Tag Archive: Hawai’i


West Roster Notes:

Quarterbacks:

Chandler Harnish (Northern Illinois) is the best QB on this roster but he had a rough day as he missed high on a number of throws throughout practice. I have seen this on film before so it didn’t surprise me that it showed up during this week of practice, but it’s still a concern. His accuracy and arm strength are both above average, but they aren’t good or great. That’s why I don’t think he’s got much starter potential in the NFL, though I do think that he could develop on a depth chart for a while and emerge as a capable back-up and spot starter. Tyler Hansen (Colorado) looked solid today as he continues to have solid mechanics. He’s a fringe draftable prospect though, and despite looking good today Dan Persa (Northwestern) isn’t more than an undrafted free agent at this point. I like what Persa brings to the table though, so I think he should play in the CFL.

Running Backs:

I’m not very high on Marc Tyler (Southern Cal) and Lennon Creer (Louisiana Tech), though both flashed some potential today. Tyler is a strong guy who caught the ball better out of the backfield pretty well today, and Creer even lined up in the slot at times and looks strong up close in person. My favorite back on this roster is still Bobby Rainey (Western Kentucky) though. He’s a smaller back but he’s quick and has good burst. Inexplicably the West wasn’t in full pads today so the backs didn’t show much for the second day in a row, but they will hopefully provide more value in the next two days and in the game on Saturday that I will be in the press box for.

Wide Receivers:

Jarius Wright (Arkansas) had a much better day today catching the ball and continues to run good routes as expected. He has the most upside of all the receivers at the Shrine Game and if he continues to catch the ball well this week he will move up boards. He didn’t do that well yesterday, but his speed and route running is catching scouts’ attention. Devon Wylie (Fresno State) is catching scouts’ attention as well and he continued to catch the ball well and run good routes today. He’s definitely impressed me this week and is definitely moving up many people’s WR rankings.

I’m still not high on Dale Moss (South Dakota State) though he did look better running routes today and caught the ball well. He didn’t look as slow as yesterday, but still didn’t look fast. He’s got quality size and he’s got pretty good hands, I just wonder how well he will create separation in the NFL.

Darius Hanks (Alabama) didn’t look as good as I expected him to today. He’s undersized and though he improved his hands over the course of this season I am still not 100% sold on him. He’s got potential as a slot guy and I could see him as a 5th/6th round guy right now, but I am interested to see if he brings more to the table the rest of the week.

I have continued to be impressed by Tyler Shoemaker (Boise State). As I mentioned yesterday he comes back to the ball well, I still haven’t seen him drop a pass, and is still creating separation with his route running. He seems like an underrated receiver to me and I definitely think he will get drafted and stick on a 53 man roster.

Greg Childs (Arkansas) still doesn’t look 100%, though he looked better today than he did yesterday when he was running routes. He’s got good hands, that was never in question, it’s all about that knee and how much of his previous athleticism he can get back. This week is big for him. Junior Hemingway (Michigan) seemed to have a better day today, though I still question his speed and burst a bit. We’ll see if he builds on this and improves throughout the week.

Tight Ends:

Not surprisingly, I still like what I am seeing from David Paulson (Oregon) catching the ball. I have not been impressed with George Bryan (North Carolina State) as a receiver though. I didn’t focus much on the TE’s today, but Bryan did look good as a blocker.

Offensive Line:

Tom Compton (South Dakota) intrigues me for multiple reasons. First, he has a fantastic first name. Second, he looked pretty good at left tackle for the West today. I’m not sure he can stick there in the NFL, but I think he has a chance to stick at right tackle at the next level. He showed some push in the run game and has solid length for an offensive tackle with just under 34 inch arms which helped him in pass protection. He did get blown by on a speed rush by Justin Francis on the first play of team drills, but it was a quick throw so it may have gone largely unnoticed.

I liked what I saw from a few offensive guards today. Brandon Brooks (Miami, Ohio) was definitely the stud of the bunch as he provided quality push in the run game and could not be bull rushed in 1 on 1 drills. He’s raw as a technician with his hands, but he’s got so much power and strength that he definitely has starting upside as a guard. I’ll need to watch more of him after this week. I also liked what Al Netter (Northwestern) did inside at guard today. I definitely like him more inside at guard than I do at tackle, though I think he could kick out to RT if necessary. He looked much more comfortable at guard and handled DaJohn Harris twice when he was inside. I also liked some of what I saw from Ben Heenan (Saskatchewan) at guard today. He did a good job against the bigger, stronger Dominique Hamilton in 1 on 1’s and looked good overall in the 1 on 1 drills. He didn’t look great in the team drills, but I think there is potential there. I think he’s a long term developmental guy, but he showed some toughness and nastiness despite not being in pads and I liked that.

I was not impressed at all with Ryan Miller (Colorado) or Moe Petrus (Connecticut) today though. Miller got absolutely dominated by bull rushes from DaJohn Harris and Vaughn Meatoga today and looked like he was too tall/not strong enough to anchor as a guard and didn’t look like he had the length to play outside at tackle either. Coming into the week it looked like he could have been a riser, but I have not been impressed so far. Petrus also struggled with quality defensive tackles 1 on 1 today in drills, though I think he has potential to be drafted and stashed late in the draft. However, today David Snow (Texas) looked like the better Center prospect at times.

Defensive Line:

DaJohn Harris (Southern Cal) continued to impress as expected today, though he wasn’t perfect. He ended up on the ground a couple times, once when he was matched up with Brandon Brooks, and was neutralized by Al Netter’s length when he went up against him once or twice in drills. He is disruptive in team drills though and continues to help himself. He’s been underrated all year so it’s not surprising to see him playing well.

Dominique Hamilton (Missouri) has the size and strength to be a good run stuffer in the NFL, but he doesn’t offer much as a pass rusher which limits his value. He also doesn’t look like a guy who can take on double teams and stuff the run in a 3-4 defense. But if he is going to play the nose tackle position in a 4-3 teams will want more from him as a pass rusher. Will be interesting to see what he shows the rest of the week.

Kentrell Lockett (Ole Miss) is an impressive athlete and showed that he has some ability today by surprising a couple of the West offensive tackles with a bull rush and some speed off the edge. He’s got long, 34 inch arms along with his 6’5” frame and surprising power given his 243 pound weigh-in.

I wasn’t that impressed with Arnaud Nadon (Laval) or Kaniela Tuipulotu (Hawaii) today, but Vaughn Meaotga (Hawaii) showed a nice bull rush on a couple instances, but has struggled to shed blocks so far this week. Justin Francis (Rutgers) has been fun to watch so far this week and seems like he is the emotional leader of the defensive line group. He seems to have a lot of energy and seems pretty excitable.

Linebackers:

I didn’t see much of the linebackers on the West today, but I did see Josh Kaddu (Oregon) running well with tight ends again, and I did see Tank Carder (TCU) dropping effectively in zone and he had good coverage on a running back out of the backfield on one play. But enough with these shells, put some pads on these guys!

Defensive Backs:

The best corner on the West roster is Shaun Prater (Iowa) and it’s not even close in my opinion. He is the only corner that has looked good in drills, 1 on 1 and in team situations this week. He doesn’t have great size but he is a pretty fluid athlete, seems to flip his hips well, turns and runs pretty well and has solid ball skills despite not having great hands for the interception. He could end up in the 4th round (which is incidentally where I projected him before the season).

I’m not high on Keith Tandy (West Virginia) after the first two days of practice. I haven’t been impressed with him in man coverage and his ball skills haven’t impressed me. I have a 6th round grade on him right now because I think he has ability in zone. One guy I had never paid any attention to before is Rodney McLeod (Virginia). He looked good in drills but struggled some in 1 on 1’s and in team. I think he has a little upside, but he struggled to locate the ball in the air today.

Aaron Henry (Wisconsin) and Blake Gideon (Texas) both looked good and fluid in their back-pedals in drills today, but I want to see them more in game situations when they are tested. They aren’t great in man coverage, so I want to see more of them back at their more natural positions. Duke Ihenacho (San Jose State) was a guy I liked coming into the week but he has struggled in coverage overall but particularly in man coverage unfortunately. He looks like a 4.6 40 yard dash guy which is where he is supposed to time.

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Defensive Ends:

-Justin Francis, DE, Rutgers: 6’2”, 275 pounds, 4.84 40 yard dash
-Francis isn’t a freak athlete but he did demonstrate production at Rutgers, especially this season, when he produced 64 total tackles (33 solo), 13.0 TFL, 6.5 sacks, 5 pass break-ups, 1 interception and 3 blocked kicks. That was a stark increase from his production as a junior and while he isn’t necessarily projected to be drafted right now this week is important for him. It gives him a chance to demonstrate his potential as a 4-3 defensive end (likely at LE if you ask me) and gives him a chance to improve his stock to a draftable level or he can help make himself get signed as a priority free agent.

-Tyrone Crawford, DE, Boise State: 6’4”, 273 pounds, 4.75 40 yard dash
-Crawford was overshadowed at Boise State but was a significant contributor to what was a very talented and experience defensive line. This is his chance to shine now that he isn’t surrounded by the talent of his former defensive line. He’s a mid-to-late round pick right now but in a defensive end class desperate for pass rushing talent he could improve his stock considerably if he can demonstrate those skills this week.

Defensive Tackles:

-Dominique Hamilton, DT, Missouri: 6’5”, 305 pounds, 5.24 40 yard dash
-Hamilton could be a big riser this week in my opinion. He’s not very well known and while I personally haven’t seen him much he has demonstrated the ability to stuff the run inside at defensive tackle. Hamilton was a critical part of Missouri’s defense that bottled up a very talented running back in Giovanni Bernard in their bowl game against UNC. I really like the West’s talent along the defensive line and on the defensive side of the ball in general, but defensive tackle seems to be a strength of the roster. Hamilton may end up being one of the highest rated of the group, so keep an eye on him. He’s not a big-time pass rushing threat, but I am very interested to see how he holds up against double teams in the run game.

-Vaughn Meatoga, DT, Hawaii: 6’1”, 295 pounds, 5.02 40 yard dash
-Meatoga is another big, strong defensive tackle that I am anxious to see in the trenches. I haven’t seen much tape of him, but he’s definitely a player to keep an eye on. He’s a guy who could definitely help his stock this week if he holds up well at the point of attack and demonstrates the ability to clog running lanes up the middle. Like Hamilton I’m not expecting a lot from him from a pass rushing standpoint but his strength should be in the run game.

-DaJohn Harris, DT Southern California: 6’4”, 310 pounds, 5.16 40 yard dash
-Harris is a very underrated guy that I have been high on all season. He hasn’t gotten much love and he may not have eye-popping stats but every time I watched USC this year he was effective. I rarely (if ever) saw him get pushed off the ball, he made plays at or behind the line of scrimmage and he consistently did his job for USC’s defense. I really expect him to rise this week because he’s got NFL defensive tackle size, he’s athletic and looked pretty fundamentally sound when I watched him. Like Hamilton and Meatoga I think he will make his money stopping the run, but I think he has more pass rush potential than both of those guys. Keep an eye on him, I guarantee Harris will be making plays this week.

Linebackers:

-Jerry Franklin, LB, Arkansas: 6’1”, 245 pounds, 4.60 40 yard dash
-Franklin doesn’t get a lot of love because Arkansas’ defense has not traditionally been a powerhouse SEC defense. That overshadows him a bit, but I like him at linebacker. He’s not the biggest or the strongest but he has showed ability defending the run, seems to be a reliable tackler, and has flashed upside in pass coverage. I will be very interested to see where the coaches line him up on defense but I am also curious to see how he does at stacking and shedding near the point of attack. I don’t think he does that very well and if he can be reached by an offensive lineman he can be taken out of the play. But because he has never gotten a lot of attention I think he has chance to boost his stock this week.

-Tank Carder, LB, Texas Christian: 6’2”, 237 pounds, 4.67 40 yard dash
-Carder is a well-known prospect thanks to TCU’s win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl last year. He’s not a very big linebacker and many are projecting him outside in the NFL, but regardless of where he plays I have concerns about his ability to shed blocks and to hold up at the point of attack. He’s demonstrated his value in coverage but this week is going to be about his run defense. If he can defend the run well and tackle well (he has a reputation as a good tackler but I question his tackling a bit) then he should solidify himself as a 4th/5th round linebacker that warrants drafting. I have a feeling Carder is a guy who is going to let people down though because he has a reputation as a stud linebacker of sorts and I think some of his shortcomings will be exposed this week.

-Brandon Marshall, LB, Nevada: 6’1”, 245 pounds, 4.76 40 yard dash
-Marshall is another overshadowed linebacker that will be at the Shrine Game. He was overshadowed by James-Michael Johnson’s ability at Nevada but he may be the more fundamentally sound and reliable linebacker at the end of the day. I think he is a guy who will definitely help himself this week and show people that Nevada had more than one talented player at linebacker this past season.

-Ronnie Thomton, LB, University of Southern Mississippi: 6’2”, 240 pounds, 4.75 40 yard dash
-Thornton is a guy that I like. He’s not a stud linebacker prospect but I think he has draftable talent. He impressed me when I watched Southern Mississippi ruin Case Keenum’s day in the Conference USA Championship Game as well as in their bowl game. He looked like a very reliable tackler but I didn’t get to see him much in coverage. I will be watching him in that aspect this week without a doubt, but I think he can be a quality special teamer and reserve linebacker in the NFL if nothing more.

Cornerbacks:

-Shaun Prater, CB, Iowa: 5’10”, 185 pounds, 4.49 40 yard dash
-Prater is a quality cover corner that can play man and zone coverage. His size hurts him a bit in man coverage and he doesn’t have great ball skills, but he is still relatively effective. He will peek into the backfield at times which helps him in zone, but hurts him in man coverage at times. He has pretty good recovery speed though, which helps him in both man and zone coverage. He’s not a great tackler but he gives pretty good effort in run support. Overall he’s a solid corner, so it will be interesting to see how he stacks up with a pretty talented group of receivers all week.

Keith Tandy, CB, West Virginia: 5’10”, 199 pounds, 4.54 40 yard dash
-Tandy isn’t an ideal man coverage corner as he doesn’t have great size or recovery speed to react when beaten. He does have speed so there’s a possibility he could develop in man coverage, but his value is as a zone corner. He doesn’t have great hands but he does have good ball skills and he has good instincts in coverage. He’s also a pretty good tackler and definitely has draftable talent. It will be interesting to see how he does this week. If he excels in man coverage and takes well to coaching this week he could definitely improve his stock.

Safeties:

-Aaron Henry, S, Wisconsin: 6’0”, 210 pounds, 4.52 40 yard dash
-Henry is likely one of the best safeties in this game and is pretty well known. He was one of Wisconsin’s captains this season and has plenty of starting experience in their secondary. Despite that I have never been overly impressed with Henry. I think he leaves something to be desired in pass coverage and Wisconsin had serious issues defending the pass this year and some of that had to do with their struggles to keep things in front of them on the back end. Some of that has to be on Henry, and it makes me wonder how good he is in coverage. I’ll absolutely be watching that this week, because if he has struggles in coverage then his stock is going to take a serious hit. His tackling worried me at one point but while he isn’t a great tackler I think he is solid in this aspect. So overall he’s a solid safety prospect, but I have my concerns about him. I’ll definitely be watching him closely this week and hopefully I will be able to land an interview with him.

-Blake Gideon, S, Texas: 6’0”, 205 pounds, 4.64 40 yard dash
-Gideon is a unheralded safety from Texas and considering Texas’ proficiency when it comes to churning out talented defensive backs he is definitely someone to keep an eye on. Gideon isn’t a flashy player but he strikes me as a reliable, fundamentally sound player. I’m not sure how much potential he has to be a starter in the NFL, but he strikes me as one of those guys it would be unwise to bet against. I am looking forward to evaluating him this week to see if I think he has starter upside, but even if I don’t think he does I would be surprised if he didn’t end up on a NFL roster.

-Duke Ihenacho, SS, San Jose State: 6’0”, 205 pounds, 4.60 40 yard dash
-Ihenacho is my favorite safety at this game and I can’t wait to see him in person. He looked very impressive to me when I watched coaches tape of San Jose State this summer and I can’t wait for him to ball out this week. He’s definitely going to be a riser and I think everyone who hasn’t seen him play will be very impressed with what he brings to the table. I think he could end up going in the 3rd or 4th round because this strong safety class doesn’t have a lot of high-end talent or depth to it. Keep an eye on Ihenacho, I’ll be trying to track him down for an interview without a doubt.

Apologies for getting this up so late everyone. I didn’t have internet access all day today and just got my internet working a bit earlier. I will be covering all the Shrine Game practices this week so check in every day for your updates on the action. Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Jordan Cameron has made some impressive catches this week while displaying impressive athleticism.

West Practice Notes: Day Three

Quarterbacks:

Nathan Enderle, QB, Idaho:

Enderle showed some of the ball placement that I knew he had today, but it was still very inconsistent. He had a few nice throws that I saw, including a nice throw right on the money to Aldrick Robinson deep. He still missed high a couple times to Armon Binns and struggled going through reads at times. I was really high on Enderle before this season, but he regressed this year for whatever reason. He is definitely still draftable, and with his size, arm strength and inconsistent accuracy he should be a 5th or 6th round draft pick. He will need some development and probably some work on his mechanics (footwork probably, he has a nice fluid throwing motion) but I think he will stick in the NFL.

Scott Tolzien, QB, Wisconsin:

Tolzien showed pretty consistent ball placement on day three and pretty solid arm strength. He won’t be able to stretch the field that well, but on short and some intermediate throws he has solid zip on his passes. I think he warrants a 7th round pick or a priority free agent pick-up, and he has done a pretty good job of making decisions this week. I think he can be a developmental #3 in the NFL.

Jerrod Johnson, QB, Texas A&M:

Johnson is probably staring down a position change when he gets to the NFL. He has some mobility and impressive size, but he doesn’t have good zip on his passes, he doesn’t read defenses well, doesn’t make good decisions consistently and struggles with ball placement. I wasn’t sold on him at the beginning of the year after watching him, and it seems that everyone else seems to be of that same opinion now.

Halfbacks:

Patrick DiMarco, FB, South Carolina:

DiMarco stuck out to me all week as a pass catcher and as a runner, and when I talked to Justin Griffith (former Falcons fullback and current halfbacks coach for the West team this week) he said that DiMarco was the guy who stuck out to him the most and that he “did well in pass protection” and “caught the ball well out of the backfield.” I agree with both assertions and I thought it was pretty cool that he was impressed with DiMarco when he had stuck out to me as well. To be fair, Griffith did say that he liked all of his guys, not just DiMarco.

Alex Green, RB, Hawaii:

I’m not sure what Green will run, but he showed more burst and speed than I expected him to show today and he also caught the ball well out of the backfield. I think he warrants late round consideration at this point, but he had a solid week of practice to be sure.

Da’Rel Scott, RB, Maryland:

I’m not sold on Scott. He has dropped some passes out of the backfield this week, though he has caught others, and he doesn’t seem to have very good vision in my opinion. He and Royster had the least impressive weeks as far as running backs go in my opinion. It will be interesting to see how he does in the game, because when he gets into a seam he can really turn it into a long play.

Vai Taua, RB, Nevada:

Previously Taua struggled a bit catching the ball out of the backfield which was a bit surprising, but he looked much better in that aspect today and that was a pleasant thing to see. I personally grade him as the 4th best RB here behind Carter, Cooper and Green right now, but he had a solid day today.

Wide Receivers:

Armon Binns, WR, Cincinnati:

Binns has good hands and probably 4.5 speed but I am not sure he will ever create a lot of separation as a route runner. He is a long strider because of his long legs and I haven’t seen him create a lot of separation when running routes this week. I think he has the ceiling of a reliable #2, perhaps not unlike Michael Jenkins of the Falcons, but with better hands in my opinion. He has deceptive deep speed because of his long strides, but he doesn’t have a lot of quickness/burst into his cuts to create separation as a route runner as a result. He does seem to have good body control, he definitely has good hands and he adjusts well to the ball after it is thrown, but I don’t think he’s much more than a 3rd rounder this year. He’s the second best receiver here only to Toliver in my opinion.

Anthony Parker, WR, Calgary:

Parker was a guy who impressed me the first day and some the second day, but his momentum slowed on the third day. He dropped three passes, the first three drops I had seen from him this week, and did not run his routes with a lot of conviction either. I have seen some of his ability, but right now he seems like a fringe 7th round guy. He doesn’t run great routes, he has solid hands and size but I am not sold on his speed and he hasn’t been overly consistent this week.

Aldrick Robinson, WR, SMU:

I like Robinson. He’s a smaller guy but I think he has potential as a slot receiver. I don’t think he is much more than a 4.5 guy, but he has quickness and some shiftiness, and his route running has progressed some this week and he seems open to coaching. He has good hands too and looks the ball in well. I don’t think he’s much more than a 5th rounder at this point, but I think he can stick on a NFL roster.

Ryan Whalen, WR, Stanford:

I literally didn’t see Whalen drop a pass this week. Maybe I just missed one, but he has very reliable hands. He may not ever be a starter since I’m not sure how fast he will run or how well he can create separation, but as a possession guy, perhaps as a #4 WR, he should have a long NFL career because he just doesn’t drop passes. He’s got very reliable hands.

Tight Ends:

Jordan Cameron, TE, USC:

I have to say that I think it’s really funny that there is a DE from Cal named Cameron Jordan and a TE from USC named Jordan Cameron in the same draft. I don’t know if anyone else on the internet has pointed that out, but it needed to happen at some point. Regardless, Cameron has really impressed this week. He has made some really nice catches, he has stretched the field down the seam and shown good athleticism and leaping ability. I had no idea who he was before this week but I have to say I am really impressed and he has certainly been one of the big winners this week. His stock should be soaring right now from relative anonymity to a potential 3rd-4th round prospect.

Virgil Green, TE, Nevada:

I think Green quietly had a good week. He has made some very nice catches as well, catches on low throws, diving catches, one handed catches and overall just good catches with his hands and not letting them get into his pads. He has shown some ability as a route runner, though I don’t think he has very good speed, but he has impressed me at times as a run blocker which I was happy to see. He isn’t in my top 5 TE’s as far as positional rankings go, but I definitely think he warrants 4th-5th round consideration and could be a solid sleeper with some development and coaching. I definitely like Green.

Offensive Linemen:

Joseph Barksdale, OT, LSU:

I have not been impressed with Barksdale this week. He has good size and arm length for the RT position but he has gotten beaten outside, inside and obviously struggles with speed. He has been able to stop guys like Bruce Miller who can’t get by him because of his long arms, but he is nothing more than a 5th round pick because of his size and arm length in my opinion. He has not been impressive to me this week.

Defensive Linemen:

David Carter, DT, UCLA:

I really like what I have seen from Carter this week. He has good size, arm length, is solid off the ball and has shown good hand usage. He’s gotten into the backfield and has shown signs of dominance in one on one drills. Carter has definitely helped himself this week.

Chris Carter, DE, Fresno State:

Carter had a lot of trouble in coverage this week, not unexpectedly in my opinion, and really could only take away the flats and struggled to react well in space and to close on passes this week. He was moved back to the defensive line for one on one drills and showed some speed off the ball to get the edge. He has some potential as a rotational guy but he is kind of a one trick pony at this point. He has some value but I’m not very impressed with him at this point.

Sorry about the delay on these notes. It’s been a bit of an exhausting week. Hope you enjoy them!

–Tom

Bowl Predictions:

New Mexico Bowl- Brigham Young (6-6) vs UTEP (6-6)

Predicted winner: BYU

Why: BYU is surging into the bowl season after a slow start to the season while UTEP started strong and backed into the bowl season by finishing with just one victory in their last six games.

Key to the game: UTEP’s senior QB Trevor Vittatoe is the key to UTEP’s potential victory. In the last six games, of which they lost five, Vittatoe threw eight interceptions and only five touchdowns. Three of those five touchdowns came in their only victory against SMU. If Vittatoe can have an efficient game against BYU then UTEP could be poised for an “upset” of sorts.

Score: BYU: 24 – UTEP: 13

Humanitarian Bowl- Northern Illinois (10-3) vs Fresno State (8-4)

Predicted winner: NIU

Why: Despite losing their coach NIU is one of the best running teams in the country, and that running game should help their QB Chandler Harnish find passing lanes, especially with play action.

Key to the game: NIU’s QB Chandler Harnish. I was tempted to name their RB Chad Spann the key player in this game, but Harnish’s ability to throw efficiently (2,230 yards, 64.7% comp and 20 TD’s to only 5 INT’s this season) along with his ability to gain yards with his legs (764 yards and 5 TD’s) he needs to perform well and threaten Fresno State with his arm and his legs for them to win this game. If he plays efficiently they have a great chance to win.

Score: NIU: 31 – FSU: 21

New Orleans Bowl- Ohio (8-4) vs Troy (7-5)

Predicted winner: Troy

Why: Troy’s QB Corey Robinson may turn the ball over a fair amount, but he was productive with 3,300+ yards, 24 TD’s and 15 INT’s. Ohio’s QB Boo Jackson managed only 15 TD’s and 16 INT’s comparatively. Troy is a little more one dimensional with the pass, whereas Ohio’s offense is more balanced but not as explosive. This could be a bit of a sloppy game because both QB’s are relatively prone to turnovers.

Key to the game: Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy. Jernigan has had three consecutive seasons with 70+ receptions for Troy and has again been a favorite target of freshman QB Corey Robinson. He is an explosive receiver, and if he can get behind Ohio’s secondary he could have a big game. If they keep him relatively contained he could still have an impact because of his reliable hands.

Score: Troy: 34 – Ohio: 31

St. Petersburg Bowl- Southern Miss (8-4) vs Louisville (6-6)

Predicted winner: Louisville

Why: Louisville has a balanced offensive attack that has enabled them to go from QB to QB depending on injuries and still have relative success. Their defense is much stronger overall than it was when Petrino was there, so if they can muster a balanced attack against Southern Miss they should have a good chance to win. It will be interesting to see how their defense holds up against Southern Miss.

Key to the game: Bilal Powel, RB, Louisville. Powel is the heart of their offense and he is the feature back of their offense. When Powel has 90+ yards and one or more touchdowns Louisville has won or been in very close games in every week, so if he plays well Louisville tends to be in a position win.

Score: Louisville: 24 – Southern Miss: 20

Las Vegas Bowl- Utah (10-2) vs Boise State (11-1)

Predicted winner: Boise State

Why: I personally think Utah is very overrated, but besides that Boise State is a very balanced team. They have a great passing attack led by Kellen Moore, one of the most efficient and accurate passers in the country, as well as an underrated running game led by Doug Martin. Their defense is as good as it has ever been, and between that and their juggernaut offense I think Utah will be over-matched.

Key to the game: Utah’s running game. If Utah can run the ball and sustain drives it will keep Boise State’s high-powered offense on the sideline. If they try to get into a shootout with the Broncos they will lose, so they have to try to slow the pace of the game down in my opinion.

Score: Boise State: 45 – Utah: 24

Poinsettia Bowl- Navy (9-3) vs San Diego State (8-4)

Predicted winner: San Diego State

Why: San Diego State is a more balanced attack than Navy. They have two talented WR’s in Vincent Brown and DeMarco Sampson, a quality passing QB in Ryan Lindley and a quality running back to rely on in the running game. Navy’s offense revolves around their QB Ricky Dobbs. He is their best passer as well as their leading rusher for Navy, but San Diego’s run defense may be capable of slowing him down. If they do, and if they get ahead of Navy, they may not have the offensive firepower to play from behind.

Key to the game: Ricky Dobbs. If he plays well, helps control the clock and keeps San Diego State’s offense off the field then Navy can win. But if San Diego State slows him and Navy’s offense down then San Diego State will have an easier time winning this game.

Score: San Diego State: 31 – Navy: 17

Hawai’i Bowl- Hawai’i (10-3) vs Tulsa (9-3)

Predicted Winner: Hawai’i

Why: The Golden Warriors have an extremely potent passing offense like they always seem to have, but this time around they have a quality running game to attempt to balance out their high-powered offensive attack. Tulsa has a potent offense as well, but I don’t think they can win in a shootout with Hawai’i, hence why I give them the advantage.

Key to the game: Defense. It might sound simple, but whichever defense plays better overall will give that team a substantial advantage. Both have pretty good defensive backfields, so if one of them steps up and potentially creates some turnovers that team would gain an advantage.

Score: Hawai’i: 45 – Tulsa: 31

Little Caesars Bowl- FIU (6-6) vs Toledo (8-4)

Predicted winner: Toledo

Why: Toledo’s QB’s are much more efficient than FIU’s, even their redshirt freshman Terrance Owens who stepped in after their original starter, Austin Dantin, went down to injury. Toledo also played better competition and I think they are more prepared for this bowl game than FIU.

Key to the game: Terrance Owens, QB, Toledo- If Owens continues to play efficiently like he has since stepping into the spotlight then Toledo stands a great chance to win. But if he plays like an inexperienced freshman then Toledo will be in trouble.

Score: Toledo: 31 – FIU: 20

Independence Bowl- Air Force (8-4) vs Georgia Tech (6-6)

Predicted winner: Georgia Tech

Why: Georgia Tech’s defense is fast enough to slow down Air Force’s ground attack, and I think they are disciplined enough to do so also. But I am not sure Air Force is up to stopping Georgia Tech’s offense. Both teams are great at running the football, but ironically it might come down to whoever hits on a deep ball or two who comes away with a victory. I think that Georgia Tech has that potential with Stephen Hill.

Key to the game: Josh Nesbitt. Nesbitt is an interesting key to the game because he may or may not play as a result of his injury suffered in early November. He has not yet been cleared by doctors, but if he is healthy enough to go I would be shocked if he doesn’t play. He is the heart of Georgia Tech’s rushing attack and without him they just aren’t as effective. If he plays Air Force will have a lot to stop.

Score: Georgia Tech: 27 – Air Force: 21

Champs Sports Bowl- West Virginia (9-3) vs NC State (8-4)

Predicted Winner: West Virginia

Why: West Virginia’s offense is potent and it is led by sophomore Geno Smith who has had an extremely efficient season. Their offense is explosive and can score quickly or piece together a methodical drive with a dose of Noel Devine and Ryan Clark running the ball. NC State has a quality QB and a couple of nice receivers to throw to, but West Virginia’s defense is great at rushing the passer and I think they will force Russell Wilson into a couple potential mistakes.

Key to the game: West Virginia’s pass rush. If West Virginia can rattle Russell Wilson, force him into mistakes but also keep him inside the pocket so he can’t extend plays by scrambling or finding receivers on a broken play then they should have a pretty easy time beating the Wolfpack.

Score: West Virginia: 24 – NC State: 13

Insight Bowl- Missouri (10-2) vs Iowa (7-5)

Predicted Winner: Missouri

Why: Iowa won’t have Adam Robinson or Darrel Johnson-Koulianos against Missouri as a result of suspensions which will hurt their offense. I think Ricky Stanzi might have it in him to still pull off a win if he plays like he did late in games all last season, but I don’t know if he can do that this year. Not only that, but Iowa’s defense will be challenged by a potent Missouri defense and a quality QB of their own. Blaine Gabbert isn’t a great QB but he is a good one, and I don’t know if Iowa has the secondary to stop Missouri’s passing game. I also think that Missouri’s offensive line has a solid chance of slowing down Iowa’s very talented defensive line, which could make it a long day for Iowa’s defensive backs.

Key to the game: Iowa’s pass rush. If they get after Gabbert and can force him into mistakes then I think Iowa will in the game. But if Missouri slows down Iowa’s pass rush and gives Gabbert time to throw I think Missouri will ultimately win the game.

Score: Missouri: 24 – Iowa: 20

Let’s hope these predictions go alright! I for one am ready for one last round of college football! Enjoy! Thanks for reading!

–Tom