Prospect Watch: Week 9


The leaves are changing, the power bill is going down, winter is on the way. With the start of winter comes the midway point of the 2011 football season.  This season has had many surprises thus far. The Bills and Bengals are standing at 5-2. The Colts are 0-8 . We have Cam Newton’s early success not leading to his head exploding (yet).  In college, we have a great race shaping up heading all the way to New Orleans. The fantasy world has seen players like Jamal Charles go down, Chris Johnson look like a shell of his former self. It’s hard to believe that only 3 months ago we were all sweating over if the NFL season was even going to be played.

And just past the mid way point, the Prospect Watch players are really starting to show who they are and what type of player they can be at the next level:

Matt Barkley (QB, USC): In a showdown between 2 QBs on the fast track to the NFL, you could definitely tell who is NFL ready (Andrew Luck) and who is a level or two below (Barkley). Barkley stared down his intended target most of the night,  which led to deflected passes and an INT. He maintained his typical, low 6.3 YPA, as well. On the positive side, when rolling out Barkley threw passes with “zip” and on target. He finished the day completing 62% of his passes (28/45), for 284 yards and 3 TDs (2 in OT) and 1 INT in a triple OT loss to #6 Stanford.

Trent Richardson (RB, ‘Bama): Alabama had the week off as they prepare to play in the National Championship Game Saturday night and Richardson will be a focal point in Bama’s offense as LSU comes marching into Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Justin Blackmon(WR, OK State): Blackmon recovered well from “concussion-like” symptoms that sidelined him the 2nd half of last week. There has been plenty of talk this season about his “lack of separation” (I even wrote about it in his game versus Texas) and it was again an issue against Baylor. However, DBs were consistently pulling Blackmon’s jersey, holding him (some called by refs) and bumping him off the line of scrimmage resulting in said “lack of separation.” Regardless, being the physical specimen that he is he battled through all that and continued to use his soft hands instead of catching the ball with his body and ended the day with 13 receptions for 172 yards and 2 TDs in a win against Baylor . Blackmon also helped RB, Joseph Randle gain 152 yards and 4 TDs by doing a good job blocking down field. He did however, telegraph OK State’s run plays at times with a few slow steps after the snap.

Zach Brown (LB, UNC): Brown has been making more and more of an impact as the season goes on and he continued that early against Wake Forest. On the opening drive, Brown stripped Wake Forest  QB, Tanner Price, and recovered the fumble leading to the first UNC TD. Brown’s best attribute is his pursuit. Brown plays till the whistle blows, sometimes coming all the way across the field to get involved in the play. It is becoming obvious that the best spot at the NFL level will be WLB in a 4-3 defense because when Brown tries to take on an OT it looks like he is trying to move a mountain (bigger linemen over power him). Brown is a Butkus Award (Best collegiate LB) finalist and looks to lead UNC’s D against NC State this weekend.

Cliff Harris (Oregon, CB): Mr. Harris found himself in the dog house yet again and was suspended for Oregon’s win as Washington State. You would think Coach Kelly would literally hold Harris’s hand all the way to the DMV by now.