WR Tajae Sharpe vs. WR Tramaine Thompson
Sharpe was one of the few bright spots last week for UMass. He caught 11 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown in a loss to Maine at home. After catching just 20 balls last season, Sharpe showed that he can be a go-to guy for the Minutemen offense in the midst of uncertainty at the quarterback position. While Sharpe was not a big name coming into this season as a sophomore, his game last week will ensure that the K-State defense keeps tabs on him all game. Sharpe is not an overpowering receiver, coming in at 6-foot-2-inches and 185 pounds, but his height is sure to cause some matchup problems for the Wildcat secondary.
Thompson is the opposite of Sharpe in size, checking in at 5-foot-8-inches and 167 pounds, which is about as compact as they come. Last week, Thompson was named Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week for returning a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown and almost taking a punt to the house, falling short at the three yard line. However, Thompson’s skills are not restricted to the return game; he has the ability to stretch the field in the passing game with eight receptions for 154 yards shows. That averages out to 19.4 yards per catch, making Thompson a true home run threat on every play.
Edge: Thompson. Sharpe’s career is just getting started, while Thompson’s is in full stride. Thompson’s ability to stretch the field and make dazzling plays with the ball in his hands gives him the upper hand here.
S Edward Saint-Vil vs. S Ty Zimmerman
Like Sharpe, Saint-Vil had a great game last week, notching a team-high of 14 tackles to bring his season total to 20. The junior safety from Miramar, Fla. only played in five games last season registering 25 tackles and one interception, but he may be finding his groove for UMass. Saint-Vil has a nose for the ball and his name will probably be called plenty of times tomorrow night. At 5-foot-11-inches and 190 pounds, Saint-Vil is not huge, but he certainly knows how to get to the ball carrier.
Zimmerman also had a good game last week, intercepting a tipped pass and taking it 32 yards for a touchdown. The 6-foot-1-inch, 204 pound senior has a tendency to make big plays and is one of the most important players on K-State’s defense. However, unlike Saint-Vil, Zimmerman has been having good games his entire career.
Edge: Zimmerman. Once again, I am going with experience over promise. Zimmerman has been around for a while now, and we all know what he is capable of, while Saint-Vil is more of a wild card.
RB Stacey Bedell vs. LB Blake Slaughter
Bedell is a redshirt freshman from Mastic Beach, N.Y. who has rushed for 128 yards on 35 attempts this season, while adding two passes for 52 yards. Both of his receptions came last week, along with 58 yards on the ground to put him over 100 all-purpose yards. Bedell was slated to get some playing time last year as a true freshman, but suffered a shoulder injury two games into the season that forced him to wait until this year to get on the field. At 5-foot-10-inches and 180 pounds, Bedell is a bit undersized, but has deceptive speed and can make some big plays.
Slaughter has enjoyed a good start to the season, with 17 tackles and two sacks in the first two games this year. He has shown a propensity for getting to the ball, especially in the season opener against North Dakota State when he finished with 10 tackles and two sacks. Slaughter is a bit short for a linebacker, measuring 5-foot-10-inches and 227 pounds, but he is not short on playmaking ability. He has been a standout so far this season and he will have to play a big role if the Wildcat defense is going to stop Bedell.
Edge: Slaughter. Slaughter is becoming a player that consistently impacts the game, while Bedell is still trying to figure it all out. Bedell will face an uphill battle against Slaughter and the rest of the K-State linebackers.