Week Zero featured two FBS games that came down to the wire. Both games were sloppy as hell but had a ton of excitement.
Florida knocked off Miami (FL) 24-20. Hawaii held off Arizona 45-38. Today, we will look at how the top prospects and some under the radar players performed.
MCDONALD ROLLER COASTER CONTINUES
Hawaii junior quarterback Cole McDonald entered the 2019 season as my #7 ranked quarterback. He is a throwback gunslinger type of passer. McDonald threw for 378 yards and four touchdowns in three-quarters of play. Unfortunately, he also threw four interceptions and was benched for RS freshman Chevan Cordeiro.
McDonald struggled to look off safeties and just tossed the ball willy-nilly over the middle. But like his inner surfer boy that his exterior presents, McDonald shrugs off the picks like they are no big thing. The next drive he would end up fire passes all over the place and lead the Rainbow Warriors to a score.
I imagine his benching was an attempted message by head coach Nick Rolovich to get McDonald to play with some amount of discipline. It isn’t the first time this has happened. Last year, Rolovich benched McDonald for Cordeiro under similar circumstances. Hawaii attempts to slay another Pac-12 opponent Oregon State next week. I suspect Cole McDonald will be the starter again.
THE BYRD FLYS AT MIDNIGHT
Hawaii WR Cedric Byrd II was on the Senior Bowl watchlist but not on the Deep Fried Draft list. That will likely be changing after today. Like his former teammate John Ursua, Byrd is a diminutive prospect (5’9” 174). However, he understands how to exploit a zone defense and he has the speed to beat them over the top. Byrd finished the game against Arizona with 14 catches for 224 yards and four scores. He certainly requires everyone’s attention going forward.
Florida senior edge rusher Jabari Zuniga was unblockable at times against Miami. Zuniga exploited the Hurricanes youth at the tackle position with five tackles (four solos), 2 TFL, and 1.5 sacks. Zuniga showed quickness off the edge. He has quick hands and used several inside moves to beat the overwhelmed linemen.
OTHER NOTES FROM WEEK ZERO
Feleipe Franks (DFD #8 QB) was up and down all night for the Gators. He shows the big arm you want on one play. The next play he will show a complete lack of pocket discipline. While it doesn’t bother me, I know most NFL scouts probably don’t care for his brashness in taunting the fans and opposing teams. If they hated Baker Mayfield doing it, what must they think about Franks? Especially considering Franks isn’t nearly on the talent level of Baker.
While he didn’t light up the box score in Week Zero, Florida RB Lamical Perine showed off his NFL skillset against Miami. Perine showed his tremendous balance on his ten carries (4.2 per). However, Perine’s money-making skill is his ability in the passing game. He is money as a blocker and an excellent receiver. Perine ran a gorgeous “Arrow” route for a TD.
Gator CB C.J. Henderson may have some of the best speed and coverage skills of any corner in this draft class. Nevertheless, his tackling effort/skills are embarrassing.
Speaking of the Senior Bowl, executive director Jim Nagy brought up an often overlooked part of the scouting process. When talking about Florida WRs Tyrie Cleveland and Van Jefferson, Nagy talked about their skills as punt gunners and how that could be the difference to them making an NFL roster this time next year or not.
I will take a deeper dive into the other prospects from these games later in the week for grading purposes.
Until next time…