Written by Joe Carpenter
Game 1: Florida Atlantic vs E. Carolina: (9/5, 7:30PM, Fox Sports 1)
Florida Atlantic: Florida Atlantic just took a whooping from Miami (FL) last week. The players that are worth watching didn’t have good games, but it is worth keeping your eye on them. Nexon Dorvilus is their starting tight end and has been a regular starter since last season. Last season, Nexon finished the season with 30 receptions with 301 yards for 5 touchdowns. He has a nice build for his position, (6’4’’, 230 lbs.) which should translate well in the NFL. Nexon has been named to the Mackey Award watch list and will be worth watching in the future. Florida Atlantic also has a pair of intriguing wide receivers in William Dukes and Daniel McKinney. Dukes led the team in receptions last year with 63 for 979 yards and four touchdowns. Dukes is 6’4’’, making him the perfect size to go up attack the ball and a size the scouts will like. Then the other part of the duo is Daniel McKinney, a junior college transfer from City College of San Francisco where he helped lead them to a championship. McKinney had 498 yards and 4 touchdowns last season. Since he was suspended for the Miami game, we didn’t get to see him play against a big team, but I am ready to see how he comes back this season.
East Carolina: Vintavious Cooper is a straight beast at running back for East Carolina. I am a fan of the way he came over from junior college as an option quarterback and played the running back position so well. As a junior college transfer, he came into last season putting up some great numbers. He was the first Pirate since 2009 to rush for over 1,000 yards. He was named Conference USA Newcomer of The Year in 2012, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. I think Cooper plays just as well and will go over 1,00 yards again. The Pirates also have a wide receiver that will be worth watching in Justin Hardy. Last season Hardy had 84 receptions for 1,105 yards and 11 touchdowns, becoming just the fourth wide receiver to get over 1,000 yards in the season. He caught at least one touchdown pass in 17 of his last 23 games. He might only be a junior, but if he comes out, go get him on your dynasty team.
Game 2: San Jose State vs Stanford: (9/7, 11PM, PAC 12 Network)
San Jose State: This team is going to be fun to watch this year with a lot of quality players in key positions. David Fales is in my top five this year. He threw 33 touchdowns with 9 interceptions in his first year on the team. He led the team to their first bowl game since 1975, finishing the season as the most accurate passer with a completion rate of 72.1%. Fales threw for 225 yards and 2 touchdowns last week, extending his two-touchdown streak going back to last season week 6. Fales has two big time wide outs to throw the ball to, Noel Grigsby and Chandler Jones, both seniors. Grigsby had 1,307 yards receiving last year with nine touchdowns. Grigsby is a little undersized at 5’11’’, but it doesn’t seem to affect his game. Jones had 691 yards and eleven touchdowns last season, showing that this duo is very impressive. In week one, Jones got the better of the two catching 8 balls for 130 yards and one touchdown. Jason Simpson is State’s senior starting running back; this is his first year as the starter. In week one, he ran for 135 yards on 21 carries and scored a touchdown. He will be worth watching against the tough Stanford defense to see if he can produce the same way. This team lost to Stanford by 3 last season, upset special this year!!!
Stanford: Tyler Gaffney decided to take last year off in pursuit of his baseball career. After a conversation with his parents, he made the decision to come back to football. He had one season of eligibility left and was ready to be back in the game then watching it from the sidelines. Coach Shaw gladly welcomed him back. Gaffney, in 2011, had 449 yards rushing for seven touchdowns, with one receiving touchdown. He will be the starter this year and will be worth watching to see if he sticks with football. Ben Hogan is only a sophomore so he won’t be anything for us to worry about drafting this year, but watch him; he is a stud. When he became the starter at the end of last season, he went 5-0, beating Oregon and UCLA twice, and helping Stanford win the Rose Bowl. He threw for 1,096 yards and nine touchdowns with three interceptions in those five games. Hogan has the skill set to be an NFL quarterback and it’s going to be worth watching his ability progress this season.
Game 3: Oklahoma vs West Virginia (9/7, 7:00PM, FOX)
Oklahoma: Damien Williams is a running back for the Sooners who finished last year with 946 yards rushing with eleven touchdowns, plus 320 yards receiving with one touchdown. Damien had an ankle injury toward the end of last year finishing with just one 100 -yard game out of his last eight games. That being said, I see him getting over the 1.000 -yard mark this year and producing just as well in the passing game. Damien is a RB who is an in- between- the- tackles type runner who isn’t afraid of contact. The sooners also have a solid wide receiver in Jalen Saunders. Saunders is a transfer from Fresno State. In his final season at Fresno (2011) he had 1,065 yards receiving with 12 touchdowns, and two rushing touchdowns. He then transferred to Oklahoma where he sat out the first four games, finishing the season with 829 yards receiving with three touchdowns. Saunders has great hands and is fun to watch after the catch; his explosive speed is thrilling to watch. Saunders will primarily be a slot guy in the NFL, but with his speed I can see him making a big impact.
West Virginia: Charles Sims is a transfer from Houston where when he was a freshman. His offensive coordinator was Dana Holgorsen, who is now head coach of West Virginia. That’s significant because in his freshmen year, Sims had 698 yards rushing and 759 yards receiving with a combined ten touchdowns. Those stats are very impressive and I see this match as one that will only help Sims this season. Sims has great vision for the field and is great at making cuts when he sees the hole. His biggest asset is his hands though; he is a great receiver out of the backfield. Sims rushed for 120 yards and one touchdown in week one, with only one reception; I see them using him out of the backfield more often against Oklahoma. Ivan McCartney is a senior wide receiver that will be the only other player on this team to watch for our dynasty teams. He left the team half way through the season last year because of playing time. In 2011, he was third on the team with 49 catches for 585 yards and last season; he only had 112 yards on nine catches. Now with Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey out of the way, he has his chance to shine. Sims is the biggest prospect on this team, but keep an eye on McCartney.
Game 4: Notre Dame vs Michigan (9/7 8PM, ESPN)
Notre Dame: George Atkinson III is a junior running back who has good size and great speed, both good fits for the NFL. He finished third in rushing last year for the Irish with 378 yards and five touchdowns. George averaged 7.1 yards per carry, which lead the team . Atkinson will be a guy to watch, if Notre Dame decides to use him the right way, he could have a huge season. T.J. Jones is a wide receiver for the Irish who is on the Biletnikoff Award Watch List for top receiver. T.J. tied to lead the team in receptions and receiving touchdowns last season. He finished the season with 649 yards and four touchdowns. Jones has kind of been behind the scenes at Notre Dame and is ready to break out. Jones should be the go to guy this year and honestly has enough talent to go in the top two rounds. Jones finished week one with 138 yards, averaging 23 yards per catch. If Notre Dame is going to win this game, Jones is going to have to make a huge impact.
Michigan: Jeremy Gallon, a wide receiver for Michigan is an explosive receiver who, with his speed, can stretch the field. Gallon led the team last year with 829 yards and four touchdowns. Jeremy has had a reception in 26 straight games. As a reliable target, he tracks the ball out of the air and will make you miss the tackle after the catch. Gallon will be used more this year, as I believe the passing game will be more productive. Gallon led the team last week with 47 yards and a touchdown, and I believe that’s a good start to what should be a fruitful year. The guy throwing Gallon the ball will be Devin Gardner. Gardner finally gets his chance to shine and I expect him to do exactly that. Gardner is a dual threat quarterback who will beat you with his feet and his hands. Gardner finished on a major high note last year, stepping in for Robinson. Gardner started this season very strong, throwing for one touchdown and rushing for two touchdowns. I expect Gardner to do great things this season and be a pro prospect by the end of the year, if not before then.
Game of the Week: Florida vs Miami (FL) (9/7, NOON, ESPN)
Florida: Jeff Driskel is a junior and isn’t expected to come out this year, but he will be worth monitoring. Driskel finished last year with1,646 yards, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions. Driskel has the size, arm strength, and mobility to be an NFL quarterback, but his pocket awareness isn’t the greatest. He needs to improve his awareness and be able to go through his route reads better. Driskel has the potential, but I think he is in the wrong offensive system at Florida to show his talent. Trey Burton should be Driskel’s top target this year. It seems like Burton has played every position in this offense, but it seems wide receiver is going to be his spot. Burton is a speedy receiver who, if given just a little space, will take the ball to the end zone. Burton has perfect size to play the safety blanket for Driskel when he is in trouble. Burton should be able to make an NFL roster since he is so versatile and quick. Florida needs to open this offense up this year and not play so plain; Burton and Driskel would both shine with more of an open offense.
Miami (FL): Stephen Morris is Miami’s veteran quarterback who is looking to build on his success last year as a junior. Morris had 3,345 yards passing with 21 touchdowns last year. He passed for over 400 yards multiple times last year, making him the only quarterback in Miami history to do so. Morris has awesome arm strength, great footwork, and excellent ball placement. Morris is a big time pro prospect, he has all the tools that the NFL scouts look for and if a team that needs a quarterback grabs him on draft day, he will make an instant change to their offense. Phillip Dorsett is the main wide receiver that Morris will find this season. Dorsett ended last year leading the team in receiving with 842 yards and four touchdowns. Dorsett is awesome at spreading the field, he was second on the team in 25-plus yard plays, plus had two touchdowns of 60-plus yards. Dorsett will be Miami’s go to threat again and I’m looking for him to go over the 1,000 yard mark this year and become a top wide receiver prospect. Allen Hurns is another quick, shifty receiver who is a senior that I am interested in watching in this game. He has potential to be a slot guy in the NFL, but I need to see more production out of him this year.
STOCK UP: Keith Price, Washington, QB; James Franklin, Missouri, QB; Brett Smith, Wyoming QB; Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington; Ted Bolser, TE, Indiana
Stock Down: John Huber, RB, Kansas St.; Malcolm Mitchell, WR, Georgia(out for year) A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama (having line issues and hurting stock)