Category Archives: In-game reports

Appalachian State vs. Georgia Southern, 10-25-18: In-game report

Appalachian State (5-2, 3-1)  and Georgia Southern (7-1, 4-0) met on Thursday night in a battle to decide supremacy in the Sun Belt conference.  Georgia Southern used its triple option offense and suffocating defense to defeat the Mountaineers, 34-14.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

44 Anthony Flory (6’1 230) Appalachian State LB- Senior 

Flory posted 87 tackles in 2017 and is well on his way to matching the total in 2018.

Flory is a sideline-to-sideline linebacker who flows to the football and has the ability to form tackle.   He finished with 10 tackles against the Eagles. The senior linebacker trusted his eyes on numerous occasions and was usually the first to the football despite Georgia Southern cloaking a lot of their runs with misdirection. During a first quarter run by Eagles sophomore quarterback Shai Werts (5’11, 190), Flory not only set the edge and forced Werts to cut back, but he shed his blocker and made the tackle.  Flory should be able to also contribute as an outside linebacker at the next level despite playing as an inside linebacker in college because of his speed, strength and position IQ.  Look for Flory, who was named to the preseason All-Sun Belt first team, to continue to make plays at all sides of the field.

Georgia Southern triple option offense

The Eagles haven’t lost a game in the conference midway through the season and that’s because opposing defenses haven’t been able to solve their option attack.  Georgia Southern ranks fifth in the nation in rushing yards per game, averaging 275 yards.  Werts is the straw that stirs the drink and even if he isn’t running, his ability forces defenses to key in on him. The sophomore quarterback finished with 129 rushing yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. What makes the Eagles attack even more potent is that every once in a while, Werts can make a defense pay through the air. He completed a 57-yard touchdown pass to sophomore receiver Darion Anderson (6’0, 185). It was Werts’ only completion of the night, but on the season, he has completed 57 percent of his passes and hasn’t thrown an interception.  Senior running back Wesley Fields (6’0, 205) adds another punch to the backfield alongside Werts.  He rushed for 98 yards and two touchdowns on Thursday.  One thing for the team to monitor centers around ball security.  Georgia Southern recovered all three of its fumbles against the Mountaineers, but a team that runs as much as they do could be susceptible to fumbles. The Eagles only loss this season came to the second-ranked Clemson Tigers.  If this offense keeps playing this well, they could make a run into the nation’s Top 25. 

Georgia Southern defense

The Eagles defense was fast and played as a unit against Appalachian State.  It’s hard to point out one player, who stood out because so many different players made plays.  14 different players finished with at least two tackles. The Mountaineers scored 38 points and nearly upset Penn State earlier this season but against the Eagles, they couldn’t get anything going after their starting quarterback, sophomore Zac Thomas (6’1, 205), left with a concussion in the first quarter.  Georgia Southern forced four turnovers and didn’t turn the ball over themselves and right now they have a +19 turnover ratio. With a sound defense and a ball-controlling offense, Georgia Southern will be hard to take down in the Sun Belt.

NC State vs. Clemson, 10-20-18: In-game report

 A game that was supposed to feature two Top 25 teams turned into a blowout.  Clemson defeated NC State, 41-7, at home, behind a sensational  performance from their freshman signal-caller. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in game report:      

16 Trevor Lawrence (6’5, 205) Clemson QB-Freshman   

Clemson was forced to use sophomore running back and Heisman hopeful Travis Etienne (5’10, 200) as a decoy against NC State, who decided to make Lawrence beat them with the pass. The freshman quarterback indeed did just that.  Lawrence threw for 308 yards and one touchdown while completing 66 percent of his passes.  Most impressively was his ability to spread the ball around and put it in positions where receivers could run after the catch. The Tigers used a steady diet of comeback routes, which required Lawrence to anticipate when his receivers would break off the top of the route.  When they did, he often  threw an accurate ball to the outside shoulder so that the cornerback couldn’t undercut the route.  13 different Tigers caught at least one pass.  Coming into the game, the question was did the Tigers have enough playmakers on the outside.  After a strong performance against a ranked opponent, those questions will be no more. Lawrence has at least two more years of school, but his patience going through his progressions will keep scouts intrigued going forward.

99 Clelin Ferrell (6’5, 260) Clemson DE- Junior

Ferrell didn’t add to his six-sack season total on Saturday, but he did finish with five

Ferrell posted 18 tackles for loss in 2017.

tackles, including two for loss.  The junior defensive end displayed an ability to get off the ball in a hurry.  On one run in the third quarter, he met the NC State running back in the backfield for a five-yard loss.  Ferrell is a premier pass rusher (21.5 career sacks) who forces quarterbacks to roll opposite of him because he gets up the field so quick. The Richmond, Virginia native is slated to be a top pick in this year’s draft but like any player with his type of speed, he must make sure he keeps gap integrity. On one play in the second quarter, Ferrell got past his man but was too vertical and NC State senior running back Reggie Gallaspy (5’11, 235) blew right past him.  

NC State offense vs. Clemson defense

Williams has been a four-year contributor for the Tigers.

NC State entered the game with a 61-percent conversion rate on third down, which was the highest mark in college football. However, the Wolfpack finished just 2-of-12 on third downs and totaled 297 yards,  nearly 150 less than its season average. Clemson was too much for the Wolfpack on first and second down, which led to 3rd and longs. The Tigers feature two of the best pass rushers in college football with Ferrell and senior defensive end Austin Bryant (6’6, 280). On the back end, the Tigers have the ability to play in press-man or zone.  Both coverages led to interceptions on Sunday, senior linebacker Jalen Williams (5’10, 210) dropped back in a zone coverage to pick off a pass over the middle while earlier in the game junior defensive back K’Von Wallace (6’0, 195) caught a batted pass for an interception as a result of solid man coverage.  The moral of the story is don’t get down early to Clemson, because their defense has the potential to make opposing offenses pay both with talent and scheme.

Georgia vs. LSU, 10-13-18: In-game report

In a SEC contest featuring several NFL Draft prospects, fundamentals were more of a factor than talent. LSU took advantage of Georgia’s poor special teams play, pass blocking and missed tackles, en route to a 36-16 victory.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his thoughts on a few of the teams’ prospects in this in-game report: 

29 Greedy Williams (6’3 184) LSU CB- Sophomore

Williams has the size and elite length that scouts will covet in the NFL Draft. The burning question with players of his size at the cornerback position is their ability to twist their hips and get out of breaks cleanly to mirror receivers. Williams showed no problem with this, see his coverage on Georgia junior wide receiver Riley Ridley (6’2, 200) in the second quarter on 3rd and 9, where he kept up with the receiver stride-for-stride on a comeback route to break up the play.  Williams is also a contributor on special teams as he is tasked with blocking the gunners. The LSU cornerback figures to be a top draft pick and probably will not have to contribute on special teams to make an NFL roster but the more you can do, the better. On the season, Williams has two interceptions. 

40 Devin White (6’1 240) LSU LB-Junior

White’s aggressiveness and willingness to fly to the football is apparent.  So often during Saturday’s game, White could be seen trailing the play to assist a fellow defensive player in finishing it. He finished with a season-high 12 assisted tackles against Georgia. White has the tendency to run himself out of plays and versus play action because of his aggressiveness.  However, his ability to tackle, drop in coverage and matchup with tight ends occasionally, will make him a contributor at the next level. 

18 Isaac Nauta (6’4 240) Georgia TE-Junior 

The tight end position is so much about size in the NFL and Nauta has NFL size. The Georgia tight end showed his athleticism and reflexes when he twisted and contorted his body to catch a back shoulder pass while being blanketed by Devin White.  Nauta can also serve as a hand in the ground blocker and is physically mature enough to take on outside linebackers in run blocking schemes. Nauta will have to show scouts that he can match his production with his size. The junior tight end currently has 13 catches for 176 yards and one touchdown this season.

 

18 Deandre Baker (5’11 185) Georgia CB-Senior 

The Miami native may not be as tall as Greedy Williams. but is the same type of blanket cover corner and has just as much length.  Baker also has two interceptions on the season. LSU didn’t test him much on the outside because they had far greater success running the ball between the tackles.  Baker is consistent as they come at the cornerback position and is near the top of his class at the position. 

Arizona State vs. Colorado, 10-6-18: In-game report

Last Saturday’s Pac-12 matchup featured two teams with playmaking wide receivers, but one team’s work in the trenches decided the outcome.  Colorado (5-1) defeated Arizona State (3-3), 28-21, behind a seven-play, 80-yard drive in the third quarter, where the Buffaloes offensive line dominated the Sun Devils defense. Head coach Mike MacIntyre (pictured above) has his team playing at a high level in the middle of the year.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

Colorado offensive line 

The Buffaloes offensive line has powered Colorado to an undefeated start to the season. The Buffaloes front five has been able to keep junior quarterback Steven Montez (6’5, 235) clean and has opened lanes for senior running back Travon McMillian (6’0, 210). The Buffaloes are one of only three FBS teams to have a player in the top 20 in rushing yards, passing yards and receiving yards per game. Colorado’s offensive line held the Sun Devils to three tackles for loss and zero sacks.  It must have impressed Montez, who invited his entire line to the postgame press conference. The group is headlined by senior right tackle Josh Kaiser (6’6, 300), who has the ability to play both tackle positions. 

1 N’Keal Harry (6’4, 214) Arizona State WR-Junior 

Harry is a big-bodied wide receiver, who knows how to use his size against smaller cornerbacks.  The junior has a knack for seemingly being unfazed when catching the ball in traffic.  Harry also has a shiftiness to his game that allows him to serve as a punt returner for the Sun Devils.  The projected Day 1 wide receiver in the 2019 NFL Draft suffered a thigh injury as a result of taking a big hit on a punt return.  The injury forced him to miss most of the second half.  For the game, he finished with three catches for 62 yards.  On the season, Harry has 34 catches for 481 yards and five touchdowns. 

2 Laviska Shenault, Jr. (6’2 220) Colorado WR- Sophomore 

Shenault Jr. does a little bit of everything offensively for the Buffaloes.  The wide receiver lined up in the slot, on the outside and took direct snaps out of the Wildcat formation against the Sun Devils.  Not  many players in college football  move with the fluidity of Shenault, Jr.   The sophomore wideout accounted for all four of the Buffaloes touchdowns on Saturday, scoring two as a wide receiver lined up out wide and two from the Wildcat position. Through more than a quarter of the season, Shenault Jr. should be considered as a Heisman candidate. The DeSoto, Texas, native has 51 receptions for 708 yards and has scored six receiving touchdowns.  He’s added four more rushing scores on the ground. 

Central Michigan vs. Michigan State, 9-29-18: In-game report

An in-state rivalry pitted the Big Ten against the MAC. Michigan State used a stifling run defense to defeat Central Michigan, 31-20.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

48 Kenny Willekes (6’4 249) Michigan State DE- Junior

Willekes is the most impactful player on the Spartans defense through four games this season.  The junior defensive end added another sack on Saturday to set his total at four for the season. Willekes showed a strong bull rush against Central Michigan and used a rip move to get upfield and force a sack to end the first half. The Rockford, Michigan native anchors a defense that has held opponents to under 70 rushing yards in each game this season. If there is one weakness in Willekes game it’s his lateral quickness.  The junior got caught lost in space when a toss came his way and he couldn’t get outside quick enough to turn the run back inside. The former walk-on should continue to be a factor in the Big Ten and has a game reminiscent of ex-Spartan and former San Francisco 49er Marcus Rush. 

3 Sean Bunting (6’1 181) Central Michigan CB- Junior

Bunting rose to the challenge of blanketing the Spartans best wide receiver, Felton Davis (6’4, 200), on Saturday.  Despite giving up a few inches, Bunting was able to get in Davis’ chest with a quick punch to get the receiver off of his routes.  Bunting used the press coverage to his advantage to pick off a pass in the red zone. The interception was Bunting’s eighth in his career.  Michigan State managed just 185 passing yards and Bunting was a huge reason why.  Look for the junior to continue to add to his already impressive resume’. 

14 Brian Lewerke (6’3 220) Michigan State QB- Junior

Head coach Mark Dantonio  is no stranger to coaching NFL-caliber quarterbacks: Nick Foles, Brian Hoyer, Kirk Cousins and Connor Cook have all spent time in the NFL after their years in East Lansing. Lewerke has the potential to add himself to the list and is the most athletic of the bunch.  The junior quarterback used his legs to rush for two touchdowns against the Chippewas.   After sitting in the pocket, Lewerke turned his back to the pass rush and scored a touchdown to give MSU a 14-3 lead.  The physical tools are all there for Lewerke but you would like to see the junior quarterback cut down on the turnovers.  The Phoenix native threw an interception to the aforementioned Bunting, which he could have thrown away instead of forcing it to Davis, who after being jammed at the line ran a slant that allowed the cornerback to come underneath the route. For the season, Lewerke has thrown five touchdowns and five interceptions.  As the Spartans deal with injuries at their skill positions and along the offensive line, more will be asked of the junior quarterback in terms of decision-making. 

Wisconsin vs. Iowa, 9-22-18: In-game report

Last Saturday’s Big Ten matchup featured two teams with common offensive ideologies, but a difference in execution decided the game in its final minutes.  Wisconsin defeated Iowa, 28-17, behind a fourth quarter 10-play, 88-yard drive in the waning moments.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

14 D’Cota Dixon 5’10, 198 Wisconsin S-Senior

Dixon is the veteran leader of the secondary for the Badgers. Wisconsin uses Dixon in a variety of ways and his performance doesn’t dip no matter the role.  Against Iowa, Dixon spent time as the eighth player in the box to help in run support, played as a single high safety and even contributed a forced fumble on the punt coverage team.  If that wasn’t enough, Dixon shadowed slot receivers and split tight ends in man-to-man coverage on a few occasions.  Dixon projects to be a middle round pick in the upcoming draft and what separates playing time for young players in the NFL is their ability to contribute in a variety of ways.  He checks off that category,  and look for him to continue his solid play across the board.

23 Jonathan Taylor 5’11 221 Wisconsin RB-Sophomore

There might not be a better marriage of offensive system and player in college football than Wisconsin and Jonathan Taylor. Taylor makes the Badgers downhill, grind it out possession-by-possession style work.  Week after week, quarter after quarter, Taylor imposes his will on opposing defenses and rarely seems tired.  Despite only being a sophomore, his technique stands out. The New Jersey native is patient with his pulling guards and rides their hip before exploding to the outside.  Taylor is able to keep his body fresh and save his legs because he is astute with his reads and never gives opposing defenders “a clean hit.”  Don’t let the fundamentals fool you, Taylor still has some open field make you miss ability in his game, and a good example was his side step of Iowa’s defensive tackle after the lineman went unblocked up the middle.  The Wisconsin running back runs with knees high and his shoulders low, leaving little for defenders to tackle.  Taylor finished with 113 yards on 25 carries.

Opposing speedsters

Iowa’s sophomore wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette (6’1, 175) and Wisconsin’s junior wide receiver A.J. Taylor (5’11, 203) play similar roles on different teams.  Both stretch the defense horizontally and vertically for their respective units and put the fear of the big play in the minds of opposing defensive coordinators, whose first priority is to stop the rushing attack.  Taylor is used on deep passes to the outside and he can be a problem in the slot running across the middle of the field.  Taylor caught the game-winning touchdown after he beat Iowa linebacker Jack Hockaday on a vertical route concept.  Smith-Marsette was used on an end around, where he picked up 20 yards on the ground.  In the pass game, Smith-Marsette is averaging 18 yards per catch and -as the numbers would indicate- he’s usually running routes for big plays.  If you ever watch Wisconsin and Iowa and wonder why teams don’t put eight or nine men in the box at all times, matchup nightmares like Taylor and Smith-Marsette may be the answers.

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.

 

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-types 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.