Category Archives: Bowl previews/recaps

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).