Normally in the College Football Scouting Guide I take a look at the best games at each time slot, but with three marquee games during the afternoon game I decided to highlight the four best games of the entire day.
Through the 12 weeks of doing the Scouting Guides the Clemson Tigers have appeared just one previous time which says a lot of the Tigers opponents. But with previously Top 25 ranked Wake Forest coming to town we get to see probably the Tigers toughest opponent of the season. That being said, the Tigers should roll in this game.
In the SEC we have a pseudo playoff eliminator game between Auburn and Georgia. Georgia is the 4th rated team in the most recent college football playoff rankings while Auburn will need to win out if they even want a chance. This Win and you’re still in should lead to an exciting game.
The third big game of the afternoon has two top 25 Big Ten teams facing off. Minnesota is coming off a very impressive win over Penn State which has started to make everybody take notice. But the Golden Gophers can’t get too full of themselves as they have to travel to Iowa City and face off against an Iowa team that is as sound as they come and have a history of knocking off highly ranked teams at home.
In the evening we get another game with playoff implications as Oklahoma travels to Baylor. Oklahoma is looking to get back into the consideration for the top 4 but they’ll need a win here to do so. Baylor on the other hand is undefeated and getting no love. A win here could do for the Bears what last weeks Minnesota win did for the Gophers.
College Football Scouting Guide
Wake Forest Demon Deacons at #3 Clemson Tigers 2:30 CST on ABC
Best Prospect: Clemson WR Tee Higgins
At 6’4 with good speed Higgins provides quarterback Trevor Lawerence with a big bodied receiver who can make plays down the field. Higgins also shows good body control and hands to adjust to the ball in the air and make tough catches. The way Higgins plays he reminds me a lot of Julio Jones in that he can over power defenders with his size and athletic ability and show the ability to take over games.
Best Prospect Battle: Clemson RT Tremayne Anchrum vs Wake Forest DE Carlos Basham Jr.
Carlos Basham Jr. is one of the fastest risers in the 2020 draft class as he has feasted this season with 6.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss. And those numbers don’t tell the whole story as the 6’5 275lb is able to affect the play even if he’s not able to get the sack or tackle. Combine his strength with burst and pass rushing repriotore and he’s a load to deal with. Looking to stop Basham is right tackle Tremayne Anchrum who is the Tigers best offensive lineman. Anchrum is built like a guard but he was still very proficient in pass protection as he lead the ACC in fewest pressures.
Additional Wake Forest Prospects
Wake Forest has the 11th rated passing attack and a big part of the attack is because of receivers Sage Surratt and Scotty Washington. Surratt is the better prospect showing a good understanding of how to create separation while Washington (6’5 225lb) is able to utilize his size to make contested catches. The problem is that Surrat is lost for the season because of an undisclosed injury while Washington missed last week’s game and is not listed on the depth chart prior to this weekends game. The Demon Deacons also have a veteran laden offensive line with right guard Nathan Gilliam and right tackle Jake Benzinger that are draftable prospects, but the standout is left tackle Justin Herron. Herron has had his share of injuries over his career but when he’s on the field he shows the athletic ability and footwork that is needed to play the NFL. At cornerback Essang Bassey has ball skills showing in his career as he has 5 interceptions and 41 passes defended. But Bassey is small in nature at 5’10 185lbs which doesn’t bode well as the Tigers have both Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross who are both 6’3 or taller.
Additional Clemson Prospects
While quarterback Trevor Lawrence and the Clemson receivers get most of the attention when it comes to Clemson’s offense, you cannot forget about running back Travis Etienne. Etienne is an explosive back that’s able to make quick movements and then burst through to reel off long runs. Defensively the Tigers don’t have the likes of Clelin Ferrell or Christian Wilkins, but that doesn’t mean they lack elite talent. Linebacker Isaiah Simmons started his career at Clemson as a safety but thrived last year when he moved to a hybrid linebacker role. Using his speed and athletic ability along with his 6’3 frame to match up with receivers and tight ends in the slot while also playing zone coverage and supporting the run. The Tigers secondary may be the strength of their defense as cornerback AJ Terrell and safeties Tanner Muse and K’Von Wallace all could go in the mid to early rounds. Terrell has good size at 6’1 with good length making him a good fit as a press man cornerback but also has some short area quickness that allows him to be patient forcing the receiver to make the first move. Muse plays the deep safety in the Tigers defense has good instincts and range that allow him to react in coverage and always be around the ball.
#4 Georgia Bulldogs at #12 Auburn Tigers 2:30 CST on CBS
Best Prospect: Auburn DT Derrick Brown
Brown is a powerful defensive tackle who wins based on his elite strength and power that allows him to dominant interior offensive linemen when blocked one on one. That is if teams don’t double or triple team him. Brown uses his hands well to engage with the defenders and keep their hands off his body. Power isn’t Brown’s only strength as he does demonstrate the ability to make quick lateral movements while also showing the ability to burst forward causing penetration or a push.
Best Prospect Battle: Georgia Offensive Line vs Auburn Defensive Line
Left Tackle Andrew Thomas isn’t a flashy player but he has good recognition skills along with solid lateral agility to cut off pass rushers. If there is a weakness in Thomas’ game it’s that speed rushers can get him off the edge. On the right side Isaiah Thomas has missed two games because of an injury but if he’s able to go the 6’7 340lber is a good run blocker that uses his large frame to seal off defenders. They’ll have to deal with a trio of Tiger edge defenders in Marlon Davidson, Nick Coe and Big Cat Bryant. Nick Coe is the best of the group with an unreal combination of speed and size while Davidson wins with burst and power. On passing downs the Tigers also bring in Bryant along with Coe, Davidson and Brown make it very difficult to slow them down. Inside the Bulldogs are young but left guard Solomon Kindley who is one of the best pass blocking guards in the nation. Kindley will be tested here by Derrick Brown.
Additional Georgia Prospects
D’Andre Swift is an explosive runner who is able to get yards using quick cuts to get to seams and openings in the defense. His ability to put a foot down or make a strong lateral cut to elude a defender or just get to the opening. Even when defenders are able to make contact with Swift he shows good balance to stay on his feet and force defenders to have to take him to the ground. When talking about Georgia prospects you have to start with quarterback Jake Fromm who took over as the starter during his true freshman year and was able to hold off heralded prospects in Jacob Eason and Justin Fields. Fromm isn’t going to wow you with his physical skills but he’s a fighter and has enough arm strength and accuracy to make clutch throws. On defense the Bulldogs have plenty of prospects including inside linebacker Monty Rice who can go sideline to sideline and rarely misses a tackle. In the secondary left cornerback Eric Stokes is a burner while Richard LeCounte is a rangy coverage safety.
Additional Auburn Prospects
Auburn’s tackles Prince Tega Wanogbho and Jack Driscoll will be tasked with slowing down LSU’s athletic pass rushers. Wanogho has good length at 6’7 and is able to move well laterally to mirror pass rushers but can get a bit off balance at times lunging at times to attack defenders. Right tackle Jack Driscoll doesn’t have the high upside but is fundamentally sound and plays with good balance. What makes Auburn’s defense so tough is that they have such a strong defensive line but also a talented secondary to go with it. Senior cornerback Javaris Davis is the Tigers top defensive back. Davis at 5’9 doesn’t have the height to match up with big receivers but has been recorded with a 4.24 40 yard dash and gave up the fewest yards per catch in the SEC. On the other side the Tigers have Noah Igbinoghene who is a former receiver who has transitioned well to the defensive side. But the best Tiger defensive back may just be strong safety Daniel Thomas who has shown to be a highly productive playing the ball in the air.
#8 Minnesota Golden Gophers at #20 Iowa Hawkeyes 3:00 CST on Fox
Best Prospect: Iowa DE AJ Epenesa
Despite spending his first two years on campus a reserve, AJ Epenesa was still able to be highly productive accumulating 15 sacks in those two seasons. The first thing you notice when watching AJ Epenesa is that not only is he big (6’5 277lbs) but he moves well for that size with a good combination of speed, quickness and agility. Whether it is using his burst and speed to attack the edge and bend the edge or his ability to stop and quickly redirect he makes it tough on opposing offensive tackles. What really impresses me is his hand usage. Against the run he’s able to extend and hold the point of attack but along with strong hands and quick lateral agility he’s able to shed blocks and go get the ball carrier. As pass rusher Epenesa can use a club to get past the offensive linemen while he’s also shown a rip move that works well with his power he generates and also a swat type move that allows him to keep the lineman’s hands off of him. This hand usage and a variety of it is something you don’t normally see out of college pass rushers and is a big reason why he could be a top 10 overall pick.
Best Prospect Battle: Minnesota DE Carter Coughlin vs Iowa LT Alaric Jackson and RT Tristian Wirfs
Minnesota is enjoying their program’s best season in years and a big part of that is the play of their defense and the best prospect on defense is Carter Coughlin. Coughlin was a highly touted recruit and he’s only lived up to the hype since he’s been on campus. At 6’4 245lbs Coughlin is able to use his burst to get tackles on their heels but then shows the hand usage and lateral agility to be able to react and get into the backfield. Against Iowa he’ll have his hands full as the Hawkeyes have two NFL caliber tackles in Tristian Wirfs and Alaric Jackson. Tristian Wirfs is the top tackle in this class and has the potential to be a top five overall pick. Wifts is light on his feet and shows the lateral quickness to mirror defenders. Wirfs has been a right tackle throughout his career but when Alaric Jackson missing time with an injury Wirfs moved to the left side and continued his dominance. Jackson isn’t the same level of athlete that Wirfs is but Jackson has more power where he locks his hands on the defender and then ushers the defender out of the way.
Additional Minnesota Prospects
The 2020 NFL Draft class is loaded with receiving prospects which often means that Tyler Johnson is lost in the shuffle, but that is a mistake as Johnson can take over games and has first round potential. Johnson is a polished route runner who utilizes his athletic traits to create separation from defensive backs and even go up and win at the catch point. Johnson is far from the only playmaker on this Gopher team as running back Rodney Smith has been gashing defenses to the tune of 940 yards and 7 touchdowns so far this season. Smith is a decisive runner whose able to see the crease, put a foot down and getting through the hole. He may lack the explosiveness as other backs, but his ability to run with good contact balance and make decisive cuts has suited him well. Defensively the Gophers have players at each level that are NFL caliber picks. We’ve already talked about Coughlin but at linebacker Kamal Martin has really exploded this year showing the athletic ability that linebackers need to have success in the NFL while racking up the tackles. In the secondary the Gophers have two players to keep an eye out. Cornerback Chris Williamson is a former Florida transfer while safety Antoine Winfield Jr. inherited the playmaking gene from his dad.
Additional Iowa Prospects
Nate Stanley is an intriguing quarterback prospect that shows good leadership traits along with touch and good ball placement on his short to intermediate throws. On defense the Hawkeyes routinely put out some good defensive backs and this year their top cornerback is Michael Ojemuida. Ojemuida has size and good ball production but he does tend to give up some big plays down the field. Against a talented Michigan receiving core, they’ll need their best out of Ojemuida. For Iowa they do have talent in the inside with tackles Cedrick Lattimore, Brady Reiff and Austin Schulte.
#10 Oklahoma Sooners at #13 Baylor Bears 6:30 CST on ABC
Best Prospect: Oklahoma receiver CeeDee Lamb
The best part of CeeDee Lamb’s game is his ability to go up and get the ball in the air. Lamb is able to do this because of his ability to adjust in the air and use his 6’2 frame to leap up and make catches. Whether it is spinning back on a back shoulder fade or twisting the other direction for an errant throw, Lamb showcases a good catching radius that allows him to make plays even when the situation isn’t perfect. When you pair that up with solid speed and good hands he has the ability to not only make splash plays but also help move the chains.
Best Prospect Battle: Oklahoma C Creed Humphrey vs Baylor DT Bravvion Roy
Not only is Creed Humphrey the top interior lineman in college football as a redshirt sophomore, he might just be the best lineman in the country. Humphrey isn’t going to wow you with athletic ability but Creed does have short area burst, size (6’5 315) and has a tremendous anchor. Quietly Humphrey is able to use his lateral agility to lock onto defenders and then swing his hips around to seal off defenders and then has the anchor to sit down and just hold his spot. Against Baylor he’ll see nose tackle Bravvion Roy on a down in and out basis. Roy isn’t much of a pass rusher but at 6’1 333 he is tightly compact who will hope to get underneath Humphrey and use his strength to get him off balance. A solid game of clogging up the running lanes could do wonders for Roy’s draft stock.
Additional Oklahoma Prospects
There was always talent with Jalen Hurts but from what we’ve seen at Alabama he was going to go down as a tremendous leader and a good college quarterback. But Lincoln Riley has worked his magic again and it looks as if Hurts could become the Sooners third straight first round quarterback. We all know that Lincoln Riley is tremendous at scheming up his offense and putting his players in the best chance to succeed and that is no better illustrated than tight end Grant Calcaterra who the Sooners utilize out of the slot and used to get in space over the middle of the field. Calcatera isn’t an explosive athlete but is a smooth mover who has a feel for soft areas in zone coverage and can catch everything in site. Defensively the Sooners are improved and a lot of it is because the play of defensive tackle Neville Gallimore and linebacker Kenneth Murray. Gallimore shows tremendous power at the point of attack and can use that to get into the backfield leading the Big 12 in pass rush win rate. At linebacker Murray is a tackling machine who had 155 tackles in 2018 and so far this season he’s been flying around the field and making plays laterally and in the backfield.
Additional Baylor Prospects
Under Art Briles the Bears put out a lot of receivers and while Matt Rhule’s team runs a different style of offense, they still have good receivers. The best one is Denzel Mims who has been a touchdown machine with 24 career scores so far. Mims has a prototypical skill set for a big receiver as he displays a good catching radius and the ability to go up and get the ball. But along with that Mims shows off his former track speed to get deep. In addtion to Mims the Bears also have Chris Platt who instead of the big physical Mims, Platt is a true speedster. On defense one linebacker Blake Lynch is an intriguing prospect who has played both safety and linebacker in his career showing good length and speed along with the ability to be physical with pass catchers. In today’s NFL you need versatile defenders and Lynch’s skill set is perfect for today’s linebackers.