WEEK 2: Texas vs. LSU
For Texas, it’s literally difficult to overlook their wide receiver corps, particularly with deep threat Collin Johnson standing on outside. The human highlight reel from a season ago possesses not only an imposing frame to shield defenders from the ball, but also the athleticism and body control to adjust, elevate and high point the ball in the air. Barring the unforeseen, the NFL commissioner will be calling his name early come late April.
Fellow wideout Devin Duvernay’s name may not be called much later if he continues to do what he displayed versus LSU. Duvernay – while possessing a stockier, compact frame – displayed the ability to regularly break arm tackles with his power, and then the speed to take it the distance. He claims to run the 40 in the 4.3-second range and to be the fastest player in the Big XII; if he does, then we could have two Longhorn receivers taken early in April.
John Burt is another senior wideout for Texas to keep an eye on as he has the physical tools to potentially warrant a shot. Finally on offense, center Zach Shackelford anchors a Texas OL that dominated much of the game in trenches. In his third year as a starter, Shackelford owns the size, strength, athleticism and versatility to potentially be a three-position contributor who can compete for a backup spot early in his career.
On defense for the Longhorns, Malcolm Roach headlines a deep defensive line with fellow senior Jamari Chisholm getting in on the action. Roach – who’s a stockier built player in the mold of a 3-technique at the next level – began his career at OLB before growing into his current position.
At linebacker, Jeffrey McCulloch is a thickly built athlete who was active while recording six tackles, including one for a loss. Safety Brandon Jones also recorded six tackles but his tackle for loss came when he recorded a sack. There were some whispers a year ago that the three-year starter may declare early after a 70-tackle, two-interception season, but the senior returned to build on his production and captain this talented Longhorn team.
For the Tigers, quarterback Joe Burrow took center stage, demonstrating great poise and confidence while passing his way to 471 yards and four touchdowns. While it’s still early in the season, Burrow has shown development in decision-making as well as increased accuracy while completing an astounding 81% of his passes through two weeks. Up front protecting him is All-SEC right guard Damien Lewis, who is a mauler in the run game. Despite only standing about 6-2, Lewis is a powerful, powerful man with quick feet and the ability to win his matchups with leverage.
On the other side of the ball for LSU, defensive end Rashard Lawrence had a quieter night statistically speaking but came up with a big patted pass where he alertly got his hands up in the throwing lane. Linebacker Michael Divinity Jr. may have seemed heavenly to some Tiger supporters, pacing the team with 10 tackles and a sack while playing like his usual hair-on-fire self. The Marrero, LA native moved inside this year from outside linebacker where his leadership and ability to see the field are front and center.
In the secondary, Kristian Fulton returned to lock-down his side of the field playing cornerback. Blessed with prototypical NFL size and length to accompany his excellent playing speed, Fulton led LSU with two pass breakups against Texas, displaying the type of anticipation and ball skills that will translate immediately to the next level. Not to be forgotten, senior long snapper Blake Ferguson also had a good night for the Tigers while accurately placing his short and deep snaps. Blake, now a four-year starter and permanent team captain, is the younger brother of Reid Ferguson, who preceded him at LSU and now snaps for the Buffalo Bills.