Guess who’s back… Back again… Barney’s back… Tell a friend… Who to watch for on this weekend’s college football slate! 

Thursday, August 31

Florida @ #14 Utah (8:00 PM)

S RJ Moten vs. TE Brant Kuithe

New year, same kickoff matchup. As sure as the Mets are bound to overpay for an aging Free Agent, so is Utah to field a top-tier TE room. At this time last year, Brant Kuithe was playing second fiddle to Dalton Kincaid, and we were talking about the Safety duo of Trey Dean and Rashad Torrence for the Gators. Since then, Kincaid is poised to be part of Buffalo’s TE duo while Dean and Torrence are angling to land on practice squads in the NFL. Had it not been for injuries, Kuithe may have joined them in the NFL this season.

Michigan transfer RJ Moten is living up to his father’s legacy by coming home to Gainesville. Although he was deployed primarily as a single or two-high safety in Ann Arbor, I hope to see him as more of a box safety enforcer-type. The first thing you notice popping on the tape is how yoked up Moten is. His running mate at the Big House, Rod Moore, was listed at the same dimensions yet looked significantly thinner, albeit a bit faster as well. With a baseball background in CF, Michigan DC Jesse Minter liked to take advantage of his range and athleticism.

However, despite playing plenty of offense in high school, Moten seems to struggle with processing what the opposition is trying to accomplish. His lack of twitch may actually serve him well in some respect, allowing him to play well as a last line of defense. In limited snaps he saw in man coverage, he was able to shut down Ohio State TE Cade Stover last year. Florida’s media has been touting Moten’s versatility this offseason. Hopefully, this means we’ll see more man coverage up close from Moten this year.

Utah’s offense goes as its Tight Ends go. This has been the case for a number of years now and is especially true this year, considering the dearth of proven WR talent in Salt Lake City. But, the same injuries that prematurely ended Kuithe’s and QB Cam Rising’s 2022 seasons threaten their availability against Florida. If they play, they’ll be relieved to know they won’t have to deal with the Anthony Richardson arrival game again this time around.

Courtesy of ESPN

Kuithe is an undersized TE but is adept at finding soft spots against zone and creating small angles on out-breaking routes in man. Utah doesn’t really ask their Tight Ends to stay in line and block so that part of his pro evaluation is missing. Nevertheless, the same skills that made Kuithe more productive than Dalton Kincaid will be what catches the eyes of evaluators. Scouts like to use the word “tweener” to describe prospects on the smaller side of normal for their position. Kuithe is squarely undersized and will probably never be asked to fulfill any role other than a split-out H-back type. He is the epitome of the hard-nosed Ute that we’ve come to expect, and his scrappiness in making himself available to the QB will be key to keeping Utah’s offense humming all season.

As noted, availability will be a factor in this matchup. If Kuithe plays, look for Moten to show out and force throws to the WRs. Perhaps this leads to someone like Freshman WR Mikey Matthews getting a target. Whether it’s due to injury or Moten’s play, I don’t expect a great fantasy showing from Kuithe. It will be interesting to see what role Moten fills for the Gators. Both teams are coming into the season with slightly weaker rosters than usual. While the season-long goals for each team differ from this time last year, this will be a fairly even matchup on a team level, with this matchup potentially breaking the doors open for Utah or giving the Gainesville faithful some hope for the rest of the season.

Other Notable Matchups:

(Saturday, September 2, noon)

Colorado QB Shadeur Sanders vs. #17 TCU Safeties Mark Perry and Millard Bradford

Prime Jr. gets a real challenge off the bat against the experienced and physical TCU Secondary.

(Saturday, September 2, 7:30 PM)

Toledo S Maxen Hook vs. Illinois TE Tip Reiman

All-MAC S vs. a Mackey Watchlist TE.

(Saturday, September 2, 8:00 PM)

South Alabama S Yam Banks vs. #24 Tulane QB Michael Pratt

Can Pratt show why some consider him a QB3 prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft?

(Sunday, September 3, 7:30 PM)

#5 LSU LB Omar Speights vs. #8 Florida State RB Trey Benson

Week 1’s penultimate game. How will LSU’s LBs fare without Maason Smith to eat up blockers? This won’t be the last time we hear from Benson.

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