CFB: Week 3 Player Matchups

Week 3 of the College Football season throws us some conference matchups and a host of tasty player-on-player battles. As always, we are here to give you a matchup to focus on during each TV slot Saturday. Starting with a heavyweight faceoff from Penn State vs. Illinois.

Olu Fashanu vs Jer'Zhen Newton

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Technically, it’s not a head-to-head we would usually highlight because Fashanu is a left tackle, and Newton projects as an interior defender. Still, of the 120 snaps Newton has played so far in 2023, 79 have come lined up over the tackle. Fortunately for us, there will be snaps where these two are matched up one-on-one.

Fashanu is one of the premier offensive tackles in this draft class (4th overall on Owain Jones’ recent top 50), quite astounding, considering he is only aged 20. He is yet to concede a pressure this year and has a pass-blocking grade of 90.0 through two games. He will be key to giving Drew Allar the time in the pocket needed to dismantle an Illinois defense that was shredded by Jalon Daniels and Kansas last week.

Newton will be keen to show he can go toe-to-toe with an elite talent like Fashanu. Newton has the power to trouble the young tackle and hopes to get into the backfield to slow down a rushing attack of Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen. They combined for 150 rushing yards and four touchdowns against Delaware last time. Newton and teammate Keith Randolph will have a stiff task to disrupt an offense that looks like it is kicking into gear.

Drake Maye vs Tyler Nubin

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Drake Maye has had a solid start to the 2023 season. While Caleb Williams still makes headlines with eye-catching plays, Maye has strung together two positive outings. Two interceptions against South Carolina slightly soured a good display from Maye and his team. The North Carolina QB has made plenty of NFL-worthy plays but must be wary this week vs Minnesota. 

The Tar Heels are 7.5-point favourites, and while I don’t think an upset is on the cards, Maye will have to have his eyes peeled for safety Tyler Nubin. Nubin plays mostly as a deep-lying safety, showing off his sideline-to-sideline ability. That athleticism means Maye will have to take risks when throwing the ball in his direction.

Nubin showed out in Week 1 against Nebraska with two interceptions and will be hoping for something similar at the weekend.

Montrell Johnson Jr. vs Aaron Beasley

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The Florida Gators’ season got off on the wrong foot with a loss to Utah. Transfer QB Graham Mertz had a steady outing according to the box score, but the tape showed he struggled to make the big plays needed to keep the offense on schedule. His limitations put pressure on the rushing attack to lead this group.

It’s a two-headed monster of Montrell Johnson and Trevor Etienne. The latter may have the greater potential, but as he is a sophomore, we will focus on Johnson. He leads the Gators with 125 rushing yards, all but 6 racked up against McNeese last week. Head Coach Billy Napier will look to match Johnson’s physicalness with Etienne’s speed to keep Tennessee on their toes.

Marshalling the Vols defense will be Aaron Beasley. He has tallied twelve tackles in two games, six of which were for a loss. Add to that two sacks and two passes defended, and his talent has been on full display. Now in his fourth year in Tennessee, he hopes to put together a resume fit for the next level. For an offense low on confidence like Florida, Beasley is a less-than-ideal opponent.

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