearly missed last week. A&M has a lot of good athletes at receiver, but it is abundantly clear Kennedy is the anchor. Should play this weekend, however as of 10/7 it is not a lock.
Other prospects: DE Myles Garrett* FR, RB Trey Williams, TE Cam Clear, DB Deshazor Everett, FS Floyd Raven Jr.
Ole Miss prospects
FS Cody Prewitt: He talked the big game vs Alabama, and he walked the walk. Not his most flawless game on film, but Prewitt was crucial in run defense of TJ Yeldon and Derrick Henry. He’ll be in the fire once again with A&M this week as commander of the secondary.
OT Laremy Tunsil*: Potential 2016 #1 overall pick. I think he’s already a top 2-3 OT in college, by the time the season is over he may be a better prospect then 2015 top prospects Andrus Peat or La’el Collins.
WR Laquon Treadwell*:Wasn’t a huge game breaker vs Alabama, but was a factor with 5 catches. There are plays to be made vs A&M, I expect a big game from Treadwell.
QB Bo Wallace: Carried off the field last week by his peers for beating Alabama. He is notorious for inconsistent play. He played great last week against Alabama with 3 touchdowns and ZERO interceptions. I just have a feeling he’s going to struggle in Aggieland… we shall see.
Other prospects: DE C.J. Johnson, SS Serderius Bryant, CB Senquez Golson & DE Robert Nkemdiche*
*2016 draft prospect
I’ll also be keeping my eye on the Red River Shootout at noon (Texas/OU) ABC, Todd Gurley, I mean #13 Georgia at #23 Missouri Noon CBS, LSU at Florida 7:30 SEC Network, and USC at #10 Arizona 10:30 ESPN2