Florida at Miami
Stephen Morris (6’2, 215)
Miami Hurricanes QB Stephen Morris is one of the most talented and gifted players in the country. After two years of bowl ineligibility, the Miami squad possess one of the most complete and explosive offensive units in the college game. Morris has already generated some early buzz due to his decision-making, velocity in the passing game and his strong arm.
Even though Florida has come to be known for their defense in recent years, they do have tendency to put forth some inconsistent efforts from time to time. Look for Morris to make a statement against one of the best defensive lines in the country that boasts DL Dominique Easley.
With such a quality opponent, you can bet NFL scouts will have Morris under the spotlight throughout the game. The Canes will try to give Morris every advantage they can, so which means you could see some play action and screen plays with Duke Johnson as the game goes on. This is a game Morris can use to pad his draft stock.
Loucheiz Purifoy (6’0, 190)
After serving his one game suspension in Week 1 against Toledo, Loucheiz Purifoy returns in time for a big matchup against an in-state rival. Purifoy is an explosive and extremely versatile player that has the ability to make big plays on offense, defense and special teams.
Purifroy and his teammates will try to stop Miami’s newly revamped offense. The Hurricanes have a new offensive coordinator in James Coley who spent the last three seasons with Florida State as Coach Jimbo Fisher’s offensive planner.
Oregon at Virginia
Marcus Mariota (6’4, 211)
Marcus Mariota, a redshirt sophomore, happens to be one of my favorite players to watch. He possesses great instincts, athleticism as well as the kind of intangibles every NFL team looks for.
This will be the first time Oregon will play against Virginia. The Cavaliers won a nerve-wracking game against BYU in Week 1, as they were held to just 19 point by the Cougars defense. Virginia was very fortunate to come out of that game with a win because they were totally dominated in terms of total yardage (362-223).
Mariota will have no problems handling the Virginia defense and making every opportunity count. It’s worth noting that Mariota had somewhat of a shaky performance of his own in Week 1 after he completed just 12 of 24 passes against a lower-tier Nicholls.
Mariota will need to shake off the rust now that they’re up against much better opponent this weekend.
San Jose State at Stanford
David Fales (6’3, 220)
After serving as Colin Kaepernick backup at Nevada in 2009, David Fales transferred to San Jose State. As a Junior he led the Spartans to a remarkable season in which he completed 72. 5 percent of his passes while leading them to a 11-2 record.
It’s noteworthy that Fales made headlines over the summer for winning the accuracy contest at the Manning Passing Academy. While everyone will have their eyes focused on the Stanford defense, this could to be the perfect opportunity for Fales to generate some buzz and improve his draft stock.
Shayne Skov (6’3, 244)
Shayne Skov is considered to be one most of the pro-ready linebackers in the entire nation. Skov is both a defensive captain and a vocal leader in the team’s locker room. He’s also a solid linebacker who has good sideline-to-sideline speed and excels in the up-tempo game. Skov’s production has been limited by a left knee injury, which cost him most of the 2011 season. He has declared himself to 100 percent healthy heading into the season.
Keep an eye on Fales, as he will try to move the ball around and occasionally will try to create opportunities with the deep ball. We will probably see a high scoring game if the Cardinals defense can’t disrupt Fales and the Spartans offense.
South Carolina at Georgia
Jadeveon Clowney (6’6, 274)
Jadeveon Clowney is a must-watch player every week because of obvious reasons. He clearly doesn’t need any more hype, so I’ll try to focus on why this is a more important matchup for him than last weekend’s game against North Carolina.
Clowney didn’t exactly have a bad game against the Tar Heels as he was able to put some pressure on Bryn Reener, but he clearly took some plays off and appeared to be out of gas at times. Reports indicated that Clowney was really sick last week, which may have impacted his overall play. With the crazy amount of buzz surrounding him this season, it’s as though anything less than a phenomenal performance will result scrutiny, whether it’s fair or not.
This weekend, Clowney will be up against a Georgia offense led by QB Aaron Murray who’s coming off of a tough loss to Clemson in Week 1. Murray is at his best when the running game is working, as he tends to execute the play action to perfection. It’s worth noting that Murray record against ranked teams is 3-12 with a TD-INT ratio of 1.43 compared to a 4.5 ratio against unranked teams. Clowney’s ability to get to the quarterback and disrupt plays in the backfield could easily give the Gamecocks a decided advantage in this game.
I really anticipate a long day for the Bulldogs offensive line as they don’t have a tackle who is capable of matching up Clowney coming off of the edge.
Notre Dame at Michigan
Louis Nix III (6’3, 342)
Louis Nix III is one of the most talented prospects in this year draft class and a potential Top 10 pick. If fact, he was probably the only player who stood out during the Fighting Irish loss to Alabama last year.
He’s a player who’s capable playing either NT or DT because he has the ability to not only anchor a defensive line, but also collapse the pocket with an interior pass rush.
Nix III will have a decent test this weekend against a Michigan offense that scored 59 points in Week 1. While the Wolverines scored plenty of points last weekend, their interior of the offensive line struggled repeatedly throughout the game. Nix III will be up against redshirt sophomore Jack Miller, so look for him to constantly pressure Devin Gardner up the middle throughout the game.
It will be interesting to see if Michigan employs an up-tempo offense as well as some screen plays to take advantage of Nix III aggressiveness. This could end up being one of the games NFL scouts revisit during the draft process when reevaluating Nix III.
Taylor Lewan (6’8, 309)
Taylor Lewan was considered to be one of the most coveted offensive tackles in the country last season, but he surprisingly declined to enter to the 2013 NFL Draft. As a result, Lewan subjects himself to even more criticism. When you’re considered to be a top-ten pick, there’s really not much you can do to improve upon your draft stock, especially when you play a position that doesn’t involve handling the ball.
With that being said, Lewan does have incredible athleticism and his above average blocking ability, so it won’t take too much for him to be back in the discussion for a top-ten pick next April.
Lewan will have probably the toughest matchup he’ll see all season, as he’ll be asked to contain one of the most dominant pass rushing duos in the game in Stephon Tuitt and Prince Shembo.
This is one of the dream matchups for Tuitt because a quality game against Lewan could be enough to give his draft stock a huge boast. Lewan likely has the edge because even though Tuitt is incredibly talented, he’s still very raw and tends to play way too high for a defensive end.
Without a doubt this will be a matchup I’ll be looking monitoring closely on Saturday.
Texas at BYU
Cody Hoffman (6’3, 215)
After missing the season opener against Virginia due to a hamstring injury, Cody Hoffman will try to solidify his status as one of the top wide receivers in the country.
Hoffman squares off against a solid Texas defense that held New Mexico State to just 7 points in Week 1. All indications are that Manny Diaz’s defensive scheme is finally clicking, as he enters to his third season in Austin. With former teammate Kenny Vaccaro now in the NFL, CB Carrington Byndom is the leader of the Longhorns secondary. Byndum is a very quick cornerback that has a tendency to jump routes. Hoffman had the edge in this matchup because of his physicality combined with Byndom ‘s lack of strength and poor tackling ability.
In order to propel the upset, Cougars QB Taysom Hill needs to put the ball in Hoffman’s hands as often as possible. While Hoffman isn’t exactly a big-play threat, his body control, physicality and ability to make plays after the catch makes him one of the most fascinating players to watch.