Future ACC member Louisville will be able to make a first impression on recovering ACC team Miami. This game is Miami’s first bowl game in the Al Golden era after holding themselves out due to the Nevin Shapiro scandal.
While Louisville tends to make headlines for Teddy Bridgewater and their passing offense, it’s their defense that has had the most impressive year thus far, giving up only 12.4 pts/gm. Miami on the other hand has only be held under 21 points by one team (Florida State), making this an exciting chance for the Miami offensive prospects to show off their skills.
Stephen Morris, QB, Miami, #17
Morris is currently considered late Day 2- early Day 3 selection but a strong bowl game and off season could really boost him up the rankings. He’s shown strong leadership and arm strength, however he’s had major issues with accuracy on short and intermediate throws. His deep ball however has been a thing of beauty and could make him an strong backup candidate for a team who uses a vertical passing offense. He'll need to make the most of this game and the Senior Bowl if he hopes to get back into the Top 100 discussion.
Sentreal Henderson, OT, Miami, #77
It could be argued that no player has seen his stock drop more from preseason to now than Henderson. He’s seen a major reduction is playing time due to off-field issues and hasn’t performed well when on the field either. With his size and athletic ability, he still has the potential to be an elite LT, but he may not have the mental toughness or technique to come anywhere close to the potential. I expect him to be an early Day 3 selection, but could see a team falling in love with his potential and taking him in the 2nd round.
(JR) Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville, #5
The odds on favorite for the #1 overall selection in the 2014 NFL draft. Although he is still apparently on the fence, he's had a remarkably strong season and, if not for a close loss to UCF, may have been strongly considered for the Heisman. His accuracy on short and intermediate throws has been inconsistent, at times missing WRs completely as well as setting his WRs up for big plays. His biggest concern at the next level may be staying healthy as he has skinnier frame than most QBs and dealt with numerous injuries this season. He will be a high draft pick, but the bigger question is will he come out. If he does come out, we fully expect him to be a Top 10 pick, and fully support that grade.
Hakeem Smith, S, Louisville, #29
Smith has had a strong season and looks to be a late Day 2 selection as of now. He has the ability to make a play in the passing game, as well as come up and help out in the run game. Expect him to come into the league as a depth/special teams guy, but quickly take over as a starter role. Will be interesting to see what he can do against Stephen Morris.
Marcus Smith, DE, Louisville, #91
One of the most productive pass rushers in the country this season, Smith has earned his Senior Bowl invite and will get the chance to showcase his ability as both a defensive end and outside linebacker. With the size to potentially play both, Smith utilizes fluid body control to adjust off his initial rush and transition to his secondary very smoothly, displaying plus hand adjustments and regaining speed quickly. If he can bring down Stephen Morris and potentially impact the game as a pass rusher and an edge protector (tends to let his running lane far too open), he could start to emerge as a legitimate Top 100 pick for NFL teams.
Other Players to Watch
Allen Hurns, WR, Miami, #1
Preston Brown, ILB, Louisville, #2
Ryan Hubbell, TE, Louisville, #83