'09 NFL Prospects Head 2 Head Preview: Week 4

After a week that featured a game worthy of National Championship hype, which ended up being a bust, Week 4 doesn't offer anything as intriguing as the USC, Ohio State game. Georgia and quarterback Matt Stafford will try to rebound - after a near defeat - against Dexter Davis and Arizona State. Find out the other four matchups and eight prospects Chris Steuber profiles this week.

#6 LSU (2-0) at #10 Auburn (3-0)
Saturday, September 20th at 7:45 p.m. on ESPN

Herman Johnson (6-foot-7, 362 pounds), OG, LSU
*Sen'Derrick Marks (6-foot-1, 295 pounds), DT, Auburn

Johnson and LSU look to prove that they're the best in the SEC.
Marc Serota /Getty

Scouting Report: Herman Johnson is a monstrous lineman that controls the interior of the offensive line. He's quick off the snap and initiates contact immediately. He’s a force up front who mauls the opposition and is versatile enough to play the tackle position. He displays strong technique and has good footwork. He shows great patience in the trenches, explodes into the defender, and delivers a devastating punch. He’s surprisingly athletic considering his size and shows the ability to get to the second level. He struggles against quicker opponents and has to stay disciplined.

Sen’Derrick Marks is an explosive interior lineman who plays with leverage in the trenches. He plays low to the ground, possesses a powerful lower body and displays the ability to stand tall against double teams. He’s quick off the line and jolts the opposition with a quick initial punch that allows for instant penetration up the middle. He uses his hands well, blades through blocks and makes plays in the backfield. He plays with a high motor and consistently looks to get involved in the action.

Head 2 Head: Saturday’s game between LSU and Auburn features two of the top ten teams in the country, and they’re playing for supremacy in the SEC. There are 12 teams in the SEC and of the 12, eight are undefeated heading into Week 4. LSU has been dominant thus far, led by their defense and rushing attack. A key component to their rushing attack is their massive force inside, Herman Johnson. Johnson’s 6-foot-7, 362-pound frame is intimidating, and his quickness is uncanny. Auburn, who also has a tremendous defense, will throw junior Sen’Derrick Marks at Johnson in hopes of slowing down an LSU rushing attack that’s averaging 241 yards a game on the ground. Marks keeps his pad level low and that will benefit him when he goes up against Johnson. Johnson will smother Marks at the line if he plays too high. For Marks to have impact, he has to get off the line quickly and get under Johnson before he engages. This will be an intriguing matchup in the trenches, but the size differential between the two will prove to be too much for Marks to get the upper hand on Johnson.

#3 Georgia (3-0) at Arizona State (2-1)

Saturday, September 20th at 8:00 p.m. on ABC

*Matthew Stafford (6-foot-3, 236 pounds), QB, Georgia
*Dexter Davis (6-foot-2, 252 pounds), OLB/DE, Arizona State

After a near defeat last Saturday, Stafford looks to breakout against Arizona State.
Streeter Lecka /Getty

Scouting Report: Matthew Stafford is a strong, athletic signal caller who demonstrates the leadership qualities it takes to be an elite player. He has great awareness, and when he feels a rush from the weakside, he has the mobility to make a play on the run. He goes through his progressions nicely and locates the open receiver. He has a strong arm and a great sense of timing; he gives his receivers a chance to make a play. He has to work on his footwork, as he never seems to get set in the pocket. His feet are always moving, and it seems to throw off his balance in the pocket. Accuracy and decision-making are a concern.

Dexter Davis is an outstanding athlete who’s an explosive pass rusher. He lacks ideal size, but plays with a high motor. He’s quick off the line and has a great first step that gives him the edge on the opposition. He uses his hands effectively and has the speed and a combination of moves that make him difficult to defend. He plays with great leverage and balance and is rarely off his feet. He has the unique ability to rush the quarterback and change direction instantly in pursuit of the ballcarrier.

Head 2 Head: Arizona State is coming off of a devastating 23 – 20 overtime loss to UNLV, and they will run into a very talented Georgia squad that dodged a scare last weekend at South Carolina and came away with a narrow 14 – 7 victory. Georgia will be out to show that they have a much more explosive offense than they showed against the Gamecocks, and that all starts with the junior fireballer Matthew Stafford. Stafford has been on point this year, as he’s thrown for 634 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions, but he struggled to get anything going against South Carolina. This seems like the perfect bounce back game for Stafford, but he will face a Sun Devils defense that’s allowed just 166 YPG and three touchdowns through the air. A successful pass defense starts with a defensive line pressuring a quarterback, and Arizona State has one of the best pass rushers in the country in Dexter Davis. Davis currently leads the PAC-10 and is ranked second nationally in sacks with four; last year he finished with 10.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for a loss. He’s a player that the Georgia offensive line will have to contain to give Stafford the opportunity to make throws in the pocket. Stafford does a good job rolling out of the pocket and making throws on the run. But in these instances, Stafford has shown in the past that he’s prone to forcing throws and will turn the ball over. Davis will create a lot of problems for Georgia up front, and it could be a long day for Stafford once again.

#9 Alabama (3-0) at Arkansas (2-0)
Saturday, September 20th at 12:30 p.m.

*Andre Smith (6-foot-4, 340 pounds), OT, Alabama
Antwain Robinson (6-foot-2, 258 pounds), DE, Arkansas

Smith is one of the premier offensive tackles in the country and should have success against Robinson on Saturday.
Chris Graythen/Getty

Scouting Report: Andre Smith is a massive, dominant blocker who mauls the opposition at the point of attack. He stays square to his opponent, bends his knees nicely and plays with good pad level. He uses his size to his advantage in running situations and is able to drive back the opposition to create space to gain positive yardage on the ground. He has a powerful lower body and easily holds the action at the line of scrimmage. He uses his hands well and jolts defenders with his brute strength. He moves well laterally and is athletic enough to get to the second level.

Antwain Robinson is a skilled pass rusher with a lot of potential. He plays with great forward lean, balance and body control. He moves well laterally, plays with leverage and displays a solid burst of speed closing in on the action. He changes direction nicely and has the ability to redirect ballcarriers with the pressure he generates.

Head 2 Head: Another battle in the SEC has undefeated Alabama headed to Arkansas for a conference showdown. Alabama has been one of the surprise teams this year, and they pose a threat on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Arkansas is a team with a lot of heart, and they barely survived their first two games against Western Illinois and Louisiana-Monroe. Arkansas’ 2 – 0 record is a bit clouded, because Western Illinois and Louisiana-Monroe don’t have anything that resembles the kind of talent Alabama features, and it will be a major test to see where the Razorbacks are as a team. An interesting matchup will be between Alabama’s junior giant, offensive tackle Andre Smith, and Arkansas defensive end Antwain Robinson. Smith is a massive tackle who dominates the line of scrimmage, and with Robinson being an undersized rush end, he will have to get creative against one of the best offensive linemen in the country. This game has the makings of being a blowout, and the battle between Smith and Robinson will likely be a lopsided affair, and in the end it will be ruled in favor of Smith.

Virginia Tech (2-1) at North Carolina (2-0)

Saturday, September 20th at 3:30 p.m. on ABC

Victor Harris (5-foot-11, 194 pounds), CB, Virginia Tech
*Hakeem Nicks (6-foot-1, 210 pounds), WR, North Carolina

A foot injury has slowed Harris of late, but he will try to get back on track against Nicks this weekend.
Mike Zarrilli /Getty

Scouting Report: Victor “Macho” Harris is a well-built defensive back with tremendous skills. He's an aggressive defender who jams opponents at the line, stalling their progress getting into their routes. He has good footwork and flips his hips well in transition. He has excellent instincts, immediately locates the ball in the air, and displays great timing in pass defense. He's a willing defender in run defense, but has to improve his tackling technique.

Hakeem Nicks is a consistent pass catcher who has reliable hands. He lacks elite speed, but is quick and makes plays downfield. He gets a fluid release off the line, is physical through routes and has the ability to make a difficult reception. He offers the quarterback a nice target and comes back to the ball consistently. He’s a tough runner after the catch and doesn’t go down easily fighting for positive yards.

Head 2 Head: North Carolina is off to a 2 – 0 start and is coming off of a dominating performance against Rutgers where they humiliated the Scarlet Knights in front of their home crowd, 44 – 12. Virginia Tech got off to a disturbing start when they lost to East Carolina in the final minute of the game, but they’ve recently rebounded and won two in a row. North Carolina has a talented wide receiver that the Virginia Tech defense will have to pay attention to, junior Hakeem Nicks. Nicks is a physical receiver and is off to a great start. In the Tar Heels first two games, Nicks had 12 catches for 173 yards and two touchdowns. Combating with Nicks will be Macho Harris. Harris, who’s been battling a foot injury, is one of the best cornerbacks in the country, and although he doesn’t have elite speed, he has great quickness and ball skills. Last weekend against Georgia Tech, Harris, in addition to his role as a starting cornerback, started for the first time at wide receiver. This new duel role that Harris is taking on could play a role in his ability to defend Nicks, especially if his foot isn’t 100-percent.

New Mexico (1-2) at Tulsa (2-0)

Saturday, September 20th at 7:05 p.m.

Glover Quin (5-foot-11, 200 pounds), CB, New Mexico
Brennan Marion (6-foot, 185 pounds), WR, Tulsa

Marion has a knack for gaining positive yards and his 29 YPG this season prove it.
AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Scouting Report: Glover Quin is a tremendous athlete with excellent cover skills. He’s physical at the line of scrimmage, backpedals fluidly, diagnoses the action and has a great burst to the ball. He transitions well in coverage and blankets receivers downfield. He has great awareness and is a willing defender against the run. He has good speed and defends vertical routes with his athleticism and ability to adjust.

Brennan Marion is an explosive receiver who has a knack for making big plays. He gets a quick release off the line, uses his hands to his advantage to get off jams and separates from the opposition to get downfield. He’s elusive in the open field, slippery after the catch, eludes defenders and picks up a lot of yards. He’s the ultimate vertical threat.

Head 2 Head: This Head 2 Head matchup is a bit of an enigma to most, but the players being profiled, Glover Quin and Brennan Marion, are two productive players that will be sleepers for the ’09 draft. When you talk about the best deep threats in college football, a name you never hear about is Marion. Marion isn’t a burner, but he’s sneaky and quick and gets vertical in a hurry. The YPC average Marion produced last year is astonishing. He averaged 31.9 YPC, as he finished with 39 receptions for 1,244 yards and 11 touchdowns. This season, he’s off to another incredible start averaging 29 YPC, as he’s caught eight passes for 232 yards and a touchdown. Quin will have to contest against Marion and hold him in check. Quin is a physical defender who is one of the best cover corners you never heard of. He was bothered by a groin injury last season and underwent surgery, but still contributed 40 tackles and two interceptions. This season, Quin is healthy and is off to a promising start; he has 18 tackles, 2.5 for a loss and an interception. In a game that doesn’t feature two top teams and won’t get much publicity, remember Quin and Marion as sleeper prospects next April.

*Denotes underclassmen

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: csteuber@scout.com.

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