Georgia Tech 56, Virginia 20
There were two under-the-radar offensive line prospects to watch in this ACC matchup. Virginia left tackle Oday Aboushi and Georgia Tech guard Omoregie Uzzi are both potential second-day draft picks in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Aboushi is the higher rated of the two, and he has a shot at being a top-60 pick. He had a really solid game against Georgia Tech. The Cavaliers were blown out by the Yellow Jackets, but that wasn't because of Aboushi. He was winning his blocks in the ground game and in pass protection.
The big question mark with Aboushi entering his season was strength. It looks like he used the offseason well because he looked stronger at the point of attack against Georgia Tech. Aboushi was grabbing the defensive ends and turning them to open up holes in run blocking.
The senior was using that strength to sustain blocks in pass blocking. He was locking on to ends and not letting them shed his block to get after the quarterback.
Aboushi had one ugly play in the second quarter. He took a step to the outside off the snap but had the defensive end dart to the inside. He got by Aboushi to pressure the quarterback and forced him to scramble outside where he threw a dumb pass for an interception. It was more of a mental mistake than anything else as Aboushi assumed the end would try for the edge rather than reading him off the snap.
Aboushi looked good aside from that play, but was pulled in the second half as the Yellow Jackets were blowing out the Cavaliers and both teams emptied their bench. He produced a solid tape for scouts against Georgia Tech. 6-foot-6, 310-pounder looks like he's added about 10 pounds of muscles this offseason. Aboushi is a good athlete with the ability to mirror speed-rushers. He also has good length.
Aboushi may not be a first-rounder, but he could be a nice value pick in the second round who makes teams regret passing on him. Aboushi has starting potential at left tackle in the NFL. Zone-blocking teams could consider him for right tackle.
Uzzi had more success in this contest as the Georgia Tech lit up the scoreboard. He blasted open a hole on a goal-line plunge for quarterback Tevin Washington. Uzzi caved in the line to his left to give his signal-caller a big opening to dive through. Uzzi helped spring a big run up the middle a bit later by moving his tackle into a pile.
The redshirt senior was winning his blocks at the point of attack. He did well in pass protection, but, as usual, Georgia Tech was a run-oriented offense. Uzzi showed off his quickness and athleticism by getting into the second level. He is a perfect fit for the Yellow Jackets' option offense with his ability to move to the outside on perimeter runs.
Uzzi has zone-blocking system written all over him as a result. He is not a powerful road grader at the point of attack, but he is quick and athletic. Uzzi hits blocks on the second level and moves well to get to his spot.
It would be ideal if Uzzi moved to center in the NFL. The 6-foot-3, 300-pounder is undersized for guard, but he could stay at guard in a zone-blocking system. Uzzi would have to move to center in a power-man scheme in order to be a starter. He looks like a third-rounder right now because of those limitations.
The final prospect worth mentioning is Georgia Tech cornerback Rod Sweeting. He had three tackles with a pass broken up against Virginia. Sweeting (6-0, 184) had good coverage all game and is putting together a nice senior season. He looks like a sleeper prospect for the third or fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Notre Dame 20, Michigan State 3
There was an excellent 2013 NFL Draft matchup with the Fighting Irish taking on the Spartans. Notre Dame middle linebacker Manti Te'o and defensive tackle Louis Nix were taking on perhaps the best running back they'll see all season, Le'Veon Bell. Conversely, the Michigan State ball-carrier won't see an interior defense as talented as Notre Dame's.
There was speculation prior to kickoff that Te'o wouldn't play after suffering a horrific personal tragedy during the week. His grandmother died on Tuesday and, just hours later, his girlfriend lost her fight with leukemia. They were said to be the two people closest to Te'o, yet he played a great game despite the grief.
Early on Te'o had a nice tackle in pursuit, weaving through traffic to tackle a receiver on a jet sweep. He stuffed a run from Bell for a short gain a little bit later.
Te'o tackled Bell in the third quarter after Te'o flew through the hole and cut down the big back for a loss of two. Te'o made nice open field tackles in pass defense three times in the third quarter. He was dropping in to zone before running to tackle the receiver right after he caught the ball. Te'o also had a pass break up in tight coverage on tight end Dion Sims.
Te'o slung down Bell in tight coverage on a short check-down pass during the fourth quarter. Bell was stuffed on a fourth down late in the game, but as he was pushed out of bounds, tossed the ball toward a teammate. However, Te'o was there to snatch the lateral and take it back eight yards. He totaled 12 tackles with two passes broken up to go with his fumble return.
It was an inspired performance from Te'o. He had a real presence and is showing a lot of improvement in pass coverage as a senior. That will really appeal to the passing-driven NFL, and he has the ability to be a three-down middle linebacker. The performance against Michigan State will help Te'o's cause to be a first-rounder; an increasingly harder feat for a middle linebacker.
Bell had some good runs midway through the first quarter to help set up a field goal attempt. Otherwise Notre Dame bottled him up. The Fighting Irish front seven dominated the Spartans' offensive line and the junior did not have good holes to run through.
Bell made some nice catches and looked good in the passing game. He was able to get more yards in space away from Notre Dame's front seven. Like he did against Boise State, Bell hurdled a defensive back; this time on a catch and run in the flat. He totaled 77 yards on 19 carries with four receptions for 20 yards. His stock as a second-day pick should remain unchanged.
Nix was phenomenal against the Spartans. He owned the inside of the line. The junior had five tackles, but he wasn't constantly tossing the guards and center aside to burst into the backfield to cause disruption. Michigan State couldn't handle Nix. Even though he didn't produce a sack or huge stat line, it was an impressive tape from him for NFL evaluators. Nix looks like a potential first-rounder in 2013 or 2014.
Another Spartan early-round prospect is Michigan State defensive end William Gholston. He had a meager impact against Notre Dame though. The junior had little pressure and was virtually a non-factor as a pass rusher.
There were only two plays on which Gholston hurried the signal-caller. He had a nice hit on Irish quarterback Everett Golson during the first half after bursting between the right tackle and the tight end. Gholston had a pressure in the third quarter after getting leverage on a bull rush against the right guard.
Gholston got into the backfield during the second quarter, but misread the ball and allowed the runner to escape to the edge. He finally made an impact play with a diving ankle tackle on a running back cutting into open field. Gholston finished the game with five tackles - most them being of the assisted variety.
Gholston does not have a repertoire of pass-rushing moves. He really needs a lot of work on developing skills to beat linemen. Gholston always tries to go at them with speed slip by them or with strength to go through them. He needs to develop some combination of a rip move, spin move, swim move or club move. Gholston doesn't have a burst off the snap either. Unless the junior turns it on and discovers a consistent pass-rush ability, he should return for his senior season.
Gholston wasn't the only Spartan draft prospect that struggled; senior cornerback Johnny Adams had a rough performance against Notre Dame. He burst into the backfield in the first quarter and ran down the running back for a loss of one. Adams was beat for a long touchdown just a bit later thought. The senior was beat by the receiver, but as the pass hung in the air, caught up to grab at the wide out. Still, the catch was made, and Adams was called for a pass interference that was declined. He was in man coverage and got caught trailing off his receiver while looking back at the quarterback.
Adams came back to make a tackle for a loss on a perimeter run close to the end zone. The senior struggled to shed a block from a receiver on the next play, and after finally breaking free he missed a tackle on the signal-caller who sprung into the end zone. Adams had good coverage just before halftime to help cause an incompletion. He undercut the ball to breakup the pass, jumped the route and almost came up with an interception.
Adams was actually called for a pass interference in the fourth quarter on a downfield throw to Irish tight end Tyler Eifert. Adams was all over him. The senior corner was punked a little bit later by running back Cierre Wood. Adams was stiff-armed into the ground as Wood stayed on his feet while going out of bounds.
Adams looks best as a slot corner in the NFL. He is a gritty defender and does well in the ground game, but is beat too often downfield. Adams would struggle in the NFL on the outside versus receivers who have size and speed. He may get drafted in the second round, but his play looks more like a mid-rounder.
The final prospect worth mentioning was Wood. The senior was suspended the first two games of the season, but he was impressive against Michigan State. Wood showed some quickness and physicality. The Irish had a rotation of backs so he didn't get a big work load, but he ran well when given the opportunity. Woods totaled 56 yards on 10 attempts.
Stanford 21, USC 14
The upset of the of the second-ranked USC Trojans had real implications for the 2013 NFL Draft and this game could hang with a number of the prospects who played in it.
USC features the consensus top player in college football, quarterback Matt Barkley. The senior signal-caller was without his center Khaled Holmes, who was held out of the game with an injured ankle. The Trojans really missed Holmes as the redshirt-freshman replacement had a rough debut and struggled. Barkley saw pass pressure coming straight at him from the inside of the line throughout the evening.
Stanford has a tough defense, so Barkley was going to see a better test than he has thus far in 2012. The senior was unable to get in sync all game as he was pounded by the Cardinal pass rush. Barkley had some pressure including a sack-fumble that forced a huge loss by USC's offense.
The Trojans made a huge play on a fourth-and-19. Barkley hit No. 1 receiver Robert Woods on a short drag route. The junior showed his speed by racing by the defenders to turn the corner and get a gain of 24. That set up a short touchdown run for junior running back Silas Redd. The Penn State-transfer had another short scoring plunge, but also fumbled the ball over to Stanford.
Barkley threw a terrible pass over the receiver for an easy Stanford interception just before halftime. The USC signal-caller threw another awful pass on his next attempt to a covered receiver and the Cardinal corner made an easy jumping interception.
Barkley couldn't move the ball for the Trojans throughout the third and fourth quarter. Stanford had a superb pass rush that wouldn't let him get in rhythm. Barkley and the offensive line were getting beat up by the Cardinal front seven. Stanford just was infinitely more physical and were destroyed the USC offensive line at the point of attack.
Down by seven, Barkley got the ball with two minutes and about 90 yards to go. He converted a fourth down with a pass to Marqise Lee. The Cardinal cranked up the pass rush on Barkley with a big third-down sack from Stanford outside linebacker Chase Thomas. The senior then threw incomplete on fourth and a mile to end the game for the Trojans. Barkley finished 20-of-41 for 254 yards and two interceptions with zero touchdowns. USC was unable to score in the second half.
It was a disappointing performance from Barkley has he finished 0-4 against Stanford in his career. His offensive line was abysmal and the Trojans were incapable of running the ball. This performance will hurt Barkley's stock with some, but it probably won't be enough to change his status as the clear favorite to be the first quarterback selected next April.
Woods was held to four receptions for 38 yards. Stanford defended him well and Barkley didn't have the time to get the ball to him downfield.
Another USC possible first-rounder who didn't help himself was safety T.J. McDonald. The senior started out well, but faded in the second half. He had a good safety blitz that forced an incompletion. The pressure forced a throw off the mark when the receiver was running open with nobody between him and the end zone.
McDonald beat Cardinal left tackle David Yankey on another blitz to force a bad throw that was intercepted by the Trojans. McDonald had a bad missed tackle in the fourth quarter that let Stanford get a first-down conversion. He took a bad angle a bit later to allow a back to get behind him. McDonald also didn't finish his tackles well in the fourth quarter and was allowing the backs to fall forward for critical yardage. His showing against Stanford won't help his chances of going in the top 32.
Chase Thomas was generally quiet against USC. He was called for a roughing the passer in the first quarter. Thomas contributed in run defense and had a couple of pressures, but didn't have a big impact until his clutch sack to just about about end the game. Thomas looks like a second-day pick.
The Stanford player who really helped his stock was running back Stepfan Taylor. The senior halfback has been the workhorse for the Cardinal, but other players have received all the attention. The 5-foot-11, 215-pounder is a physical back who also is capable of making defenders miss and has enough speed to break off long touchdown runs. He put all that on display and more against USC.
Taylor had a phenomenal 59-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter. He stutter-stepped to get through the hole and then dodged a safety to break free down the field for a score.
Stanford rode Taylor throughout the second half to control the ball. He pounded the ball into USC's defense and showed his toughness. The senior frequently broke tackles and added up plenty of yards after contact.
Taylor took a screen pass for a 23-yard touchdown in the third quarter to tie the game at 14. He made a defender miss and broke free of the grasp from a defensive tackle to burst into the end zone.
Taylor ran for 153 yards on 27 carries. He also was Stanford's leading receiver with five receptions for 60 yards. Taylor is pushing his stock up from the third round into the top 60. It was a phenomenal game from the senior back, and the Cardinal wouldn't have knocked off the Trojans without him.
Stanford junior tight end Zach Ertz had some huge plays to help upset USC. The 6-foot-6, 252-pounder had a nice gain on a deep post to put the Cardinal at the Trojans' 18-yard line. Ertz ran a great route with a double move in the fourth quarter to get open running down the field. The pass hit him in stride, and he slashed his way into the end zone for a 37-yard touchdown catch that proved to be the winning score. Ertz looks like a second-day prospect, but probably will return for his senior season.
Florida 37, Tennessee 20
The rivalry game between Florida and Tennessee featured two young and up-and-coming teams. The Volunteers have one of the top quarterback prospects in the nation with junior signal-caller Tyler Bray. He has two supremely talented receivers in Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson to work with. Thosee two juniors have great skill sets with the size and speed to be first-round picks.
It didn't start well for Bray as he threw an interception early in the first quarter. Senior outside linebacker Lerentee McCray dropped into coverage after lining up at defensive end. Bray didn't see McCray drop into coverage, and the defender made a leaping interception with a good return to the Tennessee 35-yard line.
Bray hit Patterson on the next drive on a deep dig route to get the ball to midfield. The signal-caller threw a ball up for Hunter on the next drive that turned into a 42-yard gain. The wide out went up over the cornerback to make a great catch. Hunter drew a pass interference in the end zone a few plays later. Bray then threw a quick bullet to Patterson for a touchdown.
Bray was fortunate he didn't throw another interception on the next drive as, once again, he didn't see a defender drop into coverage. The Volunteers signal-caller threw a play-action pass a few plays later for a short touchdown.
Bray came out throwing bullets in the third quarter to move the ball downfield and set up a short touchdown run. He also hooked up with Hunter for some nice precision passes.
Bray made a bad decision late in the third quarter. McCray had a nice rush to hit him as he threw. The ball hung in the air and dropped into safety Matt Elam like a punt. The Gators turned that into a go ahead touchdown entering the fourth.
Tennessee's wide receivers had some drops in the final quarter that really hurt. Patterson had a step on the corner running down the field and Bray lofted the ball in perfectly. Patterson tried to catch it with one hand, for some reason, even though he could've used two. The ball fell incomplete and could've been a touchdown if Patterson held on. Hunter dropped an easy catch while running wide open. The pass hit him square in the chest on a third down and forced the Volunteers to punt.
Bray finished the game 22-of-44 for 257 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He had some amazing throws that show his talent as a rifle-armed pocket-passer. The junioe can be extremely accurate when given enough time.
Bray's second half struggles were the product of him not getting good time to throw and his receivers dropping key passes. It might be in his best interest to return for his senior season, but whenever he comes out, he has the skill set to be a high first-round pick.
Hunter finished with five receptions for 76 yards and Patterson had eight catches for 75 yards and a touchdown. Both look like future first-rounders, but Patterson is still raw and would have a better shot at going in the top 32 if he produces well as a junior and senior.
The player who helped his stock the most was McCray. The senior outside linebacker and defensive end has made the most out of his opportunity to replace the injured Ron Powell. McCray had a sack last week against Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel, and had a stellar game against the Volunteers.
McCray, aside from his pick, recognized a screen and had blanket coverage on a running back to force an incompletion. The pass hit McCray square in the back. McCray later had another hit on Bray that forced an incompletion. McCray beat left tackle Antonio Richardson just a bit later to fire into the inside and make a tackle for a loss.
McCray was making plays all over the field and is on his way to becoming a draft pick. He currently looks like a nice third-day sleeper who would be a good fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
There was a nice battle in the trenches between Tennessee guard Dallas Thomas and Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. Thomas had a quality game overall aside from a couple of plays where he was beaten and had a false start. Floyd moved around the line and went against numerous linemen. He also put together a nice game. Floyd had a nice tackle for a loss after firing by the right guard. He got a nice hit on Bray to force an incompletion in the fourth quarter. Both Thomas and Floyd should remain steady from this contest.
Gators junior fullback Trey Burton took a wild-cat snap and shot 80 yards down the sideline for a touchdown to tie the game at 20 in the third quarter. He totaled 93 yards on three carries with two touchdowns. Burton definitely helped his stock against the Volunteers.
Florida senior running back Mike Gillislee continued his breakout season. He already had big games against Bowling Green and Texas A&M, but churned out the tough yards for the Gators. The senior also broke off some big runs.
Gillislee burst downfield for a long run of 45-yards up the middle of the Volunteers' defense at the end of the third quarter. He ran for 33 yards on a trap behind the left side half a quarter later. That set up a field goal for Florida and put Tennessee away. Gillislee ran for 115 yards on 18 carries. It looks like he could be playing himself into mid-round consideration at this point in the season.
Louisville 39, North Carolina 34
There were three good offensive line prospects on display in the North Carolina road battle at Louisville. The Tar Heels feature senior guard Jonathan Cooper and senior right tackle Brennan Williams, who are both early-round picks. Cardinals center Mario Benavides is the third line prospect, and while he wasn't regarded as highly as the Tar Heel duo, had the most impressive day.
Benavides had the biggest challenge as he went against North Carolina defensive tackle Sylvester Williams. The senior Williams is considered a first or second-round pick. He started the season strong with a two-sack game, but Benavides was up to the challenge and held Williams in check.
Benavides had some great run blocks during the first half to help Louisville march down the field and score 36 points. He was pushing open running lanes and was rock solid in pass protection. Williams was a non-factor as Benavides was able to get good blocks on him. The Cardinals gashed the Tar Heels up the middle on the ground, and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater picked apart the North Carolina secondary.
Williams played better in the fourth quarter, but, overall, Benavides got the better of the matchup. Benavides (6-4, 280) should bulk up. He would be a nice fit in a zone-blocking system. If Benavides continues to build off this performance, he could put himself into second-day consideration as a top-100 pick.
Cooper and Williams were on the sideline for the vast majority of the first half as Louisville controlled the ball. Williams was almost beat for a sack in the first quarter as the rusher cut to the inside and ran down the middle of the pocket.
Williams had a false start in the third quarter. Cooper, on the other hand, made a great diving block on the next play to spring a slip screen for a 25-yard gain. Williams and Cooper were rock solid in pass protection and in run blocking as the Tar Heels fought their way back into the game. The duo won its blocks at the point of attack. Both are good athletes who can slide and mirror speed-rushers well.
Cooper (6-3, 295) and Williams (6-7, 310) both look like top-60 picks with the potential to have consideration late in the first round if they have dominant senior seasons.
It was feast or famine for North Carolina senior linebacker Kevin Reddick. He looked lost early in the game and was getting beaten at the point of attack. Reddick came free on a blitz up the middle in the first quarter. He missed the tackle on Louisville quarterback Bridgewater, who made him pay by throwing a perfect post pass for a touchdown. On a similar play later in the first half, Reddick flew into the backfield and missed another tackle. He forced an incompletion on a blitz late in the second quarter and put a big hit on Bridgewater.
Reddick played much better in the second half. The senior made a tackle for a loss when he came unblocked on a play in the third quarter. Reddick rushed off the edge early in the fourth quarter and dragged down Bridgewater on a coverage sack.
Reddick has speed to burn with some size and strength, but he is far too inconsistent. He disappears for stretches and is not at all instinctive. Reddick's physical skill set could make him a second-day pick, but his production is in line with a late-rounder.
Alabama 52, Arkansas 0
This SEC West grudge match lost some relevance when Arkansas senior quarterback Tyler Wilson was held out of the game after suffering a concussion last week. The senior and the Razorbacks had prepared for Alabama all summer, and it would have been great to see how he could perform against the Crimson Tide's talented defense with that amount of preparation.
Arkansas had a hard time sustaining drives without Wilson in the game, and Alabama's offense controlled the ball. The Crimson Tide feature a supremely talented offensive line with potential first-round picks in center Barrett Jones, guard Chance Warmack and right tackle D.J. Fluker. The trio was tremendous against the Razorbacks and controlled the game. Fluker's stock was in decline after he had some struggles in pass protection during the first two games.
Fluker started the contest against Arkansas well. Jones and Warmack were owning the line of scrimmage up the middle. Running back Eddie Lacy had a short touchdown run in the first quarter behind Jones and Warmack. Lacy went behind Fluker just before halftime for a short plunge into the end zone.
Fluker was beat by a speed rush to the inside in the second quarter. It was an ugly play for the redshirt junior that looked like one of his sacks allowed last week against Western Kentucky. Luckily for him, quarterback A.J. McCarron got rid of the ball. Fluker was beat initially around the edge on the same drive, but he was able to recover to ride a speed rush to the outside and prevent it from getting to the quarterback.
Lacy scored his third touchdown of the afternoon in the second half, running through a massive hole up the middle with Jones and Warmack making superb blocks to provide the lane. Arkansas later turned the ball over to set up another short Crimson Tide touchdown run. That time the team went behind Fluker to get into the end zone.
The line left the game at this point, and the backups for both teams played the fourth quarter. Jones and Warmack were rock solid as usual, so their stock as first-rounders should remain unchanged. Fluker played better compared to his performance from a week ago versus Western Kentucky. This showing against Arkansas should help stabilize his stock in the back half of the first round.
One of the most impressive players in the early going of the 2012 season is Alabama cornerback DeMarcus Milliner. He had a great start to his junior year with a dominant performance against Michigan. The Crimson Tide held him out a week ago against Western Kentucky with a minor injury, but that was just to make sure he would be ready for Arkansas this week.
Milliner got the the game started with a nice pass breakup on a hard hit. He caught a delected pass at his feet a few plays later. The junior then slashed across the field to get to the Razorbacks five-yard line, but the play was reviewed and ruled an incompletion. Otherwise, Milliner had blanket coverage and Arkansas couldn't maintain possession of the ball. He looks like a future first-rounder and is in the running to be the top cornerback available with Florida State's Xavier Rhodes and North Carolina State's David Amerson.
Razorbacks junior running back Knile Davis could never get going because of the blowout loss. He had only 22 yards on 11 carries by halftime. Davis finally made a nice run up the middle in the third quarter. He got into the second level and bounced off the safety for more yards. Davis fumbled the ball when he was tackled, but Arkansas recovered.
It was an impressive run, but the junior held the ball too loose away from his body. Davis finished with 59 yards on 20 carries. He could be a second-day pick, but has to stay healthy and return to form.
Arkansas receiver Cobi Hamilton disappointed. He struggled to get open against Alabama, but the Razorbacks didn't give him many opportunities. Hamilton had only two catches for 14 yards. The senior looks like a mid-rounder currently, but he needs Wilson to come back healthy in order to produce.
Ohio State 35, California 28
There were a lot of good draft prospects in this Big Ten versus Pac-12 battle. One potential early first-round pick is California wide receiver Keenan Allen, who was going against Ohio State cornerback Travis Howard. The Buckeyes corner has pushed into himself into second-day consideration after a fast start to the season with three interceptions in two games.
Allen showed his run-after-the-catch ability with a gain of 18 yards on a five-yard square in. He had a nice reception for 10 yards and a first down a short time later. Howard tackled him by the facemask, ripping Allen down by the head; the refs called a 15-yard penalty. It was a dirty hit by Howard that would land a fine and possible suspension in the NFL.
Allen made some tough catches in traffic in the third quarter to move the chains. He mainly worked in the short part of the field and showed his toughness by taking some big hits. Allen had a huge catch across the middle for four yards on a third-and-3 deep in Ohio State territory. He bounced off some defenders and held onto to the ball to get the Golden Bears a first down.
Allen finished the game with nine receptions for 80 yards. It was a tough game for the junior, but he was an impressive with his toughness and reliable hands. Allen neither help nor hurt his stock against Ohio State. Howard was quiet, but chipped in some tackles. His stock should also be unchanged.
Allen wasn't the only future first-rounder in this contest. Ohio State junior defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins is a versatile and disruptive defensive lineman who could fit a 3-4 or 4-3 defense in the NFL. The 6-foot-3, 322-pounder has a surprising burst to cause havoc in the backfield with speed or power.
Hankins set up a tackle for a loss on the first drive by knifing into the backfield and blowing up a run up the middle. He had a great play in run defense after shedding some blocks and making a tackle at the line of scrimmage. No other defender was close, and if Hankins didn't make the tackle there was a lot of open space to break into. He blew up a run in the backfield a short time later.
Hankins showed his power in the third quarter by fighting off a combo block from a guard and center to stuff a run. He showed his athleticism as he dragged down a wide receiver in the open field on a bubble screen. The junior tackle stuffed a run for a gain of one on the next play.
Hankins had a huge sack late in the fourth quarter when he shed the guard and burst into the backfield to drag down Golden Bears quarterback Zach Maynard. It put California in a third-and-20. Hankins had a strong performance against the Golden Bears. He stuffed a lot of runs and was tremendous as a ground defender. The junior flashed his pass-rush potential as well to confirm his first-round projection.
Hankins wasn't the only the Buckeyes defensive lineman to help his stock against California. Senior defensive end John Simon had a good game, too. He had a nice hit on Maynard on a fourth-down pass attempt. Simon planted his shoulder into the signal-caller's chest later in the first half, forcing him out of the game. That caused the backup to come in for a third-and-7 attempt.
Simon came up with a big sack on a third down in the third quarter. He dipped under the left tackle and got to Maynard quickly to bring him down. Simon was beating his blockers throughout the game. He was putting steady pressure on Maynard and inflicting some hard hits on the signal-caller.
Simon (6-2, 263) is short on elite size or speed, but his motor is never ending. He is very physical with good hands to shed blocks. Simon looks like a solid second-day pick. He would best as an end in a 4-3 defense.
Another potential second-day contender is Ohio State tight end Jake Stoneburner. He had a 40-yard gain on a seam route right down the middle of the field after lining up with his hand on the ground as a tight end. That set up an Ohio State touchdown on the next play. Stoneburner caught a one-yard touchdown early in the second quarter when he came in motion and kept running to the outside to get wide open.
Stoneburner later got open for a nice gain on third down, but quarterback Braxton Miller made a terrible pass behind him for an incompletion. He put the Buckeyes ahead in the fourth quarter with another short touchdown catch. Stoneburner finished with three receptions for 44 yards and three touchdowns. He looks like a third- or fourth-round pick.
TCU 20, Kansas 6
Even though Kansas is one of the worst programs in the Big XII, there was the potential to catch a nice draft matchup. Jayhawks senior left tackle Tanner Hawkinson was figured to be going against TCU defensive end/outside linebacker Stansly Maponga. Unfortunately, the Horned Frogs lined up Maponga over the right tackle on just about every play, so Hawkinson and Maponga didn't get to square off.
Kansas sent a lot of double-teams Maponga's direction. He had a couple of nice rushes, but generally was a non-factor for four quarters. Hawkinson was beat on a rush to the inside on the first drive and his defensive end was able to get in on a sack. Hawkinson was an effective blocker other than that play. He did well in the ground game and was a reliable pass-protector who did his part to keep defenders off his quarterback.
Maponga sealed the win for TCU after being quiet all day. He was knocked down on a cut block near the goal line, but got up to run down quarterback Dayne Crist. As the signal-caller tried to take it himself up the middle, Maponga put his helmet on the ball at the one-yard line, and Crist fumbled the ball away to TCU. It was the only play that Maponga really made all day, but a huge one.
If the junior doesn't pick it up, he should probably return for his senior season in 2013. Hawkinson looks like a second-day prospect for next April, but he would be better off as a starting right tackle in the NFL.
TCU quarterback Casey Pachall is a quality prospect for the next level. The Horned Frogs kept shooting themselves in the foot in a game where they should've blown out Kansas. Pachall moved TCU to the Kansas 20-yard line in the first quarter, but he couldn't grab a hold of a low snap that bounced through his legs. The ball rolled behind him, and the quarterback was incapable of securing the ball when he dove on the ground.
The next drive saw Pachall fumble the ball away as he tried to throw with three Kansas defenders in the process of hitting him. He needed to eat it and just take the sack.
Pachall came back to throw a bullet between two defenders for a short touchdown. He had a lot of success throwing to sophomore receiver Brandon Carter. They connected for some big passes including a nice touchdown in the third quarter.
The ball-security issues came up again early in the fourth quarter. Pachall was about to run into the end zone for a game-sealing touchdown, but was tackled from behind and fumbled. His knee batted the ball through the end zone to give Kansas a touchback in what should've been than a TCU touchdown.
The turnovers ruined what was otherwise a nice throwing day for Pachall. He was 24-of-30 for 335 yards and two touchdowns. The 6-foot-5, 226-pounder has a nice skill set for the NFL. The junior should return for his senior season at this point to try and improve in order to be a first-rounder in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Pachall's top target is junior wide out Josh Boyce. He caught his first pass for eight yards on a quick throw. Boyce had a couple of other short catches before a terrible drop in the third quarter. The junior got separation and Kansas did not have a defender between him and the end zone. The ball fell through his hands to fall incomplete.
Boyce made a nice leaping reception of about 20 yards early in the fourth quarter that set up TCU at the Kansas 10-yard line. He finished with five receptions for 66 yards against the Jayhawks. Boyce should return in 2013.
The player who helped his stock the most in this game was TCU junior running back Wayman James. He had some excellent runs in the first half. James showed nice vision and shiftiness. He totaled 99 yards on 12 carries.