By Rob Rang
FOX Sports activities NFL Draft Analyst
If one didn’t discover the leaves turning colours to indicate fall, it could be simple to assume that March Insanity was across the nook, particularly with two blue blood basketball packages in Indiana and Kansas internet hosting a few probably the most attention-grabbing video games in Week 6 of the faculty soccer season.
Whereas sporting “simply” a 3-2 report, the Hoosiers might give undefeated and No. 4-ranked Michigan a stiff take a look at Saturday, with their pair of playmaking senior cornerbacks matching up properly with the Wolverines’ flashy however nonetheless inexperienced second-year quarterback J.J. McCarthy.
Talking of quarterbacks, the undefeated Jayhawks have emerged as one of the vital stunning and thrilling tales in faculty soccer, largely because of their draft-eligible dual-threat quarterback Jalon Daniels, who has 11 landing tosses towards only one interception, with one other 5 scores on the bottom. Daniels and the No. 19 Jayhawks host No. 17 TCU in a matchup that professional scouts will definitely be protecting an in depth eye on — as must you.
Here’s a useful checklist of “different” prime matchups to look at.
No. 4 Michigan at Indiana (midday ET; FOX and the FOX Sports activities app)
I’ve beforehand highlighted Michigan’s dynamic passing, together with this breakdown of the younger signal-caller McCarthy, and the Wolverines’ two-headed receiving monster of Ronnie Bell and Roman Wilson, each of whom have NFL scouts salivating.
The Hoosiers have two stars of their very own in cornerbacks Jaylin Williams and Tiawan Mullen, nonetheless, with the various ability units to mitigate Michigan’s major pass-catchers.
Williams has proven a knack for enjoying properly in huge video games prior to now, gathering an interception towards Michigan in 2020 when he earned Second Workforce All-Massive Ten honors. He was blanked within the interception division final season however led the Hoosiers with 11 passes defended, giving him spectacular profession totals of 21 PBUs and 6 interceptions.
Indiana lists him at simply 188 kilos, however he has a stable body and exhibits agility, acceleration and consciousness in protection, in addition to stunning physicality for a participant of his listed measurement, offering some high quality hits on movie.
His operating mate, Mullen, has put up related PBU (22) and interception (4) numbers throughout his profession however, frankly, doesn’t possess the identical caliber of protection and ball abilities. The place he does stand out, nonetheless, is as an open-field tackler, demonstrating the physicality and shutting pace to assault as a blitzer and cease ball carriers of their tracks — and infrequently with out the ball — forcing a really un-DB-like 4 fumbles over his profession.
No. 8 Tennessee at No. 25 LSU (Midday ET)
Whereas a receiver-cornerback showdown within the Massive Ten is properly price your consideration, one doesn’t should be an NFL scout to acknowledge the supremacy of quarterbacks within the SEC basically, or on this recreation particularly. As such, the matchup between Tennessee’s shockingly underrated quarterback Hendon Hooker and the quietly 4-1 Tigers in Loss of life Valley is likely one of the weekend’s extra closely anticipated showdowns.
By now, faculty soccer followers must be fairly aware of Hooker, who by his profession — first at Virginia Tech and since at Tennessee — has posted a glowing 61-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio that earned him a spot among the many top-20 prospects on my preliminary Massive Board posted again in June.
At 6-foot-3, 218 kilos, Hooker has the scale NFL groups covet, and he’s each a proficient, poised passer and an efficient runner. He exhibits the power to feather the ball with nice contact, lofting it excessive of defenders, in addition to zip strikes on the in- and out-cutting intermediate routes which are the staples of each pro-style passing assault. He’s persistently correct, a testomony to his skill to learn defenses, his arm expertise and “quiet ft” that permit him to arrange and ship persistently. Higher but, when he wants to maneuver and reset, Hooker can ship correct passes whereas doing so, making him an awfully troublesome quarterback to defend.
Is Hendon Hooker a robust Heisman contender?
RJ Younger breaks down why Hendon Hooker may very well be having a Heisman season.
The internet hosting Tigers, nonetheless, boast the hostile crowd, the cross rush (primarily BJ Ojulari) and secondary to present Hooker his biggest problem of the younger season. LSU has a staggering 5 completely different defensive backs who entered the season on the Senior Bowl’s Watch Record, not the least of whom is do-everything senior Jay Ward, who has began exterior at cornerback, inside within the dime and deep at security). LSU additionally has two toolsy transfers in Mekhi Garner (Lousiana-Lafayette) and Sevyn Banks (Ohio State). Followers could already be aware of Ward and Banks, however it’s the 6-foot-2, 217-pound Garner who at the moment leads this yr’s class at “DBU” with 5 cross breakups.
No. 17 TCU at No. 19 Kansas (midday ET; FS1 and the FOX Sports activities app)
Maybe not even Nostradamus might have predicted that the Jayhawks can be undefeated heading into Week 6.
The Cinderella storyline is sufficient to tune in to the sport itself, however make no mistake: There are many professional NFL prospects on this contest as properly. Maybe probably the most intriguing “matchup” is between the Jayhawks’ star quarterback Daniels and TCU cornerback Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, a two-time first workforce All-Massive 12 performer.
As you might need guessed, Hodges-Tomlinson is said to former TCU famous person and Corridor of Fame operating again LaDainian Tomlinson, who’s his uncle. It’s clear that athleticism runs within the household, with the previous boasting terrific quickness and acceleration to shadow receivers everywhere in the area. He’s additionally surprisingly bodily regardless of a 5-foot-9, 180-pound body, punching above his weight class as a tackler.
Nonetheless, given Hodges-Tomlinson’s peak, it could not be stunning to see Daniels throw a number of passes in his route. Daniels has proven a willingness to check cornerbacks, lofting passes excessive for his receivers to win jump-balls. Whereas dynamic with the ball in his arms — displaying nice imaginative and prescient, acceleration and stunning energy — Daniels is much from only a run-first quarterback. He possesses a fast launch, in addition to each contact and accuracy to assault within the passing recreation, making this fairly the entertaining matchup.
Massive 12 Week 6 Preview: TCU-Kansas, Texas-Oklahoma
Joel Klatt previews the Massive 12 matchups for Week 6, together with No. 17 TCU at No. 19 Kansas, and Texas vs. Oklahoma.
For an old-school faculty soccer fan like myself, it appears virtually sacrilegious to checklist the Pink River Showdown this far down within the Week 6 preview, however with neither workforce at the moment ranked within the AP Prime 25, occasions have clearly modified.
That mentioned, each nonetheless boast loads of NFL expertise, maybe probably the most thrilling of which occurs to play the identical place — operating again — in Longhorns star Bijan Robinson and the Sooners’ Eric Grey, a Tennessee switch.
Robinson, seen by many as the highest operating again prospect within the nation and a professional Heisman Trophy candidate regardless of his workforce’s 3-2 report, has been highlighted on this area earlier than. He boasts an all-around recreation that possible will earn him a uncommon first-round choice within the 2023 NFL draft.
The Sooners’ Grey shouldn’t be as hyped however is a particularly proficient runner (and receiver) in his personal proper, boasting distinctive stop-start quickness and the form of imaginative and prescient to reap the benefits of the cutback lanes a extremely aggressive Longhorns’ protection could go away out there to him.
Auburn at No. 2 Georgia (3:30 p.m. ET)
Whereas scouts can be smart to concentrate on the skill-position gamers in most of the aforementioned matchups, the behemoths on the line of scrimmage on this SEC battle are themselves well worth the worth of admission.
If the visiting Tigers are to place a scare into the defending nationwide champs, edge rusher Derick Corridor might want to make a huge impact, particularly given the information this week that his operating mate Eku Leota will miss the rest of the season because of a pec damage from final week’s recreation towards LSU.
Fortuitously for Auburn, Corridor (6-foot-2, 256 kilos) has a observe report of taking part in properly in huge video games, together with towards rival Alabama a yr in the past. There’s a little bit of Frank Clark (Kansas Metropolis Chiefs) in his recreation, as he’s extra about utilizing energy and fast, slippery arms to separate in shut quarters than using elite preliminary burst.
Corridor may have his arms full towards the Bulldogs, nonetheless, who’ve future NFL draft picks in former five-star recruit Broderick Jones (6-foot-4, 305 kilos) at left deal with and three-year reigning starter Warren McClendon (6-foot-4, 300 kilos) at proper deal with, each of whom play larger and longer than their listed measurement because of their arm size, agility and stability.
Texas Tech at No. 7 Oklahoma State (3:30 p.m. ET; FS1 and the FOX Sports activities app)
Earlier than the Seattle Seahawks made linebacker Jordyn Brooks the twenty seventh general choice of the 2020 NFL draft, Texas Tech had not produced a first-round defender since 1983, when the Pittsburgh Steelers nabbed defensive deal with Gabriel Rivera with the twenty first decide.
All indications are that the Pink Raiders received’t have to attend almost as lengthy for the subsequent first-round defender, a minimum of if Tyree Wilson continues his torrid begin to the season.
Interview with Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy
Joel Klatt speaks with Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy concerning the Cowboys’ robust begin.
In actuality, Wilson emerged as a standout a yr in the past, main the Pink Raiders with 13.5 tackles for loss and 7 sacks over 13 video games. He already has eight tackles for loss and 5 sacks in a handful of contests this yr, together with two sacks on the street in losses at North Carolina State and Kansas State.
At 6-foot-6, 275 kilos, Wilson possesses the prototypical body NFL scouts are on the lookout for, complementing his measurement with eye-popping preliminary quickness, stunning flexibility to show the nook and a growing arsenal of cross rush strikes. Wilson initially signed with Texas A&M, a program with a a lot larger observe report for producing high quality defensive linemen. Wilson shouldn’t be the second coming of former Aggie Myles Garrett, however comparisons to former UTEP (and present New Orleans Saints standout) Marcus Davenport aren’t far off. Like Davenport (who has 33 5/8-inch arms), Wilson has the size, power and hand-eye coordination to lasso ball carriers out of the attain of most edge rushers. The flexibility to corral the dual-threat passers of immediately’s faculty (and professional recreation) — like Oklahoma State’s Spencer Sanders — might have NFL groups lining as much as gamble on his upside.
No. 11 Utah at No. 18 UCLA (3:30 p.m. ET; FOX and the FOX Sports activities app)
It’s applicable that this Pac-12 showdown between the reigning convention champion Utes and the undefeated Bruins is happening in Los Angeles, as there may be loads of star-power, not the least of that are final week’s Offensive and Defensive Gamers of the Week — UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Utah cornerback Clark Phillips III.
Whereas a lot of the thrill for UCLA’s recreation final week vs. then-undefeated Washington targeted on the Huskies’ quarterback Michael Penix Jr., it was DTR who stole the highlight, finishing 72% of his passes for a season-high 315 yards and three scores (and no interceptions) with one other 53 yards and a landing on the bottom.
Phillips was each bit as dynamic for the Utes, tormenting the visiting Oregon State Beavers with three interceptions, one in every of which he returned 38 yards for a rating.
At 6-foot-1, 205 kilos, and 5-foot-10, 191 kilos, respectively, neither DTR nor Phillips has elite measurement. Every, nonetheless, possesses dynamic athleticism and the playmaking mentality to match.
Like many dual-threat quarterbacks who’ve excelled for Chip Kelly prior to now, Thompson-Robinson is a fluid runner. He’s additionally a savvy passer with a profession 72-27 TD-INT ratio, boasting a simple launch and good accuracy to all ranges of the sphere.
Phillips, in the meantime, is at his greatest in man protection, displaying the unfastened hips and greasy knees to vary route on a dime, and fast, energetic arms to slap passes away (15 profession PBUs). However he’s pesky and productive as a tackler as properly, wanting like a robust wager to hitch former Utah defensive backs Jaylon Johnson, Marquise Blair, Marcus Williams and Eric Rowe as prime 50 NFL draft picks since 2015.
Pac-12 Preview: Utah-UCLA, Washington State-USC | Joel Klatt Present
Joel Klatt previews the Pac 12 matchups for Week 6, together with No. 11 Utah Utes at No. 19 UCLA, and Washington State at No. 6 USC.
Washington State at No. 6 USC (7:30 p.m. ET; FOX and the FOX Sports activities app)
It will be simple to maintain the concentrate on the quarterbacks in yet one more attention-grabbing Pac-12 showdown in Southern California, but when the visiting Cougars are going to maintain up with Caleb Williams, reigning Biletnikoff Award winner Jordan Addison and the dynamic USC offense, Washington State goes to not solely want a robust efficiency from signal-caller Cameron Ward but in addition from its protection — probably the greatest in latest WSU historical past.
Washington State’s protection is led by playmaking linebacker Daiyan Henley, who was highlighted in a earlier model of this text, however the extra intriguing matchup on this contest pits WSU’s versatile senior defensive lineman Brennan Jackson towards USC’s rotating left tackles — redshirt sophomore Courtland Ford and redshirt senior Bobby Haskins, a switch from Virginia.
At 6-foot-4, 255 kilos, the Cougars’ Jackson has the body of a basic defensive finish, however he’s usually slipped inside to defensive deal with in WSU’s scheme. He’s fast off the ball and pairs his higher and decrease physique properly, slithering round would-be blockers properly. By 5 video games this season Jackson has already matched his earlier profession excessive with 6.5 tackles for loss, and he was named the Pac-12’s Defensive Lineman of the Week twice final season.
Each of the Trojans’ tackles might finally be drafted into the NFL, however Ford is the younger expertise scouts are already drooling over. The 6-foot-6, 305-pounder from Cedar Hill, Texas continues to be simply rising into his physique, however he strikes exceptionally properly, displaying the sunshine ft, lengthy arms and stability to mission as a future blindside blocker on the subsequent stage. Ford suffered a proper ankle damage towards Stanford a number of weeks in the past, nonetheless, permitting Haskins extra taking part in time. Haskins shouldn’t be the identical caliber of athlete as his youthful teammate, however he has a stout 6-foot-7, 300-pound body with good grip power and sufficient lateral quickness to carry up, presumably projecting inside on the subsequent stage.
Texas A&M at Alabama (8 p.m. ET)
Even with the Aggies stumbling into this matchup with a disappointing 3-2 report, one can’t preview Week 6 with out mentioning this SEC showdown, particularly with reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Younger ailing with sprained AC joint that has Nick Saban itemizing him as “day-to-day.”
Reasonably than try and mission what Alabama could or could not due with Younger, let’s concentrate on different prospects on this recreation, just like the “one-on-one” brewing between Aggies’ operating again Devon Achane and Alabama inside linebacker Henry To’oTo’o.
The Aggies and Crimson Tide have produced greater than their share of dynamic runners and thumping linebackers through the years, and it’s quickness, agility and large play skill — reasonably than prototypical bulk — that characterize their newest stars.
Achane runs like he’s on curler skates, gliding simply to and exploding by the road of scrimmage. What makes him particular, although are the lateral cuts and imaginative and prescient. Whoever is taking part in quarterback for the Crimson Tide might want to produce factors, as Achane is a professional menace to attain each time he has the ball.
– What we’re watching in Michigan-Indiana and different video games this week
– Pink River Showdown: Storylines to look at in Oklahoma-Texas
– Inside Steve Sarkisian’s magic contact growing QBs
– Michigan-Indiana, Oklahoma-Texas: CFB Week 6 by the numbers
– Massive Midday Kickoff: Every part to learn about Michigan-Indiana
– As elite groups reveal flaws, alternative arises for Ohio State, USC, others
– School soccer rankings: Ohio State nabs our No. 1 spot
Rob Rang is an NFL Draft analyst for FOX Sports activities. He has been overlaying the NFL Draft for greater than 20 years, with work at FOX, Sports activities Illustrated, CBSSports.com, USA Right this moment, Yahoo, NFL.com and NFLDraftScout.com, amongst others. He additionally works as a scout with the BC Lions of the Canadian Soccer League. Comply with him on Twitter @RobRang.
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