College football is back before you even had time to realize it’s on the schedule, thanks in part to the search for more ludicrous venues, international spectators and ESPN late night Friday filler content. This is how you get the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors facing off against the California Golden Bears in Sydney, Australia at 10 p.m. EST, a good week before the first FBS football Saturday.
Oh you thought this was a game? No my dude, this is a fight for survival. Horrible things await you in Australia. I’m not positive we make it to halftime without a dingo carrying off one of the long snappers.
Alex Reno, who was responsible for a great amount of film breakdowns for draft prospects in the past, has passed the reins on to me to run these weekly draft guides. This produces a problem, because I am, generally speaking, an idiot and have none of his skills. I tend to care about inconsequential things like physical and athletic ability, freakish size and the ability to tackle trees.
Either way, college football is fun and we’ll try to bring you some of the best players to watch each week. On Friday we only have one game, but it’s the game to get us back in the mood.
The Bears are often typecast as a pass-first team, but Khalfani Muhammad keeps them honest on the ground. Muhammad is damn fast, once posting a 10.35 second 100-meter dash time during track season.
Cal’s offensive style means that Muhammad usually gets some pretty big holes when the defense is pushed to defend the pass, and that offensive line returns four starters. He’s also acclimated to the receiving game and Cal uses him liberally in screen passing situations and flat routes. However, Cal doesn’t fare as well in creating opportunities in the short-yardage rushing game, which could prove problematic for evaluating Muhammad as a well-rounded NFL prospect. He’ll also be splitting time in the backfield with Tre Watson and Vic Enwere, who were both given a good number of carries last year as well.
Khalfani Muhammad also has some elements of his game to work on. He’s not particularly elusive and more often than not he’ll just try to beat defenders with his speed, although he’s not built as a power running back. Still, if Muhammad can break past a defender he’s got that speed that makes him difficult to keep up with.
Other names to look out for: A pair of linemen in right tackle Steven Moore and left guard Chris Borrayo. Borrayo in particular is interesting. He’s quick off the ball and has some explosive punch to really knock defenders back and open up holes for the run game and create pass protection. It’s important to note that Cal’s interior linemen do tend to get situated in the two-point stance as part of the system run by Sonny Dykes.
The Rainbow Warriors prove a little trickier to scout. Always a difficult place to attract talent, Hawaii was done no favors as former head coach Norm Chow left the toilet about the same as he found it. What’s more, the best player Hawaii boasted, defensive end Kennedy Tulimasealii, was dismissed from the team back in June. Add that to schematic changes on both sides of the ball as new head coach Nick Rolovich tries to unclog this turd and you’ve got a lot of messy spots.
Without Tulimasealii, the lone standout on defense is linebacker Jerrol Garcia-Williams. If anyone stands to benefit from Hawaii moving to a 4-3 defense, it’s Garcia-Williams. At this point, he’s the most experienced player on the defense and worth keeping an eye on to see how much he can produce in the absence of any other notable playmakers.
Other names to look out for: Running back Paul Harris, who racked up 1182 yards last season. Punter Rigoberto Sanchez might be worth a look for special teams enthusiasts, but the act of deciding to punt is itself a terrible and sinful endeavor.