Tag Archive: Little Caesars Bowl


Alex Carder, QB, Western Michigan: Carder is a solid quarterback for Western Michigan and it has been interesting to compare and contrast him with Tim Hiller, the quarterback he replaced for the Broncos. He’s got solid size at 6’2”, 224 pounds and was productive this season with 3,873 yards, a 65.74 completion percentage, 31 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. The game against Purdue was not one of his better games as he finished with four interceptions marking the second game he had thrown more than one all season (he threw three against Ball State). Carder has solid arm strength and accuracy and is more physically gifted than Hiller was because of his ability to extend plays with his feet and to avoid the rush. He isn’t a burner by any means, but he can move when he has to and is somewhat of a threat to run and pick up yardage with his legs. That said, I think at best he is a late round prospect because despite his solid physical tools I don’t think he has the arm strength to make every NFL throw with solid zip and he doesn’t do a good job of reading defenses and making good decisions at all. His four interceptions yesterday were not coincidences and he could have had a couple more if Purdue had not dropped them. He forces throws into coverage more than he should and part of that has to do with how much he throws the ball but part of that is that he simply doesn’t make very good decisions. He has the ability to make nice throws when he can put touch on them as evidenced by the nice throw to Jordan White for their first touchdown and a couple other throws over the top of the coverage. However, when he attempted to make stick throws down the seam he struggled to put the appropriate amount of zip on them and didn’t place them well which limited his offenses potential as Purdue seemed to get comfortable defending their up-tempo offense. Carder is a solid MAC prospect but he won’t get drafted before the 6th or 7th round next year in my opinion.

White had a fantastic game and honestly, something about him makes me think he will have a successful NFL career.

Jordan White, WR, Western Michigan: White is a beast let me just say that right now. He may not be the fastest guy especially after his knee injury but he is a beast. He has very reliable hands, some of the best in this 2012 class of receivers, and has been insanely productive for Western Michigan both for this season and for his entire career. Now, I don’t expect him to be picked in the first three rounds or anything but I think in the 5th round he warrants some significant consideration. Yes, you’d like to spend those picks on guys with more upside than a guy who probably won’t run much faster than a 4.55 in the 40 yard dash but he’s got solid size at 6’0”, 215 pounds and accumulated 140 receptions, 1,911 yards and 17 touchdowns on the season. He also had 222 yards and a 13.06 average per return as a punt returner. He caught nearly every pass that hit him in the hands against Purdue save one possible drop, but he made some difficult catches look routine and made a fantastic one handed snag with his left hand on a pass thrown one or two yards behind him. Had he not somehow made this terrific catch on a deep ball from Carder it certainly looked like it was going to get intercepted by a Purdue defensive back. White may not have insane upside from a physical standpoint but overall I was pretty impressed with his route running and you can see he has improved this over the past couple of years. He showed some solid burst in and out of his breaks and some suddenness to create separation. Personally I would love to have him on my team because you know he’s going to work very hard, he doesn’t have great speed but he runs good routes, he will make catches when your team needs a play, and he is stronger and more physical than you might think and has shown the ability to gain yards after the catch. I think the 5th round is definitely where he has the best shot to come off the board, but something about him makes me want to put a 3rd/4th round grade on him. He’s just too reliable with too good of hands to pass up.

Anthony Parker, OT, Western Michigan: Parker doesn’t have a great build at 6’5”, 321 pounds not because of his height but because he’s got a pretty big belly. He may want to work on that before any All-Star game he might go to or before the combine, but regardless of that I don’t think he will be able to stick at offensive tackle in the NFL. He struggled mightily against an impressive freshman defensive end on Purdue named Ryan Russell and he will continue to struggle at either offensive tackle spot should he be drafted or signed as an undrafted free agent. Personally I think his best bet is to slide inside to guard where his possibly above average first step and size may give him an advantage and it will mask his lack of lateral quickness to mirror defenders off the edge. It was pretty obvious he couldn’t take away Russell’s speed rush whenever he wanted which led to him opening up his hips too early and too often making him very susceptible to inside moves which Russell took advantage of to create significant pressure on Carder all game. Even if he slides inside to guard there is no guarantee he will be drafted or even competed over to be signed as an undrafted free agent, but I think he has a chance to make it into a camp and compete for a practice squad spot as a guard. He will never make it that far as a tackle.

Drew Nowak, DT, Western Michigan: Nowak had a fantastic season this year with over 20.0 TFL, 8.5 sacks, a forced fumble and two blocked kicks but that won’t guarantee himself a spot in the 2012 NFL Draft. He is listed at 6’4”, 295 pounds but he didn’t look quite 6’4” to me and I wouldn’t be surprised if he measured in as short as 6’2” personally. I also noticed that he seemed to have relatively short arms which led to him getting engulfed by the larger Purdue offensive linemen. He has above average burst off the line of scrimmage and flashed some solid hand usage as he tried to beat the Purdue interior linemen off the snap. However, that didn’t work very often and while he forced Purdue’s left guard to hold once or twice (even though it was uncalled) he didn’t have a very significant impact on the game because of his struggles to keep Purdue’s offensive linemen from engaging him and taking him out of the play. He has solid size, solid athleticism and a pretty good motor but I don’t think he’s going to be anything more than a late round pick or possibly a UDFA if he can’t improve his stock in the offseason.

Freddie Bishop, DE, Western Michigan: Bishop didn’t stick out to me very much but he flashed some solid edge speed when he was in the game. TerBush and Marve threw a combined 20 passes so there weren’t a lot of opportunities to rush the passer, especially because some of those were quick screens designed to get the ball out quickly. Bishop emerged a bit statistically this year and it will be interesting to see how he and Paul Hazel do next year as they will likely be one of the best pass rushing tandems in the MAC.

I think Paul Hazel has the size, athleticism and upside to be a quality 3-4 OLB if he can fill out his 6'5", 210 pound frame.

Paul Hazel, DE, Western Michigan: I hadn’t seen Hazel play much before but I was impressed with him as a pass rusher. He’s got quality height and length at 6’5” and he looks like he has long arms, however he only weighs 210 pounds! He absolutely HAS to get above 225 pounds before next season or his stock is going to drop as his game is dissected. He’s a pretty fluid athlete and while I haven’t seen him drop into coverage a lot he looks like he could be athletic to make that transition. Hopefully WMU lets him stand up more next year. But the most important part of this offseason will be adding weight for Hazel, and it will be very telling if he doesn’t come back bigger and stronger because he needs to.

Johnnie Simon, S, Western Michigan: Simon wasn’t always in on defense from what I could tell but I was very impressed with his run defense, his tackling, and his ability to blitz off the edge. He may have been playing in a “Buc” role where he is like an additional linebacker, but he proved effective versus the run regardless of how he was used. He had a solid stat line as far as pass break-ups and interceptions this year with seven break-ups and two interceptions on the season, so he will be one to watch as he continues to develop as a junior next year.

Caleb TerBush, QB, Purdue: I expected TerBush to throw a bit more than he did but Marve actually threw a comparable amount and was arguably more effective doing it. TerBush has another year left whereas Marve is graduating so it will be interesting to see what he will be able to do with some starting experience under his belt. He’s not much of a NFL Draft prospect at this point, but he has NFL size and a solid arm, so you have to keep an eye on him for that reason. He doesn’t have much pocket poise and doesn’t operate in a NFL offense since he doesn’t make a lot of stick throws downfield, but he has a chance to grow this offseason and during his senior year.

Akeem Shavers, RB, Purdue: Shavers had the best game of his career running 22 times for 149 yards with a long of 44 yards. Shavers has solid size at 5’11”, 203 pounds and displayed pretty good burst, acceleration and speed to rip of nice yardage. He will be competing for touches next year in a relatively crowded backfield and didn’t really have a break-out year this year, so it will be interesting to see if he is the main guy or if Ralph Bolden, the RB he was replacing in the starting line-up in this game, will be the main man. I liked what I saw of Shavers yesterday, but it’s hard for me to project him as anything more than a 7th round pick or a priority free agent at this point.

Akeem Hunt, RB, Purdue: Hunt only had four touches on offense against WMU but he rushed for 38 yards including a 33 yard long. He is only a freshman and should help Purdue establish this run-heavy offensive attack next year. He will likely be the #3 scat back next year barring injury to either Bolden or Shavers, but he is the leading candidate to take over as the feature back in two years as a junior. He’s undersized at 5’9”, but he has good quickness and speed.

Antavian Edison, WR, Purdue: Edison only had one catch on the game but it was a terrific grab for 23 yards. He went up for a deep ball and it was deflected before it got there but he kept his concentration, caught the ball with his hands and held onto it in traffic for the big gain. It was a great catch, but because Purdue was running so much he didn’t see much more action than that against WMU. Hopefully he gets more touches next year because I think he has some upside.

Gary Bush, WR, Purdue: Bush doesn’t have as good of hands as Edison does and struggled to locate and adjust to a couple deep passes Purdue attempted during this game but he was lethal on screens and took what I believe was a bubble screen for a 33 yard touchdown in the 2nd half. He doesn’t have great size at 6’0”, 175 pounds and he looks very skinny on film but he has some speed and decent hands. He’s a fringe draftable prospect at this point but his speed may warrant some interest.

Ryan Russell has an impressive combination of size and athleticism and demonstrated his upside creating consistent pressure against WMU.

Ryan Russell, DE, Purdue: Russell may very well have been the most impressive player not only on Purdue’s defense but on their whole team against Western Michigan in my opinion. That might sound like high praise for someone who, as far as I’m aware, had one tackle, sack and forced fumble. The sack and forced fumble was an important one though, as it led to a fumble recovery by his fellow defensive lineman Bruce Gaston. He didn’t register a lot of tackles or sacks but he was applying consistent pressure by beating both offensive tackles for Western Michigan when he wanted to. At 6’4”, 264 pounds as a freshman he has fantastic size for someone so young and has a ton of upside. Purdue has churned out some quality defensive lineman recently in Ryan Kerrigan, Mike Neal and now Kawann Short, Bruce Gaston and hopefully Ryan Russell. His motor seemed to wane on one of WMU’s longer drives and he was letting himself remain blocked and wasn’t fighting through blocks. That’s concerning, but he has plenty of upside and should really start to take off on the stat sheet over the next year or two as he comes into his own and continues to develop. Keep an eye on this kid.

Kawann Short, DT, Purdue: Short was widely considered the top draft eligible prospect in this game but I was not impressed. He had a limited impact and seemed to show his frustration from not making plays or getting to the quarterback when he hit Carder after he threw late in the game which drew a flag. It was one of the few times he was in the quarterback’s face against WMU and he didn’t impress me much. Based on that game there’s no way I could give him a 2nd round grade, and it was disappointing since I was excited to watch him more and add to my notes on him. Though he did have a great season and could declare for the NFL Draft if he wanted to after that performance in the bowl game I think it would make more sense to come back for his senior year. He has room to grow if that performance is even a slight indication of what he needs to work on.

Bruce Gaston, DT, Purdue: Gaston is a solidly built sophomore DT and he was solid against WMU. I hope Short comes back because a defensive line of Short, Gaston and Russell would be pretty potent even in a conference with quality offensive linemen. Gaston flashed some ability yesterday by stuffing a play or two at the line of scrimmage as well as getting his hand up into passing lanes at times. He’s got solid upside but I want to see how he continues to develop.

Dwayne Beckford, LB, Purdue: Beckford was one guy I was looking forward to watching in this game but he was suspended for it. I imagine it was a response to Beckford being arrested on the suspicion of drunk driving just a couple weeks before the bowl game. He was also ejected from Purdue’s game against Iowa this year for throwing a punch, so this is unfortunately becoming a bit of a pattern of bad behavior for Beckford. That’s too bad because he was one of Purdue’s best players this year on defense. He’s got maturity concerns without a doubt, so it will be interesting to see if he grows up at all or if he will continue to waste his talent with stupid mistakes.

Joe Holland, LB, Purdue: Holland was one of the pleasant surprises of the night for me. He’s not a freak athlete as he is 6’1”, 229 pounds but he was one of the best tacklers on the field if not THE best and while I don’t think he has starting upside in the NFL I think he could definitely make a career of being a long-term back-up and special teams ace. I expect he will go undrafted but guys that tackle like he does have a place in the NFL on special teams, so look for him on coverage units in the future.

Will Lucas, LB, Purdue: Lucas is an undersized linebacker at only 5’11”, 226 pounds but he makes up for it with his athleticism. He will have to step up as the team is losing Holland to graduation, but he had 74 total tackles this year (43 solo) and 8.5 TFL so he is ready to take the next step in my opinion. He intrigues me as a WLB and on one play he shocked Carder on an option play because he SHOT into the gap and wrapped Carder up for a loss near the goal line. I wrote down that he “looked like a little missile.” So look out for him next year!

Thanks for reading! I’ll try to keep up with these bowl games, but one man can only do so much!

–Tom

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Alex Carder, QB, Western Michigan:
6’2”, 224 lb Jr. 299/445 (67.2% comp), 3,434 yards (7.7 YPA), 28:10 TD:INT, 253 rush yards, 4 TD’s

Jordan White, WR, Western Michigan:
6’0”, 215 lb Sr. 127 receptions, 1,646 yards (12.96 avg), 16 TD’s. 17 PR’s, 222 yards (13.06 average).

Anthony Parker, OT, Western Michigan:
6’5”, 321 lb Sr.

Drew Nowak, DT, Western Michigan:
6’4”, 295 lb Sr. 83 total tackles (35 solo), 20.0 TFL, 8.5 sacks, 1 FF, 2 Kicks/Punts blocked

Freddie Bishop, DE, Western Michigan:
6’4”, 253 lb Jr. 50 total tackles (17 solo), 12.0 TFL, 5.5 sacks.

Paul Hazel, DE, Western Michigan:
6’5”, 210 lb Jr. 18 total tackles (9 solo), 2.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 2 FF’s, 4 pass break ups.

Johnnie Simon, S, Western Michigan:
6’0”, 180 lb Soph. 103 total tackles (55 solo), 8.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 7 pass break-ups, 2 INT’s

Caleb TerBush, QB, Purdue:
6’5”, 225 lb Jr. 163/264 (61.7% comp), 1,803 yards, 12:6 TD:INT, 227 rush yards, 1 TD.

Akeem Shavers, RB, Purdue:
5’11”, 203 lb Jr. 89 attempts, 370 yards (4.16 avg), 6 TD’s. 5 receptions, 58 yards, 1 TD.

Akeem Hunt, RB, Purdue:
5’9”, 175 lb Fr. 29 attempts, 249 yards (8.59 avg), 2 TD’s. 5 KR, 136 yards (27.20 average)

Antavian Edison, WR, Purdue:
5’11”, 175 lb Jr. 43 rec, 561 yards (13.05 avg), 3 TD’s. 124 rush yards, 2 TD’s.

Dennis Kelly, OT, Purdue:
6’8”, 306 lb Sr.

Ken Plue, OG, Purdue:
6’7”, 366 lb Sr.

Peters Drey, C, Purdue:
6’6”, 310 lb Jr.

Kawann Short, DT, Purdue:
6’3”, 310 lb Jr. 53 total tackles (28 solo), 17.5 TFL, 6.5 sacks, 1 FF, 1 pass break-up, 1 kick blocked

Bruce Gaston, DT, Purdue:
6’2”, 303 lb Soph. 28 total tackles (9 solo), 6.5 TFL, 3.0 sacks, 1 pass break-up, 1 kick blocked

Dwayne Beckford, LB, Purdue:
6’1”, 228 lb Jr. 90 total tackles (45 solo), 7.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks, 1 FF, 1 INT, 4 pass break-ups.

Joe Holland, LB, Purdue:
6’1”, 229 lb Sr. 85 total tackles (47 solo), 8.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 1 INT, 5 pass break-ups.

Will Lucas, LB, Purdue:
5’11”, 226 lb Soph. 74 total tackles (43 solo), 8.5 TFL, 1.0 sack, 1 FF, 1 pass break-up.

Josh Johnson, CB, Purdue:
5’11”, 195 lb Jr. 61 total tackles (45 solo), 3.5 TFL, 8 pass break-ups, 2 INT’s.

Ricardo Allen, CB, Purdue:
5’9”, 176 lb Soph. 71 total tackles (54 solo), 3.0 TFL, 3 pass break-ups, 3 INT’s (1 TD), 1 FF, 1 kick blocked

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