From Campus to Franchise: Can Jack Coan take the Irish back to the playoffs in 2021?
This week was dominated by the National Championship. In Campus to Franchise we will look at how the victors Alabama will address their departing wide reciever stars. We put the draft spotlight on Penn State’s Micah Parsons. First up, a high profile transfer for Notre Dame.
Coan has offensive pieces to hit the ground running in South Bend
News broke last week that Notre Dame had found their QB for next season in Wisconsin transfer Jack Coan. Current incumbent Ian Book is set to test the NFL Draft waters. Meaning the Fighting Irish needed to secure a QB to make a run once more at the CFB playoffs. So what are they getting from Coan?
Coan was fairly well regarded coming into this season having played in 14 games as a junior. Initially, he was considered a dark horse name to watch in regards to the draft. However, a foot injury derailed his year. When replacement redshirt freshman Graham Mertz made the position his own, it made sense for Coan to seek a starting berth elsewhere.
That opportunity arose in South Bend, Indiana. Coan, offers something slightly different from Book. While not as mobile as Book, Coan has prototypical size while displaying nice movement in the pocket. He has the ability to get an offense humming. He is highly accurate on short and intermediate throws. His completion percentage of 69%+ in 2019 is testament to his level of accuracy. One thing Notre Dame will be fired up about is Coan’s ability to stretch the field. On numerous occasions the film showed Coan hitting the deep ball with decent consistency.
The Notre Dame offense should have some nice pieces next year. Running Back Kyran Williams was sensational in his freshman season. That should take any early pressure off the shoulders of Coan. Despite losing tight end Tommy Tremble, Michael Mayer could be even better going into his second year.
The final piece needed to make the offense tick would be a big time receiver. It was a significant shortcoming of the 2020 team. If Notre Dame want to be contenders, someone needs to emerge. Favourites would be Braden Lenzy or Xavier Watts. If one of those guys steps up then the Irish and Coan will garner plenty of attention.
Next man up out wide for the Crimson Tide
National Championship celebrations have a limited shelf life in Tuscaloosa. Coach Saban may allow his team a little extra time to soak up their victory after a roller coaster college football season. One thing is for sure, Saban will have turned to a fresh page in his notebook. Plotting his path to next year’s title.
The nature of college football dictates that no year can be dealt with in isolation. The recruiting trail is pounded year round. Every position group has a succession plan, based over 2,3 or even 4 years. One of the more intriguing areas for Alabama will be how they will line up at wide receiver in 2021.
Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle were the remnants of one the most talented groups in college football history last year. As Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy moved on to the NFL, Alabama knew Smith and Waddle would easily step in. The pair arguably outperformed their predecessors.
But what now for the position group? John Metchie will be the clear number 1 receiver in 2021. Metchie accounted for 916 receiving yards and 6 TDs, carving out a nice season when Waddle was lost to injury. Slade Bolden got plenty of first team reps as the slot in lieu of Waddle and projects to get the role full time.
That leaves a big hole for a new name to step into the offense. A fresh target for projected starting QB Bryce Young. Xavier Williams will likely get the first shot. As a fourth year player. Williams is yet to produce much but is it any surprise when you see the stacked group he has been behind.
Perhaps the most exciting option for the Crimson Tide, is incoming freshman Jacorey Brooks. Ranked as the second receiver in the nation for the 2021 recruiting class, Brooks will offer something slightly different. Measuring 6’3 and 185lbs, he might not possess the speed we are used to Bama having. However, he will be a physical problem, with a huge catch radius.
As an early enrollee, Brooks will get plenty of time to become accustomed to the system. Giving him a shot to become an immediate starter. All eyes will be on spring practice to see if Williams or Brooks can be anointed the next receiver off the production line in Alabama.
Player in Focus: Micah Parsons
Micah Parsons is one of the most polarizing prospects in the 2021 draft. So I turned on the tape last week to try and evaluate where he fits in the NFL. Parsons was an opt-out in the 2020 season so scouts will have to lean heavily on his sophomore tape. Parsons posted 109 tackles, including 14 for loss, 5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles in 2019.
His athleticism, speed and physicality is clear. Certain evaluators are going to fall head over heels with the tools he has to offer. If you want a definitive snapshot of what he can do, then turn on the 2019 bowl game against Memphis. Parsons shows off his talent as a blitzer, tackling in space, and playmaking ability.
However, against divisional opponents Parsons wasn’t as consistent. Opposition offenses appeared to be able to direct the game away from him. Parsons would often take the bait the offense gave him. Finding himself redirected away from the action. Parsons is fairly raw, causing him to take bad angles, over pursue and generally play over aggressively, misdiagnosing plays and run fits.
While some have him ranked as a top 10 player, I find it hard to justify that ranking. I don’t project Parsons as an every down linebacker in the NFL at least not immediately. Parsons is a chess piece, he offers most value as a situational pass rusher as it stands. The best comparison I have heard was from Touchdown colleague Alex Chinery who believes Parsons could be an ‘Anthony Barr 2.0’.
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.