CFB Week 2: Player Matchup Preview
Week 1 is behind us and having got a glimpse at the prospective 2020 NFL Draft class we have found five more matchups for this weekend. There is a bevy of quality games and we start with the big one, Saturday night’s heavyweight clash between LSU and Texas.
Kristian Fulton vs Collin Johnson
Kristian Fulton’s college career has been somewhat rocky. Having served a one year ban in his sophomore season for using someone else’s urine sample during a drug test, he has become a fantastic asset in the LSU secondary. The Tigers have an unparalleled record in churning out high end defensive backs:- Tre’Davious White, Greedy Williams, Jamal Adams to name a few. Fulton appears to be the next off the production line.
Lining up across the field will be the 6’6 Collin Johnson. He will ask several questions of Fulton. Johnson has a huge wingspan and the ability to pluck the ball out of the air at will. Despite his frame he does have good speed. Johnson must show scouts he is more than a physical, jump ball specialist. NFL teams are seemingly dropping that type of receiver down their rankings. Hakeem Butler had similar hype but NFL interest didn’t reflect draft media’s thoughts and he eventually dropped to the fourth round. Johnson needs to prove he is a better rounded prospect and doing so against Fulton would be impressive.
Kellen Mond vs Isaiah Simmons
Buzz is building with Texas A&M and they could cause an upset or two this year. However, it would be asking a lot for them to overturn the National Champions in week 2. A big part of their success will rest on the shoulders of Kellen Mond. Texas State wasn’t the stiffest of tasks for Mond but he did everything that was expected of him. He has talented receivers around him and if he can produce on a consistent basis he could be a surprise prospect to rise up draft boards. Think Dak Prescott at Mississippi State, it isn’t beyond Mond to have a similar career arc.
One of the hurdles Mond will face on Saturday is the fulcrum of Clemson’s defence Isaiah Simmons. A hybrid safety/linebacker prospect, Simmons is the kind of player the NFL is on the hunt for. Physical in the tackle and fleet of foot to be strong in coverage he is beginning to garner serious interest from scouts. Having a moving chess piece like Simmons causes untold amount of problems for opposition QBs. Mond will have to figure out where Simmons is and the role he is playing on a down-by-down basis. It should make for an intriguing watch.
Tyler Vaughns vs Paulson Adebo
USC’s offense suffered a major blow in Week 1 with QB JT Daniels suffering a season-ending knee injury. Kedon Slovis, the true freshman, will step in and he will need all the help he can get from his receivers. Fortunately it is an experienced group, one that was led in Week 1 by Tyler Vaughns. Despite not pulling in any TDs he caught 11 passes for 150 yards. It wasn’t all positive for the receiver, he had a few drops. Now he is firmly in scout’s sights, he must tighten up his game.
Vaughns may face his most serious test of the season when the Trojans take on Stanford this weekend. Paulson Adebo fits the athletic profile teams at the next level will look for. He is quick with plenty of smarts and showcased his ability to make plays this weekend, snaffling a pick vs Northwestern. Adebo is sticky in man coverage and physical in press. Stanford have moved him around the formation in order to keep him engaged, as too often teams simply avoid throwing in his direction. Slovis could face a baptism of fire if he decides to test Adebo out.
Michael Warren II vs Malik Harrison
Michael Warren is a big, bowling ball type running back. Opening week wasn’t the dominant display he would have hoped for, sub-100 yards and only 3.5 yards per carry. Warren was overshadowed by the promise displayed by his Quarterback Desmond Ridder. A more complete offensive game could benefit Warren in the long run. Forcing teams to drop more bodies into coverage and freeing up space in the box. Ohio State will be a tough day for the Bearcats and the running game may struggle against a talented Buckeye defense. However, Warren’s tackle-busting style always means there is a chance for him to break off a big one.
Facing him down will be Buckeye linebacker Malik Harrison. Harrison and Cincinnati Head Coach Luke Fickell have an interesting background, highlighted in a recent article on The Athletic. It was Fickell, then a Buckeye coach, who banged the table to bring Harrison to Ohio State and make him a linebacker. That decision has paid off for both sides. Five tackles, 2 for loss and a sack in his opening game as a Senior highlighted his speed and danger to running backs and QBs alike. His range is surprising for a 6’3, 240lb linebacker but it his tackling that should make for a good watch vs the physical Michael Warren.
Tarik Black vs Elijah Riley
Tarik Black’s story featured heavily on Amazon Prime’s All or Nothing series that featured the Michigan Wolverines. It was a deflating break of the left foot that prevented him from being part of a dangerous receiving trio. He, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins remain one of the best corps in the country. Breaking his right foot in 2018 meant it was another three game season for Black so staying healthy has to be the priority. He kicked off 2019 with 4 receptions, 80 yards and a TD, but once again suffered injury issues with cramps. When healthy, he is an explosive outside threat and will undoubtedly be one of Shea Patterson’s key weapons.
In order to stop Black, Army will more than likely deploy their number one cornerback Elijah Riley. He featured on our earlier piece of Players to Watch in 2019 and the Wolverines offer the perfect opportunity for him to showcase his talents. As always for premier cornerbacks the difficulty will be finding the ball. Opposing QBs will seek to avoid Riley’s side of the field, part of the reason for his low interception count. Army could choose to move Riley around to help confuse Michigan’s Shea Patterson and ultimately get the big upset they crave, having missed out by a hair’s breadth last year vs Oklahoma.
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