College football is back!
As the 2023 season rolls along, so will our weekly previews of games and NFL prospects to watch. This will come in addition to our NFL Draft coverage over the course of the fall and winter. Whether you’re a fan of the draft or just a college football fan, this series looks to give you an idea of what to watch each week.
Windy City Gridiron’s Lead Draft Analyst Jacob Infante will be taking a look at what to expect in Week 6 of this year’s college football campaign.
Game of the Week
No. 21 Missouri vs. No. 23 LSU, Saturday Oct. 7, 11:00 a.m. CST
Is 5-0 Mizzou legit? They’ll have a tough task ahead of them at home, as LSU is the highest-ranked two-loss team in the nation.
Missouri quarterback Brady Cook broke the SEC record with the most passes thrown without an interception, and while he entered the year as a questionable starter, he’s shown some serious improvements in 2023. Left tackle Javon Foster is a sleeper prospect with good power, weight distribution and hand usage, while the offense is rounded out by potential UDFA signings in wide receiver Theo Wease Jr. and running backs Cody Schrader and Nathaniel Peat. For future classes, keep an eye out for wide receiver Luther Burden III, as he looks the part of an eventual first-round pick. Defensively, the Tigers feature toolsy defensive lineman Darius Robinson, explosive edge rusher Nyles Gaddy and productive linebackers Ty’Ron Hopper and Chad Bailey. The secondary is also intriguing, with ball-hawk Kris Abrams-Draine and experienced Ennis Rakestraw Jr. at cornerback, as well as thumping safety extraordinaire Jaylon Carlies. Harrison Mevis, who hit a game-winning 61-yard field goal in Mizzou’s upset win over Kansas State, has a cannon for a leg and should generate NFL looks, too.
LSU might have the worse record than Mizzou, but the former has faced a much tougher schedule and shouldn’t be taken lightly at all. On defense, tackle Maason Smith has all the tools to develop into a star 3-technique. Mekhi Wingo is another fun defensive tackle who’s undersized but offers elite athleticism and a high motor. Linebacker Omar Speights cleans up well at the second level, while the secondary features future NFLers like Zy Alexander and Duce Chestnut at corner. The offense is led by Jayden Daniels, their quarterback who has played a big role in their efficiency over the last two years. He has star receiver and potential first-rounder Malik Nabers at his disposal, as well as some sleeper weapons like Brian Thomas Jr. and Kyren Lacy.
Big Matchup to Watch
No. 20 Kentucky RB Ray Davis @ No. 1 Georgia defense, Saturday Oct. 7, 6:00 p.m. CST
One week after running for 280 yards and 3 touchdowns against Florida, Davis has a tough task ahead of him this weekend in the top team in the nation.
Davis is a stoutly-built running back at 5-foot-10 and 216 pounds. He’s a productive runner who topped 900 yards for two separate schools — 936 yards for Temple in 2019 and 1,042 yards for Vanderbilt in 2022 — and is well on pace to do it again with 594 yards through 5 games for Kentucky this year. He’s a powerful runner with a low center of gravity, plenty of determination and very good force coming out of his lower half. Davis is also an intelligent runner who’s patient out of the backfield and accurate in the decisions he makes to cut into an open lane, and while he lacks in top-notch breakaway speed and agility, his instincts in space allow him to make smart, subtle movements to evade defenders.
Georgia’s defense is a bit lighter in terms of draft-eligible defensive line talent, but it’s still a talented front-seven with the likes of tackle Nazir Stackhouse and linebackers Smael Mondon Jr. and Jamon Dumas-Johnson. Davis will have his hands full battling against a legitimate title contender, but a strong performance this Saturday could solidify him even further on the map.
UT-Martin EDGE Daylan Dotson vs. Eastern Illinois, Saturday Oct. 7, 2:00 p.m. CST
A 255-pound edge rusher who shed weight heading into the 2023 season, Dotson has the production and technical ability needed to play at the next level.
He had 9.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for a loss in 2022 and is off to a similarly good start this year, as well. He rushes with a red-hot motor and shows consistent hand activity at the point of attack, stringing together several different techniques in order to shed blocks and get into opposing backfields. From swipes to push-pulls, swims and stab-rips, Dotson has a deep toolbox of moves he can win with. He’s quick off the line of scrimmage, even more so now than he’s lost roughly 25 pounds. He might not test insanely well and doesn’t stand out as elite from a flexibility perspective, thus limiting his upside a bit. That said, he has as high of a floor as you can get for an FCS edge rusher.
Dotson squares off against a 4-1 Eastern Illinois team that’s also competing for the top spot in the Big South-OVC. He currently has 2.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for a loss through 5 games this year, and if he can add some more sacks to his total this week, it will only further help his case as a potential draft pick.