New Year’s Eve Bowl Scouting Guide

December 30, 2016

cfapb-logo#4 Washington Huskies 12-1 vs #1 Alabama Crimson Tide (13-0)
2:00 CST on ESPN

Washington Prospects
#1 WR John Ross
#15 TE Darrell Daniels
#52 LG Jake Eldrenkamp
#50 DE Vita Vea
#11 DE Elijah Qualls
#28 LB Psalm Wooching
#26 CB Sidney Jones
#20 CB Kevin King
#32 FS Budda Baker

Alabama Prospects
#13 WR ArDarius Stewart
#88 TE OJ Howard
#74 LT Cam Robinson
#93 DE Jonathan Allen
#54 DE Dalvin Tomlinson
#56 OLB Tim Williams
#22 OLB Ryan Anderson
#10 LB Ruben Foster
#26 CB Marlon Humphrey

The first game of the college football playoff sees the behemoth that is Alabama against a Washington team that has plenty of talent itself but is looking to pull off a big upset. To do so the Washington offense is going to need to play mistake free (good luck vs this defense) and get dynamic receiver John Ross the ball down the field. Ross may lack size but plays much bigger than his listed 5’11 height. Ross has explosive speed and can really take the top off a defense. Look for the Crimson Tide top put potential top overall cornerback Marlon Humphrey on him and try and press him at the line to throw off the timing while sophomore Minkah Fitzpatrick over the top to bracket him in.

While it’s running the ball with sophomore back Myles Gaskins or throwing the ball to John Ross the young Husky offensive line will have to try and contain the talented Crimson Tide front seven that is beyond talented. Defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson is a good run stuffer while end Jonathan Allen uses speed and athletic ability to flat out make plays. Outside linebacker Tim Williams is a speed rusher off the edge while Ryan Anderson can still get after the quarterback but he’s a much better run defender. But keep an eye on inside linebacker Ruben Foster is a do everything linebacker who can run and hit and even drop into coverage.

While Alabama’s offense can be explosive at times, they’ve also struggled against good defenses like LSU and Florida before their defense made a big play and then were finally able to wear down the defense. As long as Nick Saban is Alabama’s coach the Crimson Tide are going to be a run first team looking to pound on defenses. The problem is Washington’s defensive line is equipped to bang with Alabama’s big offensive line and plug up the run game. While they both play defensive end both Elijah Qualls and Vita Vea both are over 320lbs and can stuff the run like run stuffing nose tackles. But what makes both players unique is they are much more than run stuffers providing good lateral agility and burst to not just clog up lanes but to shed blocks and chase down running backs.

One of the biggest reasons Alabama is able to rack up points in a hurry is freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts making plays outside of the pocket and driving the ball downfield to sophomore Calvin Ridley and Ardarius Stewart. While the Husky defense doesn’t have Joe Mathias to rush off the edge they will look to keep Hurts in the pocket and let their elite secondary make plays. Washington has two talented cornerbacks in Kevin King and Sidney Jones. Jones is the do it all corner who has elite ball skills while Kevin King is big and physical but can also run and use his length to break up passes.

untitled3-660x400#2 Clemson Tigers (12-1) vs #3 Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1)
6:00 CST on ESPN

Clemson Prospects
#4 QB Deshaun Watson
#9 RB Wayne Gallman
#7 WR Mike Williams
#3 WR Artavis Scott
#16 TE Jordan Leggett
#57 C Jay Guillermo
#94 DT Carlos Watkins
#10 LB Ben Boulware
#25 CB Cordrea Tankersly
#18 SS Jadar Johnson

Ohio State Prospects
#4 RB/WR Curtis Samuel
#80 WR Noah Brown
#65 C Pat Elfein
#6 DE Sam Hubbard
#59 DE Tyquan Lewis
#5 LB Raekwon McMilan
#35 LB Chris Worley
#8 CB Gareon Conley
#2 CB Marcus Lattimore
#24 SS Malik Hooker

The best match up of this game has to be the Clemson pass catchers against the Buckeye secondary. Clemson brings in a talented group that is headlined by Mike Williams who is not only a potential top 10 pick but also the best receiver in the 2017 class. His size, body control and aggressiveness allow him to dominate cornerbacks at the catch point. Joining him are speedster Artavis Scott and the smooth running tight end Jordan Leggett who give like first round quarterback Deshaun lots of weapons to choose from. But the Tiger weapons won’t have it easy as Ohio State brings in two top tier cornerbacks in Lattimore and Conley who are fast and fluid allowing them to stick with receivers in and out of breaks. Not to mention safety Malik Hooker who is a turnover machine which could spell trouble for Watson whose thrown 15 interceptions on the season. Watson needs to be aggressive, but the Buckeyes will be giving him small windows to make his throws.

While the passing game match ups are great the running game should allow us to see how good the Buckeye linebackers are playing against a big speed back in a spread offense. Clemson wants to get running back Wayne Gallman running up field and putting stress on the linebackers and safeties to make plays in space. But when they focus too much there that’s when Watson and the zone read game will come in. It’s imperative for Buckeye linebackers Raekwon McMilan and Chris Worley to show good gap discipline and not get sealed off against the Clemson offensive line.

With the Tiger offense likely to be putting up points in a moment’s notice, Ohio State’s offense will not only need to control the clock but still put up points. Their biggest strength is their power rushing attack out of their spread offense. While they’ll pound the rock it’s when the explosive “H-back” Curtis Samuel gets in the game where they make their biggest plays. Look for Clemson is likely going to sell out to stop the run and load up the box which means Ohio State needs a big game out of their receivers to punish Clemson for playing man across the board. While Curtis Samuel has provided a deep threat at times it’s Noah Brown that needs to step up the most. At times Brown has looked like an elite first round talent and being a similar talent to Mike Williams. However, those instances are too few and far between. Brown likely gets a heavy dose of Cordrea Tankersley who has the size and physicality to press Brown and give him fits at the catch point.

bww-citrus-bowl_logo_rgb_outlineLSU Tigers (7-4) vs Louisville Cardinals (9-3)
10:00 am CST on ABC

LSU Prospects
#83 WR Travin Dural
#15 WR Malachi Dupre
#81 TE Colin Jeter
#77 C Ethan Pocic
#92 DE Lewis Neal
#57 DT Davon Godchaux
#46 OLB Tashawn Bower
#40 LB Duke Riley
#52 LB Kendell Beckwith
#18 CB Tre’Davious White
#13 DB Dwayne Thomas
#33 SS Jamal Adams

Louisville Prospects
#23 RB Brandon Radcliff
#2 WR Jamari Staples
#17 WR James Quick
#18 TE Cole Hikutini
#61 C Tobijah Hughley
#97 NT DeAngelo Brown
#55 LB Keith Kelsey
#92 OLB Devonte Fields
#25 S Josh Harvey-Clemons

It’s not that long ago that these two teams looked like they could be matching up in the college football playoff but instead are settling for a second tier bowl game. But that doesn’t take away from the significant amount of talent that is in this game and all the different prospect battles.

While this game takes a little hit with Leonard Fournette not playing, his backup Derrius Guice is only a minor step down from Fournette and will really stress the Louisville front seven. This should give Cardinal nose tackle DeAngelo Brown to clog up lanes and then linebacker Keith Kelsey the chance to show his ability to come down and knife through traffic to make tackles in the backfield.

With all that said what will be the most exciting is watching Louisville sophomore quarterback and Heisman winner Lamar Jackson work against easily the most NFL Draft rich defense in college football. Whenever Jackson goes to drop back he’s going to have a plethora of Tiger defenders looking to attack him. Whether it’s the first step explosiveness of defensive tackle Davon Godchaux, the power of defensive end Lewis Neal or even the freakish athletic ability of sophomore Arden Key it is going to be hard for Jackson to have many clean pockets to throw to.

Even if Jackson has time to throw he’s going to have to deal with “DB U” making plays against the Cardinals pass catchers. Jamari Staples and James Quick are likely day three receivers but they’ll be going against potential first round cornerback Tre’Davious White who has explosive quickness and is fearless attacking the ball in the air. Tight end Cole Hikutini gives Louisville a weapon in the middle of the field but he’ll have to contend with Jamal Adams who is likely a top ten pick and a fearsome hitter. Louisville’s offense struggled to end the regular season and could be entering a buzz saw here.

logo1Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (8-4) vs Kentucky Wildcats (7-5)
10:00 CST on ESPN

Georgia Tech Prospects
#58 C Freddie Burden
#92 DT Francis Kallon
#91 DT Patrick Gamble

Kentucky Prospects
#18 RB Stanley Williams
#72 C Jon Toth
#94 DE Courtney Miggins

While the LSU and Louisville game is likely going to get most people’s attention this morning the Taxslayer Bowl is not without a decent prospect battle. Kentucky finally made it to a bowl game in what seems like for ages but does have a couple of quality prospects. But the best one in this game is the Wildcats center Jon Toth who is an above average athlete for a center who understands how to use leverage to open up holes in the run game and has enough lateral agility to slide and cut off defensive tackles. While Georgia Tech doesn’t have another Adam Gostis (2nd round pick in 2016) they do have two draftable prospects in Kallon and Gamble. The game may be exciting but if you do tune in, make sure to watch the trenches to see one of the better centers in the 2017 draft.

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