Some lesser known prospects face tough challenges this weekend while better known names have the opportunity to further prove they are heading north on draft boards. Here’s what scouts will be watching this weekend.
South Carolina vs Arkansas; the match-up that really matters. The media will be all over Jadeveon Clowney’s return to the field after last weeks hullabaloo. Scouts? Not so much. The match-up they will focus on is South Carolina’s surging left tackle Corey Robinson against the Razorbacks pass rushing team of Chris Smith and Trey Flowers. Everyone has a skin in this game as Robinson must prove he can handle the undersized speed rush of Smith and Flowers (as Jake Matthews did) while the Arkansas pair needs to display they can do more than run wide angles off the edge.
Is Zach Mettenberger for real? During podcasts and in written articles we’ve mentioned the improvement of Zach Mettenberger. He’s been more consistent this season and his decision making has improved immeasurably. Mettenberger played reasonably well against a tough TCU secondary during the first game of the season. He later sliced up Auburn, Georgia and Mississippi State, who pass defense numbers sit in the bottom half of the SEC. Tomorrow’s contest against Florida will tell scouts how far Mettenberger has come. Corner Louchiez Purifoy and corner/safety Jaylen Watkins have both played well at times this season. Then there’s Marcus Roberson, a player many consider Florida’s top cornerback. Roberson was on the sidelines the past month after suffering a knee injury against the Miami Hurricanes on September 7th, but is scheduled to return tomorrow.
Darqueze Dennard and Kurtis Drummond face their toughest test of the season. The Michigan State secondary could well possess two of the nation’s most underrated defensive backs. Dennard, a week six riser, is a shutdown corner with terrific ball skills while Drummond is a complete player at the safety position. This week they face the top passing attack in the Big Ten; Indiana. That’s right, Indiana. The Hoosiers air attack is averaging 346-yards per game and are lead by Cody Latimer and Kofi Hughes, a pair of big bodied receivers with NFL potential. The size advantage of the Hoosier wide outs pose a challenge for Dennard and Drummond but its something both will have to deal with at the next level.
Rashaad Reynolds/Oregon State: Another cornerback on the hot seat. The Beavs take on Washington State and their high powered passing offense, which averages almost 360-yards per game. True-sophomore Gabe Marks is the big play receiver for the Cougars, averaging almost seven receptions per game and totaling four touchdowns. It’ll be up to Reynolds, stamped as a mid-round choice entering the season, to stop him. There are a variety of opinions on Reynolds’ next level potential with criticisms ranging from he’s too slow and he can only play in zone. His ability to stop Marks man-to-man could quiet the critics or have them saying, “I told you so.”
Will the real Tom Savage please stand up? Savage produced a clunker in the opening game of the season against Florida State after not taking a snap for nearly three years. He then showed steady improvement the next two games, culminating in a 6 touchdown, 424-yard passing performance against Duke. During that two game streak his completion percentage hovered around 73%. Savage was awful in Pitt’s last game against a woeful Virginia defense, completing just 41.9% of his passes with two picks, as well as suffering a mild concussion. Now Savage and the Panthers face Virginia Tech, whose secondary is loaded with NFL prospects. The problem for Savage has not been inaccurate passing; his completion percentage sits just under 60% for the season. Rather interceptions have been his boogeyman this season as he’s thrown six picks in the teams four games. Cornerback Kyle Fuller (2 ints), safety Detrick Bonner (2 ints) and safety/rover Kyshoen Jarrett (2 ints) are just a few draft eligible prospects in the Hokie secondary who will feast on Savage if he makes any mistakes.