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Titans Fan Guide: The Great Hokies' Last Hurrah Edition

Who will rise above the rest in several key playoff defining showdowns?

Frank Beamer. Coaching great. Even better person
Frank Beamer. Coaching great. Even better person
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

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#17 UNC at Virginia Tech NOON ESPN

- The Tar Heels travel to Blacksburg in what is sure to be an emotionally charged Lane Stadium for VT HC Frank Beamer’s last home game. UNC has wrapped up the ACC Coastal Division and will take on Clemson in Charlotte. The Hokies clinched bowl eligibility after beating hapless Georgia Tech recently. Frank Beamer is retiring after a long and often successful tenure in Blacksburg. He made VT into a viable contender more often than not but has slipped in recent years. It seems like the game is a mere ancillary fact to the celebration of a coaching legend.

UNC Prospects to watch:

Ryan Switzer WR 5’10 185 Junior

- The last name may sound familiar as Ryan is the grandson of legendary Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboys head coach Barry. Switzer is purely a slot receiver and return man in the mold of a Wes Welker as he lacks ideal measurables for the NFL. He has several return touchdowns in his career. Has played both inside and outside receiver positions. It’s highly probable that he stays for his senior season.

Landon Turner OG 6’3 325 RS Senior

- A massive road grader type of guard who needs to refine the technical aspects of his game. Has a good base and lower body strength. Turner’s hand usage is subpar in that he relies too much on his strength. He could be the top senior guard off the board in 2016.

Virginia Tech prospects to watch

1. Luther Maddy 6'0 293 DT RS Senior

- A poor man's Jurrell Casey if you will. He's a traditional pass rushing defensive tackle with a decent amount of agility. His strong base and subsequent pass rush moves/run defense compare favorably to DaQuan Jones.

2. Kendall Fuller 6'0 197 CB Junior

- Fuller can make an argument that he is the best cornerback in the nation. He has impressive NFL/NCAA bloodlines as he's the youngest brother of the Fuller clan that were Hokies and went on to the NFL. There is also a Titans connection as oldest brother Vincent was a 2005 draft pick. Kendall might the best of the family, which is saying something because Kyle was pretty good during his rookie year in 2014. Instincts and fundamentals are excellent. Athleticism is very good as well. He has the speed to keep up with the faster receivers and plays bigger than his measurements.

#12 Michigan at Penn State NOON ABC

- The still alive in the Big Ten race Wolverines are determined to make Happy Valley into Sad Valley. Jim Harbaugh has turned around an underachieving UM squad into a contender in just a matter of few weeks. Penn State has been reeling under HC James Franklin’s ineptitude and a horrid OL that simply cannot keep QB Christian Hackenberg upright. Hack might be the most sacked QB this year by far.

Penn State prospect to watch

1. Christian Hackenberg 6’4 220 QB Junior

- He was a much heralded five star recruit once upon a time with a promising freshman season. Hackenberg has morphed into a carbon copy of Jay Cutler in all facets such as behavior and arm talent. He has turned into a whiny and petulant little child every time a negative play happens. Also like Cutler, possesses a prodigious arm and very little pocket awareness. Combine that with the skittishness of Blaine Gabbert, he would be lucky to get drafted within the first three rounds. The OL being a total sieve has not helped him at all. James Franklin has ruined him completely.

#24 USC at #23 Oregon 3:30 PM ESPN

- 2015 is a year of what ifs for both of these teams that had potential conference title game implications. Oregon has won four straight coming into this game. They knocked off Stanford last week 38-36 on a failed two point conversion attempt. With that win, the Ducks potentially sealed the Pac-12’s fate as a playoff outsider. The Trojans have reeled off four straight wins, including a less than inspired win over a game Colorado team last week in the elements. Expect a shootout as both defenses cannot stop the opposing offense.

USC prospects to watch

Cody Kessler 6’1 215 QB RS Senior

- Kessler is the presumptive favorite for the 2015 Heisman as of this writing. He’s limited athletically as a prospect but is more of a game manager type. Pocket awareness is above average as well as footwork. Arm strength is a concern as he lacks it to make the big league throws to the outside. Needs a great finish to 2015 to even merit consideration in the fourth round. I'd have him borderline 7th/UDFA based on his production so far and what I've seen on tape.

Max Tuerk 6’6 285 OL Senior

- Tuerk makes observers harken back to the glory days of former Trojan linemen standouts. He’s been used at every lineman position but his best is at center and left tackle. Long arms and great hand usage. Base and footwork are very good. Intelligence is good as well. INJURED

Su’a Cravens 6’1 225 OLB Junior

- Cravens could be the best defender in the Pac-12. Position versatile as he originally started out at safety before converting to linebacker last year. Athleticism is very good as the hips are fluid and footwork is impressive. Instincts are great as well. Finds the hole in the offensive scheme and attacks it. Pass defense is underrated as he shows an uncanny ability to always find the ball.

Oregon prospects to watch

DeForest Buckner 6’7 290 DE Senior

- Arik Armstead who? Buckner is just as good if not better than the 49ers first round pick in the 2015 Draft. He’s a physical marvel and has very little bad weight. More of a brute strength type of defensive end instead of the speed type we’ve seen from Oregon in years past. Has some ability to drop back into coverage but it’s not the best aspect of his game.

Bralon Addison 5’10 190 WR RS Junior

- Addison is making his way back to full fitness after tearing his knee up in fall camp last year. It’s been a slow but steady recovery for him and with Oregon’s offense struggling somewhat, hasn’t shown his true talents. He’s normally a speed merchant with above average hands and great return ability. Frame at the next level will certainly be a question as he’s limited to the slot given his current body type. Frequently spotted as the WildDuck (puts $20 into the ATQ tip jar) QB.

Tyler Johnstone 6’6 295 OT Redshirt Senior

- Johnstone has been a stalwart tackle for the Ducks when he’s healthy. The medical at the Combine will be scrutinized very closely by the doctors there as he’s torn his ACL twice in back to back years. 2015 has been a bounce back year for him however. Fits more of a right tackle role than a left one but he is capable at both spots.

#9 Michigan State at #3 Ohio State 3:30 PM ABC

- The titanic battle between Sparty and Brutus the Buckeye is finally here. Can MSU stop the inconsistent Buckeye offense and their superstar RB Ezekiel Elliott? Or will the star studded Buckeyes defense do just enough to hold off the Spartans offense? Much of this game will hinge on the health and talent of MSU QB Connor Cook. He suffered a shoulder injury last week against Maryland. Will JT Barrett stabilize the Buckeyes offense looking to right itself after a confounding 2015? Winner essentially dooms the loser out of the playoff chase. College GameDay is present in Columbus.

Michigan State prospect to watch

Connor Cook 6'4 220 QB Redshirt Senior

- Cook is the second or third best QB prospect in the nation. He's more than experienced as a RS Senior. Has an above average arm talent but is very scattershot in consistency. He reads the field very well and will take what is given to him in most cases. However, he has a tendency to rely on his arm too much, which leads to a severe breakdown in mechanics. Best case scenario is Jay Cutler without the on and off field antics.

Ohio State prospects to watch

1. Joey Bosa 6'5 275 DE Junior

- He could be the country's best defensive end prospect. A favorite to win all of the major lineman awards in 2015. Clowney 2.0?

2. Ezekiel Elliott 6'0 225 RB Junior

- Elliott was last seen trampling through both Alabama and Oregon during the playoffs, which he ran for over 200 yards in each contest. Maurice Clarett with better athleticism and less off field baggage. Has elite vision and instincts. Rarely ever takes a loss. Unfortunately we won't be able to see the throwback cutoff jersey as the NCAA has banned those.

3. Darron Lee 6'1 235 OLB RS Sophomore

- Lee is the steady defensive general for the Buckeyes. Has the potential to be a lighter and faster Aldon Smith/Luke Kuechly combo.

4. Adolphus Washington 6'4 290 DT Senior

- Washington has been a force in the middle for the Buckeyes. Really came on last year after two middling years prior. Could be Nick Fairley good if he maintains his junior form.

5. Taylor Decker 6'7 317 OT Senior

- Decker compares favorably to another Taylor in the Titans own Taylor Lewan (I know this is sacrilege in Ann Arbor). The best tackle prospect in the class without question.

6. Cardale Jones 6'5 250 QB RS Junior

- The darling of the Buckeyes' playoff title run came back to school after seriously considering declaring for the draft. Should he start in 2015, he's a much more athletic Byron Leftwich (who has had a pretty decent NFL career all things considered). Can he take the next step in read progression?

7. Vonn Bell 5'11 205 FS Junior

- The former 5 star recruit nearly picked the Volunteers to follow in Eric Berry's footsteps but chose the Buckeyes instead. He's an above average athlete with NFL quality instincts and vision. A hard hitter with good tackling form.

Cal at #11 Stanford 10:30 PM ESPN

- If this isn’t the definition of trap game, I don’t know what is. Stanford has a showdown with Notre Dame next week and could be overlooking a wild Cal team. Potential #Pac12AfterDark havoc game here. Can the Cardinal keep its fading playoff hopes alive after a stunning upset by the Ducks? A battle between two top QB prospects in this one.

Cal prospect to watch

Jared Goff 6’4 210 Junior QB

- Goff is the top draft eligible quarterback in this year’s class. His direct comparison could be the Titans’ very own Marcus Mariota. Goff possesses just enough arm strength to make all the big league throws. Intelligence and system versatility are also a plus. A traditional pocket passer developed in the Texas Tech style Air Raid offense (Sonny Dykes is a Mike Leach disciple). However, Goff has some questions as well, namely can he hold up for the entire season given his frame. Another negative is the system he’s currently in doesn’t bode well for his future given the lack of success from former Air Raid QBs. Is it pure talent or the high tempo spread system making him look good?

Stanford prospect to watch

Kevin Hogan 6'4 225 QB RS Senior

- Hogan possesses an above average arm that will get him places in the NFL but needs to work on becoming more consistently accurate. He has some ability to land those critical "touch" passes and has really improved in that area so far this year outside of the opener where he was horrendous all around. A better athlete than most will give him credit for. Pocket awareness isn't as ideal since he hasn't had to deal with a "busy" pocket since the Stanford OL has been good so far. At this point in the year, Hogan is my third best quarterback on the board in a very weak class. Needs to show out during the offseason draft circuit to sneak into the early rounds.

Bonus games to watch

BC at #4 ND 7:30 PM NBCSN

- Notre Dame is the home team at venerable Fenway Park even though BC is technically the home team. Both teams will have to share the same sideline on the Green Monster side.