NCAA

Top NCAA Football Prospects To Watch on Saturday

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This week is one of the biggest weeks in college football. Not only for the teams hoping to make the college football playoff or to get a beneficial bowl bid, but for the individual players themselves. Every game this weekend, except for Texas and Baylor, pits two ranked teams against each other, which means you can expect close and thrilling games.

These games are the ones that put a ton of pressure on each player, which allows them to show their true colors. Every player is hoping to help their team win a conference championship and render their season a success. Furthermore, nothing will come easy in these games as every team is extremely talented and filled with blue-chip talent.

Some players’ draft stocks will go up and others’ will go down, let’s take a look at which individual matchups you should be looking for this weekend.

Derrick Henry vs. Antonio Morrison

The top individual matchup of this week will take place when Florida is pitted against Alabama. Derrick Henry has been lighting the nation during the second half of the season as he has led Alabama to a dominating streak of wins. Antonio Morrison is one of the most solid linebackers in the country and he has a better chance to stop Henry than most believe.

Henry is a very linear running back that needs space to operate. He doesn’t do well with a lot of trash in front of him because he isn’t the quickest or most agile runner. Furthermore, Henry doesn’t have the best backside vision as you rarely see him deviate from his path to hit a backside zone, especially on zone runs. Henry is at his best when he has a predetermined hole with a couple of yards of space to allow him to get up to speed. Once he does get up to speed, watch out. He is a bully once he gets to the second level and defenders just don’t want to tackle him.

It may seem like an impossible task for Morrison to stop or even slow down the Heisman Trophy frontrunner, but his skill set combats Henry’s well. If Morrison allows Henry to get up to speed, he will get bullied by Henry all day because Morrison isn’t exactly the biggest linebacker. Instead, he has to use his instincts and athleticism to meet Henry at the line of scrimmage and clog up Henry’s running lanes. If Morrison can do this, Henry will have an extremely difficult day and Florida will have a good chance to win the game.

Antwan Woods vs. Joshua Garnett

An underrated matchup in the Pac-12 Championship game between USC and Stanford will take place in the trenches. Stanford guard Joshua Garnett is one of the best guards in the nation and Antwan Woods is a solid defensive tackle who is looking to increase his draft stock.

Garnett is a beast in the run game as he uses his strength, natural leverage and powerful hands to move defenders off their spot. Stanford’s run game relies heavily on Garnett’s ability to dominate at the point of attack. Outside of a troubling outing against DeForest Buckner, Garnett has been a dominant offensive guard who has played as well as any offensive lineman in the country.

Woods doesn’t play with any flashiness to his game, he doesn’t get after the passer extremely well and he doesn’t make a lot of splash plays in the run game. However, Woods is very good with his gap responsibility and he rarely gets moved off his spot. Against Garnett, that is exactly what USC needs Woods to do. If Woods can hold up at the point of attack against Garnett, it will give USC a fighting chance to combat Stanford’s dominant run game. Woods will probably never be even a day-two pick, but a good game here could show people that he is worth a fourth- or fifth-round pick in an attempt to become a solid base defensive tackle.

Tyler Matakevich vs. Kenneth Farrow

The most underrated matchup of this weekend pits two players that many have not heard of because they are from such small schools. Temple’s Tyler Matakevich is a great outside linebacker who could make his way into day two come draft time and Houston’s Kenneth Farrow is a solid running back prospect who is a darkhorse to develop into a nice player in the NFL.

Farrow has been battling an ankle injury, but all signs point to him playing against the Owls. Farrow is a north and south running back who sticks his foot in the ground and gets upfield extremely well. He is a volume runner who gets better as he gets more carries because it allows him to pick up the rhythm of the game. Farrow is one of the best short-yardage backs in the nation as he utilizes great vision and good power to punch it through the line.

Matakevich has been a dominant linebacker for Temple thus far this season. He has great awareness and quickness and he quickly moves toward the ball when it is snapped. Despite his propensity to initiate movement quickly, he rarely takes wasted steps, which allows him to make a lot of splash plays in the run game. He has to do this because of his average athleticism, which rears its head when he is in coverage. If Matakevich can continue to play like he has this season, he should have no problem in slowing down Farrow and putting the Owls in position to win this game.


About John Owning

John Owning

John Owning is a NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has years of experience covering the NFL, NFL draft and NCAA football. John's work has been featured on the Bleacher Report and DraftBreakdown.com