Game of the Week
And most importantly from our point of view; who are the best pro-prospects in this game and what are scouts looking at? Here are some of the better match-ups.
Can the OSU safeties stop the Wazzu wide outs?
This group includes a possible top twenty choice and three additional prospects that may be off the board by the fifth round. Obviously Mike Doss is the headliner as the senior looks to right the ship after an uneasy campaign in '01; if successful Doss will continue to push into the first frame. Along with teammate Donnie Nickey (a definite consideration for the middle rounds), they must stop a trio of solid Cougar pass catchers. Mike Bush gets all the ink in this group but has yet to take his game to another level and still looks like a very tall guy in a football uniform running around, displaying inconsistent pass catching skills. A good performance against a quality opponent may change that line of thinking. Jerome Riley does not get the same press but is a solid wide out that always comes up with the important catch and could fit in nicely as a fifth receiver for an NFL team. The star of the group is Wazzu's Devard Darling, a true sophomore that looks like a stud receiver for the future.
Turn it Around: Trufant/Davis versus Vance/Jenkins
Marcus Trufant has been one of the best kept secrets of the past three seasons; he has all the makings to be an immediate starter at cornerback in the NFL and should be very good from the get-go as he's better than James Hasty, the last good cover-man to come out of Pulman. Playing opposite Trufant is junior Jason David, a corner that displays quickness, explosion and solid cover skills. This week the pair go up against a terrific duo of Ohio State wide outs; Michael Jenkins, who combines size and the speed, stretching the defense for game breaking plays with regularity. Chris Vance does not have the same speed and though listed as a "smaller" receiver, plays a big game, and is terrific on third down situations or in the red zone. Jenkins, only a junior, grades out as a first rounder while Trufant is not far behind. Vance is a solid first day pick while David is a mid-round prospect because of size concerns.
The Lines of Scrimmage:
Cougar O-Line versus the Buckeye D-Line
The Washington State offensive line is big and powerful but immobile, which may play into the hands of the Buckeyes. Derek Roche, a fundamentally sound guard and late round choice in 2003, is effective blocking for either the run or pass, but restricted to very confined quarters. Likewise third-year sophomore Calvin Armstrong is a masher at right tackle and great future prospect but has limited blocking range. They go up against a pair of athletic, yet undersized Buckeye rushers. Junior Darion Scott has been used on both the inside and outside positions and is a fierce lineman that makes plays all over the field, improving his play the past two seasons. Size and size potential are a question for Scott, something that may not be a problem for Will Smith, a relentless pass rusher who makes a lot of plays behind the line of scrimmage, disrupting opposing offenses and a junior that could be a high pick in the future if he stays in school and matures physically.
Cougar D-Line versus the Buckeye O-Line
Much the same here; the Buckeyes have a trio of terrific young prospects best blocking in a small area while Wazzu offers a pair of solid underclassmen. Adrian Clarke is back at his natural position, guard, and can be a dominant force up front protecting the passer or opening holes for his backs. Sidelined with a back injury this fall, should all go well for Clarke and he builds upon the talent displayed in the past, he's a first day pick in 2004. Shane Olivea is solid at right tackle and a later round choice for the future while Bryce Bishop is a masher at guard and a prospect with a great amount of upside potential. After sitting out his first two seasons at OSU, Bishop moved into the starting line-up in 2001 and emerged throughout the season, impressing scouts. Their mission is to stop Tai Tupai, a big, tall thumper in the middle that commands double teams and Isaac Brown, a relentless pass rusher that may project to outside linebacker at the next level.
Finally: Jason Gesser on a National Stage
Washington State is promoting the heck out of Jason Gesser for a run to the Heisman Trophy and this may be the best (and only) opportunity for Gesser to impress voters in the east as well as middle America. An athletic passer, Gesser could be running for his life on Saturday and must outsmart two very intelligent Buckeye safety's. A good performance will not only enhance his Heisman status but potentially improve his draft ranking.