Weekend Prospect Battles

Top Prospect Game of the Week

 

Ohio State Buckeyes vs Michigan Wolverines

Thanksgiving weekend is always a treat because we see games Thursday, Friday and Saturday but dubbed Rivalry Week we see plenty of intense games with big time implications on the line. While we have plenty of games there isn’t many high profile match ups. But the biggest game of the weekend sees the Michigan Wolverines traveling to Ohio State to determine who wins the Big 10 East. While that alone is huge, this game also provides us with 25 total draftable prospects which is more than the LSU/Alabama game that we saw in week ten. Here is what to watch when each team has the ball.

 

When Ohio State Has the ball

 

Ohio State Offensive Prospects

#16 QB JT Barrett

#80 WR Noah Brown

#4 RB/WR Curtis Samuel

#65 C Pat Elflein

#54 RG Billy Price

 

Michigan Defensive Prospects

#96 DT Ryan Glasgow

#43 DE Chris Wormley

#33 DE Taco Charlton

#26 CB Jourdan Lewis

#5 S Jabrill Peppers

 

Michigan’s defense was good in 2015 but since hiring Don Brown from Boston College the Wolverines have gone from good to great leading the nation in average yards per game and points per game given up. However, they’ll be tested against the Ohio State spread attack that is 8th in rushing yards per game and 5th best scoring offense.

Even though the Buckeyes are a spread offense they employ a physical running game that wants to pound their opponents. The offensive line is led by C Pat Elflein and RG Bill Price who will have their hands full with DT Ryan Glasgow. This should be a fun match up because all three players thrive with their power and strength. While they may be able to neutralize Glasgow inside the Buckeyes young tackles will have to deal with both defensive ends Chris Wormley and Taco Charlton off the edge. Both ends have good size (6’5, 6’6 and 265, 303) which allows them to set the edge to force the ball back inside. If Ohio State is going to get their run game going they’re going to need to use misdirection and utilize their speed of RB/WR Curtis Samuel to get to the outside quick.

A big reason why the Buckeyes offense hasn’t been as explosive as previous years is because they’ve struggled to make opponents pay for loading up the box. Ohio State has a talented receiver in Noah Brown but Brown is more of a possession type receiver who is going to move the chains and be a redzone threat. Look for the Wolverines to match Brown with cornerback Jourdan Lewis from side to side to take him away. The big issue is Brown has at least four inches on Lewis and the ability to go up and win jump balls. Lewis does have quality ball skills and leaping ability and could really elevate his stock by shutting down Brown.

 

 

But the big X factor on this side of the ball is the talented Jabrill Peppers. Defensive coordinator Don Brown will move Peppers all over the field seeing time at nickel corner, linebacker and back at safety. Look for them to find a weakness with the Buckeyes defense and use Peppers explosive speed and playmaking ability to exploit it. Possibly spying Curtis Samuel as he moves from running back to wide receiver.

 

When Michigan has the ball

 

Michigan Offensive Prospects

#4 RB De’Veon Smith

#82 WR Amari Darboh

#86 WR Jehu Chesson

#88 TE Jake Butt

#71 LT Ben Braden

#52 C Mason Cole

#67 RG Kyle Kalis

#78 RT Erik Magnuson

 

Ohio State Defensive Prospects

#6 DE Sam Hubbard

#59 DE Tyquan Lewis

#11 DE Jalyn Holmes

#5 LB Raekwon McMillan

#35 LB Chris Worley

#8 CB Gareon Conley

#2 CB Marcus Lattimore

#24 SS Malik Hooker

 

Coming into this game the Michigan offense is the 11th best scoring offense averaging 42.3 points per game and do it with a balanced offense. That being said the Wolverines are a run based team and rely on a talented offensive line that uses their size and power to wear you down over the course of the game. The key match up here will be on the edge as the Michigan tackles Ben Braden and Erik Magnuson have to deal with the trio of Hubbard, Lewis and Holmes. All three Buckeye ends are big and athletic and will put pressure on the Wolverine tackles to move their feet and test their lateral agility and quickness.

 

Using the run to set up the pass sets up well for the Wolverines who have three top level receiving threats. At receiver they have the athletic Jehu Chesson who is a power runner who explodes in and out of breaks while Amari Darboah is more of the savvy route runner setting up defenders to create separation. But it’s tight end Jake Butt who might be the best providing the Wolverines with an athletic tight end to control the middle of the field. However, Ohio State has the athletes in the secondary to slow down the Wolverine pass catchers. At cornerback the combination of Lattimore and Conley give the Buckeyes who fast fluid corners who can stick with receivers in and out of breaks. This will force either Wilton Speight (if healthy) or John O’Korn to put the ball in coverage and hope his receivers can make plays. Getting the assignment of Butt likely falls onto strong safety Malik Hooker who has burst onto the scene in his first year as the starter. This will be a great opportunity for Hooker to prove he can be more than a run defender and back end safety and cover elite tight ends. Look for the Wolverines to target Butt early and often.

 

Individual Match Ups to Watch

 

Alabama LT Cam Robinson vs Auburn DE Carl Lawson

The gauntlet that Cam Robinson has had to go through this year is almost nearing an end but one of his toughest test will come this week in the Iron Bowl. Carl Lawson is one of the best pass rushers in this class using speed to beat tackles to the edge and then the tremendous bend to turn the corner and attack the quarterback. Robinson will have to be on his A game getting good depth but not putting himself off balance where Lawson and adjust and redirect quickly to beat Robinson inside. While Robinson is talented he has struggled at times against the top competition and could really use a big game here to get some positive momentum back on his side.

 

 

Indiana RG Dan Feeney vs Purdue DT Jake Replogle

While watching a Purdue vs Indiana game may seem like a punishment, especially with Michigan and Ohio State game during the same timeslot, this match up should cause you go DVR it. Feeney is a light footed guard that is able to move laterally to cut off defenders and seal them in the run game while stay in front during pass protection. He’ll have his hands full with Replogle who many may not be familiar with but he could easily go on Day 2 of the draft. Replogle has been a force in the run game with his ability to play with leverage and take on blocks clogging up running lanes, but his burst has allowed him to get penetration and be a capable pass rusher. With this game most talent evaluators put in to watch both players it will be important for them to make a big impact.

 

 

Virginia Tech TE Bucky Hodges vs Virginia S Quin Blanding

Another in state rivalry gives us a good tight end safety match up with two players that are slightly under the radar looking for one last chance to make an impact. Bucky Hodges is a tight end but he lines up exclusively as a slot receiver using his size and leaping ability to provide matchup problems against defensive backs. We will likely see safety Quin Blanding face off against Hodges on a regular basis. Coming in at 6’2 Blanding is a bigger safety and shouldn’t get bullied against the 6’6 Hodges while providing the quickness and speed to stay in his hip pocket. Both the tight end and safety positions are deep for the 2017 draft, so both players could use big games against each other to really stand out.

 

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