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2008 Draft Preview - the Opening Weekend edition...

Discussion in 'NFL Draft' started by SanDiegoRon, Aug 30, 2007.

  1. SanDiegoRon

    SanDiegoRon BoltTalker

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    And another season begins... the draft never ends, the players just change...

    Sat. 09/01/2007 - Georgia Tech at Notre Dame - 12:30 pm PST NBC

    Georgia Tech – Georgia Tech came so close to winning the ACC championship last year, and now it's even better despite losing Calvin Johnson and offensive coordinator Patrick Nix.

    The Outlook - Four of the final five games are at home, and the one road date is at Duke. Boston College and Virginia Tech have to come to Atlanta, so if the Yellow Jackets can survive road dates at Virginia, Maryland and Miami, they should be in for a huge ACC year. Notre Dame is going to need time to jell, so going to South Bend for the season-opener might not be that bad. Georgia has to make the trip to Tech this year.

    The goal this year... Win the ACC title. The defense will be fantastic with nine starters returning to a group that finished 27th in the nation in both total and scoring D. Four starters return to the offensive line, the running backs, led by Tashard Choice, are excellent, and the kicking should be solid led by All-America caliber punter Durant Brooks. It also helps to get Virginia Tech in Atlanta.


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    A Preseason Heisman Candidate, RB Tashard Choice, 6-1 205, Georgia Tech - last season, while NFL scouts drooled over the freakish athleticism of Calvin Johnson, Choice quietly led the ACC in rushing (1,473 yards).

    Regarded their best offensive player, Choice is prepared to become the headline act of the Yellow Jacket offense. Flashing power and quickness to the hole, the one-time Oklahoma Sooner led the ACC in rushing surpassing 100 yards on the ground in nine of his last ten games. He finished his season with 12 touchdowns and a solid five yards per carry. While not a blazer, he has a good burst when he gets an opening.


    LOT Andrew Gardner, Jr. 6-6 298, Georgia Tech - Gardner is the star up front starting his third year in a row at left tackle. A good run blocker, his real worth is in pass protection where he's able to use his athleticism to handle most speed rushers... an All-star candidate in 2007 after receiving honorable mention all-ACC honors last fall and freshman all-America accolades the previous year… Has started 26 straight games… Has good athletic ability and continues to add strength... He should be even better this year…


    and on the other side of the ball...

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    Philip Wheeler, ILB - Wheeler is one of the most athletic linebackers in America and has a penchant for making the big play. He finished fourth in the ACC in sacks (9) and tackles for loss (14.5) last season.

    Regarded as the best defensive player, Wheeler is extremely athletic and is a perfect fit for Coach Jon Tenuta, who asks his linebackers to blitz often and create havoc all over the field. Even after shifting inside before the start of last season, he still led Tech in sacks and tackles for loss to go along with 89 stops. He's a hard-hitting disruptive force who's as good in pass coverage as he is at getting into the backfield. Athleticism, speed and tackling have never been a problem, and now with his experience inside and out, always being in the right position won't be, either

    A 3-4 candidate - DE Adamm Oliver, 6-4 270 - Oliver is the best player up front... at 270 pounds, he's tremendous against the run with the strength to play tackle if needed. While he's strong enough to hold his own against most tackles, he also has the burst of an end able to get into the backfield on a regular basis. His 70 tackles were good for fourth on the team to go along with 3.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss. While he's not always flashy, he got the recognition last season earning Second Team All-ACC honors…

    The safeties will be fantastic. Senior Djay Jones was out this spring with a shoulder problem, but is expected to be back to shine at free safety where he led the team with four interceptions. While big enough to be a steady tackler, the 6-1, 200-pounder is more suited to playing in space where he can use his good speed to roam.

    Senior Jamal Lewis will man the strong safety spot again after finishing second on the team with 74 tackles with three interceptions and 6.5 tackles for loss. The All-ACC star began his career at corner before finding a home at safety.


    Notre Dame – can the Irish go 0-8 to start the season – it’s possible...

    The Outlook - the Domers are green on both sides of the ball, especially on the lines, and they’ll be facing some of the better QB’s in college ball back-to-back-to-back…

    With an improved Anthony Morelli at Penn State, along with Chad Henne at Michigan, Curtis Painter at Purdue, Ben Olson at UCLA, Matt Ryan at Boston College, and John David Booty at USC, expect that secondary to get lit up – just like last year – I bet they’re happy Drew Stanton graduated….

    they have to have this game…

    But when your best offensive player is TE John Carlson, see above pic #89, you’ve got some rebuilding to do… Although he was a Mackey Award finalist last year - Carlson had Quinn throwing to him - was he really that good? At 6-6 and around 260 pounds, he has tremendous size and surprising quickness for a player of his size averaging 13.4 yards per catch last season on 47 grabs with four touchdowns despite missing time late with a knee injury...

    The D will switch to a 3-4 under new coordinator Corwin Brown, so that means more pressure will likely have to come from the linebackers, specifically this guy:

    ILB Maurice Crum, 6-0 230 - Crum is the defense’s most productive player and a rising superstar… he led the team with 100 tackles to go along with four sacks and ten tackles for loss last season… Able to play inside or out, he found a home in the middle using his speed to make plays all over the field while also growing into a strong pass rusher.

    DE Trevor Laws is the only starter to return to the d-line, but he's a good one. 6-1, 295-pound senior is a tackle who'll play end in the new 3-4 scheme, and he appears ready to blow up and become a defensive superstar. He's already good, with 63 tackles and 3.5 sacks last year with 9.5 tackles for loss, and now he'll be even more of a pass rusher.

    Watch List: Needing to become a star early on is 6-5, 340-pound redshirt freshman OG/NT Chris Stewart, the huge body the defenses desperately needs on the nose. The problem, besides his lack of experience, is his health, after having problems staying in one piece this spring... the prep All-American will compete for playing time at offensive guard this year as well ....

    The secondary should be a little bit better, and it has a star to build around in seemingly 10th year player 6-0, 210-pound senior SS Tom Zbikowski. Extremely fast to begin with, he went from being a bulky boxer to a lean, mean, pure defensive back, and the new frame appeared to pay off big this spring. A huge hitter and an intimidating force, making 79 tackles last year and 220 in his career, he should be all over the field even more, now that he's even quicker, and he needs to be better against the pass after breaking up just two passes and failing to come up with an interception.

    The D’s fast riser is FS David Bruton, 6-2 207 - Primarily used on special teams in his first two seasons in South Bend, Bruton finished a strong spring with a brilliant performance in the Blue-Gold game. He returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown, recorded four tackles and was named defensive MVP. He'll give the Irish more speed in the secondary than they've had in recent seasons.
     
  2. SanDiegoRon

    SanDiegoRon BoltTalker

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    Sat. 09/01/2007 - Oklahoma State at Georgia 3:45 pm PST ESPN2 – You only need one reason to watch this game… this guy… and it could be the only chance to see him this year against a quality opponent…

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    WR Adarius Bowman - He is one of America's finest deep threats and proved it in 2006 with a ridiculous average of 19.7 yards per catch. Bowman had one of the most impressive individual performances of the season against North Carolina, catching 13 balls for 300 yards and four touchdowns...

    Will be covering Georgia later on this season…



    Sat. 09/01/2007 - Kansas State at Auburn - 4:45 pm PST ESPN – Two 3-4 defenses matchup with potential Bolt OLB’s and NT’s….

    Kansas State – Why watch? DC Tim Tibesar will take over the defense and install a 3-4 scheme, which might, at times, look more like a 4-3 with star Ian Campbell playing outside linebacker and the occasional end…

    [​IMG]

    OLB Ian Campbell - The former walk-on tied for the Big 12 lead in sacks last season with 11 1/2. Campbell boasts notable quickness off the edge and has a motor that won't quit.

    The Bolts need another rush OLB to work into the rotation - Is Campbell a candidate…. Regarded the best defensive player, DE/OLB Ian Campbell went from an unknown backup to an unstoppable pass-rushing machine, making 67 tackles, 11.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss. While his 6-5, 232-pound frame makes him more of an end, he’s quick enough to play outside linebacker if needed. In reality, he'll likely play a hybrid of end and linebacker to do whatever is needed, but wherever he lines up, he'll be one of the Big 12's most dangerous defenders who'll need to be accounted for on every play.

    The anchor of the front three in the new 3-4 scheme will be 6-0, 294-pound junior NT Alphonso Moran, but he'll be part of a regular rotation. A strong veteran with 39 tackles over the last two seasons and should emerge as an even more effective defender with more responsibility.

    Emerging on the other end is 6-3, 265-pound senior Rob Jackson, who started to come on at the end of last year with all the attention paid to Ian Campbell. When the light turned on for the former JUCO transfer, he had some big moments, finishing with 4.5 sacks and eight tackles for loss along with 36 tackles. With the way he's grown into the role, Campbell has been able to move to linebacker.


    Auburn – A rebuilding year for Auburn, but they still have a couple Sunday players… this guy to be sure..

    [​IMG]

    DE/OLB Quentin Groves - The defensive end surprised many when he decided to return to Auburn for his senior campaign. Groves needs just four sacks to set Auburn's career record...

    The teams best defensive player and perhaps a Top 20 pick, DE/OLB Quentin Groves will now be one of the nation’s most fearsome pass rushers with the potential to be a double-digit sack man if he gets some help from the other side. Few ends can change a game like he can… At 6-4, 254-pounds, he finally became more consistent last season and started to shine against the top teams, something he didn't do in his first two seasons… (3 sacks against Florida, 2 against Alabama, and 6 tackles against South Carolina)

    Returning to his spot on the nose is senior Josh Thompson, who overcame an injury plagued sophomore season to make 44 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss. Perfectly suited for the nose, he's 6-0, 295 pounds and quick with tremendous strength… he is strong, difficult to move, able to command a double team, and in the meantime tackle the football at the line of scrimmage or behind it… The three-time Georgia state high school weightlifting champion doesn't get pushed around.

    Watch List: Certain to benefit from Groves on the other side will be sophomore DE Sen'Derrick Marks, a Freshman All-SEC performer who turned into a whale of an interior pass rusher making 10.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and 38 tackles. He's an athletic 287 pounds who isn't the most consistent rock against the run, but he makes more than his share of plays. Still considered a bit raw going into last season, now he's on the verge of All-SEC stardom inside or out with a little more experience.
     
  3. SanDiegoRon

    SanDiegoRon BoltTalker

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    Sat. 09/01/2007 - Tennessee at California - 5:00 pm PST ABC – Game of the Day…

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    This is the best game on college football's opening weekend, and personally, I commend both programs for having the balls to play each other so early in the season… Tennessee embarrassed a shell-shocked Cal team last year in Knoxville, but this year's game shifts to Berkeley… They both have high expectations for the season, and someone is going to start out 0-1…

    Tennessee – the Tennessee-like athleticism is still there. The defense has a slew of high school All-Americans with all the measureables, while the offense has enough speed at receiver to make up for the inexperience. The backfield should be great, with QB Erik Ainge almost certain to make the new receivers look good, and the trio of Arian Foster, LaMarcus Coker and Montario Hardesty could give the Vols the best ground game they've had in years.

    The defense has plenty of filling in to do around LB Jerod Mayo and FS Jonathan Hefney, and by the time it happens, the Vols could be in a deep, deep hole after playing at California, Southern Miss and at Florida to start the season. The offense loses its top three receivers and the two best players up front.

    Spring recap: Offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe began the spring by installing a surprise no-huddle offense, but Ainge injured his knee and the young receiving corps struggled. Coker saw time as a Reggie Bush-type receiver. The Vols' front seven looked solid, but the secondary has questions.

    The Vols best offensive player and potential Heisman candidate - QB Erik Ainge regained his freshman form in 2006, authoring one of last season’s comeback stories of the year. After a lousy sophomore season, 6-6, 220-pound senior Erik Ainge blew up and became one of the SEC's best quarterbacks, completing 67% of his passes for 2,989 yards and 19 touchdowns with nine interceptions. With NFL size, a live arm, and an offensive coordinator in David Cutcliffe who's saved his career, Ainge could be the best Tennessee passer since Peyton Manning, and if he improves his decision making skills even more, could be a first day draft pick. He hurt his knee this off-season, but he should be back and ready to roll by the opener.
    Ainge was good last season, but a lot of the credit for his rebound goes to receivers Robert Meachem and Jayson Swain, both of whom are off to the NFL. All but five of his 19 touchdown passes went to the duo, production which will be real difficult to replace.

    and on D...

    [​IMG]

    FS Jonathan Hefney - The 5-foot-9, 185-pounder has a nose for the ball and can hit with the best of them. Hefney is also one of the SEC's most feared punt returners…

    FS Jonathan Hefney - There might not be a better pound-for-pound tackler in the country. The senior has been all over the field for three years, getting in on 226 tackles while being a top ball-hawk, breaking up 16 passes and picking off nine others. He’s also becoming an elite punt returner… a superior hitter, sure-thing tackler and tough as nails, he’s got the speed of a corner… he'd be a sure-thing top ten draft pick if he was about ten pounds heavier and a little bit bigger overall.

    Another tweener DE/OLB to watch is 6-2, 255 junior DE Xavier Mitchell who is the team's best linemen and most likely All-SEC prospect. Coming off a shoulder problem, he was a decent pass rusher with four sacks and 13 quarterback hurries, to go along with 32 tackles. Extremely athletic, he's quick off the ball. If he starts to finish off his plays with bigger hits and more sacks, he has a shot to be the difference maker the line needs.

    If and when he can stay healthy, 6-2, 230-pound junior ILB Jerod Mayo will be an All-America caliber difference maker who'll be the leader of the defense. Third on the team with 83 tackles, while leading the way with five sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss, he's a disruptive force who'll move from the outside to the middle. With strength and speed, he has it all to grow into something special. He has tremendous talent to go along with plenty of heart, and as long as he stays healthy, he'll be a difference maker to build a defense around.


    California – a great offense and an average defense… Losing DT Brandon Mebane, LB Desmond Bishop and CB Daymeion Hughes isn't fatal, but it means a slew of new players have to be really good, now.

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    The Star DeSean Jackson - Jackson's magnificent vision and breathtaking speed make him one of the most explosive players at the college level. As a sophomore, he led the NCAA in punt return average (18.2 yards) and touchdowns (four).

    Heisman Candidate: WR DeSean Jackson, Jr., 6-0 166, Cal - A quintessential long-ball hitter, Jackson is arguably the most dynamic and electrifying player in the country. Whether he’s taking a hitch pass or fielding a punt, he’s a constant threat to deliver a sensational, highlight reel performance. Think Ted Ginn Jr., but smaller and more productive. He is one of the nation’s fastest players and a game-breaker whenever he has the ball in his hands. The ultimate deep threat, Jackson has averaged 17.1 yards per catch on 97 grabs with 16 touchdowns in his first two years...

    [​IMG]

    RB Justin Forsett - With Marshawn Lynch's early departure Forsett finally gets his chance to shine as the No. 1-running back. As Lynch's backup the last two years, Forsett rushed for 1,625 and 10 touchdowns.

    QB Nate Longshore enters the season as one of the nation’s fast rising quarterbacks, but to get there, he’s had to overcome a season-ending ankle injury in 2005 and a rough 2006 opener against Tennessee. After the slow start, Longshore went on to finish second to John David Booty in Pac-10 passing efficiency, throwing for 3,021 yards, 24 touchdowns and a troublesome 13 picks that need to be reduced this fall. At 6-5 and 233 pounds, he has an unmistakable pocket presence and a powerful right arm, needing only to improve his decision making and trim some unnecessary weight before the start of the season.
     
  4. SanDiegoRon

    SanDiegoRon BoltTalker

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    and finally, our first Monday Night Football...

    Mon. 09/03/2007 - Florida State at Clemson - 5:00 pm PST ESPN - Key game for both - Is it too early to suggest that this an ACC title elimination game for one of the Bowdens...

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    Florida State – The early spring buzz ... The Jimbo Fisher era begins as the new offensive coordinator will try to put some consistency into an attack that's been shockingly average over the last several years. Quarterbacks Drew Weatherford and Xavier Lee completed 26 of 49 passes and three touchdowns at Doak Campbell in the annual Garnet and Gold game. Basically, FSU hasn’t decided on a starting quarterback yet, although WRs Greg Carr and DeCody Fa*g will make big play after big play with Fisher wanting to bomb away deep.

    So, what happened to Drew… In his Freshman season, he looked to be the ACC’s next Philip Rivers… well, he tanked as a Sophomore… So, Bobby Bowden canned his son Tommy as OC and brought in Jimbo Fisher… can he turn the kid and this offense around??? Expect to see Weatherford, if he gets the starting gig, go downfield more frequently.

    Key Game: This one, as they need to get the early season wins because the November Sched is BRUTAL…

    Best Offensive Player: Junior WR Greg Carr. For the last two seasons, Carr has been a mismatch for just about every defensive back who’s tried to contain him, averaging nearly 20 yards on his 64 catches, while pulling down 21 touchdown receptions. Now he needs to play up to his talent level as he wasn’t even listed as a starter coming out of spring ball. That’s mainly for motivation as Bowden wants his 6-6 target to make the transition for solid to superstar..

    Junior WR De'Cody Fa*g is a 6-3, 218-pound bolt of lightning who finished second on the team with 37 catches for 439 yards and a touchdown. He had issues early on in his career with a banged up knee, and had other problems with his schoolwork. Everything is now set, and if the quarterback play is steadier, he should blow up into a top pro prospect. Getting into the end zone more would be nice.

    Watch List: Back at right tackle is 6-7, 324-pound senior Shannon Boatman, a former JUCO transfer who stepped in and started in 12 games. A great athlete for his size, he had a nice first year…

    and the Main Man on D...

    [​IMG]

    Myron Rolle, SS – A top 10 pick in 09, Rolle lived up to his enormous billing. Rolle is the complete package at strong safety, with size, speed, smarts and major hitting ability.

    Best Defensive Player: SS Myron Rolle. He has it all... He's big, strong, fast, and handled himself well at strong safety... A prototype for the position, he's one of the ACC's biggest hitters with enough speed to be great at free safety if needed. At 6-2, 218 pounds, Rolle was supposed to be good, but he lived up to the impressive hype and more as a true freshman with 77 tackles, an interception, five broken up passes and 5.5 tackles for loss. If he can stay injury free over the next two years, he'll likely be a top ten pick in 2009. He'll be a multi-millionaire very soon.

    The Noles have question marks on the line, but they have a great one to revolve around in 6-4, 286-pound senior NT Andre Fluellen on the inside. While he's not a space-eater, he's as quick as an end and can more than hold his own against the run. He came up with 28 tackles and eight tackles for loss, but with his athleticism, he should be doing far more to get into the backfield on a regular basis. They’re likely to move him around the line based on down & distance…


    Clemson – Strategy: Run, Run and run some more… Goal for the season - Start strong. Even without Gaines Adams, the defense should be among the ACC's best while the 1-2 rushing punch of James Davis and C.J. Spiller will get the offense rolling. If the Tigers can win the Bowden Bowl on opening day, they'll be 3-0 (UL Monroe and Furman follow) going into road dates against NC State and Georgia Tech followed up by a statement home game with Virginia Tech. If they get through the first half of the season unscathed they'll be a sleeper in the BCS race…

    [​IMG]

    James Davis, RB - With his bruising style, Davis is the "thunder" element of Clemson's "thunder and lightning" backfield. Clemson's starter last season led the ACC with 17 rushing touchdowns.

    Potential Heisman Candidate, Junior RB James Davis, 5-11, 205, possesses all of the tools to be an All-American back in his third season with the Tigers. He’s got breakaway speed, terrific vision and a nose for the goal line. He’s a powerful, straight-ahead runner who has outstanding vision and balance to go along with a nose for the goal line. He led the team with 1,187 yards and 17 touchdowns averaging 5.8 yards per carry, but he saw hit production slow down over the second half of the. Able to do a little of everything well, he can run inside or out, and he can catch more than he showed last year.

    [​IMG]

    C.J. Spiller, RB - Spiller plays the role of "lightning" in Clemson's "thunder and lightning" backfield. Spiller's 7.3 yards per carry average tells you everything you need to know.

    RB C.J. Spiller, 5-11 190, would be the starter and a 1,500-yard back for about 100 other teams. The superstar recruit lived up to the hype and more with five 100-yard games. Not only did he run for 938 yards and ten scores, but he was fourth on the team with 19 catches for 210 yards and two scores. C.J. Spiller is way too explosive to save for spot duty, so Davis is going to lose plenty of carries and spotlight opportunities to his sophomore counterpart.

    and guess which way they’ll run…

    The line returns just one starter, but he's a potential first rounder. 6-7, 320-pound senior LOT Barry Richardson likely would've been a top 50 NFL draft pick if he had left early, and he should be one of the first tackles taken next year. He'll start again at left tackle with 32 straight starts under his belt, and he'll be the one the offense works behind.

    Next to Richardson at left guard will be 6-5, 330-pound senior Chris McDuffie, who started the last five games of last year in place of an injured Roman Fry. A dominant run blocker, he's a bruiser who can play either side. While he's not Richardson, he's tremendously physical.

    The best defensive player is senior LB Nick Watkins. Last year’s leading tackler had more than 200 stops over the past two seasons from his weak-side position, and has distinguished himself as the best linebacker in pass coverage. At 6-2, 220-pounds, he cleans up everything against the run with fantastic range and quickness. He's also a superstar on special teams.

    The star of the secondary is 6-1, 205-pound junior FS Chris Clemons, who finished second on the team with 102 tackles and eight broken up passes. One of the defense's fastest players, he has unlimited range with the open-field tackling ability of a strong safety. He's all but certain to be an All-ACC pick.

    Watch List: a 3-4 DE??? 6-5, 270-pound junior Phillip Merling, a nice, steady defender who flourished on the other side of Adams making 46 tackles, three sacks, ten tackles for loss and 20 quarterback pressures. The former tight end is great against the run, and athletic enough to get into the backfield. Somewhat quietly, he'll grow into a good pro prospect.

    Enjoy!!!
     
  5. SanDiegoRon

    SanDiegoRon BoltTalker

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    what's the line on these games... who do you like...

    I'd take:
    . GeoTech BIG...
    . Auburn in a tight one...
    . I'll go OkSt over UGA
    . the Vols in a nail biter (sorry)
    . and Clemson at home...

    4 of the 5 should be close...
     
  6. SanDiegoRon

    SanDiegoRon BoltTalker

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    Today from SI...

    . Tennessee QB Erik Ainge's pinkie finger is broken. RB LaMarcus Coker isn't making the trip. And the receivers are a complete mystery. I'm not saying the Vols are going to fall behind 35-0 like Cal did against them last year -- I just hope they're showing a good movie on the flight back. - Cal 30, Tennessee 17

    . A lot of people say this game has upset potential. I remember hearing the same thing about another Georgia opener two years ago. End result: Dawgs 48, Boise State 13. Cowboys QB Bobby Reid will give UGA some trouble -- but not as much as Matthew Stafford will give the Pokes. - Georgia 31, Oklahoma State 17

    . Jordan-Hare Stadium hasn't exactly been a haven for Auburn in recent years -- see opening losses to USC (2003) and Georgia Tech ('05) as well as blowout defeats last year to Georgia and Arkansas. On paper, the Tigers should handle K-State -- but the Wildcats won't let it be easy. - Auburn 26, Kansas State 22

    . If Demetrius Jones' Facebook page proves a reliable source, the athletic redshirt freshman will get first crack under center for the Irish on Saturday. He's believed to be an impressive runner with raw passing skills -- kind of like the guy Tech's defense faced in practice the past four years. - Georgia Tech 21, Notre Dame 13

    . After three straight years of offensively offensive matchups, ABC/ESPN finally pulled the plug on those FSU-Miami Monday night openers and replaced them with a matchup more likely to provide fireworks. Of course, it also required Bobby Bowden replacing his son as offensive coordinator. - Clemson 28, Florida State 24
     
  7. SanDiegoRon

    SanDiegoRon BoltTalker

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    I wasn't the only one surprised by OkSt - they were a disappointment... and yeah, Forsett qualified for Player of the Day, but I gave My DayBall to Quentin Groves, who took over the game when he had to... he'd be great in Bolts...

    From SI: Quentin Groves/DE/Auburn: Groves proved why he is one of the top pure pass rushers that will be available in next April's draft. A disruptive force all night against Kansas State, he was instrumental in Auburn's come-from-behind victory. Late in the fourth quarter, Groves came up with a pair of critical sacks and forced a fumble which was returned by teammate Antonio Coleman for a touchdown to seal the win.
     

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