Thursday night primer

In Week 11 of our Thursday night primer, the National Football Post highlights some of the keys to tonight’s South Florida-Rutgers game, including top players and matchups that NFL scouts will be watching.

Prospects to keep an eye on:

Rutgers

Tim Brown: No. 2, WR, 5-8, 165

One of the nation’s most underrated wide receivers. Possesses impressive initial burst, vertical speed and balance as a route runner and can consistently separate down the field. Lacks the size and girth to play on the outside at the next level, but he will find a way to contribute on an NFL offense

Anthony Davis: No. 75, OT, 6-6, 325

One of the nation’s premier left tackle prospects. Has an impressive combination of size, power and athleticism and an ability to develop into a Pro Bowl-caliber player at the next level.

Kevin Haslam: No. 78, OT, 6-5, 295

A good athlete for the position who looks natural pulling and getting out in space. However, he struggles to keep his pads down in pass protection and lacks the power to consistently anchor on contact.

Devin McCourty: No. 21, CB, 5-11, 190

A tough, well-built corner who possesses good speed for the position and has the ability to press off the line and fight for the football.

Ryan D’Imperio: No. 44, ILB, 6-1, 245

A limited athlete who plays stiff and struggles in space.

Others worth watching:

Jack Corcoran: No. 19, FB, 6-0, 230
Ryan Blaszczyk: No. 61, C, 6-3, 295
George Johnson: No. 31, DE, 6-4, 265


South Florida

Carlton Mitchell: No. 2, WR, 6-4, 212

A gifted size/speed athlete who has the ability to consistently create vertically down the field. Isn’t the most polished receiver, but the talent is there.

George Selvie: No. 95, DE/OLB, 6-4, 245

Possesses an explosive first step, but he struggles using his hands properly and lacks the balance to cleanly change directions off the edge. Looks more like a potential 3-4 OLB at the next level.

Jason Pierre-Paul: No. 90, DE, 6-6, 265

His upside is absolutely tremendous. You don’t find many defensive ends with his physical skill set. He’s still raw, but he can shed blocks with ease and be a factor vs. both the pass and run game.

Kion Wilson: No. 42, ILB, 6-1, 235

Isn’t dynamic in any area of the game, but he runs well, has a passion for the game and looks like an ideal special teams-type athlete in the NFL.

Jerome Murphy: No. 3, CB, 6-1, 185

An intriguing size/speed corner who can close on the football but lacks ideal balance in his drop and has a tendency to drift out of his breaks.

Nate Allen: No. 5, FS, 6-1, 206

Displays an impressive combination of instincts and athletic ability for the position and can make plays in all areas of the game. Looks like a potential starter at the next level.

Others worth watching:

Mike Ford: No. 26, RB, 6-2, 225
Craig Marshall: No. 94, DE. 6-5, 260

Scout’s key matchup No. 1

Rutgers LT Anthony Davis vs. South Florida DE George Selvie

Rutgers offensive tackle Anthony Davis is quickly establishing himself as one of the nation’s top overall left tackle prospects. Davis exhibits an impressive blend of size, power and fluidly off the edge and displays the ability to consistently reach the corner and anchor at the point of attack. He possesses a very strong base and does a great job remaining balanced on his kick-slide, and once he gets his hands on you, the battle is over.

Davis will be opposed by South Florida defensive end George Selvie, who possesses an explosive initial first step and has the closing speed to consistently threaten the corner. However, he’s too much of a one-trick pony at this stage and struggles to keep his pad level down and cleanly change directions off his rush. He lacks ideal power on contact and fails to use his hands properly when trying to disengage from blocks.

I expect Davis to have his way with Selvie both in the run and pass game, as Davis has the power to routinely drive him off the ball at the point of attack as well as the range to consistently reach the corner in pass protection. Selvie needs to beat opposing tackles with his initial burst, and Davis is simply too good an overall athlete to be beaten by pure speed consistently.

Scout’s key matchup No. 2

Rutgers RT Kevin Haslam vs. South Florida DE Jason Pierre-Paul

Rutgers right tackle Kevin Haslam is a gifted athlete for his size (6-5, 295) who does a nice job reaching targets at the second level and breaking down in space. However, he struggles to play with a low pad level off the edge and lacks the type of power to consistently hold the point of attack and anchor on contact. I expect Haslam to struggle trying to fend off South Florida’s long-armed defensive end, Jason Pierre-Paul. Pierre-Paul is a physical freak at 6-6, 265 pounds, and although he’s still raw, he possesses an intriguing blend of balance and change-of-direction skills off the edge, which allow him to cleanly sidestep opposing linemen and slip blocks. He also possesses an impressive first step for his size and exhibits surprising flexibility when trying to flatten out around the corner.

As a result, the combination of Pierre-Paul’s size, length and athleticism look to be too much for Haslam to handle in both the pass and run game. Expect the Rutgers coaching staff to consistently send help and double down on Pierre-Paul on obvious passing situations because I can’t see Haslam holding up consistently 1v1 on an island.

Don’t throw him to the wolves just yet

Very quietly, Rutgers freshman quarterback Tom Savage has had a successful campaign and looks poised eventually mature into one of the nation’s top quarterback prospects. However, tonight he faces one of the most athletic defenses he’ll see all season, and it’s paramount for the Rutgers offense to lean heavily on the run game. Savage has the type of arm to make all the throws and can fit the football into tight spots. But the South Florida back seven does a great job closing on the ball and shrinking throwing lanes quickly. If the Scarlet Knights hope to keep the turnovers to a minimum, it will be key to keep Savage ahead of the chains and not ask him kid to force the ball down the field into the teeth of the Bulls’ secondary.

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