Towing the Line: Khari Demos Talks College Football Weeks 1&2

Khari Demos joins Matt Waldman’s RSP site this season to profile college football’s trenches while keeping an eye on standout offensive skill players. This week, Demos dives into the games of  Duke left tackle Graham Burton and Colorado guard Jack Bailey and puts us on notice about Colorado’s offensive stars, TE Benjamin Yurosek and an exciting Bama-Texas trench battle between JC Latham and Barryn Sorrell. 

Having briefly played at a Mid-Major program like Buffalo, I am always rooting for the underdog. So, seeing the likes of Colorado and Duke winning in upset fashion was a treat.

From the upsets of top-25 teams to the video game numbers put up in a few matchups, we had a memorable opening to the 2023 season.  Now that Week 2 is here, let’s check out a few names to watch for in the week ahead, and of course, we’re starting with our guys in the trenches.


Towing the Line: Graham Burton, LT #62, Duke

Duke’s upset of #9 Clemson was tremendous, and the team’s left tackle was a major part of it happening. If you did not think he was one of the very best offensive linemen in college football before Week 1, his efforts against the Tigers more than spoke for him. Simply put, he is a dominant player with an NFL future written all over him.

Barton returns for his senior year after First Team All-ACC and Honorable Mention All-American selections in 2022. He did not disappoint in his 2023 debut, showing elite strength and technique from the get-go. His first four snaps of the game were examples of his skills in pass protection that he carried on throughout the night. But some of his work in the run game was just as impressive, like this rep against Justin Mascoll, which is truly a teach tape as to how you want to cut off a defender on the backside of a run play. He got Mascoll again later on in the game, showing just how stout he can be with his 6-foot-5, 314-pound frame. 


My favorite rep of his in the passing game is this play here against Clemson’s stud DT Tyler Davis. I love how he sat down in his chair, locked in and engaged, and moved his feet the whole way.

These are the types of reps you see from franchise left tackles in the NFL

There are a couple of things I’d like to see Barton clean up as well. In pass pro, he can get himself in trouble by putting his hands too far out when locking onto defenders. You can see him doing so on this rep.

It isn’t a “bad” rep, but this is a habit he needs to rein in now before heading off to the league because it will make life more difficult for him to have good reps in similar situations against NFL talent. 

I also think he got into a little trouble right before the halftime break, like on this play with Jeremiah Trotter Jr. blitzing from depth.

It could be him just honing in on being out in space because he also was trying to find his footing in space like this play below when he was trying to knock off Barrett Carter while fanning out on a screen.

But I believe Barton is dealing with easy fixes here. You can coach through technique issues; it is much harder to coach up physical dominance. Thankfully, the preseason All-American only needs to work on the former.

Towing the Line: Jack Bailey, LG #65, Colorado

The Buffaloes’ offensive line will not be the star of the show this fall (more on that later), but one of the grizzled vets in the trenches for them is Bailey. A graduate transfer from Kent State, the Willoughby, Ohil native comes to Boulder with 18 career starts with the Golden Flashes. In Week 1, he was able to help the unit keep star QB Shedeur Sanders upright as he set several Colorado program passing records en route to upsetting last year’s national runner-up in TCU.

Despite being a little undersized weight-wise at guard (6-foot-3, 280 pounds) Bailey is athletic and can really move his feet in the passing game. You can see it on Sanders’ first TD of the afternoon, as well as the next play on the ensuing drive. Bailey shows off just how you want your guards to anchor down in pass pro after a defender reacts to that first punch.


You can see his movement skills again later on in the game as well, being able to cut off a defender as he pulled on the front side of this gap-scheme run concept.

One thing I really like about Bailey is he is a heady player. Watch how he gives his center a little chip on the 3-technique despite the run-action fake on the play-action concept. 

Even a little nuance like that was enough to help Sanders pick up a crucial 4th-and-2 play early in the game. He had a similar back block on one of my favorite plays of the game, freshman RB Dylan Edwards’ electric 75-yard TD to start the second half.

An area of Bailey’s game that I’d like to see improve a bit is when he is working up to the second level in the run game. There are times when he can move a little aimlessly when trying to attack linebackers.

And although he uses his athleticism very well, there are times when he gets there a bit too quick and ends up having no man to cover up. I think he can also use his hands a bit better at times in pass pro. There are instances like these that can be avoided if he is able to lock in on a defender right away.

Overall, Bailey should be proud of how he and his teammates kicked off Coach Prime’s era in Boulder. Onto Nebraska.

Keep An Eye On Colorado’s Stars Shedeur and Shilo Sanders

It would be ignorant to only focus on one of the guys who did their thing for CU Head Coach Deion Sanders in his first collegiate game as a Power 5 coach. So, it’s only right to start with his sons, Shedeur and Shilo. Both of them led their respective units, as Shedeur finished with 510 passing yards, 4 TDs, and highlight reel throws all over the place, while Shilo led the team with 10 stops and 9 solo tackles.

Shedeur had too many plays to pick from on the day, but my favorite throw was this strike he threw to Jimmy Horn Jr. after TCU took a 28-24 lead in the third quarter.

What I love most about the 6-foot-2 signal caller’s game is he is just a smooth operator. He does not get rattled and he often times takes what the defense gives him.

Shedeur may not be a super athlete who can take over games with his legs (which is by far his biggest knock) but he is a pocket-first QB, with a ton of accuracy and anticipation, and has the arm strength to match it. If you watched any of his time with his father at Jackson State, you’d know that Shedeur is the real deal. Now, he’s proving it to the country.

Shilo is a player who made a ton of plays in the box and helped slow down the Horned Frogs. But he is no slouch in coverage too, evidenced here by this crucial third-down stop in the second quarter. His presence as an enforcer will be important in slowing down Pac-12 offenses that feature Caleb Williams, Bo Nix, DJ Uiagalelei, and more.

It is so hard to pick from the bevy of receivers who totaled over 100 yards receiving, including Edwards, Horn Jr., Xavier Weaver, and Clark Kent himself, Travis Hunter. But I am going to focus on Edwards here, as the Derby, KS native showed out with 159 yards from scrimmage and 4 total TDs.

Edwards’ speed was on display on several occasions, of course on his 75-yard score mentioned before, but even in other instances against the Horned Frogs. He was able to weave his way to paydirt in the red zone on his third score of the game, but he put the final dagger in TCU with this 4th-and-2 conversion that he took all the way to the house. If you don’t believe in his speed, just know he was tracked as having one of the fastest plays in all of Week 1.

Edwards is very similar to the mold of traditional receiving RBs. And it cannot be stressed how important those players are in the NFL; whether it was Jerick McKinnon with the Super Bowl LVI champion Kansas City Chiefs or the load of receiving backs during New England’s dynastic run (insert Dion Lewis, James White, or Kevin Faulk), this is a role that NFL teams value highly. But Edwards is unique because of the speed he brings. Oh boy, I cannot wait to see how he is dialed up from here on out in his debut campaign with the Buffs.

Last but certainly not least, Hunter stole the show with a jaw-dropping 145 snaps. For perspective, 247Sports shared the snap count of several players from the iconic 7-overtime game between LSU and Texas A&M back in 2018. Let’s just say Hunter outdid them all and then some, as he totaled 11 receptions, 119 yards, three tackles, a pass deflection, and a doozy of a pick to truly put the nation on notice for who the best player in the country may be. 

Hunter really is a special athlete and talent, literally garnering comparisons to current NFL greats on both sides of the ball. The thing that always threw me off about the doubters of Hunter is that his path and usage with JSU and CU made a lot more sense than people realized. If you are the best DB in your class, why wouldn’t you want to play for and learn from maybe the best DB ever?

And if you are looking to be a two-way player, why wouldn’t you want to learn from a man who did that in the NFL? It really never made any sense to me. But at this point, it’s a moot point. Now, college football has at least two more years to try and figure out how to keep Hunter in check.

Keep An Eye On Benjamin Yurosek, TE, Stanford

The Bakersfield, CA native was not an unknown commodity having been a Second-Team All-Pac-12 pick in 2022. But he truly burst onto the scene in his seasonal debut against Hawaii. And it wasn’t just his 9-catch, 138-yard, 1-TD stat line, it was some of the top-shelf catches he made throughout.

Yurosek dazzled with this catch down the left sideline.

My favorite snag of his in the game was his 32-yard TD haul in the second quarter.

The senior TE has prototypical size at 6-foot-4 and 242 pounds, but he also has a highly athletic profile coming from his background as a star basketball player at Bakersfield Christian. The evidence of that is there on several jump ball plays against the Rainbow Warriors, like here for example

He has drawn comparisons to New England Patriots TE Mike Gesicki. And while I believe he has a similar profile to the shifty former Miami Dolphin, Yurosek is a much better blocker in my opinion. Just look at this snap where he’s able to show that he’s not only willing and able to block, but he also has solid technique to cover defenders up.

One game note that dawned on me as well was that nine Stanford TEs have been drafted since 2010. I love seeing a player thrive at a position that programs have historically coveted (i.e. Penn State linebackers). Yurosek could be the next in line. Until then, let’s see how he builds off of a career day in Honolulu. 

Week 2 Trench Matchup to Watch: JC Latham (RT #65, Alabama) vs. Barryn Sorrell (DE #88, Texas)

We’ve got another rematch from the 2022 season, as the Longhorns travel to Tuscaloosa to take on the Crimson Tide in this top-15 matchup. Latham and Sorrell are both the leaders for the respective squads and they’ll have some catching up to do after last year’s battle. 

Latham was able to seal off Sorrell on this Jase McClellan TD in what ended up being a crucial play for ‘Bama in a 1-point victory.

Sorrell has a lot of tools to work with, though, and has the ability to contribute speed-to-power moves, but he is going to have to find a way to move around the mountainous man that is Latham (6-foot-6, 360 pounds). Just look at how he stuck Sorrell here on this pass pro.

But if Sorrell can keep that high motor revving as he did on this pressure on Bryce Young, that’s the best chance Texas has of disrupting the Tide’s offense.

He showed he could win against Latham too, using a nice swipe move and attacking the ‘Bama stud’s inside leg, which he may have gotten away with a hold on Sorrell on the play.

All I know is this will be another high-level battle in the trenches in what may be one of the season’s most-watched games (especially with projected first-rounder Quinn Ewers under center for the Longhorns). Don’t forget these two titans who will be duking it out in an early matchup that may have College Football Playoff implications.

Enjoy your Saturday!

And of course, if you want to know about the rookies from this draft class, you will find the most in-depth analysis of offensive skill players available (QB, RB, WR, and TE), with the 2023 Rookie Scouting Portfolio for $21.95. 

Matt’s new RSP Dynasty Rankings and Two-Year Projections Package is available for $24.95

If you’re a fantasy owner and interested in purchasing past publications for $9.95 each, the 2012-2022 RSPs also have a Post-Draft Add-on that’s included at no additional charge.  

If you’re a fantasy owner and interested in purchasing past publications for $9.95 each, the 2012-2022 RSPs also have a Post-Draft Add-on that’s included at no additional charge.  

Best yet, proceeds from sales are set aside for a year-end donation to Darkness to Light to combat the sexual abuse of children. 

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