by Greg Doyle
The second Saturday of college football kicks off today with some good matchups. As the season gets rolling here, we’ll start to see some really great games pop up. Let’s take a look at some of today’s best.
Miami at Oklahoma (12:00 Noon ABC): Unranked Miami (1-0) visits the 5th ranked Oklahoma Sooners (1-0) in a match up between these two traditional powerhouses who have not met since the 1987 Orange Bowl. This game should feature some hard hitting defense and excellent athletes on both sides. Here are some of the players to look for:
Oklahoma TE Joe Jon Finley (#19): You gotta love any football player named Joe Jon. He must be able to play. In this case, he can. Has excellent size at 6’6″ and 261, and he has 39 career receptions. Caught one pass in the opening win against North Texas this year. Was a high school quarterback. Solid blocker who has decent hands. Not the fastest guy in the world, but a solid prospect.
Oklahoma DT Steven Coleman (#90): A three hundred pound run stuffer who was Honorable Mention All Big 12 last year, despite low tackle numbers. That is a tribute to his ability to clog up the middle. Could draw interest in a Pats type system as a 3-4 end as he has the size. Also added 3 sacks, so not totally unable to get to the quarterback. Last year was his first as a starter, he should improve and put himself in the draft mix. A player to watch.
Oklahoma CB Marcus Walkers (#24): One of the top corners in college and definitely someone the Patriots will take a close look at. Has had some shoulder issues in the past. Walker was rated as one of the top corners coming into college out of high school a few years back and has been a good player. If he can turn it up a notch to great his senior year, he should at minimum be a first day pick.
Miami WR Lance Leggett (#9): Miami’s leading receiver last year has 70 career receptions. Trackster had second fastest 100m time in the ACC last year, so he has speed to burn. Excellent height as well at 6’3″. Known for his blocking as well, which should impress the Patriots. He has never quite produced up to his level of talent, but its hard to say for sure if that is his fault or the fault of the disappointing quarterbacks Miami has had the last few years.
Miami CB Glenn Sharpe (#4): Another excellent cornerback prospect, however he has suffered several serious knee injuries in his career and that will surely be a concern at draft time and could drop his stock a bit. Was healthy last year, his junior year. Had a big interception to clinch the Boston College game last year and send Miami to a bowl game. Been very productive when healthy. The Patriots will likely be in the market for corners and given his injury history, may be able to get him at a bargain spot in comparison to his talent. A second consecutive year would do a lot to help his standing.
Oregon at Michigan (3:30 PM ABC): Michigan will be looking to rebound from its embarassing loss to Appalachian State last week and it will face a tough foe in the Oregon Ducks. Oregon won their opener, but traditionally is a much better team at home than on the road. Some very good players in this game:
Michigan QB Chad Henne (#7): Has been a starter since appearing at Michigan as a true freshman. He didn’t get his senior year off to a soaring start with a very pedestrian game last week. He has all the tools, he’s the proverbial tall with a strong arm pocket quarterback. But still, there has been something mildly disappointing about his play since he has been at Michigan. His stats are good, but with the talent around him that isn’t surprising. Henne certainly has the potential to be one of the top quarterbacks in the draft next year, but he won’t do it playing like last week. The Patriots could have some interest, as they have had a bit of luck with Michigan quarterbacks, but he will likely be high enough in the draft they won’t take a quarterback at that point.
Michigan RB Mike Hart (#20): One of the best running backs in college football, he is shifty yet surprisingly powerful despite his lack of top size (5’9″ 202). Could approach or surpass 5,000 yards for his career, so his production can not be doubted. Doesn’t look to me like a back who’d strike fear into anyone in the NFL, but you have to be impressed by his durability, endurance and ability to carry the load throughout college. Needs to improve as a pass catcher.
Michigan T Jake Long (#77): Protects Henne’s backside and one of the best offensive linemen in next year’s draft. A team captain, first team All-American as a junior and one of the leading candidates to be the Outland Trophy winner as the best college lineman this year. Could be a franchise left tackle and definite candidate as a top 5 pick next year. The Patriots would probably love a guy like this, tough, strong, hard worker, team captain. But its doubtful they’ll be high enough in the draft to ever get near him.
Oregon QB Dennis Dixon (#10): A phenomenal athlete and interesting prospect. Can both throw and run, last week he had 141 yards rushing. Has a good arm, but sometimes holds the ball too long and commits turnovers at times. It’s possible the Patriots could look at him, he may even project to a wide receiver conversion. Also a baseball prospect and played in the Braves farm system this year.
Oregon RB Jonathan Stewart (#28): I talked about this player last week. Only a junior, but still worth watching. He has phenomenal skills, a rare combination of speed, power and size (230 lbs). But for some reason has always platooned and that was the case last week. He did run for 72 yards, but that was only third on the team for the game. Put up nearly 1,000 yards last year and does return kicks. He should be highly sought after in next year’s draft given his talent. Still, his lack of dominance continues to be puzzling.
Oregon RT Geoff Schwartz (#75): Massive and strong right tackle checking in at 337 lbs. Has started for 2 years previously. Coming off back surgery. Worth watching, given his size and experience. And for any team considering drafting him, I say let the Schwartz be with you.
Virginia Tech at LSU (9:15 PM ESPN): Both teams come in at 1-0. I took a look at both these teams last week, but this is such an intriguing matchup, it has to be highlighted. For last week’s players, take a look at last week’s College Scout articles. We’ll pick some different players to watch on both squads this week.
LSU RB Jacob Hester (#18): A former fullback who has made the transition to starting running back for LSU. Not flashy and runs somewhat upright, but he runs hard, has some surprising moves and has power to break tacklers. Also catch the ball well. A crunch time player who the Patriots definitely could like as a special teams maven and versatile guy who can play both halfback and fullback.
LSU WR Early Doucet (#9): A big, smooth receiver who does not have blazing speed but posseses great hands. Uses his body well to block off defenders. Came into the year with 103 career receptions.
LSU S Craig Steltz (#16): Taking over as a full time starter, he came up big in LSU’s opener this year with 3 interceptions. Has played behind some great players, but he has decent size and did play a lot in sub packages even before this season. Has shown a knack for interceptions throughout his career. The Patriots are likely to be in the market for safeties next draft, and this could be a target.
Virginia Tech NT Carlton Powell (#99): Athletic and hard-nosed nose tackle in the Hokies system. Slightly undersized, but seems to have the talent to slide to end in 3-4, which makes him a possible Patriots target. Could also play tackle in a 4-3. Team leader could get himself into the mid-rounds with a good year.
Virginia Tech CB Victor “Macho” Harris (#1): Only a junior, but is a potential shut down corner who may come out next year. Brash and plays aggressively. Makes plays on the ball. Good sized. Had a great first week, if that continues he’ll be tempted to put himself in the draft.
Other players to watch this weekend: Over on ESPN2 at 11:00 AM today, West Virginia takes on Marshall. West Viginia RB Steve Slaton (#10) has blazing speed, maybe the best I have ever seen from a running back. He ran for 1,700 plus yards last year and will be a top Heisman contender this year. On ESPN2 at 9:00 PM, you may want to check out South Florida middle linebacker Ben Moffitt (#59) as they face off against Auburn on the road. He is a inside linebacker who has put up great stats the past two years, has solid size and seems to fit the Patriots 3-4 system. Two years ago Moffitt was National Player of the Week leading South Florida to a huge upset of then #9 Louisville with a monster game. On some of the Fox Sports Networks at 10:15 PM, Arizona State faces off at home against Colorado. Arizona State running back Ryan Torrain is a big (6’1″ 213 lbs) runner who has a big year last year in his first season out of junior college. He has been called by some a dark-horse Heisman Trophy candidate. He went for 3 touchdowns on the ground last week, so it should be interesting to see how he does against the improved Colorado defense.
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