CFB Week 6: Player Matchup Preview
As we begin to get into the thick of conference action there is some great matchups between old rivals. We begin this week with a non-conference battle between two Quarterbacks who might just find themselves in the first round come next April’s Draft.
Jordan Love vs Joe Burrow
These two quarterbacks started the season a distance apart in the minds of draft analysts. Love was a fringe candidate for the first round. Burrow, a mid-round pick who had struggled to settle at LSU since his transfer from Ohio State. However, after a red hot start to the season the gap has narrowed and Burrow is in the frame as an upper echelon signal caller.
Burrow’s evening should be slightly easier as LSU outmatch Utah State, it will be a chance for him to build his resume. Love on the other hand must show restraint and smarts. His gun-slinging mentality could get him into trouble against a secondary featuring Grant Delpit, Kristian Fulton and Derek Stingley Jr. If he avoids turnovers and shows off a couple of NFL-type throws, it will be a considered a good night.
Colton McKivitz vs Malcolm Roach
West Virginia vs Texas was a nail-biter last year with the Mountaineers coming out on top. However, West Virginia lost a lot of talent to the NFL as well as head coach Dana Holgerson to Houston this offseason. One of the major losses was left tackle Yodny Cajuste. Stepping in for him is the man-mountain Kolton McKivitz. The knock on him is strength and it will be tested vs the Longhorns.
He may face a number of snaps against Texas defensive lineman Malcolm Roach. Roach has had to step up as a leader of a defensive front that also lost it’s fair share of snaps. He is a moveable piece along the line, being able to drop back or shuffle inside. His physique will likely pose the right questions to challenge McKivitz. Rather than speed, Roach will seek to expose McKivitiz’s play strength in a fascinating battle.
Jace Whittaker vs Laviska Shenault
Despite all the hype, it’s been a puzzling start to the season for Laviska Shenault. In four starts he has amassed only 227 receiving yards. Out of those, 124 yards came against lesser competition in Air Force (even though the Falcons were surprise victors). Shenault’s electric moments haven’t been as regular as previously and things got stranger this week. Shenault missed practice with an undisclosed injury. He is a game time decision but nobody knows what the issue is. The Buffaloes fans will hope it’s a bit of gamesmanship and nothing more.
If Shenault does make it through he will face a stiff test against Arizona. In particular, senior cornerback Jace Whittaker. After having 2018 derailed by injury, Whittaker has already flashed his potential. He has already contributed three interceptions, two in the season opener vs Hawaii. He’ll need to make sure he is on his toes against Shenault. The Colorado receiver will look to get into open space and post extra yards after catch. If Whittaker can have a strong showing it will really help his stock.
Jack Driscoll vs Jonathan Greenard
Florida’s offense is now based around replacement QB Kyle Trask and a non-existent running game. They will certainly have their work cut out against an elite defensive line group in Auburn. The only way the Gators can stay in the hunt against the Tigers will be via their defense. Jonathan Greenard has four sacks on the season and should be back to his best with running mate Jabari Zuniga returning to action.
The Auburn offense is predicated on helping freshman QB Bo Nix get the ball out quickly. Key to that is their bookend tackles. Prince Tega Wanagho is well regarded but don’t sleep on right tackle Jack Driscoll. Auburn will look to get jet sweeps and short passes out, Driscoll will need to ensure the edge is clean and stop the likes of Greenard and Zuniga putting Nix under pressure. This battle could be the only way for Florida to keep things close on Saturday evening.
J.K. Dobbins vs Joe Bachie
The Ohio State bandwagon is in full flow. The Buckeyes have passed the eye test, in particular transfer QB Justin Fields. However, Fields has been helped by his running game. J.K. Dobbins has already posted 654 yards in five games, giving the Buckeyes freedom to pick defenses apart. Opposition defenses don’t know whether to commit to stopping Dobbins or defending against Fields’ arm.
Key to slowing down Dobbins will be Michigan State linebacker Joe Bachie. Bachie was outstanding against Northwestern as he tallied 13 tackles but he isn’t the complete linebacker. He is best as a downhill thudder. The Buckeyes will seek to expose his athletic limitations and issues in coverage. The Spartans have a talented defensive line but Dobbins will undoubtedly get into the second level and it will be interesting to see if Bachie can keep a lid on him and give Michigan State hope of a major upset.
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