The college football season continues to move forward into the meat of conference scheduling. This weekend provides a few marquee match ups of both teams and players. Here are ten players that Eagles fans should be sure to watch this weekend.
(All times given are Eastern Standard...)
Jacoby Brissett, QB, NC State: A few days ago, I waxed poetic about how much I like Brissett in the Eagles offense. He has all the physical attributes to make the unit click at a high level. This week, he especially bears watching due to playing an incredibly talented Virginia Tech defense (Friday, 8 PM on ESPN). Windows will be closing a lot faster with all of the NFL talent that the Hokies have on defense and Brissett has to be at the top of his game in order to give NC State the win. If he can prove he can play at a high level against such a talented team, his hype should be trending upwards.
Jeremy Cash, Safety, Duke: I have touched on Cash before in these preview articles, but I think it is important to continue to keep an eye on him as the season goes on. I believe he is a perfect scheme and culture fit in Philly and would not be shocked to see if he is drafted by them come April. Cash had a huge game defending the run against Georgia Tech and now he faces a smilier test against Army's option attack (Saturday, 12 PM on CBS). Cash can continue to improve working through traffic and prove that he is the all around defender that he is getting hailed as.
Anthony Zettel, DT, Penn State: Zettel has flown under the radar this season due to the prolificness of his fellow defensive linemen, but Zettel is still an incredibly talented player. He is a bit undersized to play defensive tackle at 6-4, 284, but he is incredibly athletic and possess good technique and I think he has the ability to play two gapping defensive end in the NFL. The Nittany lions face what has been a very productive Indiana offense (Saturday, 12 PM on ESPN) both running and passing the ball. Zettel can show the many dimensions to his game and how well he plays could dictate the Hoosiers ability to move the ball.
Jayron Kearse, Safety, Clemson: Jayron Kearse has been having an incredibly strong season for the Tigers and the 6-5, 220 pound safety has daunting size that any NFL team would love in their backfield. One of his biggest issues is his ability to consistently defend the run. He is a strong tackler, but actually locating and flowing to the ball has been a weakness. Georgia Tech's offense is bound to test this to the absolute limit (Saturday, 3:30 on ABC). Kearse has become one of my favorite players in the class, but he will need to show out this week to display he can be a truly impacting run defender.
John Theus, OT, UGA: Little has been said about Theus this year due to the hype surrounding Notre Dame tackle, Ronnie Stanley, but Theus is a very good tackle in his own right. the 6-6, 300 pounder has good length and strength with decent movement skills and is a talented run blocker. Theus will have a good test against the Tennessee defensive line (Saturday, 3:30, WatchESPN) as he and the Bulldogs look to rebound from their embarrassing loss to Alabama this week. Tennessee has a talented defense, so this will be a good redemption game for Theus.
Darian Thomson, Safety, Boise State: Thompson has had an outstanding senior season so far, playing like a big hitting ball hawk. The 6-2, 212 pounder has great size for a safety and the versatility to move around in a secondary, playing both safety spots or play in the slot. Boise faces a strong Colorado State passing game (Saturday, 7 PM on CBS) that features Rashard Higgins who has been one of the most prolific receivers in the country over the last two years. Thompson will play a pivotal role in slowing down the Rams and he could continue to make big plays in the passing and running game.
A'Shawn Robinson, DL, Alabama: The Eagles are a hard team to figure out going forward in terms of figuring out draft needs. At its current rate, it doesn't make sense to spend a potentially premium pick on a guard, the best tackles may not be there at their pick and I would not spend a high pick on any quarterback in this class. Thus, I think that the Eagles could look to address their defensive line early in April due to Cedric Thorton and Vinny Curry being impending free agents. Robinson is an immensely talented run defender and disruptor in the passing game and he could slide right in and start at defensive end in the NFL. Against Arkansas (Saturday, 7 PM on ESPN), Robinson will have to play well in order to stymy the Razorback running game. The entire Alabama defensive front is incredibly talented, but be sure to keep an eye out for big number 86.
Cody Whitehair, OT, Kansas State: Whitehair is another name that does not get mentioned a lot with the offensive tackle class. It seems Kansas State players regularly fly under the radar, though. The 6-4, 305 pound tackle has good arm length and decent athletic ability, but is able to win consistently due to how strong and polished he is as a lineman. I think he would be a better fit inside at guard, but he has the skill set to play either inside or out. Kansas State takes on the #2 team in the country in TCU (Saturday, 7:30 on Fox) and Whitehair will need to be at the top of his game to keep that offense moving against the Horn Frogs if the Wildcats are to have any chance in this game.
Evan Boehm, C, Mizzou: Boehm is one of many talented centers in this years class. The 6-3, 320 pounder has great size for a center, but also moves well considering his frame. He is incredibly strong and plays right through the whistle on a regular basis. He is a very solid player and looks like a 10 year NFL starter. Mizzou faces the tall task of the Florida defense (Saturday, 7:30 on SECN) a week after the Gators demolished the previously Top 5 Ole Miss Rebels. Boehm will have to key the Mizzou running and passing game against a stingy Gator defensive front.
Jared Goff, QB, Cal: There is so much fanfare going around for the junior quarterback, and while I am still very skeptical, there is no doubt he is a great college player. Goff is an incredibly smart and accurate passer, but I wonder how good his physical tools translate to the next level. This week will be a good litmus test for that against one of the best defenses in the country in Utah (Saturday, 10 PM on ESPN). Utah has walked through their schedule thus far, stomping a lot of talented football teams. Goff will need to show off his instincts and prove he can overcome lacking arm strength against more athletic defenses. This could be the biggest draft matchup of the weekend.
Defensive linemen and guards and safeties and quarterbacks, oh my... Those are probably the Eagles biggest needs going into the offseason, so they will be the positions to watch mostly every weekend. On top of that, these games should all be very competitive and entertaining.