All posts by Troy Jefferson

New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys, 9-16-18: In-game report

In a classic NFC East battle, the Dallas Cowboys (1-1) and the New York Giants (0-2) turned back the clock and played a style of football reminiscent of their 1990s encounters. The Cowboys prevailed 20-13.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

Cowboys defense

Giants quarterback Eli Manning completed 33-of-49 passes but averaged just 4.4 yards per attempt on Sunday night.

If it hasn’t already, the game ball should go to defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.  The Cowboys harassed the Giants offense all game, holding their division rival to 35 rushing yards and sacking Eli Manning six times.  Marinelli utilized  his traditional single high safety looks with a few twists.  Throughout the game, the fifth-year Cowboys defensive coordinator threw in some slot blitzes and twisting stunts along the defensive line.  Manning was forced to run off his spot and settle for checkdowns. Even when he had time, he “hopped” in the pocket and didn't set his feet to throw.  A good example of this was in the second quarter on third down when Manning panicked and rushed a throw that went behind his intended receiver Odell Beckham, Jr.   The Giants addressed their skill positions in the offseason but Dallas took advantage of an offensive line and a quarterback that were out of sync.

Cowboys kicking game

Much to the dismay of Cowboys fans, Dan Bailey was released before the season. Bailey, who had an 88-percent field goal accuracy percentage over his seven-year career, was replaced with 28-year old rookie Brett Maher.  Maher missed his only field goal attempt from 47 yards against the Panthers in Week 1, but did go 2-of-2 against the Giants. The kicks were from 37 yards and 29 yards respectively.  Maher wasn’t tested in Week 2 with long range attempts but his progress over the season will be worth monitoring.  In a division which is so heavily balanced, special teams could decide who makes the playoffs and who doesn’t.

Saquon Barkley

The Giants second overall draft pick has showed through two games that he can contribute in multiple ways.  Dallas looked to stack the box against the run while also avoiding the home run ball to receivers Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard.  Despite rushing for just 28 yards, Barkley caught 14 passes for 80 yards. The rookie from Penn State has transferred his open field deceptiveness from college to the NFL.  On one play in the second quarter, Barkley caught the ball in the flat by beating the Cowboys linebackers to the outside and then used a spin move to avoid safety Kavon Frazier to gain a few extra yards.  Look for head coach Pat Shurmur to continue to tailor the playbook to get Barkley more quick touches in the open field, whether that be in the running or passing game.

 

Indianapolis Colts vs. Washington Redskins, 9-16-18: In-game report

Washington had a chance to move to 2-0 for the first time since 2011 but strong play from the Colts defense and key adjustments in the offensive passing game led to an upset.  Washington (1-1) fell to Indianapolis (1-1), 21-9.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

Darius Leonard 

Meet the NFL’s tackle leader: Darius Leonard, the 31st-ranked player on DraftNasty's 2018 Big Board.  And if you watched Leonard at South Carolina State this shouldn’t come as a surprise.  Leonard stuffed the stat sheet against the Redskins, posting 18 tackles, one quarterback sack, a forced fumble and a pass deflection.  As his numbers would indicate, Leonard was dominant in the run and pass game.  What was most impressive in the game against Washington was Leonard’s ability to use his closing speed to diagnose plays and keep potential 10-15 yard gains to minimal pickups. The rookie linebacker wears the helmet transmitter during games and has made himself into the quarterback of the defense.   His athleticism allows him to match up against tight ends and running backs in the pass game and is willing to help in the run game. He reminds me of Derrick Brooks with his sideline-to-sideline quickness and his matchup versatility.  Look for the Colts, who are in a rebuilding mode, to continue to build the defense around rookie linebacker Darius Leonard.

Colts offense

Hilton has 12 receptions and two receiving touchdowns in the first two games of the year.

Frank Reich has made a name in the NFL as a coach because of his ability to adapt and tailor his game plans from week-to-week. The Colts used a heavy diet of pick plays against man-to-man coverage that caught the Redskins off guard.  Washington has several corners, including Josh Norman and Quinton Dunbar, who excel in press man coverage and the pick routes used by the Colts allowed their quick-twitched receivers to roam free over the middle of the field and took away the Redskins' strong suit of jamming receivers at the line. T.Y. Hilton, the Colts star receiver, was the beneficiary of the game plan and from the first drive of the game it was clear that the Colts plan of attack centered on getting Norman off of his body.  To begin the second quarter, Luck bought Hilton in motion from the right sideline to the numbers and immediately snapped the ball, which gave the Pro Bowl receiver more room to work with on his post route against Norman, who couldn’t jam the receiver at the line. Hilton finished with seven catches for 83 yards and a touchdown against Washington.

Redskins offense

If the Colts offense was original, the Redskins offense was vanilla and predictable.  The Redskins  finished with just 65 rushing yards and 269 passing yards, the bulk of which came in garbage time. Washington thrived in Week 1 with a balanced running attack but as has been the case in Jay Gruden’s tenure, the team has a tendency to abandon the run for no obvious reason.  The team's receivers aren’t at the level to carry their offense and struggled against the Colts cornerbacks to get separation in their routes.  Look for Washington to get back to a more balanced attack against Green Bay as Gruden may open the game with a deep ball or two to loosen up the Packers secondary.

 

Boise State vs. Oklahoma State, 9-15-18: In-game report

Two high-flying offenses met in Stillwater on Saturday.  However, Oklahoma State was victorious against Boise State, 44-21, because of  its work in the trenches. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

94 Jordan Brailford (6’3 250) Oklahoma State DE- Junior

Brailford didn’t have to utilize any of his pass rushing moves to tally two sacks against Boise State.  Brailford was able to get to the quarterback using his quickness off the line. The junior defensive end showed an ability to play with his hand in the dirt and standing up.  He was the first to the football on multiple occasions during the game. However on one possession, he didn’t cash in, missing a tackle because he went too high on Boise State running back Alexander Mattison (5’11, 211).  Brailford finished last season with five sacks and through three games this season, he already has four. The Cowboys as a whole have 16 on the season.  As NFL teams continue to prioritize situational pass rushers, Brailford has shown scouts early on that his name should be thrown into the mix.

4 Brett Rypien (6’2 202) Boise State QB-Senior

Rypien has thrown 10 touchdown passes to zero interceptions in three games this year.

A quarterback that is going under the radar is Brett Rypien, the current active leader in passing yards in the FBS.  At 6’2, 202 pounds, the senior has a light frame but he doesn’t lack toughness. Despite, being sacked seven times and taking over 10 hits, he kept his composure by not throwing an interception.  Rypien impressed with his ability to hold linebackers and safeties with his eyes. The quarterback hit tight end John Bates (6'6, 247) over the middle for a first down conversion after holding Oklahoma State’s linebacker with his eyes. Rypien may not have the physical tools to “wow” scouts in the NFL, but he does check the box when it comes to the fundamentals of the position: using his eyes, working through his progressions and getting his team into the right play.  For the season, Rypien has thrown 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions.  Going forward, it would be beneficial for Rypien to try and preserve his body a little more if possible by getting rid of the ball quicker and settling for throw aways as opposed to sacks. It's worth noting, the Broncos will probably not play a team as strong along the defensive line as they did against the Cowboys for the rest of the regular season.

Oklahoma State’s work in the trenches

The Cowboys and the Broncos both play a high volume passing brand of football.  Oklahoma State was more effective on offense and on defense because of the exemplary work along both lines. Rypien took seven sacks whereas Oklahoma State’s quarterback Taylor Cornelius (6’6, 232) was sacked three times. The Cowboys also rushed for 176 yards on 38 carries while the Broncos rushed for 38 yards on 31 carries.  On defense, the Cowboys had four different players record a  sack.  In a modern game that is dominated by receivers and quarterbacks hogging the headlines, Oklahoma State’s offensive line and defense line just went out and handled business.

 

Baltimore Ravens vs. Buffalo Bills, 9-9-18: In-game report

In an AFC showdown, the Baltimore Ravens completely dominated Buffalo and left the Bills searching for an answer at quarterback. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions of the Ravens 47-3 victory in this in-game report:

Ravens defense

The Ravens turned in a performance reminiscent of their defensive glory years of the early 2000s.  Cornerback Tavon Young recorded two sacks in the first quarter as defensive coordinator Don Martindale varied his blitzes and coverages early and often. In total, the Ravens held the Bills to 70 yards rushing and 83 yards passing. Even more impressive was the long list of names who contributed to the effort.  Safety Tony Jefferson had his second interception as a Raven when Bills quarterback Nathan Peterman sailed a pass high to his 6'6" wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin.  Jefferson was one of seven Ravens to finish with a tackle for loss.

Buffalo Bills quarterback dilemma

The Bills are still deciding whether Nate Peterman, pictured, will remain the team's starting quarterback after the team's lopsided loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

The Bills started the game with Nate Peterman at quarterback. The former University of Pittsburgh quarterback threw two touchdowns and five interceptions last season with a 49-percent completion percentage.  His propensity to miss receivers and throw the ball to the opposition showed itself again on Sunday.  Peterman completed 5-of-18 passes for 24 yards and two interceptions before being taken out of the game for rookie Josh Allen.  Allen didn’t fare much better either going 6-of-15 for 74 yards.  He did show an ability to escape the pocket.   In his first possession, he fled the pressure up the middle and from Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs on the outside.  Allen didn’t find an open man and ended up throwing the ball away but at least it wasn’t a turnover.  It must be noted that the Bills got behind so quickly that in order to attempt to keep pace, they went into a lot of obvious passing formations, which allowed the Ravens to unleash its  pass rush.  All things considered, look for head coach Sean McDermott to take a long look at the quarterback position.

New look Ravens receivers

Quarterback Joe Flacco has seen a steady dip in his production since the Ravens won the  Super Bowl in 2012.  General manager Ozzie Newsome’s remedy to his perceived quarterback's decline was bringing in some fresh blood at receiver in the form of a speedster John Brown and a move the chains-type in Willie Snead.  The Ravens also acquired a consistent veteran in former 49ers and Oakland Raiders standout Michael Crabtree.  It didn’t take long for the trio to stand out.   Brown worked his way back to the sticks and caught a laser from Flacco, after he extended a play with his legs on 2nd and 26.  Crabtree made an impressive toe-tapping catch in the back of the end zone to give the Ravens a 27-0 lead before halftime and all but put the game out of reach.  Snead worked the middle of the field, catching four passes for 49 yards and one touchdown.

 

Houston vs. Arizona, 9-8-18: In-game report

The University of Arizona’s offense was supposed to be a challenge for Houston’s defense led by junior defensive tackle Ed Oliver (6’3 292).  In fact, the opposite happened as Houston routed the Wildcats 45-18.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

10 Ed Oliver (6’3, 292) Houston DT-Junior

Oliver (No. 10 pictured) has posted four tackles for losses in two games thus far in 2018.

Pundits have Ed Oliver as a consensus Top 15 pick in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft and he didn’t disappoint against the Wildcats. The junior commanded double teams throughout the game, which allowed his defensive counterparts to capitalize with big plays. Oliver’s best series of the afternoon came on back-to-back plays, where he didn’t even record a stat.  On two separate short yardage situations (third down; fourth down) in the first half, Oliver was able to eat up two offensive linemen and still push the line of scrimmage in the backfield.  His push created tackles for losses for his teammates on both plays.  The junior has started every game of his career and wins with effort.  Arizona junior quarterback Khalil Tate (6’2, 215) was forced to move off of his spot in the pocket numerous times because of Oliver’s inside pressure.  What stood out to me was Oliver’s willingness to stay involved in plays and chase Tate from behind, which negated any potential cutback lanes.  Oliver finished with five tackles and a pass deflection.

Houston defense

Davis (No. 1 pictured) contributed 51 tackles, two tackles for losses and four interceptions for the Cougars in 2017.

The Cougar defenders around Oliver made the most of their opportunities as well.  The team totaled seven sacks and forced two interceptions.  Eight players were credited with at least half of a sack and senior defensive back Garrett Davis (6’2, 210) came down with two interceptions.  Davis now has six interceptions in his career. Most impressively, the Cougars defense managed to keep Khalil Tate corralled and turn him into a pocket passer rather than a runner. Houston excelled in gap integrity and leverage, forcing Tate to work through his reads and be patient rather than giving him alleys to run. Tate finished with just eight rushing yards.

Cougars up tempo offense

It was an all-around dominating performance for the Cougars offensively.  The offensive line, quarterback and skill position players all deserve credit. The Cougars had 254 passing yards and 297 rushing yards.  As the numbers would indicate, Houston did a good job of remaining balanced between run and pass; thus keeping the Wildcats defense guessing.   Early on, Kendal Briles, the Cougars offensive coordinator, showcased some of the RPO concepts which made his father’s Baylor Bears teams so successful.  Houston forced Arizona to cover the field horizontally and vertically and make tackles in space. The Cougars first touchdown of the game came on a passing touchdown to sophomore wide receiver Marquez Stevenson (6’0, 190), who took a swing pass and made the Arizona defensive backs miss in space while breaking a couple of tackles.  Quarterback D’Eriq King (5’11, 195) finished with 246 yards passing and four touchdowns.

6 Shun Brown  (5’10, 188) Arizona WR- Senior

Brown has “wiggle” in his game.  The Wildcats used Brown on a couple of quick screens to get him one-on-one in open space.  Brown is a matchup nightmare when he gets a slot corner or a linebacker in the open field.  He finished with 73 receiving yards on nine catches. The senior wide receiver from Shreveport, Louisiana, is also a force in the return game.   He had a 15-yard punt return on Saturday and for his career has two punt return touchdowns.

 

West Virginia vs. Tennessee, 9-1-18: In-game report

In a heavily anticipated non-conference battle in Charlotte, North Carolina, West Virginia strong-armed Tennessee in the trenches, en route to a 40-14 victory.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

7 Will Grier (6'2, 223) West Virginia QB-Senior

Grier, pictured, went over the 300-yard passing mark for the 10th time as a Mountaineer.

Will Grier, West Virginia’s Heisman candidate, didn’t disappoint. The senior completed 25-of-34 passes for 429 yards and five touchdowns.  Grier (6’2, 223) showed a natural feel in the pocket and looked like a quarterback who knew what he wanted to do snap-to-snap.  His patience shined throughout the game.  Perhaps his best throw of the afternoon came on a fade to senior wide receiver Gary Jennings Jr. (6’2, 215), pictured left, where he placed the ball perfectly to the receiver's outside shoulder for a touchdown.  The senior enjoyed strong pass protection and only helped himself by being able to avoid the rush with his quick feet.  However, Grier would be better served at the next level if he’s able to develop the ability “to climb” in the pocket rather than shuffle from side-to-side, like he did on too many occasions against the Volunteers.  All things considered, he put together a performance worthy of a player who many pundits believe will be one of the better quarterbacks in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft.

18 David Sills V (6'4, 210) West Virginia WR-Senior

For the eighth time over the course of the last two seasons, Sills V registered at least two receiving touchdowns in a game.

All good quarterbacks need a receiver who can make plays. For Grier, that receiver is Sills V.  Sills V used his size “to box out corners", making it hard for the Volunteers secondary to work against him. The senior wide receiver also showed he can run the complete route tree and bend his knees/ upper body to get in-and-out of his breaks. The former Mountaineers signal-caller finished the afternoon with seven catches for 140 yards and two touchdowns.

9 Tim Jordan (5’11, 230) Tennessee RB-Sophomore

Jordan was one of the lone bright spots for the Volunteers, who looked inept on offense.  Jordan, only a sophomore, was able to use outside carries off tackle to rack up 118 rushing yards on 20 carries. He broke a run outside to score a touchdown in the third quarter. Jordan had a good game but the Tennessee offensive line will have to improve in both the pass and run blocking departments to compete in the SEC.

Mountaineers defense

West Virginia’s defense was aggressive from the jump.  Senior defensive tackle Kenny Bigelow (6’4 307), a former USC Trojan, started off the game with a quick rip move to derail a run up the middle on the first play of the contest.  On the next drive, Bigelow once again beat a Volunteers interior lineman off the snap to record a tackle for loss. He finished the contest with two tackles for loss and one forced fumble.  The Mountaineers defense went about 20 players deep and used various defensive packages to stifle the Volunteers, especially on third downs.  On the outside, West Virginia used a lot of man coverage and did it quite effectively.  The Mountaineers allowed Tennessee to convert on just 35-percent of its third down attempts (5-of-14), while allowing a paltry 301 yards of total offense (172 passing yards, 129 rushing yards). 

Western Michigan vs. Syracuse, 8-31-18: In-game report

The Western Michigan Broncos and the Syracuse Orange engaged in a high scoring back and forth battle on Friday night.  However, the Orange used an overpowering first half to defeat the Broncos, winning by a final score of 55-42.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

17 Jamal Custis 6’5, 224 Syracuse WR- Senior

Custis' 168-yard receiving performance exceeded his career total entering 2018 (142 yards).

Former Syracuse wide receivers Amba Etta-Tawo and Steve Ishmael were workhorse wide receivers who could be depended on to carry Syracuse’s offense at times.  Custis’ performance on Friday night indicates that he is capable of similar production.  The senior wide receiver put the team on his back in the first half, making two spectacular over the shoulder grabs, one of which resulted in a touchdown.  He finished the night with six catches for 168 yards and two touchdowns.  His best grab may have come in the second half when after running towards the sideline at full speed, he reached back with his left hand for an impressive one-handed grab.  He then used his size to bull his way into the end zone after making a defender miss in the open field.  What really stood out from Custis was his willingness to use his 6-foot-5-inch frame to block on the outside for running backs.

Syracuse linebackers

The high scoring affair underscored a largely disappointing night defensively for both teams.  But a few Orange linebackers did stand out.  Senior inside linebacker Ryan Guthrie (6’2, 224) flashed sideline-to-sideline speed and finished with four tackles, one of which was for a loss.  The sideline-to-sideline speed did get Guthrie in trouble when he ran himself out of a play that resulted in a Western Michigan 64-yard rushing touchdown.  Senior outside linebacker Kielan Whitner (6’0, 215) showed a willingness to play with discipline.  In the first quarter, on a run play to the opposite side of the field, Whitner stayed even with the right tackle in order to maintain his gap control in the event of a cut back and then chased down Western Michigan’s running back from behind for a tackle for loss.  The former strong safety finished with six tackles, an interception and a pass deflection.

Syracuse offensive production

Senior quarterback Eric Dungey (6’4, 226) is the commander of the offense and sort of a Swiss Army knife, when it comes to his ability to run and pass.  Dungey ran for 200 yards (13.3 yards per carry) and passed for 184 yards while accounting for three total touchdowns. The senior will have to work on his accuracy, as he completed just seven of his 17 pass attempts and routinely missed receivers in stride.  Head coach Dino Babers did a great job of mixing up the team's play calls and formations.  Look for Syracuse to continue to run a heavy dose of read option, shotgun and traditional multiple tight end and fullback sets going forward.  In total, the offense scored 55 points and racked up 560 yards.

7 D’Wayne Eskridge (5’9, 190) Western Michigan WR- Junior

Eskridge, a former state champion 100-meter and 200-meter state champion at Bluffton HS (Ind.), went over the 100-yard mark for the first time in his career versus the Orange.

Eskridge plays an aggressive game at wide receiver. The junior wide receiver makes all of his routes look the same because of his explosiveness off the line.  In the first quarter, Eskridge attacked the backpedaling cornerback before stopping on a dime for a 15-yard gain. Eskridge is skilled at using minimal steps to get in and out of his breaks.  He finished with eight catches for 240 yards and two touchdowns. The wide receiver could improve his route running a bit.  In the first half near the goal line, Eskridge rounded his slant route and allowed Syracuse junior cornerback Scoop Bradshaw (6'0, 176) to come underneath him, deflect and nearly intercept a pass.

 

2018 Preview: Wisconsin Badgers

Season outlook

Wisconsin was a touchdown away from representing the Big Ten in the College Football Playoff a season ago.  With sophomore running back Jonathan Taylor and junior quarterback Alex Hornibrook (6'4, 218) back in the fold, there's reason for optimism in Madison.  With roster turnover and coaching changes in the conference, Wisconsin is a safe pick to win the Big Ten in 2018.  On defense, the Badgers have to replace seven starters from a season ago but will return linebacker T.J. Edwards (6'1, 244) for his senior season.  Edwards was a first- team All-American a season ago and recorded four interceptions.  On the back end, safety D'Cota Dixon (5'10, 198) has started 23 games and will be the elder statesman in a secondary which welcomes three new starters around him. If Wisconsin has a spot of concern it could be the inexperience at defensive back. However, the Badgers had the nation's second-best total defense last season and with its offensive playmakers having another year of experience under their belts, look for Wisconsin to compete again for a College Football Playoff spot.

Troy's player to watch

23 Jonathan Taylor 5'11 214 RB-Sophomore
Taylor, a former state champion in track and field with 10.49 100-meter speed, burst onto the college football scene last season, rushing for 1,997 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Wisconsin running back will enter 2018 as one of the best players in the nation and a Heisman candidate.  Head coach Paul Chryst has prided himself on running the football early and often.  He will once again rely on Taylor to shoulder the load.  Expect Taylor to get anywhere from 275- to-300 touches in 2018 and to lead the conference in rushing yards.

Game of the season

October 13th at Michigan
The Badgers will get their first test of the season when they go on the road to the Big House.  Wisconsin won't have to play Michigan State and Ohio State until a potential conference championship game. The Badgers defeated the Wolverines last year, 24-10, in Madison.  It's a good chance the only two ranked teams Wisconsin will face during the regular season are Michigan and Penn State, which means they could run the table to an undefeated season.

DraftNasty's Prospect Watch

63 Michael Dieter 6'6 329 OC-Senior

Where will Dieter line up this fall?  After all, he's earned starts at center, left guard and left tackle.  The position he may be best suited to play on a regular basis is left guard.  As a left tackle, there could be next level question marks regarding his foot speed.  While at that position, however, he takes the correct hinge steps on the backside and locks out his arms favorably in pass pro.  His tenacity as a run blocker is most evident on trap blocks.  In these instances, he has shown the ability to throw defensive linemen around (see Nebraska '16).  Perhaps even more exciting for NFL scouts is the fact that he's displayed an adequate ability to snap and pull from the center position.  Dieter's value for the NFL-level is his positional flexibility.

Prediction:  11-1 overall

The Wisconsin Badgers will win the Big Ten West division but will not go undefeated. Draftnasty's Troy Jefferson is predicting a road loss in November to Penn State. 

2018 Preview: Boise State Broncos

Season outlook 

 

Over the course of his first four seasons, head coach Bryan Harsin has cemented Boise State as one of the premiere programs on the West Coast and in the nation. Last season, the Broncos finished 11-3 overall and 7-1 in the Mountain West. This season, the Broncos will be led by a senior quarterback on offense and a talented secondary and defensive line on the other side of the ball. Senior cornerback Tyler Horton (5'11, 190) and junior safety Kekoa Nawahine (6'2, 207) are the undisputed playmakers in the secondary.

Nawahine posted four double-digit tackle games for the Broncos in 2017.

Nawahine finished last season with three interceptions and six pass deflections while Horton had 11 pass deflections to go along with two picks. Both players have played more than 25 games apiece and bring a wealth of experience to the Broncos defense which projects to be one of -if not the best- in the Mountain West. Along the front seven, senior defensive tackle David Moa and sophomore Curtis Weaver (6'3, 256) combine to stop the run and get after the quarterback. Moa is the run-stuffer and Weaver, who finished with 11 sacks as a freshman, is the pass rusher. On offense, senior quarterback Brett Rypien (6'2, 202), the nephew of former Redskins Super Bowl-winning quarterback Mark Rypien, will be asked to continue his steady play.

Brett Rypien shared snaps in 2017 with former Broncos quarterback Montell Cozart.

Rypien, a three-year starter, has amassed 9,876 passing yards, 60 touchdowns and 22 interceptions while completing 62 percent of his passes. Harsin once again has a team capable of winning 10-plus games and can even dream of a darkhorse chance at the College Football Playoff if his team goes undefeated, thanks to a tough non-conference schedule.

Troy's Player to watch

55 David Moa 6'3 275 DL-Senior
Moa is the prototypical run-stuffer and the anchor of the Broncos defense. The senior defensive tackle opens lanes for the other members of the front seven to make plays. Last season, Moa finished with two sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss while being named a second-team All-Mountain West Conference selection. He hopes to return to his junior year form after an up-and-down junior campaign (https://www.idahostatesman.com/sports/college/mountain-west/boise-state-university/boise-state-football/article216096480.html).   In 2016, he recorded 8.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss. Look for Moa to continue making waves in the Mountain West and, with another strong season, he could get looks from the NFL.

Game of the season

September 29th vs. Wyoming
The  Broncos have a Week 3 matchup on the road against Oklahoma State, which figures to be their most challenging non- conference game. However, two weeks later against Wyoming in Laramie, they will play the Cowboys in a game that will have conference championship implications. Last season, the Broncos defeated Wyoming, 24-14. The Cowboys are projected to be the Broncos stiffest competition in the Mountain West mountain division. Wyoming lost star quarterback Josh Allen (2018 NFL Draft, 1st Round, 7th overall, Buffalo Bills) but return several defensive playmakers and will be poised to test Boise State at home. 

DraftNasty's Prospect Watch

8 Jabril Frazier 6'4 243 OLB-Senior

Frazier heads into his senior year with 12.5 quarterback sacks and 15.5 tackles for losses.

Frazier often has been employed at the outside linebacker/STUD position for the Broncos.  He can put his hand in the dirt or rush from a two-point stance.  An athletic defender with range, he hasn't yet established himself as a consistent force setting the edge versus offensive tackles. In addition, his pass rush variety when working from either position leaves room for improvement.  Aside from putting on added weight, he needs to finish on the quarterback with more regularity to truly get looks from NFL scouts as a potential 30-front Rush OLB prospect.

Prediction: 11-1

Boise State will handle road contests against Troy and Wyoming but  fall to Oklahoma State in Stillwater.  Other than a Week 3 loss against OSU,  Draftnasty's Troy Jefferson is predicting an 11-win season and a Mountain West Conference championship.

2018 Preview: Maryland Terrapins

Season outlook

The Maryland Terrapins enter the 2018 season looking to become bowl-eligible for the second time under third-year head coach D.J. Durkin.  Amid a controversial summer that included the sad circumstances and death of freshman offensive lineman Jordan McNair, Durkin was placed on administrative leave. Highly-regarded assistant coach and offensive coordinator Matt Canada will serve as the team's interim head coach in Durkin's absence.
After a disappointing 2017 season, Terrapins fans are hoping for a return to a bowl game in 2018.
Last season, the Terps finished 4-8 overall and 2-7 in the Big Ten. Maryland has been able to put points on the board under Durkin and with a strong offensive line led by center Brendan Moore (6'3, 302), that should remain the status quo in 2018. Last year, the Terps lost their two top quarterbacks: junior Tyrell Pigrome (5'11, 205) and sophomore Kasim Hill (6'2, 234), to season-ending injuries during the first two weeks of the season. Maryland will have to shore up the quarterback position during summer camp. On defense, Durkin has led top-level units at both Florida and Michigan, but that side of the ball hasn't enjoyed the same success in Maryland. Senior defensive end Jesse Aniebonam (6'3, 260) suffered a fractured ankle during week one of last season but if he can return healthy in 2018, he could make life a lot easier on the Terps defense. 

Troy's player to watch

6 Ty Johnson 5'10 212 RB-Senior
With D.J. Moore entering the NFL (2018 NFL Draft, 1st Round, 24th overall pick), Ty Johnson will take over as the featured weapon in Canada's offense. Johnson finished last season with 875 rushing yards and six total touchdowns. The senior running back's production is a good gauge for the Terrapins offense. In the Terrapins four wins last season, Johnson averaged 9.9 yards per carry. In its eight losses, he averaged just 4.5 yards per carry. Canada has had stops in Wisconsin, Pittsburgh and LSU over the last six years. All of those schools have hung their hats on running the ball, which could lead to increased production for Johnson. 

Game of the season

September 15th vs. Temple
Maryland has some marquee matchups on its schedule but the home opener against Temple will be a big one. The Terrapins have to play Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State in conference play, which means racking up wins in the non conference schedule will be key in order to qualify for a bowl game.

DraftNasty's Prospect Watch

9 Byron Cowart 6'4 293 DL-Junior

In just a little over two seasons at Auburn, Cowart (No. 9 pictured) posted 15 tackles, one and a half tackles for losses and one forced fumble.

Cowart, a former five-star recruit who originally played at Auburn, enters the Terrapins program with a lot to prove.  He left the Tigers in the fall of 2017 and enrolled at Hillsborough Community College to ensure he wouldn't lose a year.  The former Florida Class 6A Player of the Year dealt with injuries during his previous stint and never seemed to get into a flow.  Technically, he has to play more to his frame when fighting pressure from offensive linemen.  On the plus side, he demonstrated enough versatility to play both defensive end and defensive tackle in limited SEC action.  When motivated, he has the power and strength to be a block destructor.  After doing so, he can re-map his courses and close distances in short areas.  His speed/power ratio seems to be a fit for the Big Ten.  Will it translate?

Prediction: 4-8

Maryland will miss out on a bowl game for the second straight season, according to Draftnasty's Troy Jefferson. The Terps will fall to Texas in the season opener, Temple, Michigan State and Ohio State at home and on the road to Iowa, Michigan, Indiana and Penn State.