MAACO Bowl primer

MAACO Bowl Las Vegas
Oregon State vs. BYU
Tonight, 8 p.m. EST, ESPN

Prospects worth keeping an eye on:

He throws one catchable football

Oregon State’s Sean Canfield has been one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the country, completing 70 percent of his passes for 3,103 yards and 21 touchdowns while throwing only six interceptions. He’s done a great job all year not only taking proper care of the football but also anticipating throws down the field. Canfield is a well-built quarterback at 6-4, 214 pounds, but the lefty doesn’t possess the type of arm strength needed to consistently thread the needle and force the ball into tight spots outside the numbers. However, he throws one of the most catchable balls I’ve seen this season and always seems to put the right amount of touch and velocity behind each pass, giving his receivers the best chance to pluck the ball and create after the catch. Plus, he’s shown an ability all season to be decisive in the pocket, quickly go through his progressions and find his checkdown options if nothing is there. Oregon State head coach Mike Riley has seen the likes of Derek Anderson and Matt Moore develop under his tutelage and go on to start games as NFL signal callers. However, it’s Canfield who looks to be the best of the bunch and could end up being the first senior quarterback off the board next April with a strong postseason.

Mismatch

One of the toughest matchups for any defense in college football over the past three seasons has been BYU tight end Dennis Pitta. Pitta is a 6-5, 248-pound athlete who has a real feel for the pass game and great body control and knows how to set up defenders before his breaks. He’s likely to surpass 800 yards receiving for the third straight year and has the ability to not only shield defensive backs from the football when he lines up on the outside, but can also run past linebackers down the seam when he plays with his hand on the ground. However, the main question concerning Pitta at the next level is: Will he be able to hold his own as blocker with an NFL-caliber defensive end lined up over his face? If not, he still has the ability to cause a lot of mismatches in the pass game as a team’s No. 2 tight end but can’t be considered a starting-caliber “on the line Y” for an NFL team.

Underrated

One prospect I’m exited to study again is Oregon State offensive guard Gregg Peat, who has quietly been one of the Pac-10’s most impressive offensive linemen in 2009 and looks poised to start making a move up draft boards this postseason. He isn’t the biggest or most athletically gifted guard prospect, but he’s had some impressive showings this year vs. some of the best defensive tackles in the Pac-10 and should more than hold his own tonight.

You just never know

One guy to keep a close eye on is BYU redshirt sophomore left tackle Matt Reynolds, who has quietly been one of the most dominant offensive linemen in the country this season. He possesses an intriguing blend of size (6-6, 329) and overall athleticism off the edge in pass protection as well as impressive anchor strength on contact. Plus, he looks natural on the move and displays the coordination to reach defenders off his frame and hit/seal at the second level. Now, he still gets raw with his footwork at times and is able to get away with some sloppy technique because of his pure ability. However, he has the skill set to develop into one of the nation’s top offensive tackle prospects in the coming years and has the upside to project as a potential dirty starter at the next level if, for some reason, he declares early for the draft.

Wow! He can pack a punch

Pound for pound, Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea might produce the most devastating punch on contact of any lineman in the country. His ability to generate power off the snap and consistently uncoil a compact yet overwhelming pop is a trait not displayed by many 6-1, 288 pound linemen. Paea is a former rugby player who was born in Tonga and is still developing at the position, but he’s made his share of plays this year and has one of the highest ceilings of any junior defensive line prospect in the nation. He possesses a stout, muscular build and displays the first-step quickness and power to mature into a disruptive/penetrating type of interior lineman at the next level. As of now, Paea grades out as a guy who will see playing time as rookie but be counted on to start for an NFL team in year two or three. However, you can tell he’s a passionate, hard-working individual who, with some time, definitely has the skill set and willingness to develop into an impact interior lineman at the next level.

Follow me on Twitter: WesBunting

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