CFB Week 3: Player Matchup Preview
We still have a week to go until the big boys of the SEC join the fray of college football. That means Week 3 lacks the pizazz of the fothcoming weeks but their is still some handy matchups. Let’s start with the Saturday night headliner, where two exciting QBs face off.
Micale Cunningham v D'Eriq King
In what looks set to be the most entertaining game of the weekend, two of college football’s most exciting Quarterbacks will face off.
D’Eriq King needed time to settle in having transferred from Houston to Miami this offseason. The 5’11 signal caller is a ball of energy in the backfield. Able to scramble and break loose in the tightest of spots, King is arguably the most dynamic prospect at the position. With that he also has a legitimate deep ball. Despite his arm looking off radar early on vs UAB he began to form a strong connection with TE Brevin Jordan in the second half. Whatever the result you can expect fireworks from King.
While there is a size discrepancy between King and Louisville’s Micale Cunningham, there isn’t a talent one. Cunningham is a dual threat QB who thrives off play action. He has the arm talent to make all the throws even when shifted off platform. With Jamie Newman ‘opting out’ before proving himself at Georgia, there could be an opportunity for Cunningham to leapfrog him in the Quarterback standings. Expect him to be on his skates on Saturday with Miami’s pass rush of Quincy Roche and Jaelen Phillips.
Joe Wilkins Jr v KJ Sails
Coming into the 2020 season there appeared to be a dearth of receiving options for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Chase Claypool and Cole Kmet led the team in receiving last year and both answered the call from the NFL. Ben Skowrenok was seen as the imported saviour, a transfer from Northwestern. Having tweaked his hamstring in the opener, it was backup Joe Wilikins Jr who took on the mantle. Arriving in South Bend as a defensive back, Wilkins has had limited opportunities up to press. He looked assured with his 4 receptions for 44 yards against Duke last week but will face a sterner test against USF’s KJ Sails.
Sails returned to his roots last year transferring from North Carolina back to his native Florida. He made a great start to his Bulls career with 3 interceptions, 9 pass deflections and two forced fumbles. Sails earned a PFF coverage grade of 82.1 in 2019 and will look to build on that this year. It looks likely to be a long night for South Florida but it should be worth tuning in to see if Sails and the secondary can pose some questions of Notre Dame QB Ian Book.
Otis Anderson v Juanyeh Thomas
Otis Anderson is the kind of dynamic threat that NFL teams will enjoy watching. Not only is Anderson a strong running back but he can split out wide as a threat in the receiving game. While Dillon Gabriel will get the headlines on this offense, it is the running back duo of Anderson and Bentavious Thompson that lay the groundwork for success. As a runner, Anderson is patient to allow blocks to develop with top shelf acceleration to hit gaps and get skinny.
In order to stop Anderson, Georgia Tech could deploy Juanyeh Thomas. He is a do-it-all safety, as comfortable in deep coverage as he is coming downhill to tackle. Thomas’ athleticism stands out on the tape. That shouldn’t be a surprise considering he has a highlights tape dedicated only to his ability as a kick returner. His closing speed to the tackle point is impressive and he can quickly sift through the traffic to locate the ball carrier. Thomas could be asked to line up in the box early to quash the running threat of Anderson but will also play a part in tracking the receiving routes of the running back.
Marquez Stevenson v Raleigh Texada
Stevenson led the Houston Cougars in receiving yards for the 2019 season, contributing 907 yards and nine touchdowns.His number one asset is his speed which makes him a moveable chess piece in the offense. Effective on screens, end arounds and simply as a pure deep threat, he will be the key piece that Baylor needs to slow down in the day’s early kickoff.
Trying to come up with an answer will be an experienced head in Baylor coach Dave Aranda. Before arriving in Waco, Aranda was in charge of one of college’s stingiest defenses at LSU and looks to bring that fire to the Bears. Aranda has been particularly effective in developing cornerbacks who have enjoyed success in the NFL.
Fifth year senior Raleigh Texada could be his next project. The fifth year senior is an excellent cover corner whose speed allows him to hang with most opposition. Stevenson will test that and Texada will need to prove his tackling ability to stop Stevenson from gaining yards after the catch.
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