CFB: 3 Player Matchups to watch in Week 0

Week 0 is upon us once more. What better way to welcome the start of College Football than a game on this side of the Atlantic? Notre Dame will take on Navy in Dublin on Saturday but there are a few other notable matches as well. 

Here are three matchups across the weekend that draftniks and casual fans alike should keep an eye on.

Joe Alt v Jacob Busic

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Sam Hartman takes over at quarterback for Notre Dame to show the NFL he can be successful away from Wake Forest’s quirky slow mesh system. The protection he receives from his offensive line will be a significant factor in dictating that success.

At left tackle, he has a legitimate future first-round pick. Joe Alt is a converted tight end who regularly appears in the top half of mock drafts. Alt didn’t concede a sack last year and will not only protect Hartman’s blind side but open holes in the running game from Audric Estime and co. 

His first test will come against Navy in Dublin. The disadvantage that the service academies tend to have is that their players often struggle having the physique that allows them to be elite football players and endure the rigours of military training. 

Defensive end Jacob Busic will be at an immediate disadvantage to Alt in terms of sheer bulk and length. Mind you, so will most, considering Alt is a mammoth 6’8. Busic was second in sacks for Navy last year, with six and chalked up two forced fumbles. This will likely be his biggest test of the season, trying to force pressures against a stud like Alt.

Mario Williams v Tre Jenkins

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This weekend gives us our first glimpse of USC and their electric offense starring Caleb Williams. They will be expecting a relatively straightforward afternoon against San Jose State. One of the most intriguing factors about the Trojans’ offense is their stacked depth chart at receiver.

Brenden Rice and Dorian Singer will play on the outside with Mario Williams, who transferred from Oklahoma at the same time as namesake Caleb, manning the slot. He is twitchy and elusive and will undoubtedly provide a massive test for the San Jose State secondary.

The leader of that group will likely be Tre Jenkins. The free safety is on the Shrine Bowl watchlist and contributed 2 interceptions and 6 pass breakups in 2022. His job will be to ensure Williams and his backup, the lightning-fast freshman, Zach Branch don’t take the top off the defense for home run plays.

Will Sheppard v Cam Stone

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Will Sheppard was one of my favourite off-season watches. The 6’3 receiver has a good turn of foot, good body control and solid hands. Seeing his relationship with sophomore QB AJ Swann develop this season will be enjoyable. 

Now in his fourth season as a Commodore, Sheppard will be hoping to break the 1,000 receiving yards mark. Doing so would certainly pique the interest of NFL scouts. In this game last season Sheppard was relatively quiet yardage-wise but did nab two touchdowns in a 63-10 rout.

With the result likely to be similar, watching the key 1-on-1 matchups will offer the most intrigue. Looking to keep Sheppard quiet will be Wyoming transfer Cam Stone. The Texas native was an honourable mention in the All-Moutain West selection last year and has been added to the Thorpe Award watchlist for 2023.

Stone will have to battle hard to overcome the four inches he gives away in height to Sheppard but a good showing would be impressive to national scouts against a top SEC receiver.

Mock Draft

Rory-Joe Daniels

Cfb contributor

formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at