With Hurricane Ian barreling towards the Southeast, there may be some unexpected outcomes this weekend. With South Carolina State @ South Carolina already moving up to Thursday and other possible changes, this week may be a little tougher on teams. Hopefully, everyone stays safe. That being said, adverse weather conditions usually favor the offense in the run game but the defense in the pass game. We’ll see if these blue chip prospects can weather the storm and add to their profiles for the next level.
Saturday, October 1
Oklahoma @ TCU (12:00 PM)
WR Marvin Mims vs. CB Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson
Fort Worth may be far enough away from the impending storm to avoid the elements, but the Horned Frogs will still have to withstand the barrage of chunk plays from the Sooners. Oklahoma was exposed last week against Kansas State and comes to Texas looking to get back on track. TCU is coming off three, albeit unconvincing, wins and a week off. The offense has looked lethargic, but the defense has several veterans that help keep opponents’ scoring low enough for the win.
You can always find Mims on the field, as he’s the smallest OU receiver. While he primarily lines up in the slot, most of his damage is done when lining up on the outside. He’s known as a home run hitter due to his high usage down the field. Despite his short stature, Mims quickly hits his only above-average top speed to stack DBs to create angles. However, once the ball is in the air, he has good ball-tracking and adjusts while manipulating the defender. Mims’ lack of length (only 5’11”) may hinder his evaluation, but Jeff Lebby creates plenty of opportunities to showcase his playmaking ability that should translate to the next level.
Joe Gillespie’s system relies on versatile safeties to play the field or boundary side while leaving his corners in man on the outside. Hodges-Tomlinson holds down one of these corner spots across from Noah Daniels, another draftable DB. THT is a SPARQ-y defender who likely ends up in the slot at the next level. He also has good feet and the long speed to play down the field. TCU is no stranger to developing short DBs, with Ardarius Washington recently entering the NFL. Like his predecessor, THT’s evaluation is probably marred by his lack of height. But CBs can get away with being shorter more often than safeties.
TCU’s defensive scheme likely limits Mims’ production in this game. Mims usually runs a slant, hitch, or screen when lined up in the slot. THT’s capable teammate, safety Mark Perry, mans the weak side and is a decent tackler, curbing the max potential of those shorter routes. On deeper balls, THT’s speed will bother Mims, despite Mims’ having a size advantage for once. While the game’s outcome depends on the Horned Frog offense, it will be interesting for fantasy owners to see whether Mims can produce against DBs that are likely to play on Sundays.
Alabama @ Arkansas (3:30 PM)
EDGE Will Anderson vs. OT Dalton Wagner
Coming off a doink of a loss, Arkansas retreats to the safety of Fayetteville only to have to host Bryce Young and the Crimson Tide. On the other hand, Alabama comes off its second blowout to hapless conference opponent Vanderbilt. However, the Razorbacks will likely present more of a challenge than the UL Monroe and the misfit Commodores.
Entering the season, if there was one hope for a defender to win the Heisman, it was Anderson. He is the total package. He combines incredible physical gifts to accommodate his strong abilities above the shoulders. Anderson has the burst to beat tackles to their upfield shoulder and the strength to work straight through a lineman’s chest. When dealing with movement plays, Anderson has a great knack for keeping the blocker on his back and maintaining a free outside arm to control the edge. If there is one knock on his profile, Anderson tends to lead with his shoulder for the big hit and sometimes fails to wrap up. While this can be covered with a Nick Saban-coached defense, it may not fly at the next level.
Wagner plays lines up as the front-side OT for Arkansas. Wagner is a gritty, hulking tackle akin to his predecessor Dan Skipper. He will need some development in timing his punches, though the defender is done once he gets his hands on them. He doesn’t so much kick step as he does shuffle and scrape to stay in front of edge rushers. This will need to be taught at the next level. If Wagner can get a full head of steam going forward, he has the strength and reach to block two defenders at once, wiping out an entire side of the defensive front.
You may wonder why I would pit the RT of Arkansas against the premier pass rusher for the Crimson Tide. Anderson has lined up on the left side of the defense (the right side of the offense) as his primary alignment both last season and this season. This makes this game all the more interesting, as Wagner is the better prospect between the two Razorback OTs. This matchup will require patience from Anderson. While Wagner’s poor kick step may hinder him from getting upfield, his reach can make up for a blind speed rush. Anderson may be used to simply overpowering many OTs, but Wagner isn’t susceptible to that either. It may be a matter of time until Anderson wreaks havoc in the backfield. Still, he will have to use his refined hand technique and advanced play recognition to overcome the practically-guaranteed loss in body leverage.
NC State @ Clemson (7:30 PM)
iOL Dylan McMahon vs. Bryan Bresee
NC State enters this game with high hopes. Before the season, Devin Leary was considered one of the top QB prospects in this upcoming draft. While his evaluation may have taken some hits thus far in the draft, the Wolfpack have cruised to three easy wins after barely scraping by East Carolina in their season opener. Clemson’s belief in DJ Uiagalelei may be paying off as he has shown improved ball placement in the last couple of games.
Clemson’s defensive interior is easily the best in college football. Probably the best among these monsters in the middle is Bresee. Originally from the DMV, Bresee has fought through several injuries early in his Tiger career but emerges as a blue-chip prospect and likely iDL2 in the 2023 NFL Draft. He is possibly the best penetrator in this defensive line class. With a thick lower half and strong upper body, Bresee easily eliminates blocking angles for interior blockers with his burst through the line. The problem with his profile may be that he is too one-dimensional. While he can clog up run lanes, Bresee sometimes struggles to disengage and deconstruct blocks. His raging bull technique is often corralled away from the play, thus limiting his impact.
McMahon is a well-built guard with decent movement skills and potential for a sandbag or two. The redshirt sophomore has much room to grow as a blocker but has the awareness to function well as a system blocker. McMahon has a good sense of when and how to pass defenders down the line and can get moving when asked to seal the second level or kick out the edge. With NC State’s running scheme, McMahon’s movement pops off the tape, given how often he is asked to demonstrate his agility. He could stand to improve his balance as he lunges at defenders when the timing of being passed a defender doesn’t align with his expectations.
When these two behemoths faced off in 2021, NC State stood victorious behind 170 combined rushing yards and 4 TDs from Devin Leary. Bryan Bresee was held to only an assisted tackle. However, this year may be different as both players are more established and will be relied upon by their respective teams. Bresee’s disruption will lead to many countable stats, but I question whether he will be able to contribute as more of a team defender. Expect Bresee to leave this game with a sack or two, as Leary’s inability to find open receivers will leave the offensive line vulnerable. However, I think NC State will have to control the clock through the running game if they want to win this game.