Gridiron Glance: Week 1 -Thursday Night 8/30

Now is the time for MarQueis Gray to step up and show us he’s a NFL caliber QB (Photo: US Presswire)

It is finally here, the night we have all eagerly been anticipating since January. College Football is finally back and everything is once again right in the world. Opening night has a strong slate of game and we picked four from tonight to get you amped up and ready for a whole season of scouting the college ranks for the next Buffalo Bills! So sit back and enjoy as we give you some short notes on 42 prospects to pay attention to tonight.

Editor’s Note: Remember when reading this, these are designed to be quick hitting notes on prospects. More detailed evaluations will follow for certain games, but its important for us to get you, the reader, as much info on as many prospects as we can provide.

South Carolina v. Vanderbilt
Big SEC matchup to start the season as the Gamecocks and Commodores do battle. Vandy is a tough team who is willing to grind it out and keep it close. South Carolina will have to shut down the Vandy ground game in order to come away with this victory but in the end South Carolina’s defense will be too much.

South Carolina
CB Akeem Auguste 3
5’9, 188 lbs.
An aggressive and slightly undersized CB who will need to step up his game in the abscence of Stephon Gilmore. The strong safety play behind him should allow for him to gamble a bit more than in prior years and that should be something to watch.

DE Devin Taylor 98
6’7, 248 lbs.
A pass rushing freak, Taylor combines size with speed and length to make one heck of an impressive prospect. Taylor is still trying to learn the full capabilities of what he can do and this year could go from good to potentially great. With a dominant DE in JaDaveon Clowney stealing teams attention look for Taylor to flourish.

ILB Shaq Wilson 54
5’11, 224 lbs.
Wilson will be the do everything, and stop everyone defender for the Gamecocks. Look for him to play like a cruise missile at his MLB position, he will be asked to fill gaps and get through the holes to stop the running backs in the backfield. Not the greatest pass coverage LB in the country but more than able to drop into zone coverage.

OC T.J. Johnson 55
6’6, 319 lbs.
Johnson will be in control of this still unproven offensive line, he will need to be on point as Connor Shaw enters his first full season as a starter. With Lattimore back the blocking won’t have to be perfect but they will need to open up holes for the young back or risk having to pass protect constantly.

SAF/LB DeVonte Holloman 21
6’2, 226 lbs.
A hybrid SAF/LB for the Gamecocks defense, Holloman will play outside the tackles and often in the box. He’ll be asked to do a wide variety of things including coming up in run support and dropping back in pass coverage. With the two headed attack of Norman and Stacey coming from vandy expect Holloman to make his presence be known in run defense.

SAF D.J. Swearinger 36
5’11, 206 lbs.
Though he has often been over shadowed by his fellow defensive backs there is no more consistent defender than Swearinger on this defense. He plays the game down hill and is always looking to attack. He does a good job to keep the play in front of him and really excels when he gets to take a free shot on a WR coming over the middle.

WR DL Moore 82
6’5, 198 lbs.
Being a first year starter in the SEC is never easy but having to it while replacing Alshon Jeffery only makes it more difficult. The lanky Moore will need to show that he has the speed to seperate from his opponents to go along with his height advantage. The question for Moore will be whether or not he can become everything that Connor Shaw needs him to be.

QB Connor Shaw* 14
6’1, 207 lbs.
The junior QB will begin his second year as the predominant starter but this time won’t have the often troubled Stephen Garcia behind him. Shaw hasn’t done a ton to show the South Carolina faithful that he’s the long term guy but he can manage a game and more times than not can limit mistakes. Shaw’s issue revolve around his ability, or lack thereof, to make the proper reads and deliver the ball effectively to his WR’s.

RB Marcus Lattimore* 21
6’0, 218 lbs.
Lattimore is coming off a serious knee injury that cut his 2011 season short. His knee is reportedly healthy but players often take longer to get back to full ability because of mental concerns about their knee’s stability. If Lattimore can get over those concerns he will once again return to being to man in the Gamecocks offense. His ability to convert the tough yards and pick up big first downs are part of what make him so valuable.

CB Trey Wilson 8
5’11, 190 lbs.
It seems like every year or two Vanderbilt produces a new hotly coveted CB for the NFL, last year it was Casey Hayward, and this year it will be Trey Wilson. Look for Wilson to draw the DL Moore assignment and he’ll have to really work considering he’s giving up nearly half a foot in size differential. Wilson though has the athleticism and aggressiveness to give Moore trouble early and oten.

DT Rob Lohr 84
6’4, 290 lbs.
The anchor in the middle of this defensive line it will be Lohr’s job to clog up the middle and make life difficult for Lattimore. Lohr gets off the ball effectively and is very sound fundamentally, going against less experienced OL the advantage has to go to Lohr. When Lohr and Johnson go head to head it will be a matchup to watch.

QB Jordan Rodgers 11
6’2, 205 lbs.
The younger brother of Aaron Rodger is now the annoited one for this vandy offense and coach James Franklin is hoping that his combination of athleticism and playmaking ability should be enough to propel Vandy forward. Rodgers will need to take another step forward in his development as a pure passer this year if he hopes to show the NFL that he deserve a shot as a QB.

RB Zac Stacy 2
5’9, 208 lbs.
When RB Warren Norman went down last year many assumed the worst, but RB Zac Stacy bowling ball style proved that he was more than capable of filling in for Norman on a permanent basis and that will allow the Commodores to ease Norman back this year as Stacy remains the primary back. Stacy is so effective because he runs with a low center of gravity and bounces off a high percentage of his would be tacklers who use poor technique and fail to wrap him up.

TE Austin Monahan 86
6’6, 252 lbs.
Monahan may end up being the feature guy in the Vanderbilt passing attack that will be relied on to expose defenses that choose to cheat up in and effort to stop the Vandy rushing attack. Monahan has ideal size to matchup v. most LB’s and SAF’s and has what we term ‘sneaky speed’. He’s not going to outrun a ton of defenders but if you don’t account for him he’ll be behind you before you know it.

RB Warren Norman* 5
5’10, 202 lbs.
No player in the SEC will be a more welcome site to see on SEC sidelines than Warren Norman who after being named to the SEC All-Freshman team in 2009 has struggled with injuries and barely seen the field. The road has been long for Norman but he’s busted his behind and he’s finally healthy. Norman once posessed that extra gear in the open field that allowed him pull away from defenders but we’ll have to see if that returns. The one thing you can expect to see from Norman early is his excellent vision both in the open field and behind the line of scrimmage.

OT Wesley Johnson* 67
6’5, 290 lbs.
Meet Wesley Johnson, he’s the starting LT for the Commodores and will have to block both Clowney, and Taylor…good luck. One of the things JOhnson will have to use is his length, he must do his best to keep Taylor and Clowney at bay by getting his arms extended. The one place Johnson may be susceptible is on the speed, rush, can he kick slide smoothly enough to stay with the athletic monsters that South Carolina will be throwing at him?

DE Walker May* 90
6’5, 245 lbs.
Not a ton on Vanderbilt’s defense that is going to strike fear into opposing offensive line coaches but Vandy is hoping and praying that May can finally see the light click on become the pass rush threat the envisioned when they recruited him. May has shown flashes of his ability and has the size and speed you want, but has yet to put it all together.

Southern Utah v. Utah State
Big game for QB Brad Sorensen as he will want to show scouts something in a matchup v a pretty good FBS defense. The guy to watch though may end up being RB Kerwynn Williams who is replacing Michael Smith and Robert Turbin but has a style of running that just keeps picking up yards and that’s why the Aggies win.

Southern Utah
QB Brad Sorensen
6’5, 235 lbs.
Sorensen is considered to be one of the top small school QB’s in the NFL Draft this year. He’s a bit older (25) and has already drawn comparisons to last years overage prospect Brandon Weeden. With a good build and a strong arm many are unsure exactly where to play Soresen’s stock as of yet. A good game against the Aggies would do wonders to kick off his senior season the right way.

RB Henna Brown
6’0, 225 lbs.
A big bodied RB who excels in the short yardage situation when asked to pick up only a couple of yards. Lacks ideal open field burst but runs with a passion between the tackles and breaks arm tackles like they are made of thin air.

DL Cody Larsen
6’3, 289 lbs.
Versatile DL prospect who knows how to split the gap and utilizes a quick first step to penetrate the line of scrimmage. Shows some decent hand usage and does a good job jumping the snap count. Not very adapt at finding the ball, and concerns about his overally awareness seem well founded. Also worth watching Cody as he goes up against his brother Tyler who plays for the Aggies.

Utah State
DT Havae Lasike 57
6’1, 305 lbs.
You may not know who Lasike is now, but let’s just say he’s the “other” DT in Utah that you’re going to want to know about. He generates good pop on intial contact and really excels due to his size and stregth. Has a tendency to disappear for long stretches and its not clear if this is an endurance or motor issue.

LB Bojay Filimoeatu 55
6’2, 250 lbs.
Playmaking blitzer for the Aggies, Filimoeatu is going to be the man bringing the pressure on Sorensen all night long. Looks for Filimoeatu to be brought a number of times on blitzes and if he gets a shot he’s going to light Sorense up. Filimoeatu is not a great coverage guy but he has the athleticism to drop into a zone and make plays on balls thrown near him.

RB Kerwynn Williams 25
5’9, 193 lbs.
With Robert Turbin and Michael Smith both gone the rushing duties fall to Williams who is a nice combo back with speed and power. He is small enough to squeeze through holes most backs can’t and he’s also strong enough to bounce off would be tacklers in an effort to pick up extra yards. Despite his stature he manages to surprise defenders with the power he generates when he lowers his shoulder into them.

OC Tyler Larsen* 58
6’4, 308 lbs.
The leader of this Utah State offense, Larsen is going to make all the line calls and hold his fellow linemates accountable should they struggle to properly protect Chuckie Keeton. Larsen leads by example and has that nasty demeanor you love in your interior lineman.

Eastern Washington v. Idaho
Could it be a FCS over FBS upset special? That’s what we are thinking as the high flying Eagles look to blow the doors off the Vandals. EWU has a triple threat at WR that is tough to cover and may have their most talented QB either.

Eastern Washington
WR Greg Herd 3
6’3, 200 lbs.
Herd came out of nowhere last year to really pick up the slack that Bradnon Kaufman’s injury left. Herd used his ideal size and speed to seperate easily from his opponents and even when he was covered Bo Levi Mitchell could still throw it up to him knowing almost no DB in the country was going to outjump him. With a new QB in Kyle Padron there may be a feeling out period but Herd should be in for a big year.

WR Nicholas Edwards 11
6’3, 200 lbs.
Edwards was a touchdown machine last year accumulating 19 TD’s in 11 games. He was the go to guy for Mitchell when Kaufman went down and really showed off his versatility running routes and making plays all over the field from different positions. May not quite be the down the field playmaker that Herd is but he’s got the ability to take the short passes, break a tackle, and take it to the house.

LB Zach Johnson 10
6’1, 225 lbs.
After missing almost all of last year with an injury Johnson now looks to return better than ever. Matt Johnson (not his brother) went from EWU to NFL last year as an in the box safety and Zach will look to duplicate that succcess as a LB. He’s a strong wrap up tackler with good recogntion and the ability to run. Somewhat undersized and may get the dreaded Cover 2 only label that many LB prospects want to avoid.

SAF Jeff Minnerly 7
6’1, 200 lbs.
Minnerly is a sure tackling SAF who is the opposite of what Matt Johnson was last year. Johnson was better utilized as an undersized SAF who came up into the box and laid a wallop on the RB. Minnerly is better back in coverage where he can track the ball and play off the QB’s eyes. We’d like to see him get more aggressive this year and really attack the ball while in flight.

WR Brandon Kaufman* 1
6’5, 215 lbs
With last year now a distant memory Kaufman will look to try and duplicate his 2010 success where he caught 76 balls for 1,214 yards and 15 TD’s. He isn’t the most fleet of foot and really relies on his long stride to eat up cushions and on his size to outbody smaller DB’s. Shows great concentration when tracking the ball over his shoulder and is among the most sure handed WR’s in the country.

CB TJ Lee III* 31
5’9, 170 lbs.
An aggressive and fiesty CB who plays without fear. Does a great job in coverage staying in the WR’s hip pocket and gets his head around to look for the ball in coverage and avoid interference. Attacks plays that are kept in front of him, comes up quickly and make sound tackles. At times plays with a reckless abandon for his own body, went low on NAU RB Zach Bauman and injured his shoulder on the tackle, didn’t show great technique and it led to the injury.

QB Kyle Padron* 2
6’4, 220 lbs.
After a rocky year at SMU that saw Padron lose his job the writing was on the wall, so he did what the guy whose job he intially took did transferred down to the high powered passing attack that is EWU and will look to reignite his career. Padron has a strong arm and stands tall in the pocket but he must stop forcing throws and learn to read coverage more effectively.

SAF Gary Walker 3
6’0, 192 lbs.
The defensive leader for the Vandals, Walker will make all the defensive adjustments as well as trying to make all the plays. He’s the best tackler on the team and will be seen walking up to the line of scrimmage on run downs. Athletic enough to cover the slot man in one on one coverage and with his size he has the ability to get physical and cause trouble for smaller WR’s.

WR Mike Scott 32
5’11, 178 lbs.
Scott will be the main target for Blackman, he has the best hands on the team and does a good job running percise routes that allow him to get open. Scott does a good job with the ball in his hands immediately getting up field, he doesn’t waste any time going east or west. Not the fastest guy and may at times struggle to stretch the field vertically. Would be better as a slot option on the next level.

QB Dominique Blackman* 3
6’5, 274 lbs.
There are some conflicting reports on whether Blackman will be the starter tonight or not, but if he does look for the Vandals to try and utilize his big arm against the EWU secondary. He’s not a very mobile QB, so if EWU can apply pressure they may rattle him. Blackman will need to show the ability to make the big throws down the field to move the chains and keep a high powered Eagles offense on the sideline.

Minnesota v. UNLV
We think this will be the start of something special for Gray this year. Give us the Gophers to win but make sure you watch that UNLV DL, they have more than a few intriguing prospects.

QB MarQueis Gray 5
6’4, 240 lbs.
If you’ve followed us at all on Twitter you know just how highly we think of Gray as a QB prospect. He has a big arm, tons of athleticism, and great size. He’s a dynamic playmaker with his legs and is developing as a pure passer. This game v. UNLV should prove as a good proving ground for him as their should be plenty of passing windows open for Gray to hit.

CB Troy Stoudemire 11
5’9, 196 lbs.
Stoudemire is the lock down CB for the Gophers, he’s an aggressive CB who is able to stay step for step with most WR’s. He does a good job mirroring routes and is hard to shake with fakes. He attacks the ball when in air and shows impressive leaping ability that helps cover for his less than ideal size. A willing tackler who isn’t afraid to lay his body on the line in order to impede a ball carrier.

DE DL Wilhite 95
6’3, 250 lbs.
If the Gophers are going to generate a consistent pass rush, they are going to look at Wilhite to be the one to do it. He has good size and more than enough speed coming off the edge. He has a nice assortment of moves that he can deploy against the tackle but he lacks the positional strength to work through blocks. He’s also not sound enough fundamentally to beat guys with his hands or with leverage. He over realizes on athleticism and it gets him into trouble.

DT Ra’Shede Hageman* 99
6’6, 300 lbs.
The majority of questions from Gophers fans though this season wasn’t if Hageman could be good or not, but rather it was about if he could be dominant. Hageman who has great size and strength flashed that dominance last year, he was able to split the gaps effectively as well as get push into the interior of the pocket with his bull rush. The truth is though that he will need help as he will face consistent double teams this year and will need to another player (Wilhite) to step up along side him.

RB Tim Cornett 35
6’0, 205 lbs.
At this point Cornett is the entire UNLV offense, they are going to win or lose based on what Cornett can do from his RB positon. He’ll have a tough test with Hagmean looking to shut him down on the opposing side but he’ll need to hit the hole hard and pick up what he can when the play isn’t there and expose an inconsistent Gopher defense when the big pay is there.

DT Nate Holloway 68
6’3, 360 lbs.
Holloway is a big body and that’s putting it lightly. His job will be to take up blockers in the middle and try and collapse the pocket around MaqrQueis Gray, he’s not going to chase Gray down (ever), but he can at least flush him out and force to him to make throws while on the move. Holloway has had some weight issues and this year has shown some more commitment to conditioning and endurance, the real test for him will be in the 2nd half.

DT Tyler Gaston 99
6’3, 290 lbs.
With Holloway taking up blockers in the middle, it gives Tyler Gaston consistent one on one matchups that he flourishes again. Gaston reminds us of a poor mans Kyle Williams, he’s got a nice first step, strong hands, and he’s very strong at the point of attack. He’s going to be the one consistently in Gray’s face tonight.

DE James Boyd Jr 10
6’5, 255 lbs.
Let’s just call Boyd the Rebels ‘secret weapon’ a former QB who originally signed with USC Boyd is a physical specimen who should see lots of action against Minnesota. He’s going to be their big pass rush threat and the hope is that his speed off the edge should help contain Gray somewhat. The issue is Boyd is still very raw and is still learning how to even play defense and if he vacates an area that Gray can escape into it could be a long night for the Rebels.

Tags: 2013 NFL Draft, Big 10, Big Sky, College Football, Devin Taylor, FBS, FCS, Marcus Lattimore, MarQuies Gray, Nicholas Edwards, SEC

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