Blog Entry

Reuter previews Saturday - Five Matchups to Watch

Posted on: September 17, 2011 10:25 am
 
Each week my fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter has agreed to provide for NFLDraftScout.com/CBSSports.com a listing of his Five On The Spot, as well as the following Five Matchups to Watch.

Chad can also be followed on Twitter @ChadReuter. He and I often comment on the day's games as the action occurs. Should you want to scout "alongside" either of us, simply follow us there.

Five Matchups to Watch:


1. Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins vs. Notre Dame Passing Defense

Cousins' eyes probably looked the size of saucers as he watched the film of Michigan beating Notre Dame's secondary for big play after big play last week. He has the set of fine senior receivers (B.J. Cunningham, Keshawn Martin, Keith Nichol) and tight ends (Brian Linthicum, Garrett Celek) to run rough-shod over the Irish defense in a similar manner unless Irish corners Robert Blanton and Gary Gray proves themselves more capable of playing the ball in the air.

NFL teams know Cousins is able to make throws from the picket, command a huddle, and possesses the agility to bootleg and make short to intermediate throws on the run. His arm strength has never been his greatest asset, however, so this contest gives him a chance to prove he is willing and able to test cornerbacks down the field with well-placed throws to the sideline when his receivers have the one-on-one match-up they desire.

2. Pittsburgh DE Brandon Lindsey vs. Iowa RT Markus Zusevics

Lindsey was part of a strong triumvirate of defensive ends in Pittsburgh the past couple of seasons, at least when Jabaal Sheard and Greg Romeus were healthy. He now stands alone on the strong side, and in this game faces against an underratedly tough and athletic Zusevics.

Lindsey had lined up on the weak side before Sheard headed off to Cleveland in the second round of last year's draft, but the presence of future NFL starting left tackle Riley Reiff will probably keep him battling Zusevics most of the game. Riding Lindsey around the pocket and protecting the inside rush lane will show scouts Zusevics has the potential to be reliable in pass pro at the next level, while Lindsey's strength against the run answers critics' questions about his ability to play on early downs against NFL linemen.

3. Auburn LT Brandon Mosley vs. Clemson DE Andre Branch

Mosley is a former junior college defensive end and tight end who stepped into the starting right tackle spot during the Tigers' BCS championship season last year. Now on the left side, he'll face an explosive group of Clemson defensive ends led by senior Branch.

Although Mosley is quite athletic for his 6-foot-5, 305 pound build, but he'll need to be quick and fluid in his lateral movement and prove his anchor against the surprisingly strong bull rush of Branch and true freshman Corey Crawford (who looks like he could live up to wearing former Clemson star end Da'Quan Bowers' number 93 jersey) if he wants to show scouts he could stay on the blind side in the NFL.

4. Temple LG Derek Dennis vs. Penn State DTs Devon Still/Jordan Hill

Last season Temple defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson opened eyes with his performance against the Nittany Lions, eventually leading him to declare for the draft and be selected in the first round by the New York Jets. Though not likely to be picked that high, Dennis could be the Owl whose draft stock climbs after facing talented Big Ten prospects.

His thick frame, brute strength and fair short-area quickness matches up well against both the highly-regarded, athletic Devon Still and the less-heralded but active and strong junior Jordan Hill. If Dennis can stop the advances of the Still and Hill combination early in the game, the 6-foot-3, 328-pound left guard should be able to wear them down as the contest progresses, just as Alabama's line did last weekend. Temple's tough junior running back, Bernard Pierce, will take advantage of the space Dennis can create.

5. Florida International WR T.Y. Hilton vs. Central Florida CB Josh Robinson

This battle may be a bit under the college football radar, but Hilton's seven-catch, 201-yard, two-score Friday night performance against Louisville last week did get him in the national spotlight. Robinson's talent has also been clear to scouts since he picked off six passes as a true freshman for the Golden Knights in 2009. Now a junior, he faces his strongest test yet in Hilton.

FIU will undoubtedly move their star playmaker around to try and find openings in the UCF defense. But any time Robinson lines up across from Hilton, scouts will watch whether the corner has the speed to trail the receiver effectively as well as fight for the ball or close quickly to dislodge it from Hilton's hands.

Honorable mention
Ohio State C Mike Brewster vs. Miami (Fla.) DTs Marcus Forston/Micanor Regis
Northern Illinois QB Chandler Harnish vs. Wisconsin CB Antonio Fenelus
Stanford WR Chris Owusu vs. Arizona CB Trevin Wade
Arkansas RT Grant Freeman vs. Troy DE Johnathan Massaquoi
Washington RB Chris Polk vs. Nebraska Front Seven

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