The NFL is a passing league so prospects that can affect the passing game, whether that’s on offense or defense, carry more value than ever before.
For that reason, Florida and South Carolina is a terrific scouting showcase to evaluate prospects that can bring value on passing downs at the next level. Let’s examine which prospect matchups you should keep an eye on during the game.
Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida vs. Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina
Kyle Pitts is one of the most dynamic offensive weapons in all of college football and proved that in his 2020 debut last week against Ole Miss where he logged eight receptions for 170 yards and four touchdowns. His blend of size, route running, and ball skills makes him a difficult cover, and he can be a true X-factor at the next level. While there isn’t anyone in college football that has the blend of size and athleticism to truly match up with Pitts, his reps against Israel Mukuamu will be terrific to evaluate.
Mukuamu is listed at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds with outstanding length. While he is high-hipped, which presents some challenges with his transitions, he helps make up for that with clean footwork, length, and physicality.
In last year’s meeting, Pitts hauled in five receptions for 29 yards and a touchdown and figures to have an even bigger role Saturday. If South Carolina is going to have a chance to upset No. 3 Florida, neutralizing Pitts is critical and Mukuamu is the Gamecock defender that has the best chance to accomplish that.
The NFL is starting to feature more and more defensive backs that serve as a tight end eraser. Players like New England Patriots’ Joejuan Williams and Miami Dolphins’ Eric Rowe are key pieces to their respective teams because they can match up with opposing tight ends. Mukuamu projects well to that type of role, and how he handles his opportunities to defend Pitts could prove pivotal for his draft stock.
Trevon Grimes, WR, Florida vs. Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
While Pitts is the main attraction when it comes to the Florida passing game, Trevon Grimes presents his own share of challenges for opponents. Grimes, at 6-foot-4 and 218 pounds, has terrific fluidity for his size and excellent ball skills. He is a former five-star recruit and is hoping for a breakout senior season that began last weekend by logging 64 receiving yards and a touchdown.
In the way of another strong performance is Gamecocks junior cornerback Jaycee Horn. This is an important matchup for both players given their makeup as prospects. Horn is a long, stocky corner that has the frame and play strength needed to matchup up with X receivers like Grimes. For Grimes, showcasing his alpha traits against a corner like Horn that has the physical traits to match Grimes’ style of play makes it an important test.
Press coverage reps with Horn playing in the face of Grimes at the line of scrimmage should be must-see TV with what is on the line for both prospects as they look to impress NFL evaluators.
Florida’s X-factor: Kadarius Toney, WR
Kadarius Toney has never claimed a significant role in the Gators’ offense, but every time he touches the football, his electric playmaking ability is on full display. He’s a smooth accelerator with exceptional contact balance and creativity as a runner that makes him a big-play threat. Last week, Toney touched the football seven times for 114 yards and a touchdown. Florida will surely want to get the football in his hands against an aggressive South Carolina defense under the direction of Will Muschamp.
South Carolina’s X-factor: Kingsley Enagbare, EDGE
Florida quarterback Kyle Trask picked apart the Ole Miss secondary last week to the tune of 416 yards and six touchdowns. While Trask certainly made his share of big-time throws, he faced very little pressure from the Rebels’ pass rush. If South Carolina is going to upset Florida, the defense will need to apply heat on Trask, and the Gamecocks best pass rusher is Kingsley Enagbare.
Engabare was a standout last week against Tennessee where he collected two sacks, forced a fumble, and recorded nine tackles. He can continue his hot start and turn heads for the second week in a row.