With my home computer in need of repair, I've abridged my game notes. I'll just go over the major players that you are probably interested in. At the end, notes I saved from the Arkansas-Auburn game appear in the regular, detailed fashion as in previous weeks.
With all due repsect to West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, South Carolina defensive end Jadaveon Clowney is the best football player in college right now. He played a major role in South Carolina holding the Georgia offense well below it's season output. Georgia regularly double teamed Clowney, but he still beat blocks and got into the backfield. 260 pound ends shouldn't be able to hurdle blockers - Clowney did twice in this game. Georgia finally committed to triple teaming him, which undid the Bulldog's offensive scheme. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, this kid is a future high round draft choice. I think he'll end up going first overall whenever he decides to enter the NFL. Comparisons are being made to Bruce Smith when he was at Virginia Tech, and they're warranted. He's unblockable at times.
Speaking of Geno Smith, we finally saw him in a big-time game against a great defense. Texas has two great defensive ends, who I'll get to later, and a defense full of NFL prospects. Therefore, Smith's numbers were more realistic to what we'd see at the NFL level: 25-35, 268 yards, 7.7 yards per attempt, and four TD's. He should've thrown a few interceptions, as he let the ball fly into areas that team like James Madison and Baylor can't make plays against. He was lucky that Texas dropped a few interceptions. That said, I now think he's the best quarterback and overall prospect for the 2013 draft. Read back to my evaluation of Smith against Maryland, and nothing changed in this game. Despite getting major pressure from Texas, he stayed strong in the pocket, and delivered some really good balls. I was most impressed by two things. First, Texas put some NFL-style pressure on Smith, hit him often, and sacked him four times, including a strip sack that Texas recovered for a touchdown. Smith never flinched, came right back at Texas, and showed all of the attributes that made him great up to now. Second, if you haven't seen to his interview with Eddie George, I recommend heading to Fox Sports and taking a look. Smith would look awfully nice with a buffalo on the side of his helmet, and even if the Bills had to go winless the rest of the season to assure it, I'd make that trade-off. Smith is that good.
More quarterbacks: If Buffalo can't get Smith, I'm becoming more convinced with every game that the second best choice is Mike Glennon of NC State. He had a monster game against Miami, and while his numbers didn't "pop" against Florida State, he had his "it" moment. Glennon's got a cannon, and FSU knew it, playing almost all game in two- and three-deep zones. Glennon took every crossing route and checkdown that FSU gave him, something we don't see often enough in college - Andrew Luck is the only college QB I can remember taking what the defense gave him more effectively. Glennon was really good in the second half, and took the team down for the winning touchdown to take down the unbeated, then #3 ranked Seminoles. Glennon displayed his live arm, along with his very good accuracy. He does take some chances on throws that make you scratch your head, but it's mostly because he's got the arm to fits balls into extra tight windows with velocity, and he trusts his arm too much. The good news is that he's already making professional reads and throws, he just needs some tempering and coaching about when not to take chances. He also showed mobility - not dual-threat mobility, but more of the pocket presence side-stepping we see from Brady and Manning. Glennon's got all the tools to be a good professional QB, as I've outlined in previous weeks. Like Smith, I was impressed by two things. First, Glennon held a players only meeting after the Miami loss and told the team they needed to be on-board and accountable. Second, he then went out and followed his words with deeds. If Smith isn't available, Glennon's the guy I'd want. I've been on the Tyler Bray train for a while, and I don't think less of Bray, I just think that I've seen a lot from Glennon these past two weeks.
For me, EJ Manuel is a second- to third-rounder. He's got almost all the physical tools - he can get really inaccurate at times, missing some easy throws. He's only reading the half of the field coverage rotates away from, then going to a primary receiver. He rarely gets past his second read, if he gets that far, and he never scans sideline to sideline. If a team's interested in a longer term project, Manuel's got the smarts, leadership, and physical upside worth developing.
- I'll take either Texas defensive end. Jackson Jeffcoat is a bit more stout and a little slower off the line, though he's still quick. He plays RDE for Texas, but should be a LDE, as he can power past OTs. Alex Okafor is the quicker end with an elite burst, but he's more of a run-around-blocks end, and probably should be a RDE. Both also rushed from a two-point stance, and could play OLB in a 3-4, as they do some of the time at Texas. Real good rushers. Late first rounders, to early second rounders, for me right now, with ability to move up.
- South Carolina defensive end Devin Taylor could be a second- to third- round possibility. He's tall and thin, but he can get by the tackle with his length and stride, doesn't need Clowney to free him up, and his long arms will always be hard on QBs.
- FSU defensive end Bjoern Werner looks like a better version of Chris Kelsay. He's not fast off the ball and plays more of a read-react game, but he's relentless and nearly never makes a mistake. I'd be OK drafting him low in the first round, or in the second round, and putting him at LDE opposite a good rusher on a good line. Glue guy.
- Aaron Murray finally played against a defense that could get into his throwing lanes, and to him, and we saw the result. He played very poorly.
- Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree is a good 4-3 weakside outside linebacker. His range in coverage is like a safety. While he's not stout against the run, he's ideal vs. the pass. He can play man against tight ends and backs and win regularly. I think Ogletree will be in demand come draft day, because he's the exact type of linebacker teams can play in coverage against the tight end, and not lose effectiveness against the run.
- Both LSU defensive ends are going to make really good NFL edge rushers. Barkevious Mingo is the better of the two, and he's athletic enough to stand up as a 3-4 OLB. I think he's better there, because he doesn't have the anchor against the run vs. OTs. Mingo has an elite first step and will be tough to handle in the NFL. Sam Montgomery isn't as fast, but he plays on the line better, protects his legs well, and anchors better. I think he's best off as a 3-4 OLB too, but he could play end in a 4-3.
- A team looking for a safety to fill against the run should take a look at Florida's Matt Elam. He fills like a truck, and gets upfield fast.
- I'm still super high on Jeff Driskell. He didn't have his best game - who does against LSU - but he showed signs of being able to eventually dominate elite defenses. If you haven't seen Driskell, think Tebow with elite pocket passing skills. Driskell needs to learn to take some heat off his fastball, as some of his passes are nearly uncatchable, and needs to work on ball security. For a sophomore, he's pretty good though.
- I thought Florida running back Mike Gillislee looked like a poor-man's CJ Spiller. He's a good start and stop downhill runner. He's fast with good vision to bounce outside, and picks and slides in hole. He'll never be a plowhorse though.
- Super sleeper: Florida defensive end Lerentee McCray. He's very fast off ball, and projects as a 3-4 OLB that can stack and fill against the run. He drives blockers back and can work to the inside, compress the edge, and crash inside against the run.
- LSU DT Bennie Logan looks like a 4-3 under tackle, or 3-technique. He can get stoned by double teams in the run game, but splits the double team against the pass, and can get to the QB and sideline. He can be driven off ball and has some problems anchoring, but he gets great push in pass rush.
- LSU QB Zach Mettenberger has a good skillset for a pocket passer, probably the best LSU's had in a while. He can drill the ball into some tight spots, but he's inconsistent in the strike zone. He's slow, but will stand in the face of a rush and deliver. He's smart with a lot of tools, but he's got some years of development at LSU ahead of him.
Arkansas vs. Auburn
Arkansas' Tyler Wilson put up some good stats, but they belied how how played. I like that Wilson is a vocal leader and a gun slinger who tries to put the ball into some tight spots. He delivers the ball well, though the ball comes off mostly at the 3/4 delivery point. I see some holes in his game. As a dropback passer, he got back into the pocket quickly, set, distributed his weight well, and was generally accurate with decent velocity on the ball when he stepped into the throw. In general though, Wilson doesn't put a lot of velocity on his passes. He floated his outs, and made his receivers wait for the football. When he threw deeper routes, his balls fluttered with less spin and less RPMs. His ball placement is inconsistent, ranging from well put in the strike zone, to behind wide open receivers. He stayed in the pocket, stepped up under pressure well, but checked down a lot. When he ran, he was effective but he's not outrunning anyone. Arkansas had Wilson on the move a lot in this game. He was good on play-action passes, freezing the defense with some masterful ball fakes. He made some good decisions in rollout high-low reads, though the reads were pretty simple. When he's moving, he's got some Tony Romo improvisation to his game. Auburn got to Wilson later in the game with some pressure, and Wilson's accuracy went down significantly. Without his receivers from last season, Wilson struck me as a dink-and-dunk quarterback that could do well in a short passing scheme, but would always be limited to that short passing scheme.
I wasn't impressed with Arkansas running back Knile Davis, though some of that can be attributed to use. Arkansas didn't commit to running Davis, and the few times they did, it was outside or on delays. I like Davis as a north-south pounding runner. When he goes east-west, or has to make multiple moves to get going, he's far less effective. His running mate, Dennis Johnson, was far more effective. Johnson is a shorter, stout running back that moves like a pinball. He looked a lot like Michael Turner to me. Johnson ran with short, choppy strides, fully balanced, and made quick cuts. He rans best when he could start and stop in traffic, and got to top speed quickly. He also ran with good power.
I thought Cobi Hamilton looked like a future professional possession receiver. He didn't strike me as a vertical threat that could separate deep. He looked good getting open in the underneath zones, and working from the slot. He's a huge target with a large wingspan. He looked like an easy target for Wilson all day because he was open, even when he was covered, due to his height and wingspan.
I didn't see much of Arkansas tight end Chris Gregg, besides some double-teaming on pass blocking
Arkansas linebacker Alonzo Highsmith played early, and showed good closing speed in space. I didn't see him for the rest of the game. He might have got hurt.
Arkansas has two good young defensive end. Junior Chris Smith was really fast off ball. He's 3-4 OLB sized, and struggled to set the edge, but he got pressure on Auburn's passers all day. He's mostly a speed rusher, looking to run around the tackle. He played on both sides, and given some space, he closed on the passer very quickly. Sophomore Trey Flowers is a basketball looking end that closes quickly as well. He's adept at rushing to the outside. He'll sift through traffic on stunts, and was generally disruptive all day. I think he had three sacks on the afternoon.
Auburn end Corey Lemonier showed good burst off line, but he didn't show a lot of power getting past the tackle. When he went power, he got stood up a bit. He did show a good burst to the outside, and was able to force Wilson to step up quite a bit. He showed a good dip under move to the outside shoulder of the tackle. He struggled to set the edge, mostly because he didn't find the ball a lot, and used his energy to force the blocker in a direction that didn't matter. He did keep coming all game, and didn't quit on the rush once his initial move was stopped. I came away thinking Lemonier needed some more coaching but the raw talent and attitude was there.
Philip Lutzenkirchen, of Cam Newton throwback fame, didn't have a great receiving game. A lot of that goes on the Auburn quarterbacks, who were ineffective most of the game. Auburn uses Lutzenkirchen inline, in the backfield, off the line, and flexed. He can block out of the backfield, though he's far from a sledgehammer blocker. Lutzenkirchen looked like tie-up positional blocker, and he took the right angle on every block that I saw him make. He will take a hit and catch the ball in the passing game. Though he got missed quite a bit, he's big, mobile target underneath. He won't stretch a defense. He's best working the underneath zones.