Finally it’s opening kickoff weekend for college football! The snack trays are lined up in the refrigerator and the beer is on ice. Needless to say, game day is more than ready to happen at my house. Beyond the big games such as Florida vs. Michigan and Florida State vs. Alabama, there are two other games you need to circle for your draft boards. Those games are:
#22 West Virginia vs. #21 Virginia Tech
The player that’s a must watch in my opinion is Justin Crawford, RB, West Virginia. Last year was his first season at West Virginia and it was a productive one. After being a walk-on and working at Taco Bell, Crawford compiled 1,184 yards on 163 carries with four touchdowns. He’s so talented and does so many things well. I think he’s got the upside to be a compliment back at the next level. However, once he gets settled into the league, I could see him becoming a lead back for a team. There are times that his vision fails him but overall, he does well with his quickness and balance.
Playing across Justin Crawford will be a very talented defense. The Hokies have a talented secondary and it’s led by Adonis Alexander. At 6’3″, Alexander brings great length and ball skills to the cornerback position. Over the last two seasons he’s got six interceptions and 13 pass deflections. Playing across from him is Brandon Facyson. Even though he’s battled injuries over his career at Virginia Tech, Facyson has been a consistent tackler for them. He’s a physical corner who lacks ideal playmaking ability but he’s got the build of an NFL defensive back.
#16 Louisville vs. Purdue
Before you attack me for this listing this game, hear me out. I expect the same outcome as everyone else, Louisville by a lot. However, we’re going to see Lamar Jackson for the first time since winning the Heisman trophy. The Cardinals also have one of the most talented cornerbacks in the country with Jaire Alexander.
Starting with the Heisman trophy winner, Lamar Jackson will often be considered a wide receiver at the next level. Mostly it’s because of his athletic ability but that’s just a lazy take. Jackson can sling the football and does a great job in the pocket. He needs to make better decisions with the football. Often times, he forces too many passes or stares down a receiver. With only a 55.6% completion percentage combined over the last two years, we can only hope that number improves. Jackson is also gifted as a runner. He ran for over 1,500 yards last season and posted 21 touchdowns. Last year, Purdue gave up an average of 458.3 yards per game. That was ranked for 110th out of 127th in college football. Lamar Jackson will be a nightmare for the Boilermakers.
As for Jaire Alexander, what’s not to like about him? He really came into his own last year with nine pass deflections and five interceptions. He’s currently being projected as a top 5 cornerback in the country and there’s no denying it. Alexander is versatile and displays great hip rotation when dropping back into coverage. The expectations are high for him entering the 2017 season and there’s no better way for him to start it than against a below average offense with Purdue.