Week 2 Prospect Matchups: Stanford-USC

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

The second full week on the college schedule features a big time matchup out on the west coast. Sam Darnold hopes to improve from an uninspired performance in Week 1 but must accomplish the task against a talented Stanford secondary.

Stanford vs USC

8:30 p.m. EST -- Fox

Darnold vs Holder & Meeks

With Washington not on USC's regular-season schedule, this could be the toughest test for quarterback Sam Darnold. Last week against Western Michigan, the quarterback was a lackadaisical 23-for-33 passing for 289 yards with no touchdown passes and two interceptions.

This week he faces a talented Stanford defense.

The Cardinal pass rush is solid and they have next-level talent in the secondary, headlined by two highly rated cornerbacks.

Juniors Alijah Holder and Quenton Meeks were both highlighted during our Stanford preview and carry second-day grades. Holder is physical and intimidates opponents. Meeks shows next-level ball skills. Together they will make life difficult for Darnold and shut down his top receiver Deontay Burnett.

Factor in a pass-rushing Peter Kalambayi as well as the blitzing Joey Alfieri, and Darnold best be on his game. He may find relief exploiting safety Justin Reid, who shows the propensity to blow assignments on occasion.

Harrison Phillips (Stanford) vs Nicholas Falah (USC)

Both players are underrated, workman-like linemen who get the most from their abilities. I stamped both as potential sixth-round picks, which is much better than the grades assigned by scouts.

Phillips is a slightly undersized defensive tackle who beats opponents with quickness, technique and tenacity. Falah is a heady football player with outstanding vision and wherewithal.

I believe Phillips could be a solid rotational lineman at the next level, while Falah could develop into a starter in time.