by Greg Doyle, Patriots Daily Staff
October 2, 2009

Florida State at Boston College (3:30 PM EST ABC)

Florida State comes into this game looking for revenge against a BC club that beat them last year, but FSU has not played up to its ability in sometimes stunning fashion. They suffered a close loss to open the season against a greatly improved Miami team and then slept walk through a 10 point victory against lower division Jacksonville State. A blowout win against BYU had Seminoles fans thinking they were putting things together, but they were physically dominated in a loss to South Florida last week despite USF playing without its starting QB. So who knows who’ll show up at Chestnut Hill for coach Bobby Bowden this week. BC is a team still trying to find its identity, but they may have finally found a QB last week in David Shinskie. BC has been very solid on defense despite losses to the NFL, graduation and injuries, and a win here could set them rolling towards more than just the rebuilding season many anticipated.

Florida State TE Caz Piurowski (#81)

A big, hulking 271 lb. blocking tight end that is limited as a receiver. Came into the year with 20 career catches, so he’s not totally useless in that area, but he’s only displayed a limited amount of range downfield. This year he has improved quite a bit and shown some ability to be fully functional in the passing game with 11 catches for 162 yards and 2 touchdowns. Right now has to be considered mostly just a blocking specialist at the next level, but if he can continue to show the rapid improvement and ability to be an all-around threat in the receiving game, he could develop into one of the better tight ends in the draft. The Patriots gave a roster spot to a blocking-type tight end this year and Piurowski is a top-notch blocker with some flexibility to block on the move, so its possible they’d consider him as a late round choice or even earlier if he continues to progress in other areas. The excellent part of his game is in-line blocking at the point of attack, but he is showing an all-around athletic ability worth keeping an eye on.

Florida State LB Dekoda Watson (#36)

An athletic, play-making strong-side linebacker who is third on the Seminoles in tackles and leads the team with 4.5 sacks this year. The pass rushing is an addition to his game he hasn’t previously shown. Watson is a quick linebacker, a strong and well-built kid with a lot of range and decent tackling ability who probably is too small for the Patriots, but he’ll interest other teams. He is an excellent athlete who works hard, and he moves well, so pass coverage ability is another skill he displays. You could see a guy like Watson going in the top 3 rounds and becoming a solid, long-time starter in the NFL. Had one of his better games last year vs. BC, so that is something to watch.

Boston College WR Rich Gunnell (#18)

Typical BC receiver in that he is a solid player on this level, but does not wow you in any area and is unlikely to be drafted. However, he may have a bit more potential than some of the other more recent BC pass catchers in that he is a bit more naturally fast, has good size and hands and has some open field running ability. Gunnell is also an excellent special teams player both covering kicks and returning them and has made several big plays in that area in his career. Was very productive as a sophomore when he had NFL-bound Matt Ryan throwing to him, and he put up nearly 1,000 yards receiving that year. Has slipped since, as BC’s passing game in general has, but still shows good all around skills and consistent hands.

Boston College S Marcellus Bowman (#8)

It’s somewhat remarkable how much Bowman has improved as a player. Though he started as a junior, he was average as best and about the best you could say about him is he did not stick out as a liability. Had a pedestrian 31 tackles as a junior and did not look as if he had any NFL potential. This year, however, the change in his game has been remarkable. In the off-season he reportedly took on a much more vocal, leadership role with the team and stepped up all areas of his preparation. On the field, his play has stepped up remarkably too, and on several occasions while watching BC play he’d give fans a “is that BOWMAN?” moment while flying in to disrupt a run, punish a ball carrier or defend a pass. For the year he has 19 tackles through 4 games and really has established himself as a solid player who now may have some NFL prospects ahead of him. He has good size at 225 lbs. and his range and speed are good for a safety. If he continues to play the way he has, it’s worth watching to see how he shows at the combine or post-season All-Star games.

Arkansas at Texas A&M (7:30 PM EST ESPN2)

These two teams used to meet up regularly when both were members of the old Southwest Conference, but they have not seen each other since 1991. This game will be played in the palatial new Cowboys stadium in Arlington. For Arkansas, new coach Bobby Petrino has gone 6-9 thru his first 15 games in Fayetteville and could fall to 1-3 on the season here. An out of conference loss here on national TV may put some heat on his seat as there is no doubt his program is slow in starting for the Razorbacks. Texas A&M is off to a good start and with a win here has a real chance to get to 4-0 and perhaps a national ranking. This will be their biggest test to date, though, so we may start to find out if they’re a contender or pretender as they step up in level of competition.

Arkansas RB Michael Smith (#21)

The unfortunate player who had to follow the Darren McFadden and Felix Jones duo at Arkansas. Smith has shown good ability in his own right with 1,072 yards on the ground last year, in addition to displaying nice pass catching ability with 32 grabs for 298 yards. Smith is a short, quick mighty mite at 5’7″ 176 who would only stick in the NFL in a Darren Sproles-type role as a change of pace back, pass catcher and kick returner. He is good, but may just lack that extra burst Sproles has. To make it in the NFL, he will have to be a superior third down receiver, but also show the ability to block with his small frame. He has yet to show enough of that.

Arkansas DE Malcolm Sheppard (#96)

Plays inside for the Razorbacks in their 4-3, but likely projects as an end in the NFL. A bit short and light at only 280 lbs., Sheppard still displays good strength and run stopping ability as well as excellent penetration ability with 4.5 tackles for losses already this year. Can rush the passer as well and had 6.5 sacks last year. Sheppard is a good college player with a ton of experience and production who disrupts on this level and makes plays in both the running and passing game. He should be drafted. Has yet to be dominant, though he was 2nd team All-SEC last year. Should be a mid-round pick at best, unless he begins to show he is not only good on this level, but great.

Texas A&M WR Howard Morrow (#5)

A very speedy receiver that has yet to be featured in the Aggies offense. Came into the year with 23 catches and some injury history. This year he is showing more all-around receiving skills an ability to make the tough catch in traffic. He has not dominated and has a lot to learn, but the ability is there.

Texas A&M DE Matt Moss (#55)

A JUCO player who is a first year starter who is worth watching for his size and speed combination. Currently checks in at 6’3″ 253, with perfect outside linebacker speed. Does not have a lot of big-time experience, but will start against numerous good opponents this season. So far on the young season has shown some playmaking ability with half a sack, a forced fumble, a pass breakup and a recovered fumble. Smart player who’ll look to contain the QB and get in his passing lanes if he can’t get to him rushing. Worth watching as he was a great JUCO player, has ability and size and has improved coming into this season.

E-mail Greg Doyle at