Week 13 Prospect Matchup: Manziel-Mettenberger showdown
Know the top NFL prospects to watch this weekend in the pivotal matchups on the college football landscape
TEXAS A&M | LSU
Saturday, November 23, 3:30 p.m.
Baton Rouge, La. – CBS
Texas A&M and LSU have only played twice since 1995 and both times the Tigers came out on top, including last year in College Station, the Aggies first season in the SEC. Last season’s meeting was also the worst statistical outing in Johnny Manziel’s young career. It was his only career game that he didn’t record a score and only his second career 3-INT performance. But with LSU introducing seven new starters on defense in 2013, Manziel should be able to get some revenge on the Tigers, who will likely fall out of the top-25 rankings with a loss in this game (would be first time since 2008). The Aggies are still fighting for a spot in a BCS game so a win over LSU in Baton Rouge would be a substantial victory for the resume. But the Tigers, most notably QB Zach Mettenberger, still have a lot to prove and could be the only team to defeat Manziel’s Aggies in back-to-back years.
Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel vs. LSU QB Zach Mettenberger
This contest features two quarterbacks who will be mentioned as possible first round selections between now and the 2014 NFL Draft. RS sophomore QB Johnny Manziel (6-1, 210, 4.45, #2) is a playmaker at the position, but he really struggled against LSU last season (51.8% completions, 303 total yards, 3 interceptions, no touchdowns) and could use a strong follow up performance in the 2013 match-up. LSU senior QB Zach Mettenberger (6-5, 235, 5.18, #8) started the season strong, but inconsistency has caused him to struggle in recent games as the Tigers are just 3-3 over the last six match-ups. Both of these prospects have some off-field issues, but they also bring intriguing on-field ability.
Texas A&M LOT Jake Matthews/ROT Cedric Ogbuehi vs. LSU DE Jermauria Rasco
It’s somewhat hard to believe, but through 10 games, LSU doesn’t have a defensive player with more than three sacks on the season. First-year starter junior DE Jermauria Rasco (6-2, 262, 4.74, #59) has been the Tigers top pass rusher with a team-best 3.0 sacks and eight quarterback hurries. But Saturday will be a good test as he faces arguably the best offensive tackle tandem in the country. Texas A&M senior LOT Jake Matthews (6-5, 305, 5.08, #75) isn’t flashy, but he won't make a lot of mistakes and projects as one of the top senior prospects for next May’s draft. Junior ROT Cedric Ogbuehi (6-5, 300, 5.15, #70) isn’t as polished, but his ceiling is almost as high as Matthews.
LSU WRs Jarvis Landry/Odell Beckham vs. Texas A&M Secondary
The Aggies defense ranks 90th in the FBS against the pass and is giving up over 30 points per game. And LSU will give them all they can handle through the air with Mettenberger spraying passes to the Tigers’ dynamic duo at receiver: juniors WR Jarvis Landry (6-0, 195, 4.49, #80) and WR Odell Beckham (5-11, 193, 4.49, #3). Landry leads the team in catches (63), Beckham leads the team in receiving yards (1,051) and they’re both tied in receiving scores (8). Landry is built well for the position and he has a pair of the largest hands in the country, swallowing the ball with his mitts at the catch point. Beckham is a big play threat as a return man and after the catch, averaging over 20 yards per reception.
Texas A&M LG Jarvis Harrison vs. LSU DTs Anthony Johnson/Ego Ferguson
A few years back, the strength of the LSU defensive line was the interior with Glenn Dorsey followed by Drake Nevis. But the past two seasons, pass rushers Barkevious Mingo, Sam Montgomery and Lavar Edwards led the Tigers in the trenches. However, the strength of the 2013 LSU defensive line is back inside with juniors DT Anthony Johnson (6-2, 295, 5.29, #90) and DT Ego Ferguson (6-2, 309, 4.98, #9) stepping up as first year starters. Johnson has a team-high 6.5 tackles for loss and Ferguson is fourth on the team in total tackles with 49 stops. Texas A&M’s offensive tackles receive most of the credit, but the interior blockers have been just as stout, led by versatile senior LG Jarvis Harrison (6-3, 325, 5.34, #51).
OTHER AGGIES PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
WR Mike Evans, RS sophomore (6-5, 225, 4.58, #13)
WR Derel Walker, senior (6-2, 185, 4.59, #11)
RB Ben Malena, senior (5-8, 195, 4.54, #1)
LB Steven Jenkins, RS senior (6-2, 220, 4.65, #8)
CB Toney Hurd, senior (5-9, 185, 4.48, #4)
TE Nehemiah Hicks, senior (6-4, 255, 4.68, #81)
OTHER TIGERS PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
SS Craig Loston, RS senior (6-1, 209, 4.56, #6)
LOT La’el Collins, junior (6-5, 315, 5.43, #70)
ILB Lamin Barrow, RS senior (6-1, 232, 4.76, #18)
RB Alfred Blue, senior (6-1, 222, 4.59, #4)
FB J.C. Copeland, senior (6-0, 270, 4.84, #44)
WR Kadron Boone, senior (6-0, 202, 4.58, #86)
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH:
MICHIGAN STATE at NORTHWESTERN
Saturday, Nov. 23, Noon
Evanston, Ill. – ESPN
WHEN THE SPARTANS HAVE THE BALL…
The Northwestern defense dominated the Michigan offense for most of the game last week, but they couldn’t finish. Senior DE Tyler Scott (6-4, 265, 4.87, #97) leads the team with 6.0 sacks, 10.0 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. And although he lacks elite edge speed and fluidity, he has the motor and instincts that will attract NFL attention. Senior WR Bennie Fowler (6-1, 212, 4.53, #13) leads the Spartans in receiving yards (382) and touchdown grabs (5). He will make some spectacular catches, but drops too many of the easy ones.
WHEN THE WILDCATS HAVE THE BALL…
The Spartans lead the country in total defense and have held their opponents to 13.2 points per game. Senior CB Darqueze Dennard (5-11, 197, 4.52, #31) plays a little too hands-on, but is one of the top seniors at his position. He already accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl. Another player who has received and accepted a Senior Bowl invite is senior QB/WR Kain Colter (5-11, 190, 4.56, #2). He splits time between quarterback and receiver for the Wildcats, but projects best as a wideout at the next level (despite only 3 catches in 2013).
OTHER MICHIGAN STATE PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
MLB Max Bullough, senior (6-3, 245, 4.78, #40)
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)
OTHER NORTHWESTERN PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
WR Rashad Lawrence, senior (6-1, 185, 4.59, #17)
LB Damien Proby, RS senior (6-0, 235, 4.86, #46)
QB Trevor Siemian, RS junior (6-2, 210, 4.74, #13)
SS Ibraheim Campbell, RS junior (5-11, 205, 4.56, #24)
MICHIGAN at IOWA
Saturday, Nov. 23, Noon
Iowa City, Iowa – BTN
WHEN THE WOLVERINES HAVE THE BALL…
Despite streaky play at times, the Michigan connection of RS junior QB Devin Gardner (6-4, 212, 4.64, #98) to senior WR Jeremy Gallon (5-8, 187, 4.52, #21) is one of the best in the Big Ten. Gardner is a very inconsistent passer with suspect anticipation, but his athleticism to create as a ballcarrier is what makes this offense go. Senior ILB James Morris (6-1, 240, 4.82, #44), who leads the Hawkeyes in tackles for loss (10.0) and sacks (5.0), and LB Christian Kirksey (6-2, 235, 4.72, #20) will be the players trying to limit Gardner’s impact on the ground.
WHEN THE HAWKEYES HAVE THE BALL…
Although the stats aren’t overly impressive, senior TE C.J. Fiedorowicz (6-6, 265, 4.79, #86) leads the Hawkeyes in touchdown grabs (4) and he is still very much in the mix to be the top senior drafted at his position. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Iowa has a left tackle prospect who is earning some first round praise. RS Junior LOT Brandon Scherff (6-5, 315, 5.09, #68) missed all of 2012, but has looked better than ever this season and will be tested by juniors OLB Jake Ryan (6-2, 242, 4.68, #47) and DE Frank Clark (6-2, 276, 4.68, #57).
OTHER MICHIGAN PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
LOT Taylor Lewan, RS senior (6-7, 315, 5.09, #77)
ROT Michael Schofield, RS senior (6-6, 306, 5.24, #75)
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint, RS senior (5-10, 200, 4.58, #28)
WR Drew Dileo, senior (5-10, 178, 4.58, #9)
OTHER IOWA PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
CB B.J. Lowery, senior (5-10, 193, 4.62, #19)
LB Anthony Hitchens, senior (6-0, 226, 4.73, #31)
FS Tanner Miller, senior (6-1, 208, 4.68, #5)
RB Mark Weisman, junior (6-0, 236, 4.70, #45)
BYU at NOTRE DAME
Saturday, Nov. 23, 3:30 p.m.
South Bend, Ind. – NBC
WHEN THE COUGARS HAVE THE BALL…
Although his senior campaign hasn’t been as impressive as expected, senior WR Cody Hoffman (6-3, 215, 4.56, #2) is still one of the top senior wideouts in the country according to several scouts. He will be lined up across from senior CB Bennett Jackson (6-0, 185, 4.52, #2), who has had an inconsistent season himself and needs to finish strong. Notre Dame is a tough team to slow down in the trenches with juniors NT Louis Nix (6-2, 352, 5.17, #1) and DL Stephon Tuitt (6-5, 303, 4.89, #7), who are both considered first round picks, wreaking havoc.
WHEN THE IRISH HAVE THE BALL…
The top match-up to watch in this contest will be when BYU senior OLB Kyle Van Noy (6-3, 235, 4.68, #3) rushes off the right side against Irish senior LOT Zach Martin (6-4, 305, 5.22, #70). Van Noy has only four sacks on the season (and three of those came in one game), but he leads the team in tackles for loss (15.0) with his active and instinctive playing style. Martin has steadily improved his base strength and technique over the years and projects best inside to guard at the next level where he might be worth a top-50 draft pick.
OTHER BYU PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
TE Kaneakua Friel, RS senior (6-4, 250, 4.83, #82)
DT Eathyn Manumaleuna, senior (6-2, 295, 5.16, #55)
SS Daniel Sorensen, RS senior (6-1, 215, 4.55, #9)
ILB Uani Unga, RS senior (6-1, 233, 4.82, #41)
OTHER NOTRE DAME PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
DE/OLB Prince Shembo, senior (6-1, 252, 4.76, #55)
LG Chris Watt, RS senior (6-3, 312, 5.24, #66)
WR T.J. Jones, senior (6-0, 195, 4.54, #7)
ILB Carlo Calabrese, RS senior (6-1, 245, 4.87, #44)
OREGON at ARIZONA
Saturday, Nov. 23, 3:30 p.m.
Tucson, Ari. – ESPN2
WHEN THE DUCKS HAVE THE BALL…
Will this be the final conference road game in the collegiate career of RS sophomore QB Marcus Mariota (6-4, 212, 4.52, #8)? Maybe. Time will tell if he bolts for the NFL, but there is still work to be done on his evaluation for the next level. The Ducks have a pair of draft-eligible skill players who have struggled with consistency this season: senior WR Josh Huff (5-11, 202, 4.46, #1) and junior RB/WR De’Anthony Thomas (5-9, 170, 4.34, #6). Both haven’t exactly lived up to expectations and both are still searching for a signature performance in 2013.
WHEN THE WILDCATS HAVE THE BALL…
Last season, Arizona was one of the conference’s top offenses, but Oregon held the Wildcats scoreless and I’m sure Rich Rodriguez’s squad hasn’t forgotten that. The Wildcats have one of the country’s top rushers with junior RB Ka’Deem Carey (5-10, 207, 4.53, #25) who is second in the nation in rushing yards per game (150.3). If he declares early for the 2014 NFL Draft, look for Carey to be among the top-five drafted at his position. Senior DE Taylor Hart (6-6, 287, 4.92, #66) continues to impress with his relentless motor and overall range.
OTHER OREGON PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, junior (5-10, 185, 4.52, #14)
OLB Boseko Lokombo, RS senior (6-3, 230, 4.62, #25)
DT Wade Keliikipi, RS senior (6-3, 306, 5.12, #92)
C Hroniss Grasu, RS junior (6-3, 298, 4.96, #55)
OTHER ARIZONA PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
OLB Marquis Flowers, senior (6-2, 233, 4.72, #2)
CB Shaquille Richardson, senior (6-1, 188, 4.54, #5)
LB Jake Fischer, RS senior (5-11, 221, 4.83, #33)
DT Tevin Hood, RS senior (6-0, 302, 5.08, #98)
ARIZONA STATE at UCLA
Saturday, Nov. 23, 7 p.m.
Los Angeles, Calif. – FOX
WHEN THE SUN DEVILS HAVE THE BALL…
Since losing to Stanford, Arizona State has ripped off six straight conference wins behind an offense that ranks top-10 nationally in scoring, averaging 42.3 points per game. Senior RB Marion Grice (6-0, 207, 4.54, #1) has a nose for the end zone and should be a solid third day selection on draft weekend. UCLA’s defense has a lot of playmakers on that side of the ball, most notably senior OLB Anthony Barr (6-4, 248, 4.48, #11). With only seven sacks this season, he’s well behind his 2012 total of 13.5, but he is still the top prospect in this game.
WHEN THE BRUINS TIDE HAVE THE BALL…
After a few rough outings, many assumed that RS sophomore QB Brett Hundley (6-3, 227, 4.68, #17) would be returning to UCLA instead of leaving for the NFL. And while he isn’t quite ready mentally, he still projects as a top-10 prospect because of the physical tools. Despite getting into a sideline argument last week, senior DT Will Sutton (6-0, 305, 4.94, #90) and junior DE Carl Bradford (6-1, 243, 4.73, #52) have been a dangerous duo on the ASU defensive line. They have combined for 19.5 TFL this season and both have first round ability.
OTHER ARIZONA STATE PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
CB Osahon Irabor, RS senior (5-11, 186, 4.50, #24)
OLB Junior Onyeali, senior (5-11, 240, 4.67, #5)
SS Alden Darby, senior (5-11, 195, 4.50, #4)
HB Chris Coyle, RS senior (6-2, 240, 4.67, #87)
OTHER UCLA PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
WR Shaquelle Evans, RS senior (6-1, 210, 4.52, #1)
LOT Xavier Su’a-Filo, RS junior (6-3, 305, 5.18, #56)
DE Cassius Marsh, senior (6-4, 262, 4.92, #99)
ILB Jordan Zumwalt, senior (6-3, 236, 4.72, #35)
BAYLOR at OKLAHOMA STATE
Saturday, Nov. 23, 8 p.m.
Stillwater, Okl. – ABC
WHEN THE BEARS HAVE THE BALL…
Baylor has battled some injuries to key skill players on offense, but the one constant for the Bears this season has been the play of junior QB Bryce Petty (6-2, 230, 4.74, #14). He has a 24-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio and has forced scouts to pay attention. One of the best prospect match-ups all weekend will be when junior WR Antwan Goodley (5-10, 225, 4.59, #5) and senior CB Justin Gilbert (6-0, 200, 4.52, #4) line up against each other. Goodley leads the team with 1,075 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns and Gilbert has played polished and focused as a senior.
WHEN THE COWBOYS HAVE THE BALL…
The Oklahoma State offense might not be as explosive as it was in the Brandon Weeden-Justin Randle-Justin Blackmon era, but the Pokes are still putting up points. Senior WR Tracy Moore (6-1, 215, 4.56, #87) leads the team with five touchdowns and is the Cowboys’ go-to threat with Josh Stewart injured. On defense, senior SS Ahmad Dixon (6-0, 205, 4.55, #6) is a force against the run, but still needs work in coverage. He clearly has the athleticism to flip his hips and blanket receivers downfield, but he needs to improve his overall discipline.
OTHER BAYLOR PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
LG Cyril Richardson, RS senior (6-5, 340, 5.27, #68)
RB Lache Seastrunk, RS junior (5-9, 210, 4.45, #25)
DE Shawn Oakman, RS sophomore (6-8, 285, 4.92, #2)
CB K.J. Morton, senior (5-10, 190, 4.57, #8)
OTHER OKLAHOMA STATE PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
DT Calvin Barnett, senior (6-2, 300, 5.06, #99)
OLB Shaun Lewis, senior (5-11, 225, 4.74, #11)
FS Daytawion Lowe, RS senior (5-11, 205, 4.59, #8)
ILB Caleb Lavey, senior (6-2, 235, 4.64, #45)
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