Oklahoma and Miami both enjoyed early season rankings yet each team has already lost a game during the first month of the ’09 campaign. They still remain in the hunt for a BCS birth at least until this weekend. Oklahoma offers as many as five first round players but will be missing their two highest rated NFL prospects as quarterback Sam Bradford will join tight end Jermaine Gresham on the sideline. Lost in the preparation for this weeks game was the news that Gresham, who was injured before the season began, will not seek another year of eligibility and will definitely enter next April’s draft. Miami offers several solid prospects from the senior class and many more emerging underclassmen. This is the type of game that could help re-establish Miami as a dominant program and would be the type of victory they have not enjoyed in many seasons. Brent Foshee of TFY Draft Preview looks at the top match-ups for Saturday’s feature game.
Key Match Up:Miami tackle Jason Fox vs. Oklahoma defensive end Auston English
Auston Englishis an athletic and hard working defensive end that uses his speed and effort to make plays up field or in pursuit. English is more adept at rushing the passer than defending the run and tends to find most of his success with outside rushing techniques where he can use his superior speed. English is also effective pursuing from the backside and always hustles until the whistle blows. He fits only certain schemes yet is expected to be a first day selection in April.
Miami tackle Jason Fox is a highly underrated prospect at this time. A blocker with solid footwork and balance, Fox has the ability to protect the quarterback’s blind side. He could use some more strength but possesses all the skills needed to be a successful pro tackle.
Showing well against top competition like English will improve his standing in the eyes of scouts.
Key Match Up: Miami running backs Graig Cooper and Javarris James against the Oklahoma front seven
Graig Cooper is a terrific back who appears ready to play in the NFL right now. Comfortable catching passes out of the backfield or running between the tackles, Cooper will face his biggest challenge of the year this week against OU.
The Hurricanes other ball carrier,Javarris James, is a talented back that has battled injuries for most of his career. James must show consistency over the rest of his tenure as a Hurricane to have any chance of being a late rounder. Meanwhile Cooper could rise into the draft’s first round should he demonstrate that he can put up solid numbers against top competition.
The Sooner defensive front seven is built around tackle Gerald McCoy. An explosive force in the middle, McCoy is among the highest rated players in the nation and will be a top 10 selection if he enters the draft. Linemate Demarcus Granger could join him in the first round of next years draft should he be able to play injury free. Another explosive front line defender, Granger hustles and can frequently be seen making plays near the sidelines or downfield. Oklahoma has very little depth at linebacker, as was evident last season when Ryan Reynolds went down. Reynolds is back this year, playing as aggressive as ever and the Sooners defense is among the best in the nation. Keenan Clayton is an athletic linebacker that makes plays all over the field. Standing out in pass coverage, he looks like a prototypical strong side linebacker in a 4-3 defense and is a solid middle round prospect. The Sooners youngest linebacker is also potentially their best. Physical and nasty are the two words that describe Travis Lewis, an underclassmen with first round potential.
Key Match Up: Oklahoma tackle Trent Williams vs. Miami defensive end Eric Moncur
Yet another top tier NFL prospect on the Sooners roster, Trent Williams is a dominating college lineman that has the potential to develop into either a left tackle or a right tackle in the NFL. A massive lineman with good footwork and a wide wingspan, Williams gets his hands on defenders easily and pushes them around. Susceptible to players that are fast and relentless, Williams could have his hands full on Saturday if he is not careful.
Eric Moncur is an over aged player that will have to quickly make an impression if he is to have any chance of getting drafted. Quick to the outside, Moncur can be disruptive off the edge yet is also easily handled at the point of attack by larger blockers. Moncur played just three games last season before being sent to the sidelines with an injury. He’s still struggling to get back to full health and has only played in two games this season. Having a good showing against Williams could be just what the doctor ordered for Moncur.
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