Connecticut’s Yawin Smallwood vs. No. 15 Michigan
Michigan’s high-powered offense presents a tough test for the underrated Yawin Smallwood. The Connecticut linebacker will have his hands full trying to contain explosive playmakers like Devin Gardner, Fitzgerald Toussaint and Jeremy Gallon. Smallwood’s toughest assignment will be keeping Gardner from making plays with his feet. The Michigan quarterback has shown in the past that he can change the outcome of a game by running the football.
Because he lacks great speed, Smallwood will need to rely on using proper angles and his top-notch instincts. It could be a really long day for the Connecticut defense if Smallwood isn’t able to raise his level of play.
Fresno State’s Derek Carr vs. Boise State
Derek Carr has had a nice start to the season and is looking to build on that momentum. This week’s game against Boise State offers him a chance to add another signature win to his resume. Getting a win on the road against Boise State isn’t an easy task. In order for Carr to be successful, he’ll need to make sound decisions in the face of pressure. Boise State’s DeMarcus Lawrence possesses the explosiveness, length and motor to make things tough for an opposing quarterback.
Carr’s tendency to force the ball when faced with pressure is one of his biggest problems.
Florida’s Dominique Easley vs. Tennessee’s Offensive Line
As Tony Pauline and I talked about during this week’s Draft Insider podcast, the Tennessee offensive line features at least four guys who can expect to get a look in NFL training camps. This talented group will helps us get a good look at the upside of Florida’s Dominique Easley. Easley has taken major steps forward each year while at Florida. He’s a versatile player who features the base to anchor against the run, strength to push the pocket and quickness to penetrate. Easley is one of the faster rising prospects at this point in the process and could make a bigger jump if he dominates on Saturday.
Utah State’s Chuckie Keeton vs. USC
Utah State’s Chuckie Keeton is a name everyone needs keep in their minds. He’s a highly athletic quarterback who also possesses good arm strength. Keeton and his Utah State teammates have a chance to shock a lot of people by upsetting USC. In fact, a win for Utah State shouldn’t be all that shocking. Their high-powered offense will score points and make it tough for USC to keep pace.
It’s important to note that Keeton isn’t just a running quarterback. He has excellent touch on his deep ball and will routinely go through his progressions. This could be a national coming out party for a very talented quarterback.
Clemson’s Tajh Boyd vs. North Carolina State
I’m sure Tajh Boyd is more worried about winning football games, but if he looks in the rear-view mirror he’ll see several quarterback prospects on his tail. He has several areas of his game that he must clean up to improve his draft stock. Boyd continues to be a one-read quarterback who is too quick to vacate the pocket if his first read is covered. He also struggles consistently delivering the ball with accuracy. Boyd has tremendous upside, but there are also other quarterback prospects in the same boat. He needs a few more strong performances to solidify his stock.