CFB Week 4: Player Matchup Preview
All eyes will be on the late kickoff on Saturday night in the world of college football. Two heavy hitters meet as the Georgia Bulldogs clash with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. We pick out a significant battle from that one along with four other matchups to keep an eye on while enjoying a good-looking slate of games over the weekend.
Andrew Thomas vs Julian Okwara
The last time an offensive lineman was selected in the top 5 of the NFL Draft was 2015, when Brandon Scherff was drafted by the Washington Redskins. One man that could make that happen again is Georgia tackle Andrew Thomas. He will face a tough task on Saturday vs the pass rush of Notre Dame. They feature two excellent defensive ends, Khalid Kareem and Julian Okwara. It is Okwara’s length and speed off the edge that could pose the biggest challenge for the Bulldogs left tackle. Thomas shows surprising athleticism for a man of his size and watching two potential top-20 picks go head-to-head will be fascinating.
Notre Dame know Georgia will be keen to run the ball which could leave gaps for Jake Fromm to exploit as they load up in the box. It will be vital for Thomas to help create a clean pocket if Georgia are to continue their quest for the SEC title. Okwara will view a few pressures and a sack vs Thomas as a victory.
Jonathan Taylor vs Josh Ross
Having broke through 2000 all-purpose yards in his first two seasons at Wisconsin it is easy to take how special Jonathan Taylor really is for granted. As new names crop up in the race to be running back number one come draft day, Taylor can count himself unfortunate to not get the headlines like D’Andre Swift and Travis Etienne. The Badgers offense runs through Taylor’s all-round game, speed to burn and physical enough to bounce off tackles. Stopping the running back will be key to Michigan as they seek to stay in the Big 10 race.
Expecting the Wolverines to perform as well as last year is slightly unfair, particularly on defense. They lost a host of elite defenders, Chase Winovich, Rashan Gary and Devin Bush were all team leaders. Stepping in to replace Bush at middle linebacker is junior Josh Ross. Ross had already accounted for 9 tackles before he left the most recent game vs Army with a stinger. It will be a stiff task for him to kerb Taylor’s production but the matchup gives him a chance to impress scouts and keep the Wolverines playoff hopes alive.
Kendrick Rogers vs Noah Igbinoghene
Our very own Josh Edwards pegged the Texas A&M vs Auburn matchup as a low-scoring affair in his most recent preview piece. Two strong defenses with plenty of talent mean that the game could come down to one or two big plays. For Texas A&M they will look to their three big time receivers to produce something special. Wide receiver Kendrick Rogers will offer a unique challenge for Tigers’ cornerback Noah Igbinoghene.
His 6’4 frame means he has a huge catch radius and the ability to win in contested situations. Igbinoghene comes in at under 6’0 and his game relies on his speed. This contest will ask questions of a different part of his game and show how close to a rounded prospect he really is. Even if Rogers moves around the field, there won’t be much respite for the Auburn secondary with Quartney Davis and Jhamon Ausbon being equally rangy receivers for the Aggies.
James Proche vs Jeff Gladney
James Proche emerged from out of the shadows of two talented receivers to be SMU’s leading receiver in 2018. Having been behind Trey Quinn and Courtland Sutton in the pecking order, the pair departed for the NFL and Proche ensured there was no drop off in production. He contributed just less than 1200 receiving yards and has started in a similar vein this year. The undersized receiver projects as a slot guy at the next level but faces off against a top level cornerback this week in TCU’s Jeff Gladney.
Gladney posted a 90.2 PFF grade in 2018 and showed up on Bruce Feldman’s ‘Freak List’. Proche will have to find a way to shake off Gladney’s blanket coverage which won’t be easy due to the speed the Texas Christian defensive back possesses. If Gladney builds on his production last year we could be looking at a rising star. His performance against a proven commodity like Proche will be important to note.
Mo Barry vs Reggie Corbin
Reggie Corbin needs to prove that his 2018 season wasn’t an outlier. The speed back rushed for over 1000 yards as Illinois endured a disappointing 4-8 season. The offense was based around the running game but it will likely be a more balanced attack now the Fighting Illinis have former Michigan QB Brandon Peters at the helm. Corbin appeared to be back to form last time out vs Eastern Michigan picking up 144 yards at an average of 8 yards per carry.
Facing Corbin down this week will be senior linebacker Mo Barry. Nebraska remain a team in the process of rebuilding under head coach Scott Frost. After visible signs of improvement last year it’s been a decent start for the Cornhuskers despite an overtime loss to Colorado in Week 2. Frost has been able to instil his message with the help of seniors and team captains like Barry. The Nebraska defense kept Corbin to 57 yards in last year’s game with Barry contributing 11 total tackles. A repeat of that would likely mean a repeat of the result, a win for Nebraska.
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