Football is here! Thank God. There are a lot of interesting viewing options for West Coast Football in Week 1 starting with FOUR games Thursday night! With limited time I have to narrow focus to what I can actually watch. While there are a lot of entertaining undercards, the main event is clearly Boise @ U Dub. Not only with this shape both teams' seasons, but it also features the consensus #1 TE prospect in the 2014 draft in ASJ. This will take away most the eyes from a back loaded West Coast Saturday. The undercards feature a slate of non-conference games loaded with draft prospects.
Rutgers @ Fresno St Aug. 29th, 7:30 PST - ESPNU
Rutgers Players to Watch: Brandon Coleman WR(8) #17 JR -- Kaleb Johnson LG (19) #72 JR -- Jamal Merrell SLB(37) #37 SR
Fresno Players to Watch: Derek Carr QB(7) #4 SR -- Devante Adams WR(15) #15 SO (‘15) -- Derron Smith FS(16) #15 JR -- Austin Wentworth LT(21) #72 SR -- Tyeler Davison NG(24) #92 JR -- LJ Jones CB(36) #6 SR
Key Matchups: Jones v. Coleman -- Davison v. Johnson
Preview: If Derek Carr is going to follow his brother into the NFL, then he and Adams should carve up the average Rutgers secondary. Arm strength isn’t a question, so decision making and accuracy will be what I’m look at. While Rutgers is on offense, we’ll see how Jones will project by lining up with a very tall 6'-6" and very draftable Coleman.
BYU @ Virginia Aug. 31st, 12:30 PST - ESPNU
BYU Players to Watch: Cody Hoffman WR(4) #2 SR -- Kyle Van Noy WLB(4) #3 SR -- Kaneakua Friel TE(16) #82 SR -- LT Ryker Matthews LT(29) #72 SR
UVA Players to Watch: LT Morgan Moses LT(6) #78 SR -- Demetrious Nicholson CB(15) #1 JR -- Kevin Parks RB(44) #25 JR
Key Matchups: Van Noy v. Moses -- Hoffman v. Nicholson
Preview: Van Noy is one of the premier pass rushers in the country. This year he won’t have the benefit of Ansah attracting attention away from him. Moses is the next in a long line of great UVA linemen. If he can handle the speed of Van Noy he might start making his way to the top of the OT list. I’ll be watching his footwork. After Lee and Watkins the WR position is wide open. Hoffman can make an impression by a good game against a good corner in Nicholson.
Wyoming @ Nebraska Aug. 31st, 5:00 PST - BTN
Wyoming Players to Watch: Brett Smith QB(21) #16 JR -- Robert Herron WR #6(NR) SR -- Blair Burns CB(57) #20 JR -- Eddie Yarbrough DE(NR) #55 SO
Nebraska Players to Watch: Spencer Long RG(4) #61 SR -- Jeramiah Sireles RT(12) #71 SR -- Kenny Bell WR(12) #80 JR -- Ameer Abdullah RB(8) #8 JR -- Jason Ankrah DE(26) #9 SR -- Taylor Martinez QB/ATH(13) #3 SR
Key Matchups: Brett Smith v. The State of Nebraska -- Herron v. CBs Evans/Davis -- Yarbrough v. Sireles -- Burns v. Bell/Enunwa
Preview: If you don’t know who Brett Smith is, watch this game. There’s not a player who mirrors his team’s mascot better. I half expect him to walk out on the field in chaps ready to hop on a bull for his TD celebration. The Pokes mobile QB can sling it and it will be fun to see what he can do against a top tier team like Nebraska. A strong showing will put him on people’s 2015 lists. On the other end, I expect Nebraska to push around the Pokes front seven. Abdullah’s speed will be on display. I’ll be interested to see if Burns can hang with Bell and Enunwa in man coverage. Also, you never know what you’re gonna get with T-Magic. Should be fun.
Boise St @ Washington Aug. 31st, 7:00 PST - FS1
Boise Players to Watch: Demarcus Lawernce DE(19) #8 JR -- Matt Miller WR(13) #2 JR -- Matt Paradis C(30) #65 SR -- Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe DT(55) #43 SR -- Joe Southwick QB(NR) #16 SR -- Jeremy Ioane S(31) #10 JR
UW Players to Watch: Austin Sefarian-Jenkins TE(1) #88 JR -- Kasen Williams WR(16) #2 JR -- Bishop Sankey(10) RB #25 JR -- Shaq Thompson LB(15) #7 SO ('15) -- Josh Shirley DE(29) #22 JR -- Keith Price QB(39) #17 SR
Key Matchups: ASJ v. Ioane -- Lawrence v. ASJ/OTs -- Sankey v. Boise LBs
Preview: Sark let ASJ’s DUI slide so he can play in this game. I expect big things from him. It will be more than pass catching if U Dub is going to win. He and the OL will have to open up holes against a very stout Boise front. The pressure the Lawrence gets could determine if we see 2011 or 2012 Keith Price. Either way, this game is must win for both teams.
Northwestern @ Cal Aug. 31st, 7:30 PST ESPN2/IN PERSON
Northwestern Players to Watch: Venric Mark RB(15) #5 SR -- Brandon Vitabile C(7) #66 JR -- Ibraheim Campbell SS(10) #24 JR -- Kain Colter QB/ATH(NR) #2 SR
Cal Players to Watch: DeAndre Coleman DT(9) #91 SR -- Brendan Bigelow RB(34) #5 JR
Key Matchups: Coleman v. Vitabile -- Bigelow v. Campbell
Preview: OK so this game isn’t at the top of everyone’s list, but since I’ll be there, it’s at the top of mine. Northwestern’s offense is going to be a lot of fun to watch with Mark and Colter running around. Or to see when Colter lines up. I’ll be watching to see if Coleman can force his way into the back field to disrupt NWtern’s controlled chaos. Brendan Bigelow should thrive in Sonny Dyke’s new Bear Raid offense.