CFB Matchups: Big test for Kinnard in Georgia showdown
In what has been a topsy-turvy college football season so far, one thing has remained constant. Week in week out, the top prosepects continue to show why they are so valued by NFL scouts.
We take a look at the key matchups this week that could help raise the profile of some future NFL stars.
Darian Kinnard vs Adam Anderson/Nolan Smith
As these two unbeaten SEC teams face off this weekend, it is fair to say the matchup that NFL scouts most want to see likely won’t happen. Kentucky’s Darian Kinnard projects best as a guard at the next level. Had he faced Georgia’s Jordan Davis, one of the premier defensive tackles in the country, it would have been a great test. Instead, at right tackle Kinnard faces a very different task.
Georgia’s defense is aggressive and loaded. In Adam Anderson and Nolan Smith they have no shortage of talent to go after the quarterback. The pair have combined for seven sacks in five games and will be looking to nullify the threat of Will Levis. Anderson, in particular, is developing from a part-time pass rush specialist to key playmaker. That culminated in a season high 46 snaps vs Auburn, expect him to be a major player this weekend.
There will be no rest for Kinnard, when Anderson isn’t the threat it will be former 5-star recruit Nolan Smith. He has the speed and bend to come from the wide-9 position and test Kinnard’s athleticism.
While the passing game may dictate the final outcome, scouts will be paying attention to Kinnard in the run game. He is a mauler and if Kentucky are to make any gains against this defense it will likely come from backs Chris Rogriguez and Kavosiey Smoke. If Kinnard can dominate on that front, his stock will take a boost.
Obinna Eze vs Nik Bonitto
Coming into the season I tagged Isaiah Thomas as potentially the better pass rusher on the Oklahoma defense. Settling down to the Red River Rivalry this weekend and it’s fair to say Bonitto flashed enough to make me rethink. While slightly on the lighter side, Bonitto is an explosive stand up rusher.
He added 1.5 sacks against the Longhorns to bring his season tally to 4. Against TCU he will face off against the towering offensive tackle Obinna Eze. At 6’8 and 334lbs, Eze has the size profile to dominate defensive linemen. As a grad transfer from Memphis, Eze has settled into life as a Horned Frog with ease, recording a 85.3 pass blocking grade according to PFF.
Bonitto will test Eze’s ability to deal with explosive speed off the edge. With his size, NFL teams will be intrigued to see if he can cope with smaller, faster pass rushers. Where Eze should dominate is in the running game. TCU will need to get Zach Evans rolling at running back and the mauling style of Eze will play a big part. Oklahoma’s offense could be buoyed under the stewardship of Caleb Williams so finding a way to answer for TCU will be imperative.
Garrett Williams vs Justyn Ross
The bye week came at just the right time for the Clemson Tigers. It allows them to get wide receiver Justyn Ross back healthy and ready to go against Syracuse. Although playoff aspirations are dead, with the amount of talent the Tigers have onboard, this season is by no means over. Ross and co. need to continue to show they are NFL ready and turn things around quickly.
The offense averages only a smidge over 20 points per game which is relatively anaemic for a group loaded with highly touted recruits. While Ross is averaging over 10 yards per catch, it’s been an underwhelming start. His showing against NC State consisted of 77 yards and two TDs and he will be hoping that this matchup can bring him more success.
The secondary has been a strength of Syracuse’s defense in recent years. They boasted a bevvy of talent in the likes of Andre Cisco, Ifeatu Melinfonwu and Trill Williams last year. With all departing for the NFL it is a relatively fresh-faced group in 2021. The star is undoubtedly Garrett Williams. Having redshirted in 2019, Williams impressed as a freshman last year. He led the ACC in pass breakups and snagged a couple of picks to boot.
Williams had his struggles last week against Wake Forest and there will be no let-up against the imposing Ross. At only 6’0, it will be intriguing to see if Williams offers the physicality to compete with a receiver that has NFL size like Ross. Although inexperienced, a few big showings from Williams could mean he gets his head turned by the thought of going pro, this matchup will give him some gauge of his current standing.
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 stripehype.com