The Auburn Tigers could turn some heads this weekend as they roll into Beaver Stadium to face Penn State in the Whiteout. The infamous college football phenomenon will take place once again with over 107,000 fans all dressed in white, resulting in a spectacle like no other. It’s a home field advantage that’s difficult to match, but Auburn come into town having had back to back 60 point games, and under new head coach Bryan Harsin, look a completely different team so far.
Smoke Monday is one of the more experienced players in what is a very talented secondary group for the Tigers. With Roger McCreary, the senior cornerback, and opposite side corner Nehemiah Pritchett, Penn State are unlikely to have it too easy throwing the ball on Saturday night, and I would love for this to be the game that solidifies the belief that Smoke Monday just might be one of the best talents in the 2022 NFL draft.
Quindarious ‘Smoke’ Monday, was a top three safety for me pre season. While we have not yet seen Tykee Smith, who I had at number one, both Kyle Hamilton of Notre Dame, and Jaquan Brisker, who suits up opposite Smoke Monday on Saturday for the Nittany Lions, have had standout games already this season, confirming scouting beliefs that they are in fact the real deal. While Smoke Monday has not yet had a standout performance this campaign, he’s also not really been tested. Fairly comfortable wins over Akron and Alabama State so far have eased the Tigers into the college football season, but this weekend, it could get very real for them in a hurry.
At 6’2″ almost 6’3″, and 200 pounds, Smoke Monday makes for a towering presence in the secondary. His tackling really impresses me. When you make contact with him, you’re not getting another inch. He’ll hold you up right where you stand. Either that or knock you right off your feet before you even knew he was coming. He bears down on the ball carrier like a missile, and lays a hit like the very best of them. He’s got the skills, traits, size and speed to make it big at the next level, and I want to see him elevate himself into that top tier conversation in what is a very strong class of safeties this season.
Penn State will be looking to go 3-0 on the season, and this Auburn secondary could be the difference in the game. Speedy receiver Jahan Dotson can get in behind you at any moment, and they’ll need to account for him all day. The Tigers secondary does exceptionally well in condensed field situations, so keep an eye on their red zone defence. Both Smoke Monday and Roger McCreary graded in the top 10 in all of CFB for red zone coverage in 2020. We’ll find out just how good the unit is in 2021 on Saturday night.
Monday is a consistent talent across all levels. He can affect the game at the line of scrimmage, either coming up in the box to make a hit in the run game, or blitzing off the edge. He seems to excel when the run is forced wide, and can meet any running back in the hole, giving up very little yardage in the process. He can play both positions either free or strong safety, and if he has a strong year on tape this season, and measures the way I think he might at the combine/pro days, the NFL will be watching. I’m hoping to hear his name all over the field.
The Tigers will have centre stage on Saturday night. All eyes will be on the Whiteout and this game. It’s the highlight game of the week. What better time to stun the college football world with an electric performance? Smoke Monday, the floor is yours.