Week 12 Prospect Match-up: Stanford-USC highlights weekend
Know the top NFL prospects to watch this weekend in the pivotal matchups on the college football landscape
STANFORD | USC
Saturday, November 16, 8 p.m.
Los Angeles, Calif. – ABC
Seven weeks ago, the Trojans were blown out by Arizona State, which led to the dismissal of Lane Kiffin as the head coach at USC. Evidently that was rock bottom because since that loss, the Trojans are 4-1 and look like a rejuvenated squad under the interim head coach Ed Orgeron. Two months ago, this match-up against Stanford looked like another potential lopsided loss, but now many are giving USC hope. The Cardinal are coming off the biggest win of the season, knocking off previously unbeaten Oregon for the second straight year. Although it’s not a traditional rivalry, USC-Stanford has a storied history as this year’s meeting is the 91st match-up and the last three games between the two programs have been decided by a touchdown or less. Both rosters are loaded with future NFLers and several intriguing match-ups will be on display and worth watching.
USC WR Marqise Lee vs. Stanford CB Wayne Lyons
The reigning Biletnikoff Award winner as the nation’s top wide receiver, junior WR Marqise Lee (6-0, 195, 4.49, #9) leads the Trojans in catches, despite missing a few games due to a lingering left knee sprain. But this week, he told reporters that the coaches will “let him loose” now that he’s back at 100% healthy and with only two touchdowns on the season, the Trojans will need his home run ability. The Cardinal is known for their suffocating front-seven, but in the back half of the field, junior CB Wayne Lyons (6-1, 196, 4.50, #2) has improved his play this season and has made an impact vs. the pass and the run. He ranks among the team leaders in tackles (48), but is still searching for his first interception.
Stanford LG David Yankey/RG Kevin Danser vs. USC DT George Uko
Any discussion on which offensive line is the best in college football should include Stanford. And while it’s usually the tackles who receive most of the credit, the Cardinal has a pair of guards who deserve a lot of credit for Stanford’s ability to sustain drives and pound the rock. Junior LG David Yankey (6-5, 314, 5.08, #54) and senior RG Kevin Danser (6-5, 296, 5.73, #76) both play like each snap could be their last with a gritty, competitive nature. The USC defensive line has several impact defenders, but junior DT George Uko (6-3, 285, 5.02, #90) is the player I want to isolate in this match-up. He flashes obvious natural ability with strength and athleticism to win at the point, but needs to improve his discipline.
USC ROT Kevin Graf vs. Stanford DE/OLB Trent Murphy
The USC program has produced several impressive offensive tackle prospects the last few years, notably top-10 picks Matt Kalil and Tyron Smith. And while senior ROT Kevin Graf (6-6, 300, 5.24, #77) doesn’t compare to either, he does have some talent to work with for the next level. If he can produce positive game tape from this game for NFL scouts, that will go a long way for his pro evaluation because he’ll face several future NFL players who are currently in Stanford’s front-seven. Senior DE/OLB Trent Murphy (6-6, 261, 4.86, #93) leads the Pac 12 in sacks (10.0) and tackles for loss (14.0) and will be a handful for Graf and the rest of the Trojans offensive line to keep Murphy from the pocket.
USC RB Silas Redd vs. Stanford ILB Shayne Skov
After missing the first five games of the season due to a left knee injury, senior RB Silas Redd (5-9, 200, 4.53, #25) looked to get stronger over the last few weeks, including a season-high 141 yard rushing performance against Oregon State. But last week against Cal, he injured his right knee and didn’t return to the game. Redd is considered questionable for Stanford, but if he’s able to go, his match-up against Cardinal senior ILB Shayne Skov (6-2, 245, 4.85, #11) will be one of the keys to this game. Skov has only average straight-line speed and lacks elite range for the position, but where he wins is with his anticipation as a blitzer and tone-setting competitiveness that allows him to sniff out the play and attack.
OTHER CARDINAL PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
RB Tyler Gaffney, RS senior (6-0, 226, 4.57, #25)
FB Ryan Hewitt, RS senior (6-4, 246, 4.86, #85)
DE Josh Mauro, RS senior (6-6, 282, 4.98, #90)
QB Kevin Hogan, RS sophomore (6-4, 228, 4.84, #8)
WR Ty Montgomery, junior (6-2, 215, 4.52, #7)
DE Henry Anderson, RS junior (6-5, 295, 4.88, #91)
OTHER TROJANS PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
OLB Morgan Breslin, senior (6-1, 250, 4.67, #91)
SS Dion Bailey, RS junior (6-0, 210, 4.58, #18)
TE Xavier Grimble, RS junior (6-5, 255, 4.72, #86)
CB Torin Harris, RS senior (6-0, 190, 4.49, #4)
DE Devon Kennard, RS senior (6-3, 260, 4.86, #42)
RG Aundrey Walker, junior (6-5, 308, 5.48, #70)
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH:
GEORGIA TECH at CLEMSON
Thursday, Nov. 14, 7:30 p.m.
Clemson, S.C – ESPN
WHEN THE YELLOW JACKETS HAVE THE BALL…
The Georgia Tech triple-option offense can be tough to prepare for, but the Yellow Jackets don’t rank among the top-50 offenses at the FBS level and are lacking for NFL prospects on that side of the ball. RS senior RB David Sims (5-11, 222, 4.59, #20) leads the Georgia Tech offense in rushing with 627 yards, but is more of an UDFA-type. For Clemson on defense, RS junior DE/OLB Vic Beasley (6-2, 235, 4.64, #3) is one of five rushers at the FBS level with double-digit sacks (10.0) so far in 2013, but has only one sack over the last three games.
WHEN THE TIGERS HAVE THE BALL…
After sputtering against Florida State, Clemson’s explosive offense scored 40+ points the last two games, but will face a tough test against this defense. The QB-WR connection of RS senior QB Tajh Boyd (6-1, 225, 4.64, #10) to junior WR Sammy Watkins (6-1, 205, 4.47, #2) is one of the best in the country, but how will they fare against RS senior FS Jemea Thomas (5-9, 195, 4.52, #14) and senior CB Louis Young (5-11, 196, 4.55, #8)? Senior OLB Jeremiah Attacochu (6-3, 242, 4.68, #45) is one of the best pass rushers in this year’s senior class.
OTHER GEORGIA TECH PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
DE Emanuel Dieke, RS senior (6-6, 270, 4.94, #39)
SS Isaiah Johnson, RS senior (6-2, 208, 4.58, #1)
OG Will Jackson, RS senior (6-3, 290, 5.14, #52)
C Jay Finch, RS senior (6-2, 287, 5.32, #50)
OTHER CLEMSON PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
LOT Brandon Thomas, RS senior (6-3, 315, 5.24, #63)
RB Roderick McDowell, RS senior (5-9, 200, 4.47, #25)
WR Martavis Bryant, junior (6-4, 200, 4.57, #1)
DT Grady Jarrett, junior (6-1, 295, 5.16, #50)
GEORGIA at AUBURN
Saturday, Nov. 16, 3:30 p.m.
Auburn, Ala. – CBS
WHEN THE BULLDOGS HAVE THE BALL…
Although senior QB Aaron Murray (6-1, 208, 4.84, #11) doesn’t have ideal physical tools for the next level, but he is an extremely detailed passer who already prepares like a pro with his NFL intangibles. He has a pair of guards blocking for him who might also have a chance at the NFL: LG Dallas Lee (6-4, 295, 5.18, #64) and RG Chris Burnette (6-2, 315, 5.23, #68). The top two Auburn seniors to watch on defense are DE/OLB Dee Ford (6-2, 240, 4.72, #30) and CB Chris Davis (5-10, 200, 4.54, #11), who also excels as a return man on special teams.
WHEN THE TIGERS HAVE THE BALL…
Auburn’s offense is one of the most explosive in the country and also one of the youngest with only one senior starter, FB Jay Prosch (6-0, 258, 4.67, #35), who is one of the lone prospects at his position who has a chance to be drafted. He clears holes for junior RB Tre Mason (5-9, 205, 4.50, #21), who is second in the SEC in rushing yards (1,038) and first in rush TDs (16). He is a less-built version of Trent Richardson and also adds value as a kick returner. Georgia’s top senior prospect on defense is DL Garrison Smith (6-3, 299, 5.02, #56), likely a PFA.
OTHER GEORGIA PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
TE Arthur Lynch, RS senior (6-5, 254, 4.82, #88)
LOT Kenarious Gates, senior (6-5, 327, 5.24, #72)
WR Michael Bennett, RS junior (6-2, 205, 4.58, #82)
WR Justin Scott-Wesley, RS soph. (5-11, 206, 4.49, #6)
OTHER AUBURN PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
DT Jeffrey Whitaker, senior (6-3, 310, 5.32, #54)
DL Nosa Eguae, RS senior (6-2, 269, 4.84, #94)
DT Gabel Wright, junior (6-2, 296, 4.98, #90)
DE Kenneth Carter, senior (6-3, 280, 5.23, #92)
OKLAHOMA STATE at TEXAS
Saturday, Nov. 16, 3:30 p.m.
Austin, Tex. – FOX
WHEN THE COWBOYS HAVE THE BALL…
Texas has played much better the last few weeks, although the Longhorns still have a lot of questions on defense. After a slow start, senior DE Jackson Jeffcoat (6-4, 252, 4.78, #44) has tallied seven sacks over the last six games and has steadily helped himself in the eyes of the NFL. The ‘Horns have also improved in the back half of the defense, led by seniors CB Carrington Byndom (6-0, 182, 4.53, #23) and SS Adrian Phillips (5-11, 201, 4.57, #17). Oklahoma State senior WR Tracy Moore (6-1, 215, 4.56, #87) is an intriguing day three possibility.
WHEN THE LONGHORNS HAVE THE BALL…
The top match-up to evaluate in this contest will be on the outside when senior WR Mike Davis (6-2, 195, 4.52, #1) lines up across from senior CB Justin Gilbert (6-0, 200, 4.52, #4). Davis is the Longhorns big play threat with a team-best six receiving scores, but Gilbert is playing more like his sophomore tape and his impact as a kick returner only boosts his draft value even higher. In the trenches, senior DT Calvin Barnett (6-2, 300, 5.06, #99) is among the team leaders with six TFL, but we’ll see how he does against Texas’ physical interior offensive line.
OTHER OKLAHOMA STATE PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
ILB Caleb Lavey, senior (6-2, 235, 4.64, #45)
OLB Shaun Lewis, senior (5-11, 225, 4.74, #11)
FS Daytawion Lowe, RS senior (5-11, 205, 4.59, #8)
RB Jeremy Smith, RS senior (5-10, 208, 4.55, #31)
OTHER TEXAS PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
RB Joe Bergeron, junior (6-1, 240, 4.60, #24)
LOT Donald Hawkins, senior (6-5, 312, 5.28, #51)
LG Trey Hopkins, senior (6-4, 302, 5.26, #75)
RG Mason Walters, RS senior (6-5, 320, 5.22, #72)
MICHIGAN STATE at NEBRASKA
Saturday, Nov. 16, 3:30 p.m.
Lincoln, Neb. – ABC
WHEN THE SPARTANS HAVE THE BALL…
For two talented teams, the Michigan State offense vs. the Nebraska defense is a battle of mediocrity with the strengths of both teams being on the other side of the ball. However both teams are coming off positive performances against Michigan. The Huskers have talent in the secondary, led by seniors CB Ciante Evans (5-10, 190, 4.50, #17) and CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste (6-2, 214, 4.56, #16), who have a combined seven INTs on the season. That tandem will look to limit senior WR Bennie Fowler (6-1, 212, 4.53, #13) and the MSU pass attack.
WHEN THE CORNHUSKERS HAVE THE BALL…
Junior RB Ameer Abdullah (5-9, 190, 4.49, #8) has quietly put together one of the best rushing performances of anyone in the Big Ten and most of the country with 1,213 rushing yards through nine games. But he’ll face the Nation’s top total defense and rush defense in this game, led by senior MLB Max Bullough (6-3, 245, 4.78, #40). On the outside, keep an eye on senior CB Darqueze Dennard (5-11, 197, 4.52, #31) who will cover the Huskers talented duo of senior WR Quincy Enunwa (6-2, 225, 4.52, #18) and junior WR Kenny Bell (6-1, 185, 4.55, #80).
OTHER MICHIGAN STATE PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
OLB Denicos Allen, RS senior (5-11, 224, 4.73, #28)
SS Isaiah Lewis, senior (5-10, 210, 4.54, #9)
ROT Fou Fonoti, RS senior (6-5, 305, 5.27, #51)
WR Tony Lippett, RS junior (6-2, 185, 4.52, #14)
OTHER NEBRASKA PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
DE Jason Ankrah, RS senior (6-3, 265, 4.83, #9)
OG Andrew Rodriguez, senior (6-5, 330, 5.37, #63)
WR Jamal Turner, junior (6-1, 185, 4.56, #10)
OT Jeremiah Sirles, RS senior (6-5, 310, 5.24, #71)
UTAH at OREGON
Saturday, Nov. 16, 4 p.m.
Waco, Tex. – Fox Sports 1
WHEN THE UTES HAVE THE BALL…
The Utes are young on offense, but they’re the only team to out-score Stanford this season; do they have enough to keep up with Oregon too? Senior DE Taylor Hart (6-6, 287, 4.92, #66) plays inside and outside for the Ducks, but wherever he lines up, he always gives full effort and is able to be successful due to his hustle and football smarts. Junior CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (5-10, 185, 4.52, #14) is a candidate to be the top draft-eligible player at corner with his fluid skill-set, but he also shows up vs. the run, ranking second on the team in tackles.
WHEN THE DUCKS TIDE HAVE THE BALL…
RS sophomore QB Marcus Mariota (6-4, 212, 4.52, #8) is coming off a tough loss to Stanford, just his second loss in 22 career starts as the starter at Oregon. How will he respond against Utah? And more importantly, how will his knee look? The Utes top defensive player is senior DE/OLB Trevor Reilly (6-5, 255, 4.67, #9), who leads the team in tackles (78), tackles for loss (13.5) and sacks (7.0). He is able to penetrate the pocket with natural explosiveness off the edge, while also showing the athleticism and body control to make plays in space.
OTHER UTAH PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
CB Keith McGill, RS senior (6-2, 202, 4.49, #1)
OLB Brian Blechen, senior (6-2, 225, 4.68, #4)
C Vyncent Jones, RS senior (6-3, 305, 5.23, #64)
RB Kelvin York, senior (5-11, 220, 4.63, #13)
OTHER OREGON PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
RB/WR De’Anthony Thomas, junior (5-9, 170, 4.34, #6)
WR Josh Huff, senior (5-11, 202, 4.46, #1)
OLB Boseko Lokombo, RS senior (6-3, 230, 4.62, #25)
FS Avery Patterson, RS senior (5-9, 190, 4.52, #21)
TEXAS TECH at BAYLOR
Saturday, Nov. 16, 7 p.m.
Arlington, Tex. – FOX
WHEN THE RED RAIDERS HAVE THE BALL…
When Texas Tech has the ball, the must-see prospect match-up is junior TE Jace Amaro (6-5, 257, 4.67, #22) vs. senior SS Ahmad Dixon (6-0, 205, 4.55, #6). Amaro is arguably the best player at his position in the country with his combination of fluid athleticism and raw power for a player his size. He already has 88 catches for 1,102 yards and four scores on the season and could be a top-20 prospect if he leaves early. Dixon is an impact run defender, but is still a work-in-progress in coverage so Amaro will be a tough test and a great challenge.
WHEN THE BEARS HAVE THE BALL…
Baylor’s offense has produced video game statistics this season led by junior QB Bryce Petty (6-2, 230, 4.74, #14), who has emerged as an intriguing pro prospect. He can be a tough player to evaluate in the Bears’ spread attack, but his arm and downfield touch are encouraging. In the run game, both RS junior RB Lache Seastrunk (5-9, 210, 4.45, #25) and RS senior RB Glasco Martin (6-0, 220, 4.59, #8) couldn’t finish the game last week vs. Oklahoma due to injuries and are considered “probable at best” for this weekend’s contest.
OTHER TEXAS TECH PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
WR Eric Ward, RS senior (5-11, 206, 4.54, #18)
DL Kerry Hyder, RS senior (6-2, 280, 4.98, #91)
FS Tre Porter, senior (5-11, 202, 4.57, #5)
OLB Terrance Bullitt, RS senior (6-2, 221, 4.76, #1)
OTHER BAYLOR PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
LG Cyril Richardson, RS senior (6-5, 340, 5.27, #68)
WR Tevin Reese, RS senior (5-10, 170, 4.38, #16)
CB KJ Morton, senior (5-10, 190, 4.57, #8)
DE Shawn Oakman, RS sophomore (6-8, 285, 4.92, #2)
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