Category Archives: Bowl previews/recaps

2018 Quick Lane Bowl In-game report: Minnesota vs. Georgia Tech, 12-26-18

Two run heavy offenses squared off in Detroit in the Quick Lane Bowl.  However, Minnesota was able to make more plays in the passing game, en route to a 34-10 victory over Georgia Tech. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

62 Jared Weyler (6’4 300) Minnesota OC/OG- Senior

Weyler has missed time over his career in Minnesota with a torn tricep and a torn ACL but when he is on the field, he provides toughness and leads the heavy run Gophers offense.  The senior can play both guard and center. He is not the most athletic prospect and looks a little stiff when forced to block on screens.  Against Georgia Tech, he did show the ability to call out blocking formations and provide a clean lane for his runners.  Weyler, a captain for the Golden Gophers, projects best at the next level as a center. 

24 Mohamed Ibrahim (5’10 205) Minnesota RB-Freshman

Ibrahim is only a freshman but he impressed all season long with his ability to serve as a workhorse running back. Despite his 31 touches in the Quick Lane Bowl, Ibrahim never looked tired or worn down. He is also a willing blocker in passing formations.  For the season, Ibrahim finished with 1,160 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 202 carries. The running back from Olney, Maryland, didn’t get a chance to show his ability to catch very much this year (four receptions for 26 yards).  In a few years, look for Ibrahim’s name to come up as a potential NFL prospect. 

6 Tyler Johnson (6’2 200) Minnesota WR-Junior

Johnson is the best receiving weapon for the Golden Gophers.  His explosiveness off the line of scrimmage is lethal.  He was able to sell a move to the inside in order to get a clean release on the outside for a touchdown in the first quarter.  Against Georgia Tech, Johnson hauled in two touchdowns on four receptions for 57 yards.  For the season, Johnson had 78 catches for 1,169 yards and 12 touchdowns. Johnson projects best as an X-receiver, who has the skills off the line to scare cornerbacks in man-to-man coverage.

Look here at how Johnson uses explosiveness in his routes, high- points the football and makes a play:

3 Tre Swilling (6’0 195) Georgia Tech CB-Freshman

The son of former Saints Pro Bowler Pat Swilling, the younger version stood out in the Quick Lane Bowl because of his clean hips and ability to mirror receivers.   Swilling didn’t see much action to his side against Minnesota and at times it looked as if the Golden Gophers offense was intentionally avoiding him.  For the season, Swilling had one forced fumble, an interception and six pass deflections.  Swilling has the skills and bloodlines to be a next level talent.  As the years go on, his progress will be worth monitoring. 

Gasparilla Bowl In-game report: Marshall VS. USF, 12-20-18

Marshall used a strong first quarter to take care of business against USF in Tampa. The Thundering Herd defeated the Bulls, 38-20, in the Gasparilla Bowl. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in game report:

84 Randall St. Felix (6’2 205) USF WR-Freshman 

If his freshman year was any indication, St. Felix should join the long list of hometown Miami receivers, who have gone on to play at the next level.  St. Felix finished the season with 33 catches for 679 yards and four touchdowns. Against Marshall, he hauled in six passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns.  St. Felix understood where to find the soft spots in the Marshall zone and in man-to-man coverage, and this was evident when he scored a touchdown using a double move in the third quarter.  St. Felix is a clean route runner for such a young prospect, and look for him to only get more refined with more time in college football.

89 Mitchell Wilcox (6’5 245) USF  TE-Junior 

Wilcox fits the mold of the new age tight end: tall, strong and can run.  He impressed when he extended and laid out for a 27-yard catch.  The junior tight end seems like a natural catcher and doesn’t let the ball get into his body often, despite his fourth quarter drop. For the season, he finished with 43 catches for 540 yards and two touchdowns. Look for Wilcox to work best at the next level as a tight end out of the slot rather than a traditional in-line blocking tight end.

61 Levi Brown (6’4 290) Marshall OC-Junior 

Levi Brown is a true mauler at center. Brown is a little tall for the position and that shows when he is in pass protection and is forced to maintain a low base.  However, he has excellent hands and reach which allows him to hold sturdy in the interior.  In the run game,  Brown plays through the whistle and is almost always downfield finishing blocks.  The Marshall center was named to the second team Conference USA roster in 2017.  This year, he may been in for a first team finish. Brown will probably return for another year of college but look for him to be in the conversation as a Day 2 draft pick in 2020.

8 Tyre Brady (6’3 206) Marshall WR-senior

Back in his home state of Florida, Brady put on a show. The Homestead native caught five passes for 88 yards and ran once for 14 yards.  Despite his 6-foot-3-inch frame, Brady moves with fluidity and was used on reverses and screens throughout the game. The senior wide receiver also showed strong hands on a 42-yard catch in the first quarter when he used an inside release and then out- muscled the smaller USF corner for the football. On the season, Brady finished with 71 catches for 1,002 yards and nine touchdowns.  An NFL team will be getting a productive and versatile receiver if they bring in Brady.

2018 CFP National Championship preview: Georgia vs Alabama, 1-08-18

This year’s championship game in Atlanta will feature two SEC teams and  two coaches who are familiar with one another.

Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1 overall, 7-1 SEC) will face off against his former defensive coordinator Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs (13-1 overall, 7-1 SEC) on Monday night.

Both teams are led by stingy defenses.  Each unit ranks top five scoring defense.

Worth noting, Saban is 11-0 against former assistants.

Players to watch

Georgia

3 Roquan Smith LB- Junior

Smith, at 6’1 225 lbs., is a little smaller than a typical first round linebacker but he has typical high-round talent. Smith finished the College Football Playoff semifinal versus Oklahoma with 11 total tackles. For the season,  Smith has 124 tackles, 5.5 sacks and one forced fumble. Smith already has an SEC Championship game MVP under his belt,  and the Bulldogs will need a similar effort to handle the Crimson Tide.

1 Sony Michel RB- Senior

Michel is a threat to take it to the house  any time he touches the ball. In the semifinal against the Sooners, Michel scored the game-winning touchdown and finished with 181 yards and three touchdowns. This year, he is averaging eight yards a carry.

Alabama

94 Da’Ron Payne DT- Junior

Payne is poised to join the likes of Marcell Dareus and Jonathan Allen, former Crimson Tide defensive linemen who have become premier run stuffers at the next level. Payne, at 6’2, 308 lbs., is a space eater and does the dirty work in the trenches that allows the ‘Bama linebackers to roam free. He also intercepted a pass and caught a touchdown against Clemson in the College Football semifinal.

29 Minkah Fitzpatrick DB- Junior

Fitzpatrick patrols the back end for the Crimson Tide and his measurables (6’1, 203 lbs) could make him useful at the next level as a nickel corner and safety. Versatility is the name of the game for defensive backs in the NFL and Fitzpatrick possesses that ability. On the season, Fitzpatrick has eight pass deflections, one interception and one forced fumble.

Prediction: Georgia 13 Alabama 21

—Troy Jefferson, DN Staff Reports

DraftNasty’s Franklin Mortgage Music City Bowl, In-Game Report: Northwestern vs. Kentucky, 12-29-17

The battle of the Wildcats ended in dramatic fashion as a failed two-point conversion by Kentucky propelled Northwestern to its second consecutive bowl victory for the first time in school history. DraftNasty’s National Correspondent De’Angelo Bryant provides a deeper look in analyzing the potential NFL prospects of this game.

Northwestern

21 RB Justin Jackson (5’11, 200, Sr.)

Jackson earned game MVP honors after being the workhorse with a season-high 32 carriers for 157 yards and two TDs. Jackson can best be described as elusive as he mixes a dose of quickness, jump cuts, and short-area explosion to elude defenders. He naturally squares his shoulder pads to get vertical and squeezes through tight areas to reach the second and third levels. There are times when he makes one too many cuts which causes him to accumulate negative yards. Despite his thinly-built frame, he shows toughness on initial contact. He only caught one pass for 10 yards.

18 QB Clayton Thorson (6’4, 220, Jr.)

Before being carted off the field from a right leg injury, Thorson was proficient moving the Northwestern offense downfield. He attempted just eight passes but showed precision in the pocket and kept his eyes downfield versus the rush. He showed quick shoulder nods when pump faking and remained in a strong throwing position to release the football.

9 H-Back Garrett Dickerson (6’3, 248, Sr.)

Dickerson caught my eye with his combination of speed and size. His position on the team is referred to as the Superback, a hybrid running back, fullback, tight end position. On a few occasions, he won on vertical routes versus linebackers and forced safeties Mike Edwards & Darius West to push to their maximum speed to avoid getting beaten. Though he has caught over 30 passes this season, there were a few times I questioned his hand-eye coordination.

2 WR Flynn Nagel (5’11, 194, Jr.)

Used in motion to line up as a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver. Product of hide and mid-star routes where he is responsible for reading the linebacker and safety drops to find the open zones. Tough when catching the football in traffic and knows how to protect his body to avoid the big hits. When being motioned in to block the overhang defender, he was often over-matched (particularly versus Kentucky OLB Josh Allen).  At times, he was also nudged off his landmark on routes downfield.

1 DT Tyler Lancaster (6’3, 315, Sr.)

Subbed a lot due to the personnel sets from Kentucky. Played predominately on potential run plays. Strength to move the center backwards is evident, but he struggles to maintain low pad level throughout his penetration. As a pass rusher, he did show an athletic spin move to complement his bull rush.

24 CB Montre Hartage (6’0, 195, Jr.)

Passes the eye ball test and has the physical style of play to complement the look. Kentucky picked on him on the first possession by going to Tavin Richardson. This was just one of several shots they took at Hartage.  After the first possession, he was moved to the opposite side away from Kentucky’s X-receiver and played more to the combination receiver side. This suited him well, as he did a good job of using the sideline as an extra defender to the boundary and played the underneath routes well when squatting in rolled coverage. A physical tackler, Hartage will duck his head and not bring his eyes with him through contact.  He had difficulty locating the ball in the air.

21 S Kyle Queiro (6’3, 220, Sr.)

Was not impressive on the opening kickoff. He was literally put on his backside by KR/RB Zach Johnson because of his high pad level on contact. Stiffness was exploited on several occasions when attempting to make tackles in space as defenders danced around him. His length was his savior. He does a good job of communication and can cover ground well. Maintained good leverage in bracket coverage.

16 S Godwin Igwebuike (6’0, 212, Sr.)

Aggressive safety when entering the box and can fill alleys with aggression. Interchangeable safety in 3-deep zone coverage concepts (can play both SS & FS). Can roll to the middle or roll to hold the No. 2 receiver’s vertical route. Versus trips formations, he was effective holding the No. 3 receiver’s vertical route and buzzing to cover the flats. Good wrap tackler and will look for an opportunity to go for the strip. When playing the backside safety, he identifies the crosser and looks to rob the route. His lower body stiffness was exploited when attempting to recover on routes after getting his eyes caught in the backfield on flash fakes from Kentucky’s QBs. Grabs in coverage and was called for a pass interference on Kentucky’s last drive. Doesn’t really have a defined technique, but maximizes his effort on every play.

32 LB Nate Hall (6’2, 230, Jr.)

Missed game due to a knee injury suffered in bowl preparation practice.

Kentucky

73 RT Kyle Meadows (6’3, 300, Sr.)

Veteran savvy. Understands the DL stunts, slant and twist games. Slow movement off the snap. Appears he doesn’t trust his feet; which puts him in bad position versus the rush. Uses little technique when releasing inside to get to the second level. Struggles to sit his hips down and it causes him to absorb contact too often.

41 OLB Josh Allen (6’5, 230, Jr.)

Active LB off the edge. Good speed rush and will dip his shoulder to avoid contact from the OT.  His backside pursuit on screens and options displayed his lateral movement skills. When Northwestern motioned a receiver or H-back in to block him, he showed quickness when slanting inside the blocks to take away his gap for the RB.

34 LB Jordan Jones (6’2, 221, Jr.)

High-energy, sideline-to-sideline defender. Does a good job of his scrape-to-fit versus the run game. Has a good sense of when to trigger when the QB becomes mobile outside the pocket. Will backdoor and shoot the gap on runs away. Needs to be more efficient on wrap stunts from the backside. Will overrun gaps because he’s too fast when tracking.

8 CB Derrick Baity (6’3, 186, Jr.)

Shows the most fluidity between he, Johnson and Westry. Evident that the coaching staff believes in his coverage ability more than the other two. Adjusted well to coverage checks. When playing press-man he shows some quickness and suddenness when reacting to the receiver’s moves off the line. To the nub side of the formation, he was over-matched when taking on blocks.

6 CB Lonnie Johnson (6’3, 203, Jr.)

Started the game and rotated with Westry. Also was a part of Kentucky’s nickel package, where he lined up over the outside receiver. Patient in his off-man technique, but he will drop his foot in the bucket when transitioning out of his breaks.  When taking on blocks he tends to get his hands outside of the blocker’s frame, which makes it difficult for him to shed  them.

 21 Chris Westry (6’4, 195, Jr.)

Long and rangy defender with experience. Did not start the game, but played a significant amount of snaps. Shows a strong punch and extension in press coverage. Can close on a ball carrier or receiver in a hurry, but will get bounced around due to his thin frame.

7 Saf Mike Edwards (6’0, 200, Jr.)

Mainly played the free safety position. In sub-packages, he rocked down to cover the slot in man coverage and to also play man on RB Justin Jackson. Showed some twitch when changing from his pedal to plant-n-drive coming downhill.

* 26 Benny Snell Jr. (5’11, 223, So)

Thickly-built and strong through contact. Shows good vision and will patiently follow his blocks. One-cut runner with a short area burst and a secondary move in his repertoire. Scored the game’s opening TD, but was ejected in the 2nd quarter for removing an official’s hands following a play.

2017 Cotton Bowl preview: USC vs Ohio State, 12-29-17

Two blue chip programs will matchup in the Cotton Bowl on Friday night.

The Cotton Bowl will serve as a consolation prize for Ohio State (11-2 overall, 8-1 Big Ten) and USC (11-2 overall, 8-1 Pac-12), both of whom had College Football Playoff aspirations at the beginning of the season.

Both teams are led by star quarterbacks. Sam Darnold, a consensus Top 10 NFL draft prospect, leads the men of Troy. J.T. Barrett, one of the most decorated quarterbacks in college football history, leads the Buckeyes.

Both teams enter the game as conference champions as USC defeated Stanford and Ohio State beat Wisconsin in their respective conferences.

Players to watch

Ohio State Buckeyes

J.K. Dobbins RB- Freshman 

Freshman running back J.K. Dobbins averaged 7.5 yards per rushing attempt and had six games this season with more than 100 rushing yards. After just one season, Dobbins is making waves and could find himself in the same breath as former Ohio State running backs Archie Griffin, Maurice Clarett and Eddie George. Dobbins took home the MVP award in the Big Ten Championship after finishing with 174 rushing yards on just 17 attempts.

Tyquan Lewis DL-Senior

Lewis is expected to be an early-round draft pick and will have to be accounted for by the Trojans offensive line. Lewis has 22 career sacks, 34.5 tackles for losses and four forced fumbles. When Lewis is at his best, he’s a relentless pass rusher who is never out of a play.

USC Trojans

Ronald Jones II RB- Junior

Darnold might receive the air time but Ronald Jones II was the workhorse running back behind the Trojans offense.  Jones II finished the season with 242 carries for 1486 yards.  Like Dobbins, he had an impressive conference championship game. He finished with 140 rushing yards (4.7 YPC) and two touchdowns against Stanford.

Iman Marshall CB- Junior

 

Marshall has been as reliable as they come at USC.  The junior cornerback stands 6’1″  205 lbs, and he has the size scouts will covet in the NFL.  Marshall has six career interceptions.  A knee injury forced him to miss four games in the middle of the season. However, Marshall returned for the final two games of the season, finishing with two pass deflections.

Prediction: USC 21 Ohio State 35

2017 Heart of Dallas Bowl preview: Utah vs WVU, 12-26-17

The Heart of Dallas Bowl will feature two teams with explosive offenses that underwhelmed in their respective conferences.

Utah (3-6, 6-6) will match up against West Virginia (5-4, 7-5) in Dallas on Tuesday.

The Mountaineers will be without transfer quarterback Will Grier, who is out with an injured finger.  The Mountaineers will also be without running back Justin Crawford, who is entering the draft and will sit out.

The Utes resume lacks a signature victory but they did defeat short-handed UCLA in November and could have similar success against the Mountaineers, who will be without two key offensive pieces.

Utah has won 13 of its past 14 bowl games.

Players to watch

West Virginia

13 David Sills V WR-Junior

Crawford and Grier combined for over 4,500 yards worth of yardage during the regular season. Junior wide receiver, David Sills, who led the team with 18 touchdowns, will have to shoulder the load if his team has any chance of winning. Sills, 6’4, 203 lbs., will be targeted early and often by backup quarterback Chris Chugunov.

3 Al-Rasheed Benton LB-Senior

Al-Rasheed Benton ranks at the top or near the top in every statistical category for the Mountaineers defense. Benton led the team with 73 solo tackles (102 total) and finished second with two interceptions, a forced fumble and three quarterback sacks.  He has 18 career tackles for losses.

Utah

9 Darren Carrington II WR-Senior

Senior Utes receiver Darren Carrington will suit up one more time in his collegiate career, which spans back to three years at Oregon. Carrington, 6’3 205 lbs, feasted on early non-conference opponents and against his former team.  Despite having not recorded a single 100-yard receiving game since that matchup versus the Ducks, he enters the bowl game with 66 receptions for 918 yards and six touchdowns.

23 Julian Blackmon DB-Sophomore

Utah’s sophomore defensive back Julian Blackmon covers a lot of ground and is equally strong against the run as he is against the pass. Blackmon finished the season with 36 solo tackles and two interceptions. The Heart of Dallas Bowl could be a sneak preview for the future NFL prospect.

Prediction: Utah 34 West Virginia 23

2017 Birmingham Bowl Preview: Texas Tech vs USF, 12-23-17

Two explosive offenses will face off in the Birmingham Bowl on Saturday.

Texas Tech (6-6) and USF (9-2) will pit two of the game’s more efficient senior quarterbacks against each other, in what is expected to be a back-and-forth scoring affair.

USF’s quarterback Quinton Flowers threw for 21 touchdowns and six interceptions , a career-low, in 2017. In his first full season under center, Texas Tech’s quarterback Nic Shimonek tossed 30 touchdowns and eight interceptions this season.

Former Texas head coach, Charlie Strong led USF to nine wins and his team lost two games by a combined 11 points. Texas Tech started the season 4-1 but couldn’t compete in the Big 12 and suffered four straight losses in the middle of their schedule.

When Strong was at Texas, he went 2-1 against Texas Tech.

Players to watch

Mazzi Wilkins

Wilkins, a junior cornerback, has a nose for the football and figures to have a lot of balls thrown his way against a pass oriented Red Raiders attack. Wilkins finished the season with three interceptions and a half sack. Wilkins’ lanky frame allows him to get in and out of breaks and makes him a tough assignment for Texas Tech wide receivers.

Emilio Nadelman

Nadelman is one of the most lethal kickers in college football. Nadelman is 20/24 this season and didn’t miss a field goal last season. In a game that should be high scoring and back and forth, Nadelman has the leg and accuracy to put the game away with a field goal from 40 yards plus.

Dylan Cantrell

Cantrell stands 6’3 and 220lbs and is a prototypical red zone target. Cantrell should be able to sky over the diminutive South Florida starting corners, who stand 5’8 and 6’0 respectively. Expect Kingsbury to give Cantrell a few jump ball opportunities in the Birmingham Bowl. Cantrell finished the season with six touchdowns.

Dakota Allen

After a stint at East Mississippi Community College and a starring role on Last Chance U, Dakota Allen has returned to Texas Tech and made himself one of the best linebackers in the Big 12. Allen leads a defense that led the Big 12 in turnovers forced. Allen had two interceptions and a forced fumble this season. An athletic linebacker, who is also willing to stop the run, bodes well against a balanced USF offense.

Prediction

Texas Tech 35 USF 38

—Troy Jefferson, DN Staff Reports

DraftNasty’s R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, In-Game Report: North Texas vs. Troy, 12-16-17

Head Coach Neal Brown (left) and R&L Carriers Bowl MVP Brandon Silvers (right) share one last moment on the field in New Orleans after the Trojans’ 50-30 victory over North Texas.

Troy

12 QB Brandon Silvers (6’3, 219, Sr.) 

Silvers added onto his passing percentage by completing 24-of-31 passes for 305 yards and 5 total touchdowns (4 rushing, 1 passing). Silvers sprayed the football all over the field from a variety of RPO’s and play actions. He was extremely accurate with his touch on the 9-route (go or fly) in one-on-one match ups, as well as his velocity on the football on speed cuts to convert first downs. The signature play of the evening was when he threaded the needle on a seam throw to Tevaris McCormick for a 59-yard touchdown.  NFL teams looking for a quarterback in the later rounds may consider Silvers.

15 WR Damion Willis (6’4, 194, Jr.)

Next man up must have been the motto for junior WR Damion Willis.  Willis had a big game in-place of Troy’s leading receiver Deondre Douglas. The 6-foot-4 wideout had his way with North Texas CB Eric Jenkins. He won the 50/50 grabs by utilizing his long frame to catch the ball high and away from his body. He was even impressive on rolling out of his break on speed cuts. With one more season ahead, Willis and Douglas could be one of the better receiver combinations in the Sun Belt next season.

 33 RB Josh Anderson (5’11, 255, Sr.)

Anderson is a downhill runner who can absorb contact and keep moving forward. What’s most impressive is how he can bend and drop his shoulder pads to shred tacklers. He has a tendency to cut off his inside foot, which causes him to loose his footing.  He could also be considered as a fullback prospect in the 2018 draft.

5 LB Sam Lebbie (6’3, 244, Sr.)

At 6’3, Lebbie presents a long rangy body in the middle of the defense. He runs well sideline-to-sideline; often making it difficult for second level blockers to get their hands on him. There are times where he is too aggressive on his run reads and will overrun his gap control.  As a pass defender, he does look for work in his area but will chase the first crosser or jump the first receiver in his area leaving a vacated spot in the zone. We like the way he is utilized as a blitzer. On third downs and sub-packages, he lined up off the edge as a pressure defender. While he doesn’t offer much movement as a pass rusher, he knows how to use his speed and arm length to get offensive linemen out of their comfort zone.

 24 Saf Cedarius Rookard (6’1, 210, Jr.)

Rookard is one of the most active defenders on the Troy Trojans defense. He communicates well with the defense and appeared to be the go-to defender to make the calls and checks. He displayed formation recognition and never appeared to be out of position, even with the variety of coverages he played throughout the game. He played both strong and free safety and returned punts as well. The South Carolina native led the team in tackles and deflected a pass that was caught for an interception.

30 DT Jamal Stadom (6’1 ½, 280, Sr.)

Despite being undersized, Stadom shows quickness off the ball. He was disruptive on the snap from any of the defensive line spots he played. He was consistently breaking through double teams and defeating backside cut-offs. Length got to him at times when pass rushing, but he was active enough with his hands and arms to work his way around blocks.

 18 CB Blace Brown (6’0, 186, RS-Jr.)

 Did not play due to a lower-body injury

 38 RB Jordan Chunn (6’1, 235, Sr.)

 Sidelined due to lingering knee injury

 80 WR Deondre Douglas (6’1, 197, Jr.)

 Injured on the opening kickoff

 

North Texas

 1 WR Turner Smiley (6’0, 193, Sr.)

Smiley can get up to his top speed in a hurry. On a few occasions, he simply won his footraces versus three different Trojan cornerbacks. He also does a good job of gaining inside leverage as he climbs. Because of his ability to press the gas pedal deep, it opened up routes such as the pivot-out and deep comeback. He has an impressive snap and acceleration at the top of his route on deep slants. Needs to continue to work on rolling his speed cuts.

 6 Saf Kishawn McClain (5’11, 187, Sr.)

McClain was someone who immediately caught our eye with his willingness to throw his body around versus the run. He was consistent with his force, fit, and alley play versus the run and RPO’s. North Texas used him in situations as a free hat to play the middle hole and the cutback run. On the 59-yard touchdown throw to Tevaris McCormick, McClain struggled to recover on help coverage largely due to the angle he took on a well-thrown football. He consistently defeated blockers when covering punts.

30 K Trevor Moore (5’11, 191, Sr.)

Moore ends his career without ever having missed an extra point attempt. He converted on a 24-yard FG in the third quarter to finish his senior season with 90% field goal percentage. Although he did not record a touchback, his kicks did reach the end zone.

3 RB Jeffrey Wilson (6’0, 194, Sr.)

Did not play due to a foot injury.

 

 

 

2017 SDCCU Holiday Bowl Preview: Washington State vs. Michigan State

Despite identical 9-3 records, two teams with different offensive styles will square off in this year’s Holiday Bowl.

Michigan State and Washington State will meet on Dec. 28 in San Diego. Luke Falk, a 6-foot-4, 223-lb. senior quarterback, leads the charge for the Cougars. Junior running back L.J. Scott is the workhorse running back for Michigan State.

The Spartans come into the game on a two-game win streak and seemed to have righted the ship after a 3-9 season a year ago.

The Cougars were blown out in the Apple Cup but started the season 6-0, including a key win against USC.

Players to watch

Washington State

Luke Falk QB-Senior

Falk is the best player on the Cougars and possibly the best player in the conference. Mike Leach’s air raid attack will try and spread out the Spartans and push the ball down the field. Falk’s top two receivers from the regular season -Tavares Martin Jr. and Isaiah Johnson- Mack- have both left the team, which means Falk will have to find production elsewhere.

Renard Bell WR-Freshman

Renard Bell will be asked to pick up the production left by Martin Jr. and Johnson-Mack.  Bell, a freshman, worked the slot during the season and could cause trouble for the Spartans, who on occasion give up chunk yardage in the passing game. Bell’s three catches for 101 yards were the difference in an early season win against the Trojans and in the Holiday Bowl, he could have the same impact.

Michigan State

Josiah Scott CB-Freshman

When Luke Falk struggles, it’s because he tries to force the ball into tight coverage. Falk threw three interceptions against Washington and will have to beware of MSU’s outstanding freshman cornerback. Scott’s 11 starts this year were the most by a true freshman in the Mark Dantonio-era.  Dantonio, a former secondary coach, doesn’t usually give playing time to younger corners unless he sees something special and Scott is something special.

L.J. Scott RB-Junior

L.J. Scott had an up-and-down season but out of the running back trio MSU employs, Scott is the most lethal.  Scott is the most NFL- ready prospect on the offensive side of the ball and finished the season with 788 rushing yards.  As long as Scott, who struggles with fumbles, can keep the ball off the ground he figures to have a strong game against a small Cougars defensive line. Look for MSU offensive coordinator Dave Warner to run the ball early and often in an attempt to keep the ball out of Falk’s hands.

Prediction

Michigan State 28 Washington State 23

—Troy Jefferson, DN Staff Reports

Bowl prospect radar: Wake Forest TE Cam Serigne

Wake Forest has never had a tight end to produce as much as the black and gold’s number 85, Cam Serigne. The Ashburn, Virginia native finished with 174 career catches and 21 receiving touchdowns. DraftNasty National Correspondent and former Demon Deacon De’Angelo Bryant gives a sneak peek of the pass-catching tight end in DraftNasty’s Bowl Prospect Radar.

Positioning

Serigne is the prime example of a detached or non-traditional tight end because of the various formations he lines up in Coach Warren Ruggiero’s offensive sets. While he will show up as an in-line tight end on pro sets, you will mainly find him as an h-back, split in doubles (stacked or regular), or in trips formation (tight bunch or regular). Not to be mistaken, his alignment is not a smoke screen for opponents, as his 44 catches this season has proven he has to be accounted for in the field.

Pass Catching

One of his best assets is catching the football. You rarely see him making body catches and he has shown he can extend to make the grabs that are out of his body frame. His hand/eye coordination is as good as they come in this year’s draft class.

Route Running

The 6’2, 240-pound tight end is pretty nifty as a route runner and understands how to work in space. He is involved largely in the Demon Deacons RPO game, which requires him to read and replace on the run, based on the safety or linebacker’s reactions to the run.

Blocking

Blocking is a cause of concern. Although the willingness and effort is evident, his lack of strength keeps him from steadily maintaining his blocks. However, he is an adequate blocker on the perimeter.

Synopsis

Serigne may not be among the top tight ends in this draft class, but could be a late round addition to a team with a high passing percentage in the NFL.  He could find a role similar to former nine-year veteran Jacob Tamme (Colts, Broncos, Buccaneers).