While this weekend of college football promises to be a bit more low key in terms of matchups than previous weeks, that only means it’s the perfect time to catch up on those prospects starting for bad teams to see how they fare against great competition. Matchups like Syracuse’s secondary against No. 2 Notre Dame or Clemson’s defensive line against Virginia Tech’s offensive line make those seemingly non-completive games watchable from a draft perspective. So, let’s talk about the games, leave questions on prospects, and enjoy the weekend!
Keep your eyes on:
DeVonta Smith WR (Alabama)
Smith has proven that he’s the Tide’s true primary threat on offense, now that Jaylen Waddle is out for the season with an ankle injury. He’s not a true burner, but he has more than enough speed to get by and the nifty moves to make defenders miss in the open field—hence his 1074 receiving yards this season. his battle on Saturday will be defeating LSU’s man coverage, as the Tigers still sport one of the better secondaries in college football. That group includes sophomore cornerback Derek Stingley, who’s likely a very high pick in next year’s draft.
Other players to watch:
Cole Van Lanen OT (Wisconsin)
The senior left tackle for the Badgers is a throwback at the position. He’s not a very impressive athlete and doesn’t move particularly well, especially laterally. But man, does he bring a lot of power at the point of attack. That’s exactly why he’s projected as a right tackle at the next level. This week, the goal for the Wisconsin coaches should be for him to get matched up against some of Indiana’s linebackers in the run game. He needs to demonstrate he can handle himself in the open field, especially against smaller opponents.
Tony Fields II LB (West Virginia)
The recent Senior Bowl invitee could fit nicely into the role of new-age NFL linebacker. What Fields lacks in size at 6’1” and 220 lbs, he makes up for with the vision and suddenness in his toolbox. Just last week against TCU, he was all over the field racking up double-digit tackles. Iowa State will present a different challenge though, as the Cyclones bring in arguably the best and most productive tight end group in the country. Fields’s coverage abilities are about to be scrutinized, to say the least.
Cade Otton TE (Washington)
Speaking of tight ends, Otton currently leads his team in receiving yards through three games. He’s 6’5” and 240 lbs, and not much of a blocker—but he really knows how to find the open space in zone, has decent enough speed and a great pair of hands for the position. Seeing any improvement in the run game would do wonders for his draft stock however, so hopefully Washington’s game plan against Stanford will be to run the ball down their throats.
Garrett Crall EDGE (Wyoming)
You have to love flashy smaller-school prospects from the Group of Five and Crall certainly fits the bill. The senior has only played one game since coming back from foot surgeries, but he was dominant in that game to the tune of a sack, two tackles-for-loss and a pass defensed. He’s a smaller pass rusher and looks like a 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level. He should have an even better follow-up game against New Mexico as the Lobos are terrible and have yet to win a game. Also, you have to love any prospect that can rock hair this long.
Game of the Week
No. 12 Indiana at No. 16 Wisconsin
Saturday, 3:30 P.M. EST
Not much choice this week, as two heavy-weight Big Ten teams get to square off.
Indiana is the scrappy newcomer with an offense that can score in bunches, possibly even despite starting second-string quarterback Jack Tuttle. The leaders there are their pair of dynamic senior receivers Whop Philyor and Ty Fryfogle. The defense can be just as dangerous at times though, thanks to talented linemen like Jerome Johnson and Jovan Swann, but most of all Jamar Johnson. The junior safety had two interceptions against Ohio State a couple weeks ago.
Wisconsin is a younger team, which means they don’t have a ton of high-quality prospects this year. The offense features the aforementioned Van Lanen, but also reliable receiving tight end Jake Ferguson. Defensively they’re much more dynamic, thanks to versatile linebacker Jack Sanborn and defensive tackle Isaiahh Loudermilk, who hasn’t produced much this year.