Tag:Eastern Washington
Posted on: December 19, 2010 2:21 pm
 

Stars fail to shine in FBS, FCS upsets

Fresno State pass rusher Chris Carter and Villanova wideout Matt Szczur are well on their way to being NFL draft picks next April. They'll be hoping that scouts focus more on the brilliant careers, rather than the sputtering production each provided in their final games.

Carter, the 2010 WAC Defensive Player of the Year, was held without a tackle in Northern Illinois' dominating 40-17 victory over the Bulldogs yesterday in the Humanitarian Bowl.

Szczur, who had scored a combined five touchdowns on 383 yards as a runner, receiver and Wildcat quarterback over the Wildcats' first two playoff games, was held to only 67 total yards in the loss to Eastern Washington.

It was not surprising to see the 6-2, 240 pound Carter washed out against the run while playing defensive end. As you'd expect for a player of his size, he often was blown off the ball and wasn't able to keep contain, as the Huskies averaged 7.3 yards per rush.

What was a surprise, however, was that Carter was blanked as a pass rusher, as well. The nation's 7th best sack artist (11 on the year), Carter was unable to get clear and make a play despite being 80 pounds lighter than the Huskies' junior right tackle Keith Otis. That fact will concern scouts who like Carter as a potential 3-4 convert and 4-3 SAM linebacker. 

Matt Szczur's impact on the FCS semi-final contest against Eastern Washington was more impressive statistically-speaking than Carter's was, but not by much.

Szczur rushed nine times for 36 yards and caught four passes for 25 yards. He did rush for a touchdown, a one-yard QB sneak that narrowed the Eagles' lead to 20-14 in the second quarter, but only after fumbling the kickoff to instantly kill the previous drive. Szczur's fumble was recovered by EWU and led to an Eagles' touchdown.

I expect both players to enjoy bounce-back performances in any all-star games they're invited to. (The Senior Bowl has already extended Szczur an invitiation).

Unfortunately, while they may be wearing their university's decal on their helmet in that game, the final games for Carter and Szczur for Fresno State and Villanova, respectively, were disappointing.
Posted on: December 18, 2010 11:58 am
 

Who to watch in today's 4 games

There are four college football games today and each one of them offers NFL talent.

In the FCS Semi-final game to determine who will move on and play No. 1 Eastern Washington in the national championship, Georgia Southern travels to Delaware.

The Delaware Blue Hens feature NFLDraftScout.com's No. 3 rated senior quarterback, Pat Devlin . Devlin impressed me last week with his poise, mobility and accuracy. His arm strength has been questioned by scouts I've spoken to and there is no denying that the Blue Hens' spread offense makes it difficult to gauge just how much zip he has. That said, Devlin had enough to thread passes through tight windows and loft deep balls down the seam and sidelines last weekend against New Hampshire.

Devlin, a Penn State transfer, would be a great addition to a senior all-star game, such as the Senior Bowl or East-West Shrine Game.

Besides the FCS playoff game, however, the FBS bowl games, of course, begin today.

In the New Mexico Bowl between BYU and UTEP, I'm most looking forward to scouting Cougar LT Matt Reynolds . Reynolds is only a junior, but he's started three seasons with the Cougars and projects well to the pro game at 6-6 and 322 pounds.

In the Humanitarian Bowl pitting Fresno State against Northern Illinois, I'm most interested in how three FSU Bulldogs perform. Pass rushing phenom Chris Carter has been able to parlay his speed off the edge into the WAC Defensive Player of the Year, but at 6-2, 240, he'll need to show the agility to handle coverage responsibilities as an outside linebacker.

Offensive guard Andrew Jackson has been a standout for the Bulldogs throughout much of his career. His drive-blocking was an underrated component of Chargers' first round pick Ryan Mathews' success last year. Jackson has struggled with foot injuries this year, however. He should be as healthy as he's been all year long for this game.

Finally, the Bulldogs' Ryan Colburn has his final chance to impress in a Bulldog uniform. Colburn, 6-3, 230 pounds, has all of the physical skills scouts look for in a developmental quarterback, but despite his solid numbers (61.8% completion rate for 2,529 yards and a 21-9 TD to INT ratio), he's been prone to critical mistakes in the past. A strong final game, however, could be enough to get him into a senior all-star game and provide just enough intrigue that scouts will want him as a potential UFA.

In a classic case of burying the lead story, Troy's spectacular receiver/returner Jerrel Jernigan is the highest rated prospect in this post and playing today. The 5-09, 190 pounder is NFLDraftScout.com's No. 2 rated senior WR and he's already accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl. The playmaker with legitimate 4.3 speed will help Troy take on Ohio in the New Orleans Bowl tonight.

You can read more about the prospects to watch in the upcoming bowl games by clicking this link.

As always, remember that for complete draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here.


Posted on: December 17, 2010 7:01 pm
 

Legit NFL talent in tonight's FCS playoff game

Need to scratch that football itch?

There is an exciting game tonight in the FCS -- where they let playoffs determine the national champion.

Villanova and Eastern Washington meet tonight for the chance to play in the championship game. It should be an exciting game. If you haven't seen a game from Roos Field in Cheney Washington, you should tune in for a moment just to see the field. It's red.

NFL scouts will be tuning in for a different reason - the fact that 'Nova and Eastern each boast legitimate pro talent.

The greater talent lies with the defending champion Wildcats. Left tackle Ben Ijalana is the best of the small school linemen and ranks among the top ten senior tackles in all of college football, in my opinion. His quick feet, good balance and long arms could keep him outside in the pros, though some teams project him inside as a guard.

The most exciting prospect in the game is Villanova's do-everything weapon Matt Szczur . By do-everything, I mean take a peek at what he's done in the two playoff games so far: 25 rushes for 172 yards (6.8 yards per carry) and three touchdowns, 16 receptions for 153 yards and one score and 2-of-2 passing for 58 yards and another touchdown. Szczur earned a spot as Diamond in the Rough -- the most impressive small school player of the week -- earlier in the year. Oh, and he's a terrific baseball player too. So good, in fact, that the Chicago Cubs drafted him last year in the fifth round. He hit safely in 21 consecutive games over the summer for their minor league teams.

Ijalana and Szczur have each been invited to the Senior Bowl and are viewed as possible Top 100 prospects in the 2011 draft.

Eastern has a lot of talent, as well, but was dealt a blow last weekend. Their junior star running back Taiwan Jones broke his foot in the fourth quarter of Eastern's win over North Dakota State. Jones was spectacular in that contest, rushing for 230 yards and a touchdown before breaking the fifth metatarsal of his left foot. Jones, an All-American, rushed for 1,742 yards and 14 scores this year. There was some buzz in the scouting community that he was looking into leaving Eastern early for the NFL.

The Eagles feature another intriguing junior prospect in defensive tackle Renard Williams . The 6-2, 300 pounder posted 43 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks on the season. I love to see interior defenders that know how to knock the ball free and Williams did precisely that this season, forcing a team-high four fumbles on the year. Like Jones, Williams had a spectacular game against North Dakota State, registering three tackles for loss, including two sacks. Williams also forced a fumble and intercepted a pass.

The defensive player you'll hear the most about is linebacker J.C. Sherritt . Sherritt earned the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year award this season because, quite frankly, he's a tackling machine. Sherritt is Eastern's all-time leader 406 stops, including 15 last week. Scouts don't believe he has the size (5-10, 220) to remain at mike linebacker in the NFL and some teams are projecting him to strong safety. Sherritt does not appear to have the agility or speed to make this conversion in today's pass-happy NFL. Sherritt does play with spectacular instincts, however, and is fun to watch. Some team will give him a well-deserved chance to beat the odds.

This game will be played tonight (Friday) at 8:00 pm EST and televised by ESPN2.

They may be televising the game, but you should know by now where to get the best analysis.

As always, remember that for complete draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here.




Posted on: December 13, 2010 11:50 pm
 

EWU star Jr RB Jones won't play vs. 'Nova

Taiwan Jones' spectacular season is over.

The Eastern Washington All-American has a fractured bone in his left foot that will keep him off the field in the Eagles' semi-final FCS showdown with Villanova. Jones broke the fifth metatarsal in his left foot during Eastern's win over North Dakota State last weekend.

Jones was averaging nearly 200 all-purpose yards per game. He'd rushed for 1,742 yards and scored 17 touchdowns this season. His explosiveness had already generated some buzz in the scouting community, though Jones, listed by Eastern at 6-1, 205, is only a junior.

He was dynamic enough, in fact, that I highlighted his play Saturday night following his team's win over North Dakota State. Jones rushed for a career-high 230 yard performance in the game and that was with snow and, apparently, the injury slowing him down in the second half.

Posted on: December 11, 2010 10:09 pm
 

Underrated prospects prove worth in FCS playoffs

On a day when most of the college football world was focused on four players dressed in suits in New York City, there was some exciting on-field action and legitimate pro prospects also on display.

Reviewing all of the quarterfinal FCS games this weekend, there were several standout performances.

The most impressive, not surprisingly, came from Villanova wide receiver and Wildcat quarterback Matt Szczur. Szczur, my reigning Diamond in the Rough as the best small school prospect of the week, scored five touchdowns -- rushing for three, passing for one and catching -- in the Wildcats' 42-24 victory over No. 1 ranked Appalachian State.

Szczur, who battled a high ankle sprain for much of this season, clearly has regained his explosiveness, impressing not only with his agility and speed, but with improved route-running from just last week (when he accounted for 196 yards as a runner and receiver and scored a touchdown against Stephen F. Austin.

Draft Slant fans know precisely how high I am on Nova's "other" draft prospect, left tackle Ben Ijalana. His quick feet and good balance again stood out against the Mountaineers.

Szczur and Ijalana have already been invited to the Senior Bowl, the most prestigious all-star game in college football and one usually reserved for FBS prospects.

Friday night, scouts got their first nationally televised opportunity to see Delaware quarterback Pat Devlin, who also led his team to a victory.

Devlin wasn't flashy, but the 6-3, 220 pound Penn State transfer shook off a slow start to complete 27 of 38 passes for 261 yards and the Blue Hens' two touchdowns in their 16-3 victory over New Hampshire. Scouts like Devlin's mobility, short to intermediate accuracy and poise in the pocket. Delaware's spread offense is quarterback-friendly and rarely asks Devlin to make deep throws, but he showed better zip than he's often been given credit for. He, too, could wind up with an invitation to the Senior Bowl.

The most impressive player on the field in Eastern Washington's thrilling overtime victory over North Dakota State was the Eagles' junior running back Taiwan Jones.

Generously listed by Eastern at 6-1, 200 pounds, Jones looks a bit smaller, but scouts won't quibble about his size after this contest. The junior star rushed for a career-high 230 yards demonstrating a degree of explosiveness that simply is rarely seen at the FCS level. Perhaps most impressive is that Jones enjoyed his strong game in snowy conditions, which limited his effectiveness late in this contest. His lean build is similar to that of NFL star Chris Johnson and Oregon's Heisman finalist LaMichael James.

There has been some talk in the scouting community that Jones will consider leaving the Eagles early for the NFL. Considering the weak senior class of running backs, he could surprise as a middle round pick based on his big play ability.

Without an all-star game, however, to test his game against the FBS' bigger, stronger athletes level of competition questions will dog him, likely resulting in low enough grade from the NFL Advisory Committee to send him back to Eastern for another season.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com