Written by Joe Carpenter
Game 1: Tulane vs Syracuse (9/21,12:30 PM)
Tulane: There were a small amount of receivers who had over 1,000 yards receiving last season and Ryan Grant was one of them. Ryan Grant led the team in receptions with 76 and had 1,149 yards receiving with six touchdowns. Grant finished the season with three 100 yard rushing games and, in total, had 7 games with at least 100 yards last season. Grant now has a reception in 21 straight games, making him a dependable target. Grant has had a rough start this season due to dealing with new quarterback, Nick Montana. In week two against South Alabama, Grant and Montana hooked up for 14 receptions and two touchdowns. I expect Grant will benefit the most from Montana’s experience with his new team as it gets further into the season. I am wary of Montana as of now; he needs this year and next to improve his game so don’t look for him to be worth watching yet. The other big name for Tulane is their running back Orleans Darkwa, who is going into his senior year. Darkwa ranks fourth in Tulane history with 27 rushing touchdowns and already has five this season. He has had to deal with some injuries and that has hurt his stats, but if he gets healthy I expect that he could be worth watching.
Syracuse: Jerome Smith led the Orange in rush attempts and rush yards last season. Smith finished last season with 1, 171 yards while splitting carries and scored three touchdowns. Smith has a solid build to him and I’d like to see him get a little better at breaking tackles and getting that extra yardage. He has great vision to find the hole with quick feet to help him get to that second level of the defense. Smith has struggled in yardage so far this season, but has scored five touchdowns. It will be interesting to see if he can bounce back against Tulane. Drew Allen is the Orange quarterback who transferred from Oklahoma. Allen has a strong arm, but needs to learn to be more accurate. If he can fix his accuracy; he has the potential to be a big time player.
Game 2: Wyoming vs Air Force (9/21,10:15PM ESPNU)
Wyoming: Robert Herron is a very talented wide receiver who will be a guy to watch in this game. Wyoming doesn’t get a lot of play on TV, so make sure you take time to watch. Herron finished last season with 657 yards receiving with eight touchdowns. Herron has the speed to be a deep threat every play and open up this offense. Herron has 14 receptions with 263 yards and one touchdown so far this season. I expect a lot more out of Herron as the season goes on; be sure to watch him in this game. The guy who is responsible for getting Herron the ball is Brett Smith, who has really turned it on this season. Smith is going into his junior season and might come out this year, but I expect him to stay. Make sure you watch Smith. Smith has been the starter at Wyoming since he was a freshman. From his freshman year to his sophomore year, Brett went from 20 to 27 touchdowns. He also became wiser with the ball as he only had six interceptions thrown compared to his freshmen year when he had eleven interceptions. Smith threw for 2,622 yards his freshmen season and 2,832 yards his sophomore year. Smith has proved to be the real deal this season as he has passed for 942 yards with nine touchdowns and only three interceptions. Smith is a very talented quarterback who will get on people’s radars soon.
Air Force: Jon Lee is a running back who rushed for 545 yards last season with four touchdowns. Lee is going into his junior season looking to improve on those numbers, but he needs to stay healthy. Lee is a powerful back that is good at eluding the tackle. Lee has struggled so far this season, and it’s time for him to produce and show he can be relied on. The fun guy to watch on this team though is Ty McArthur who is an all around athlete. McArthur last season led the team in receptions with 24 for 411 yards, averaging 17.1 yards per catch. He also rushed for 467 yards with two touchdowns, averaging 8.2 yards per carry. He might be undersized, but he is very talented and I see him being the man again this season. He has started out the season with seven receptions and seven rushes, showing his versatility. He could be a guy who goes late in the draft or goes undrafted to make a team and be a sleeper.
Game 3: Oregon State vs San Diego State (9/21, 7:30PM CBSSN)
Oregon State: Storm Woods is a running back who is an all around specialist. He can catch the ball out of the backfield, plus he is a good rusher. He ran for 940 yards last season with 13 touchdowns and he had 313 receiving yards. Storm is a quick back that has great speed bursts and who needs the offense to run the ball more this season. The Beavers seem to have gone away from the run game and if they decide to get back to it, they will see the benefit. Brandin Cooks is the wide receiver who is benefitting the most from the Beavers going to the air. Cooks had to deal with the presence of Markus Wheaton last year, but now that he has moved on, Cooks is the go- to guy. Last season Cooks had 1,151 yards receiving with five touchdowns. Cooks has great eye coordination matched with great speed to get passed the secondary and score on every down. In game one he had 210 yards with three touchdowns, game two 92 yards with two touchdowns and 196 yards with two touchdowns so far this season. He already has seven touchdowns, two more than all of last season. He is the man for the Beavers and for your dynasty team.
San Diego State: Adam Muema is trying to be another big name running back to come out of San Diego State, like Marshall Faulk and Ronnie Hillman. Last season Muema ran for 1,458 yards and 16 touchdowns on 237 carriers. He also had seven 100 yard games last season and two 200 yard games. Muema is a very talented running back who I am still looking to show up this season. He only has 13 carries for 22 yards this season, including only three carries last week against Ohio State. If anyone knows where Muema is stats-wise, please update me. If he happens to get some good play in this game, expect good things. Colin Lockett is a senior wide receiver for the Aztecs who just happens to be the leading rusher also, proving San Diego State is struggling. Lockett lead the team his sophomore year in yards with 970 yards with eight touchdowns. I am not sure if he missed a lot of time last season, but he only had 293 yards with three touchdowns. Lockett is a very talented return specialist who seems to be the whole offense for the Aztecs. Once Lockett can get away from San Diego State he will have good potential to make an impact on an NFL team.
Game 4: Missouri vs Indiana (9/21, 8:00PM BTN)
Missouri: Star running back Henry Josey is back after missing all of 2012 with a terrible leg injury. In 2011 he ran for 1,168 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging 8.1 yards per carry, ranking him first in the Big 12. Josey battled hard in the offseason and now sits on top of the depth chart; I love that hard work. So far this season Josey has 139 yards with three touchdowns and I expect him to be a huge impact on this team. Missouri’s L’Damian Washington is a big wide receiver whom scouts have to find attractive with his size and speed. Washington had 443 yards last season with two touchdowns and I see those numbers doubling this season. He needs a little work, but given the right coaching can become a big player as an outside receiver for a pro team. The guy throwing him the ball is James Franklin who is entering his senior year. Franklin is a dual threat quarterback that the NFL seems to be looking for now. He passed for 1,562 yards and rushed for 122 yards last season because he had to deal with some injuries. In 2011 he amassed a total of 3,846 yards with 36 touchdowns. I expect Franklin to get back to those 2011 numbers this year. Hopefully some team will take a chance on him and be happy they did.
Indiana: Kofi Hughes and Cody Latimer are two wide receivers who both have potential to play at the next level. Cody is a junior with 805 yards receiving which lead the team and six touchdowns. Cody has great size paired with speed, agility, and soft hands. He is going to be a physical wide receiver that can compete at the NFL level. Kofi is a senior wide out who in my mind is a lot like Cody, big and athletic with good ball skills. Kofi has good foot speed and once his route running gets better, he should be worth a pick in the NFL. The other guy to watch catch the ball is tight end Ted Bolser. Bolser is already the all-time school leader in touchdowns at tight end, plus had over 1,000 yards receiving last season, making him only the third tight end in school history to do so. At 6’5’’ and over 250lbs, he has awesome size to play at the pro level. Bolser already has four touchdowns this season with 146 yards receiving. Make sure to watch him in this game. I see him making a huge impact at the pro level in being a big name tight end.
Game of the Week: Auburn vs LSU (9/21, 7:45PM ESPN)
Auburn: Auburn is led by a two headed monster at tailback with Tre Mason and Corey Grant. Tre Mason ran for 1,008 yards last season with eight touchdowns. Mason is a running back who is a little on the small side, but does a good job at being decisive and making one cut when hitting the hole. He has ran for 206 yards with two touchdowns so far this season. Corey Grant wasn’t a part of the offense last year, but has shown that he is a capable runner who can be relied on to help as an offensive weapon. Grant has rushed for 230 yards with two touchdowns this season, pretty similar numbers to Mason. , Grant came out of high school as a four star running back, transferred from Alabama after a season, and now he will get the chance to show that he is worth every star he was given. I expect both of these guys to make a heavy impact this season with the potential to play at the pro level.
The guy that I am most excited to watch in this one is quarterback Nick Marshall. Marshall is a junior college transfer and a dual threat quarterback who is very exciting to watch. He ran for 1,095 yards and threw for 3,142 yards with a combined 37 touchdowns last season for his junior college. Marshall has a very strong arm and always seems to have a calm demeanor, which is good when being rushed by SEC defenses. Marshall was slow to start off the season, but that’s what I expected, having to learn the new system and catch up with Division 1 football. In week 3, he led a game winning drive to the win against Mississippi State to get Auburn to 3-0 and end a 10 game SEC losing streak. Marshall threw for 339 yards and two touchdowns against State, putting up his best numbers all season. I see him getting better as the season goes on.
LSU: Zach Mettenberger is a solid quarterback who has to love his new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. Zach has the arm strength to spread the field, which helps spread the defense and Cam lets him take advantage of that. Zach had 2,609 yards passing with 12 touchdowns and 7 interceptions and I expect the touchdowns to be higher and the interceptions to be less this season. Zach already has nine touchdown passes and zero interceptions this season, which is impressive. Zach will flourish with Cam Cameron helping his mechanics and that’s only going to help his confidence as he moves on to the NFL. Alfred Blue and Terrence Magee are both very impressive runners who are available for next year’s draft. Blue is a senior who has had to deal with an injury, but worked hard to get back and ready for this season. Blue has 153 yards rushing so far and I see him getting drafted late next season. Magee is getting carries right now because Jeremy Hill has been out, which has really worked in his favor. He showed it in week one against TCU, when he ran for two touchdowns with 95 yards. Hill came back in week three, but Magee still shined running for 108 yards, scoring one touchdown. I like the running backs for LSU and I think all of them have potential to be NFL caliber running backs; be sure to watch this game and see which one shines against Auburn.
LSU also has wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. who has blazing speed and is very elusive. Beckham had 713 yards receiving last season as a sophomore and is ready for a breakout junior season, as he has proven with his numbers so far this season, with 330 yards and four touchdowns. Jarvis Landry another wide out who led the team in receptions and touchdowns last season, is looking to improve going into his junior year. Landry can make amazing catches and is a very dependable wide receiver who just has to be more consistent in his game play and prove himself. Landry so far this season has five touchdowns with 246 yards receiving. This offense is a very scary offense to have to try to stop, make sure to watch this game and this offense.
Players on the rise: Paul James,RB, Rutgers; Mark Weisman,RB, Wisconsin; Keith Wenning,QB, Ball State; Mike Evans,WR, Texas AM; Allen Robinsob,WR, Penn State