USC vs. Oregon State
Silas Redd and Tre Madden
USC head coach Ed Orgeron has brought back a little spark to this Trojans football program, which something we haven’t seen from USC since Pete Carroll left for the Seattle Seahawks coaching job.
With an inexperienced quarterback in Cody Kessler and with star WR Marqise Lee dealing with a knee sprain over the past couple of weeks, the Trojans are openly committed to the running game with senior RB Silas Redd and redshirt sophomore Tre Madden. Throughout 8 games, the USC running game is averaging 170 yards per game, which ranks No.65 in the nation.
Silas Redd (5’10, 200)
After missing the first 5 games of the season because of a knee injury sustained in spring practice, Redd has done an impressive job averaging four yards per carry. He’s a balanced running back that possesses great vision and above average feet. Redd excels in a west coast scheme and is a very aggressive runner that likes to run hard between the tackles without losing any momentum. In just three games, Redd has carried the ball 48 times for just under 200 yards. He figures to be a mid-round pick next year.
Tre Madden (6’1, 220)
On the other hand, Tre Madden emerged as the Trojans No.1 tailback while Silas Redd was sidelined. He’s a converted linebacker that possess a lot of versatility and good top-end speed along with great quickness to get to the edge. Madden will most likely stay for another year at least in order to get more reps and experience playing as a running back. He will likely share carries with Redd back in the mix, but I would expect him to get between 15 to 20 carries per game. So far, Madden has rushed for 671 yards, 3 rushing touchdowns and has caught 4 passing touchdowns.
Miami (#7) vs. Florida State (#3)
Lamarcus Joyner (5’8, 190)
This is one of the best matchups of the week and one I’ll certainly be watching. This game features CB Lamarcus Joyner who has really helped himself with an outstanding season thus far. Joyner is a versatile athlete who has played both safety and cornerback throughout his college career. However, this is season he’s back playing cornerback with Xavier Rhodes now playing for the Vikings.
Stephen Morris (6’2, 218)
This is a great opportunity for Stephen Morris to perform at a high level in a highly anticipated game. He started off pretty good this season, but ever since the Florida game in Week 2 he has been pretty disappointing overall. Inconsistency has been a big issue for him during this stretch. When pressured, he tends to abandon his footwork and throwing mechanics which results in bad and inconsistent throws down field. With that in mind, I would expect Morris’ struggles to continue against the dynamic Seminoles defense.
Despite his short size, Joyner really plays a lot bigger than he looks. He is really a complete player who has remarkable athleticism, speed, and is a great tackler. He’s projected to make an impact as a nickel corner in the NFL, but could wind up playing as a safety if needed.
Michigan (#21) vs. Michigan State (#22)
Darqueze Dennard (5’11, 197)
Darqueze Dennard happens to be one of the best cornerbacks in the country. This season, Dennard has displayed plenty of quickness and burst, along with some ball-hawking ability. He’s considered by a number of scouts to be a Day 1 draft pick. On Saturday, Dennard will attempt to solidify his status as one of the elite cornerbacks in this draft class, and what better way to do it than in a big rivalry game.
Devin Gardner (6’4, 210)
The Spartans defensive unit will face dual threat quarterback Devin Gardner. Gardner is a talented player, but unfortunately he hasn’t been able to translate that on the field on a consistent basis. He has a tendency to be extremely erratic, which has resulted in at least one turnover in every game. Gardner is only one of the few players in the nation to have double-digit interceptions (10) this. If Gardner wants to play at the next level, he may have to follow in the footsteps of former Wolverine QB Denard Robinson and change position. Gardner definitely has the frame to play either running back or wide receiver, but we’ll have to see if this is something he is willing to consider.
With the way Gardner plays, don’t be surprised if Dennard comes away with an interception this weekend.
Georgia vs. Florida
This is the other matchup I’m really excited to watch due to the NFL talent on both of these team’s roster. The Bulldogs and the Gators entered the season with high expectations and a real shot to play in a BCS bowl game, but unfortunately key injuries to both squads have really hampered their chances.
Loucheiz Purifoy (6’0, 190)
On Saturday, we’ll get a chance to see Loucheiz Purifoy, who is already considered to be first-round prospect by a number of scouts due to in a large part to his overall talent, athleticism, and production. Purifoy is without a doubt of the best cornerbacks in what is considered to be a very deep class of defensive backs. Purifoy has the ability to completely take away opposing wide receivers. He is really one of those players who the more you see, the more you like them, so if you haven’t had a chance to see him this is the perfect opportunity.
Aaron Murray (6’1, 208)
Purifoy and the Gators secondary will face a talented quarterback in Georgia’s Aaron Murray, who has had a very good season despite the injuries to the Bulldog offense. Murray best asset is his intangibles that a lot of quarterbacks would love to have, but he also has ability to make tight throws between 10 to 20 yards down the field.
Unfortunately for him, his lack of size and his limited arm strength are a big issue for his draft stock. There figures to be plenty of talk regarding his arm strength deficiencies throughout the draft process begins, as he currently projects to be a mid-to-late round.