Mississippi State 41, Tennessee 31
There was a really good draft matchup on display in this game. The Volunteers have a trio of talented juniors who form a dynamic passing attack: quarterback Tyler Bray, wide receiver Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson. Going against it was one of the best cornerbacks in the country with Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks. The senior Banks has been a big part of the Bulldogs 6-0 start. If he could contain the speed and play-making ability of Tennessee's passing attack, it could really help his draft stock.
Mississippi State's offense controlled the ball in the first half and built a lead. The Bulldogs maintained possession with a successful surprise onside kick and Tennessee only had some quick points. The Volunteers scored only on their first drive and in the first minute of the second quarter when Patterson caught took kickoff at the three-yard line and exploded upfield. He darted to the left, cut around one tackler and juked another to break free down the sideline to race into the end zone.
Bray threw a bomb up for Patterson just before halftime. Safety Corey Broomfield cut in front of the reciver to make an interception. The signal-caller threw the pass late, allowing Broomfield the time to run over from the middle of the field. Patterson gave a bad effort and didn't even leap for the pass. Broomfield timed his jump to come down with the ball and Patterson tackled him immediately.
Justin Hunter's first catch was a 15-yarder on a short pass in the first quarter. He caught a quick toss and ran across the field to get a few blocks before turning upfield. Hunter's next catch came in the fourth quarter when he a ran a deep in against zone coverage. Banks ran across the field from his landmark to tackle Hunter.
Banks and cornerback Darius Slay did a good job of matching up with Hunter. They kept him from getting separation and held him to two receptions for 41 yards. It was a disappointing performance for Hunter. He doesn't look as explosive this season as he was before the knee injury that knocked him out for most of 2011.
Hunter has only two 100-yard games this season, and those came against Georgia State and Akron. He was held under 80 yards per contest against North Carolina State, Florida, Georgia and, now, Mississippi State. This performance isn't going to help Hunter, and he should strongly consider returning for his senior year despite the injury risk.
Patterson had a reverse going nowhere in the third quarter, but made it work out. He had five or six defenders closing in on him, but he went backward and reversed field. Patterson ran all the way to the far sideline and caught a block from Bray to spring downfield for a 34-yard run. It was a crazy play by Patterson that was very impressive. He had another run of about 15 yards as a running back.
Patterson also had a 14-yard out route reception after going by Banks in zone. However Banks knocked a pass away from Patterson a few plays later. The wide out started in a few yards off the line, but Banks read the out and up route perfectly. The senior corner turned his hips and ran with Patterson to keep in position to slap the ball away. It was a very impressive man-coverage play against an explosive receiver. Bray finished the drive by lofting in a perfect pass to Patterson. He started with a slant before slashing to the back corner.
Bray had a nice touch pass over the top of the safety to his tight end for a touchdown in the back of the end zone on a third-and-3 late in the fourth quarter. It was a beautiful throw by the junior quarterback.
Patterson had two catches for 25 yards and a touchdown. He ran for 57 yards on three carries, too; not to mention his kick return for a touchdown. Bray completed 13-of-24 passes for 148 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
The junior college product Patterson is an explosive play-maker but is very raw. He needs more development in his route running and learning defenses. Patterson would be better off returning for his senior season to build his case to be a first-round pick.
The same could be said for Bray. He has a great physical skill set with a cannon for an arm, quick release and the potential to be an accurate passer. However, Bray's field vision and intelligence needs to improve. He can be confused by defenses and can struggle with where he should go with the football. The junior also is inconsistent with how he handles the pass rush. Sometimes Bray's perfect; he stands tough and delivers a strike. Other times he panics and throws a bad pass, or feels a rush that isn't there.
Bray has elite talent, but isn't ready for the NFL. He also seems to lack intangibles. Bray has some Landry Jones-ness to him where he struggles on the road and against good opponents. Bray needs to show the ability to rally his team and push them over the top. That hasn't happened thus far in his collegiate career. Bray would be better off returning for his senior season and developing under offensive coordinator Jim Chaney.
Johnthan Banks had a superb game against Tennessee that will help his draft stock. He had a tackle on a swing pass early on as he ran up in zone. Banks had a missed tackle near the line of scrimmage as he was juked and couldn't get a hold of the back.
Banks made a huge play during the fourth quarter after he disengaged from Hunter's block on a perimeter run. Banks not only laid a hit on the running back, but also reached his hand into the back's chest to rip the ball out. Banks fell on top of the ball to get possession for his offense. Mississippi State was up 27-24 and that set up the Bulldogs at the Volunteers 30-yard line. They scored a touchdown to lock down their win over Tennessee.
Banks had six tackles, a pass breakup and a forced fumble against the Volunteers. He also had a nice punt return of 10 yards to take the ball to midfield. Banks also made a diving fair catch after slightly misjudging a ball.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound corner showed impressive speed and flexibility versus the Volunteers' speed receivers. Banks gave proof that he can flip his hips and run with good receivers downfield. Banks had success covering them in zone and man coverage. He really helped his stock and this could help him crack the top 20.
Tennessee senior guard Dallas Thomas had an excellent game. He was dominant in run blocking and pass blocking. Thomas is strong at the point of attack and very athletic. He would better off staying at guard in the NFL and looks like a solid second-day pick.
The final prospect worth mentioning is Bulldogs senior wide receiver Chad Bumphis. Following Banks' fumble recovery, Bumphis had a big gain of about 20 yards to the five-yard line to set up a score. He had seven receptions for 93 yards against Tennessee. Bumphis (5-11, 200) looks like a solid third-day pick and potential slot receiver for the NFL.
Texas Tech 49, West Virginia 14
The point machine that is West Virginia had a mechanical breakdown at the hands of the Texas Tech defense. Mountaineers quarterback Geno Smith has helped himself as much as any prospect in the nation this season. The senior quarterback has put up insane numbers while showing impressive passing ability, but that was before he went against a quality defense.
The game started pretty well for Smith as he moved the ball in the first quarter. Smith lofted in a 38-yard pass to wide receiver Tavon Austin streaking down the middle of the field. It was a perfect throw to beat the safety over the top. That set up Smith to throw a seven-yard touchdown strike to Stedman Bailey.
That drive was the highlight of the day for West Virginia as Texas Tech dominated thereafter. The Red Raiders defense got themselves off the field and the offense abused the weak West Virginia defense.
Texas Tech took away the deep part of the field unlike any other defense that Smith has played this season. Without the big plays, West Virginia repeatedly had drives stall out. The Red Raiders forced Smith to throw short passes and caused him to misfire regularly. Texas Tech's tackling was very impressive.
Smith's accuracy was off against the Red Raiders. He had a number of passes off the mark and the defense deserves some credit for its team effort of pass rush and coverage.
As I stated in previous weeks, Smith has to improve his footwork for the NFL. That is what causes some of his passes to be inaccurate and he won't have receivers getting as wide open in the NFL as he typically does with Austin and Bailey. Smith's throwing windows will be much tighter, and he needs to get his feet more uniform. The senior has to really work on setting his feet and following through on all his throws. Smith is way too inconsistent.
Austin was held to eight catches for 61 yards other than that 38-yard reception in the first quarter. Bailey caught six passes for 56 yards and a touchdown. Smith completed 29-of-55 passes for 275 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions. This was the worst game of the year for all three prospects, but their draft stocks shouldn't be impacted very much considering their entire body of work in 2012. Texas Tech's defense really stepped up and played a phenomenal game so the Red Raiders deserve more credit than those players deserve criticism.
Another aspect that worked against West Virginia was Texas Tech's offense controlling the ball and lighting up the scoreboard. Senior quarterback Seth Doege was superb. He ripped the ball through the Mountaineers' secondary for big plays. Doege isn't known as a running quarterback, but he had a clutch run of 23 yards early in the first quarter and totaled 28 yards on five carries.
Doege really worked the deep part of the field and had a big day with sophomore tight end Jace Amaro. They worked the middle of the field well together. They went down the seam for a 39-yard touchdown and a quick hitter that Amaro busted for 61 yards.
Doege was smart and accurate against West Virginia. However, the Mountaineers defense is terrible. Doege's job was easy as he had receivers running wide open all day. The signal-caller showed good anticipation to hit them in stride when they were running into windows, but his receivers were running free through busted coverage on a constant basis.
Doege completed 32-of-42 passes for 499 yards with six touchdowns and one interception. The pick came when he threw a perfect pass right to the hands of his receiver, but the ball was bobbled and snatched by a defender. Doege had scoring strikes of 39, 19, 16, 2, 29 and 7 yards. The West Virginia defense had no answer for him, but the team's defense has been one of the worst stop units in college football.
Doege is maybe a seventh-round pick for the 2013 NFL Draft, but he would be worth signing as an undrafted free agent who could be a training camp competitor. Similar to Graham Harrell, Doege (6-1, 197) is undersized and doesn't have the arm strength to be a starting NFL quarterback. Harrell is actually slightly bigger than Doege. This performance against West Virginia will help Doege, but more on a training camp tryout basis.
LSU 23, South Carolina 21
There were a lot of great athletes on display in this SEC grudge match. LSU defensive ends Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo had the challenge of defending tough running back Marcus Lattimore and mobile quarterback Connor Shaw. The Tigers are a dynamic pass-rushing duo, but did not perform well defending the run last week.
Montgomery started strong with a nice tackle to stop Lattimore on a third-and-1. Defensive tackle Bennie Logan blew up the play by firing into the backfield and Montgomery finished Lattimore off. Their run defense was better this week, but Montgomery and Mingo were being blocked well in pass protection in the first half. However because of Shaw's mobility, Mingo and Montgomery were playing a heavy dose of contain to keep him in the pocket. It paid off with Mingo making a tackle of Shaw on a third down to force a punt.
South Carolina was down in the fourth quarter and had to move the ball through the air, so Montgomery and Mingo were able to get after the quarterback. Montgomery got a sack of Shaw after he came unblocked. The Gamecocks offensive line screwed up a blitz pick up and left Montgomery free to run down Shaw.
Mingo had a monster sack a bit later when he beat the right tackle with a speed rush. Mingo grabbed Shaw by the top of his jersey and ripped him to the ground. It was an impressive rush that showed off Mingo's explosion and athleticism.
Montgomery and Mingo played well overall. Their run defense looked a lot better compared to a week earlier in LSU's loss to Florida. Both should be remain as picks in the top half of the first round.
LSU safety Eric Reid has been disappointing this season, but he bounced back to a degree against the Gamecocks. Reid had a nice stick on a Lattimore run. He followed that up with a good wrap up tackle for a gain of one yard. Shaw threw a terrible pass in the fourth quarter, well over his receiver, and it floated into Reid's midsection. He had a nice return inside the South Carolina 25-yard line to set up his offense. Reid was shaken up on the play, but it set up LSU to take a 16-14 lead.
Reid returned to the field on the next Gamecocks' possession, but was late picking up the tight end on a fourth-and-14 reception that went for 18 yards. Reid tackled him a foot shy of a touchdown. It wasn't a flawless performance, but Reid played a lot better against South Carolina and produced a tape that should help him.
Lattimore never got into a rhythm against LSU, and the Tigers made it a priority to shut down South Carolina's ground offense. He did have an impressive play with a great second effort to convert a fourth-and-1. Lattimore was stuffed and it looked like the play was done, but he popped out of the pile to plunge ahead for a first down.
Lattimore gave the Gamecocks a 14-10 lead in the third quarter with a short touchdown plunge. He was otherwise held in check and totaled only 33 yards on 13 carries with four catches for 24 yards.
Another note worth mentioning was LSU had to play without starting left tackle Alex Hurst because of personal reasons. He has been the team's right tackle but had moved to the blind side a few games ago while the Tigers struggle to find a replacement for Chris Faulk. Hurst was a potential second-day pick and his situation is worth monitoring.
USC 24, Washington 14
A good passing matchup of draft prospects was on display in the Pac-12 battle between USC and Washington. Huskies cornerback Desmond Trufant had the challenge of defending Trojans senior quarterback Matt Barkley and junior wide receiver Robert Woods. Trufant has been playing well as a senior, while the USC duo has not been as productive as it was a year ago.
Barkley threw an interception in the first quarter. It was a tough read as the safety started to run back a couple of steps before turning back towards the line of scrimmage. Barkley tried to hit his receiver running along the sideline, but the pass was jumped by the defensive back.
Barkley bounced back with a perfectly thrown ball to tight end Xavier Grimble for an 18-yard touchdown. The timing was precise as the ball hit Grimble in the window between two defenders.
Barkley had only one completion in the second half almost halfway through the fourth quarter, but finally got going with a 37-yard strike to Woods. He beat Trufant on a drag route across the field. Woods led USC in receiving with five receptions for 88 yards.
Barkley never got into a groove against Washington. The Huskies' secondary had good coverage, and USC's offensive line allowed a lot of pressure on Barkley. He finished only 10-of-20 for 167 yards, a touchdown and one interception. Barkley's down senior season has him in danger of being passed over by another prospect as the top quarterback for the 2013 NFL Draft.
Trufant allowed a couple of intermediate receptions, but overall had nice coverage against the Trojans. On one play, he recovered to make a pass breakup on Woods in the end zone. Trufant was running stride for stride during the third quarter with sophomore wide receiver Marqise Lee down the field on a go route. It was very impressive for Trufant to start out in press coverage and then flip his hips to run with the speedy Lee down the field.
Lee had a half step on Trufant later in the fourth quarter, but dropped a well-thrown pass from Barkley. Overall it was an impressive performance by Trufant that illustrates his ability to be a man-cover corner in the NFL. With the way the senior has played this season, he looks like a first- or second-round pick.
Washington junior quarterback Keith Price was 20-of-28 for 198 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. The first interception went to USC linebacker Dion Bailey, who made an insane catch leaping and reaching across his body. Price later made a great play where he tossed a shovel pass to his running back in the flat while being tackled. That set up the signal-caller to throw a dart to the front corner of the end zone for a touchdown.
Price got a big play to his star tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the third quarter. Safety T.J. McDonald was late picking up Seferian-Jenkins running along the sideline. The gain went for 34 yards and could've been more if Seferian-Jenkins didn't have his momentum take him out of bounds.
Price hit Seferian-Jenkins a few plays later running down the middle seam. McDonald shaded towards the outside receiver instead of picking up the tight end and that left Seferian-Jenkins wide open for a 29-yard touchdown.
After driving inside the USC red zone, Price was hit and fumbled the ball away. That happened again shortly later after a crushing hit by Bailey. Price really has to improve his ball security. He needs work on his reading of defenses and overall skill set as a passer. Price should return for his senior season.
McDonald played well against the Huskies aside from those couple of plays to Seferian-Jenkins. The senior safety had a nice tackle for a loss on a run blitz along with a number of other clutch tackles when he was the last defender before the open field. McDonald was fast and physical against Washington. This outing shouldn't have a big impact on his stock as a late first-round or early second-round pick.
USC junior running back Silas Redd had a huge day with 155 yards on 26 carries. He set up a field goal with a 57-yard run. Redd started up the middle before bouncing to the right side and getting downfield along the sideline. He charged through two tackles a few minutes later for a 12-yard touchdown run. Redd ran the ball with quickness and power. This was an impressive performance that should help his chances on the second-day of the 2013 or 2014 NFL Draft.
Alabama 42, Missouri 10
Missouri junior defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson has generated some draft buzz as a potential early-round pick. Richardson was going against the best offensive line in college football with potential first-round picks in center Barrett Jones and guard Chance Warmack. If Richardson played well against this group, his stock could skyrocket.
Alabama junior running back Eddie Lacy went behind his line for a 73-yard touchdown on the second play from scrimmage. Richardson stunted to the inside from left defensive tackle and was buried. Jones then popped the linebacker to spring Lacy. The next carry from the ball-carrier went for almost 20 yards.
Richardson had a nice pass pressure going against right tackle D.J. Fluker, who had some great run blocks to blast open holes against Missouri. Fluker was beaten by another inside rush for a batted pass. Richardson fired by Fluker to the inside in the third quarter to run down quarterback A.J. McCarron for a sack. The Alabama signal-caller hurt his ankle on the play, but returned to the field.
The next snap for Richardson saw him shed guard Anthony Steen to stuff the back for no gain. Richardson was active in the second half, but the Crimson Tide ran the clock out. It was a good performance from Richardson that should help his stock.
Jones had great blocks all game. He got out and made blocks at the second level while also pushing defenders out of their gap in the trenches. Jones was rock solid in pass protection, too. It was a superb game from Jones that should help his cause to be the top center and a first-round pick.
Twice Alabama went behind Jones and Warmack for short touchdown runs. Warmack was equally effective as Jones in run blocking and also did well in pass protection. Warmack's only blemish was being called for a hold. He should be a future first-rounder.
Fluker continued his inconsistent season. He was a beast as a run-blocker, but had issues in pass protection. That has been his story all season. The way Fluker is playing he may be better off being moved to guard in the NFL.
Obviously, Alabama junior running back Eddie Lacy had a huge day with his line playing dominant football. He ripped off yards in chunks throughout the contest. Lacy showed impressive quickness to hit the hole and break into the second level of the defense. He ran with power through tackles and was constantly picking up yards after contact. It wasn't all good for the junior as he fumbled the ball away in the second quarter.
Still, Lacy totaled 177 yards on 18 carries with three touchdowns. He was phenomenal against Missouri. Alabama's offense needed nothing more than Lacy and the offensive line to put up a big point total. He looks like a second-day prospect.
Defensively, all of Alabama's pro prospects looked good and made some plays. Defensive tackle Jesse Williams had a tipped pass and an impressive tackle for a loss where he shed two blocks. Safety Robert Lester and cornerback DeMarcus Milliner had good coverage. Milliner blanketed a receiver in man and made a leaping deflection to start an interception for Alabama. Linebacker C.J. Mosley had a sack on a blitz up the middle. All of them were impressive for the Crimson Tide, but none of them had a huge day individually.
Notre Dame 20, Stanford 13
The top draft-eligible inside linebacker in the nation is Notre Dame's Manti Te'o. He has really improved his pass coverage this season, but how much was going to be tested by Stanford with tight ends Zach Ertz (6-6, 252) and Levine Toilolo (6-8, 265). The NFL is in need of linebackers who can cover tight ends, so this was an opportunity for Te'o to help his draft stock.
Te'o was tested early on a short dump off catch by Ertz, and Te'o stopped him immediatley. The senior had blanket coverage on a throw to Toilolo, and Te'o slapped the ball away for an incompletion.
Ertz dropped a pass on a third down that should've been an easy reception. He later got behind Te'o for a sliding 14-yard catch. He was late getting back in his drop after taking some steps towards the line because of a play-action fake. The next play saw Te'o blow up a play in the backfield.
Ertz ran through zone coverage in the second quarter to catch a 22-yarder on an out route. The senior tight end had a great diving catch on another out route. He finished with 55 yards on four receptions. Toilolo did not record a catch against Notre Dame. This performance should help Ertz and hurt Toilolo.
Te'o was excellent in run defense. He was physical at the point of attack and a rock solid as a tackler. There were a number of nice form tackles from Te'o. He had a big stop in overtime on a third-and-goal at the goal line. Te'o fired up and got above the pile to stuff running back Stepfan Taylor short of the end zone. Te'o contributed to a big push that stopped Taylor on fourth down as well.
This was another impressive game for Te'o. He held his own in pass coverage against the tight ends, but wasn't a shutdown man-coverage defender as he played a lot of zone. There are times when Te'o can take some false steps in pass coverage as he thinks it is a running play and is late to break back in his drop. Te'o will just need to stay on top of his film study in the NFL to help his ability to read the keys to recognize plays quickly.
Notre Dame has another potential first-round pick in senior tight end Tyler Eifert. The senior hasn't been targeted as much as he deserves this season, but Eifert has still been impressive. He had a short catch and a 13-yard catch down the seam early on.
Eifert made a huge play in the fourth quarter with a leaping 24-yard touchdown catch. He ran a corner post route and went up high over two defenders to make the reception. Eifert hauled in four receptions for 57 yards and was commanding double coverage late in the game. He is a first-round talent but needs to have more passes thrown his direction.
Stanford outside linebacker Chase Thomas had an impressive day. He made plays in run defense and in the pass rush, including a third-down pressure that forced an incompletion. Thomas almost sacked the quarterback for a safety in the second quarter. A blind side sack forced a fumble on the next play and Thomas recovered the ball for a Stanford touchdown.
This was a nice tape for Thomas that shows his ability to line up all over the field and cause disruption. He is a perfect fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. Thomas looks like a first or second-round pick.
Taylor was bottled up most of the game by Notre Dame's tough defense. He made two impressive runs during the fourth quarter with the way he powered through tackles to fight for extra yards. Taylor finished with 103 yards on 28 carries and four catches for 22 yards. If anything this game will help him with how physically he ran the football against one of the best front sevens in the nation.
Rutgers 23, Syracuse 15
Syracuse signal-caller Ryan Nassib is a sleeper quarterback for the NFL. He has been impressive the past few seasons, despite not having a good supporting cast. Nassib was taking on perhaps the best defense in the Big East via Rutgers.
Nassib fought hard versus the Scarlet Knights, but he was under heat from the defensive line all day. His offensive line really struggled on the inside and outside. Nassib didn't help them at times by holding the ball too long and taking some sacks. He had a few fumbles and needs to improve his ball security. The pressure forced ball-security problems through the air as well. The Orange quarterback made a bad read on a blitz to throw an interception in the fourth quarter.
Nassib had some good and bad moments against Rutgers. He had a great throw between defenders for a gain of 22 yards. Nassib also threw a strike to Alec Lemon for a nice gain on a third down. Nassib made an impressive run for eight yards on a third-and-7 on the same drive. Syracuse kept the ball on the ground to score. He threw some bullets to move the ball but had drives stall, including one inside the five-yard line.
Nassib made a beautiful play on a third down, slipping between two defenders and stepping up in the pocket. He then lofted a perfect toss to the sideline for a big first down. The signal-caller had his receivers drop the ball on a number of good throws, including two in the end zone.
Nassib had a 40-yard touchdown where he threw a fastball to the sideline by a safety's outstretched hand. With one more chance to score and force overtime, Nassib threw a pass into double coverage in the middle of the field for an interception. He thought his receiver would come back to the ball. Nassib completed 25-of-43 passes on the day for 352 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Nassib has plus arm strength, mechanics and a quick release. He also shows poise and accuracy. Nassib just has too frequent ugly mistakes to turn the ball over. His weak supporting cast deserves some blame for that, but he doesn't play mistake free football either. Nassib looks like a second-day prospect for the next level who could develop into a starter if he lands with a good coaching staff.
The one player who really helped himself was Rutgers senior linebacker Khaseem Greene. He has been playing well this year and had a great game against Syracuse. Greene entered the weekend as one of the nations top tacklers with 49 stops in five games.
Greene had a nice open field tackle on a running back after a check-down pass. He had a dumb throwdown of a Syracuse player after the whistle on punt coverage to land an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Otherwise, Greene was excellent. He fired into the backfield a few plays later to rip down Nassib for a sack-fumble that was recovered by the Orange. It was a great blitz by Greene to time his burst into the backfield.
Greene made another splash play during the fourth quarter when he dropped into zone coverage and undercut the slot receiver running a quick slant. Greene returned the pick 27 yards. It was a smart and instinctive read by the senior to know where Nassib's hot route was in response to a blitz.
The 6-foot-1, 230-pound Greene will have to move to outside linebacker in the NFL. He has good quickness, instincts and physicality. Greene started his career at safety and looks like he has three-down ability for the NFL. This outing against Syracuse will help his cause to be a second-day pick.
Oklahoma 63, Texas 21
The rivalry battle between Oklahoma and Texas always features a lot of NFL prospects. The matchup this year of the top players to watch was between the Sooners' offense against the Longhorns' defense.
Texas has two future NFL pass-rushers, Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat. They both played well a week ago against West Virginia and Okafor dominated the Mountaineers, but neither of them were able to get going against Oklahoma.
Early on, Jeffcoat had a couple of nice run plays and Okafor tipped a pass for an incompletion. They had some nice pass rushes, but the Sooners were having success on the ground. It didn't help that Okafor was seeing regular double-teams. They almost combined for a sack just before halftime, but that was their best sack opportunity all day.
Oklahoma continued to dominate the game during the second half. Okafor held his ground better at the point of attack, but neither end stood out defending the run. Both need to work on shedding blocks and not being moved out of their gaps. If each could add more strength, the bulk would aide both of them in run defense. This tape won't help either to be first-round picks.
Texas senior safety Kenny Vaccaro is another potential first-rounder who looked good against the Mountaineers high-powered offense. He didn't play well against the Sooners like the rest of his teammates.
Vaccaro came on a rub blitz around the edge late in the first quarter, but missed a tackle on Oklahoma running back Damian Williams, who ripped off a 95-yard touchdown run. Vaccaro made a diving attempt to trip up Williams, but it was unsuccessful. Vaccaro was later beaten in man coverage by the slot receiver for a big gain. This performance won't help Vaccaro's draft stock.
Longhorns cornerback Carrington Byndom was torched for three touchdowns against the Mountaineers, but bounced back against the Sooners. He had a clutch open-field tackle to stop a running back a yard short of the first down on a third-down pass in the red zone. After teammate Quandre Diggs missed a tackle, Byndom tracked down the receiver for a tackle, but got ahold of the facemask for a penalty.
Byndom made a big play to help his team in the third quarter. when he jumped a short stop route for an easy catch. There was nobody in front of him, allowing Byndom to sprint 28 yards into the end zone. He really needed a good game to help his draft stock. Byndom looks like a second-day pick right now.
Oklahoma senior quarterback Landry Jones is a mid-round prospect who has all the tools to be a starting NFL quarterback. He has a big arm, downfield accuracy and size. However, his habit of giving the ball away and playing poorly in big games has hurt his stock. Jones hasn't shown the ability to overcome adversity and lead his team to a comeback win.
Jones moved the ball up and down the field all day against Texas. He threw the ball accurately and generally took what the defense was giving him. Jones had a short dump off pass to fullback Trey Millard go for 74 yards. They hooked up again late in the third quarter for a 25-yard touchdown pass on a nice read and throw by Jones to Millard running down the middle of the field.
Jones threw a bad pick-six in the second half, but it didn't really matter as the Sooners had a commanding lead. He made a bad decision on the throw to Kenny Stills that was well-covered by Byndom. Stills didn't help his quarterback by not coming back to the football. Another failure by Oklahoma's receivers came when Jones had a beautifully thrown bomb dropped by his wide out. The senior signal-caller completed 20-of-36 passes against Texas for 319 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
This game won't really help Jones that much. Everybody knows he can play well when he has a running game and defense producing around him. Jones needs to show good ball security and the intangibles to lead his team to a comeback or fourth-quarter win.
Stills caught three passes for 37 yards. He had a great block to help Williams break free for his 95-yard touchdown run. Stills sprinted across the field and blasted the last defender who could've stopped the back.
Oklahoma junior safety Tony Jefferson also has first-round potential. He had an active game for the Sooners. Jefferson read an option and flew into the backfield to make a tackle for a loss of three yards. He added another tackle for a loss later on. Jefferson had a bad missed tackle on a third-and-15 and the receiver ran for a first down. He came down with his first interception of the season a couple plays later. It was a Hail Mary pass that Jefferson tracked down a few yards in front of the end zone. It was almost like he fielded a punt with a return of about 15 yards.
Jefferson was fortunate during the fourth quarter when he had a bad angle on a receiver, but the pass thrown too far and went out of bounds. Jefferson later made a bone-rattling tackle on a short pass in the open field to limit the catch to a yard or two. Overall this was a solid performance that should help Jefferson.
The final player worth mentioning was Oklahoma junior linebacker Tom Wort. He made a nice tackle and recovered a fumble. Wort forced a fumble from quarterback David Ash with a hard hit late in the third quarter. Wort looks like a mid-round prospect.