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College Football Saturday: The Ones Two Watch

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These are the prospects playing today that hold some curiosity or interest for the Seahawks potential draft.

Leonard Floyd causes a fumble vs Clemson
Leonard Floyd causes a fumble vs Clemson
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Right off the bat, let’s be honest…this is a terrible week of college football games. There are less than a handful of legitimately important matchups, and what’s worse…it’s the kind of week where we’re probably going to see a lot of second string players get way too much play.

So let us begin today with a bit of an update on last week’s 12W (Ones Two Watch).

Michigan State WR Tony Lippett had a bit of a mixed bag game versus Oregon. The boxscore reads an impressive 11/133/12.1ypc/TD, but the film shows there were some catches left out there. The Incredible Mr Lippett now ranks 3rd in the country in receiving yards, with a very stout 20.0ypc average, and 3 TD’s in the first two weeks.

Utah WR Dres Anderson had a line of 3/84/28.0ypc/2TD versus Fresno State. In many circles the lower volume of receptions make this look like a less impressive game than what Lippett did, but in Seattle…this is what our receivers’ lines are more likely to resemble. Max impact on few opportunities. I mean, 67% TD rate is crazy, 28.0ypc is crazy, not getting him the ball more is crazy. But I digress.

Utah DE Nate Orchard quieted down significantly from his opener, only tallying 6 tackles, 0.5 TFL, and a PBU. Still worth monitoring.

Utah DB Eric Rowe put up a huge 11 tackle game, with a 0.5 TFL.

Fresno State: FS Derron Smith with a business-like 9 tackle, 1 TFL performance. OLB/DE Ejiro Ederaine had an exact replica of his 2014 opener, producing 6 tackles and 2 TFL in both games. And DT Tyeler Davison had 3 tackles including 1.0 sack.

Mississippi State CB Taveze Calhoun vs UAB totaled 5 tackles, 1.5 TFL, and 2 PBU. But I’ve also read that the Bulldogs were gashed badly in this game (435 passing yards) through the air. I haven’t seen the tape of where those yards were targeted.

Full disclosure moment: EMU RB Bronson Hill, that I liked so much in his 2013 highlight reel, went up against an SEC defense and did bupkis. Literally. 7 carries, 0 yards.

Similarly, Arkansas TE Aj Derby didn’t have a single catch in the Razorback’s demolishment of Nicholls State. In part because Arkansas only threw the ball 14 times all game (completing 8 of those), while rushing for 495 yards. But really, my interest in Derby is more about what I see from him as a blocker. He will not see many touches this year (didn't stop the Hawks from drafting Luke Willson though). If you don’t know much about Arkansas, learn this: Sophomore RB Alex Collins and Junior RB Jonathan Williams might be the best RB tandem in the country. THEY are 12W.

Lastly, I’ll return to the MSU/Oregon game. The morning of the game, I wrote, "Calhoun has far more buzz (#7 overall), but I prefer Fisher." Post-game, national writers such as CBS’ Dane Brugler had this to say:

"…on Saturday, Fisher was matched up against Michigan State's Shilique Calhoun, one of the top pass rushers in the Big Ten. And just like the Ducks on the scoreboard, Fisher emerged victorious in the battle in the trenches."

So that’s a thing.

Now let’s talk about today. Again, this is a terrible week for actually watching and enjoying games.

ECU vs VT – 9:00am – ESPN

Underrated little matchup. ECU WR, and friend of the Gems, Justin Hardy is on pace to set the FBS all-time mark for career receptions. Coming into today, Hardy needs 65 catches to break Ryan Broyles’ current mark. Hardy has averaged 7.77 (Jackpot!) catches per game over his last two seasons. This year, that number is up to 9.5 catches per game. At that clip, Hardy will only need 7 more games to break the record.

In this matchup, however, Hardy is running into a VERY talented Virginia Tech secondary. Sophomore CB Kendall Fuller (of the NFL-Fullers), Senior FS Detrick Bonner, and Senior Rover/SS Kyshoen Jarrett are allowing opponents a 34.6% completion rate (2nd in the country) and 83.71 passer rating (13th), plus rank 16th in INT’s.

Hardy won't likely push any SPARQ records due to 40 speed, but he'll show well in the jumps and agility drills, and his hands should display very well.

Georgia vs South Carolina – 12:30pm – CBS

The matchup of #6 Georgia and #24 South Carolina is the only game featuring two ranked opponents. It’s also a game that will feature Todd Gurley and Mike Davis…easily two of the top 3-5 running backs in the country. Both players have essentially only played one game (Davis only played part of SC’s opener due to injury, Gurley and Georgia had a bye last week), and to this point Gurley has a line of 15/198/13.20ypc/3TD while Davis has only managed 24/116/4.83ypc/2TD.

Other players to watch in this game:

Georgia DE Leonard Floyd…opened the year with 7 tackles, 2 sacks, 6 hurries (!!) and a forced fumble. He’s only a redshirt sophomore, but was reported Monday as being open to turning pro after this year.

Here is Floyd’s season opener versus Clemson:

Kentucky vs Florida – 4:30pm – SEC NET

A matchup of undefeated SEC opponents?! And yet people aren’t that excited about it?? Hmmph. This game should feature some good defense. Kentucky has future 1st-rounder Bud Dupree bulked up at DE…Florida has Senior DT Leon Orr. Kentucky has rising Junior DB’s AJ Stamps and Fred Tiller…Florida counters with Sophomore CB Vernon Hargreaves III.

I think Orr is really 12W here. Partly because of how much Seattle seems to be scouting DT’s, and partly because Orr is off to a really nice start: 5 tackles and a TFL in Florida’s opener. Orr has really nice size at 6’5"/305 to play either an early down 5tech or the 3. Plus, the Dan Quinn Connection still exists.

Rice vs Texas A&M – 6:00pm – ESPN2

Obviously, A&M is well-known for their OL and you can scout their games for that. OR…you can scout their games to see how opponents’ defensive linemen fare AGAINST the quality A&M O-line. Today, it is the latter.

I’m looking at Rice DT Christian Covington (6’3"/300) to see how he’ll do against the Aggies’ Center Mike Matthews (yes, of THEE Matthews family), LG Garrett Gramling, and mammoth RG Joseph Cheek. Covington, much like Seahawk and ex-Rice player Luke Willson, is a Canadian import who has made his way down to Houston where he put up 59 tackles, 11.5 TFL, and 4 sacks a year ago (also 3 PBU, 1 FF, and a blocked kick). Included in those 2013 stats were 5 tackles, 2 TFL, and a sack versus the Johnny Manziel version of Texas A&M (technically Manziel was suspended for the first part of the game). Covington is only a Junior, but one of a handful of underclass DT that could make the 2015 class very deep.

UCLA vs Texas – 5:00pm – FOX

Speaking of underclass DT…Texas might have my favorite in the recently-buzzing Malcom Brown (not to be confused with the Longhorns’ RB Malcolm Brown…different spellings). Brown is listed at 6’2"/320 and has opened with 11 tackles, 4.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks, and a FF in his first two games. Watch the very first play of this game vs BYU and note how powerfully Malcom stacks and sheds his OL to make the tackle:

For UCLA…Senior LB Eric Kendricks (6’0"/230) is pushing Myles Jack hard for "best Bruin linebacker". Kendricks’ 26 total tackles currently rank 6th in the country.

UNI vs Hawaii – 9:00pm

Northern Iowa is getting some attention for RB (aka future FB) David Johnson after his 5 catch, 203 yard, 1 TD performance against Iowa two weeks ago. But I’m not sure that the 12W in this game isn’t Panthers’ NT Xavier Williams (listed variously as 6’2"/309-6’4"/311).

Williams finished 2013 with 74 tackles, 12.0 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 2 PBU, and 1 FF. At some point last year, I remember stumbling on a random youtube tape of him. I’m not sure why I was looking for him. It might have had something to do with the fact he blocked 5 kicks in 2012. We have to go back to 2011 to find another player that blocked that many. And the other guy needed 12 games to block 5…X did it in 11 games. Or maybe he just popped out at me while I was studying Billy Turner last year. Not sure.

In his only game of 2014 so far, X recorded 10 tackles (!!) and 0.5 TFL, and that was against a quality FCS/Big 10 opponent; Iowa. Here is the aforementioned tape of Williams taking on 2013 FBS National Champions NDSU…X is #98:

Keeping in mind we’re looking at tape of a NT, and NT’s are always the least sexy position to study…Williams’ tape actually got me to perk up. For a big man, Williams fires off the ball really well. He stands up terrifically to double, and sometimes triple, teams. His movement is really smooth and I love his pursuit of ball carriers down the field. Sneaky athletic and his arms are rumored to be ridiculously long. A really nice find. Draftscout currently lists X as their #337th overall player…aka UDFA. Legit sleeper.

Finally today, I’m pointing out a player that isn’t 12W for today, but for the rest of the season. This is the year of the running back, and I may or may not try to introduce a new/different RB in every piece. Today’s back is La-Tech Junior Kenneth Dixon (5’10"/212). After playing his 3rd game of the season already on Thursday, Dixon now has rushed for 301 yards on 47 carries (6.40ypc) and 3 TD. This is the cutup of his game vs Lafayette from September 6th. Please make special note of Dixon’s blocking in pass-pro…no lunging, no whiffing…just steady, controlled blocking. This is the best blocking I’ve seen from a RB this year.