We’ll be watching several important battles on the line of scrimmage in week four and more to the point edge rushers trying to get ariound pass protectors. Linebacker Jared Norris of Utah is also in the spotlight this weekend.
BYU vs Michigan
12PM EST ABC
Despite the fact he totaled just six sacks in the prior three years there is a feeling among some scouts Michigan pass rusher Mario Ojemudia warrants second day consideration.
Ojemudia is an explosive athlete who lines up at defensive end for the Wolverines but comes with linebacker size. And though he plays with terrific quickness and speed he’s yet to develop a complete game or prove to be anything other than a situational defender.
Saturday the Wolverines face the high powered BYU offense and Ojemudia squares off against Ryker Mathews.
Mathews, the talented but often disappointing left tackle for BYU, seems to have his game headed in the right direction. He possesses the size and underlying skill to play multiple positions on the offensive line but consistency has been an issue the past two years.
Its fair to say scouts feel this is an important game for both players.
Tennessee vs Florida
3:30PM EST CBS
What’s going on with Marquez North?
Expectations were high for the junior receiver entering the season but he’s fallen flat and has caught just four passes in the two games he’s played. And while North did suffer a knee injury during August camp recent word is he’s healthy which has some wondering why Tennessee has not been throwing in his direction.
North can quickly quell the concern against Florida.
The Gators come armed with one of the better secondary’s in college football including top rated safety Keanu Neal as well as cornerbacks Vernon Hargreaves and Brian Poole.
I took a lot of heat prior to the season for stating Hargreaves is overrated but have since heard from scouting insiders who tell me they are of the same opinion. They also agree with my assessment on Neal, who many believe is one of the best safeties in the nation.
Texas A&M vs Arkansas
7PM EST ESPN
Three games into the 2015 campaign and sophomore Myles Garrett is proving himself as one of the nation’s top pass rushers. The true sophomore has already posted 5.5 sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss and 5 quarterback hurries.
It will be up to a pair of underclassmen on the Arkansas offensive line to stop or at least slow down Garrett.
Both Denver Kirkland and Dan Skipper are names on underclassmen watch lists around the league. Kirkland is a wide bodied college left tackle whom I project to guard. He displays impressive strength but is easily exploited around the edge. Skipper looks more like an NBA center rather than a right tackle but blocks with excellent leverage, strength and technique. My hopes are we see a Garrett versus Skipper match-up on several occasions throughout the contest.
Utah vs Oregon
8:30PM EST Fox
Entering the season the Utes had seven seniors graded as draftable prospects by NFL scouts and linebacker Jared Norris topped the list. A week two riser after his ten tackle performance against Utah State, he offers great instincts, intensity and overall football ability.
I was impressed the way Norris defended against a Utah State offense that plays east/west. This week he’ll be challenged by one of the fastest and most explosive offenses in the nation.
The Duck offense instantaneously alters the course of games with speed and the ability to score from any point on the field. They make plays through the middle of the line or around the perimeter in space. This is a another big opportunity for Norris, who has some scouts believing he’ll be a second rounder next April.
There are two more match-ups I want to mention. A week ago I previewed receiver Tajae Sharpe of UMass and his match-up against Temple. Sharpe responded with 11 receptions for 156 yards. This week it gets a bit tougher for Sharpe and the Minutemen as they travel to Notre Dame. The talented defensive backs for the Irish are a great measuring stick for Sharpe.
Western Michigan tackle Willie Beavers was another MAC player I formerly mentioned. He held up relatively well against Michigan State and Shilique Calhoun. On Saturday the competition gets stiffer as Beavers most find a way to contain Ohio State’s Joey Bosa.