This new section breaks down many college football games each week and highlights how 2012 NFL Draft Prospects have performed.
By Charlie Campbell.
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Stanford 65, Washington 21
The No. 1 prospect in the country had another excellent game. Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck didn’t need many attempts to carve up the Washington defense. The Cardinal had a massive game on the ground, which made his job easy.
Luck made a series of fabulous decisions. He made precise throws on the run, hit throws in tight windows, and showed a lot veteran savvy. Early in the second quarter, Luck got into the end zone by throwing a pass by a few defenders. He helped tight end Coby Fleener get open by throwing to his right side. That forced defenders to have to spin awkwardly, allowing the ball to get by them. It was an NFL throw into a slim opening. It was Fleener’s only catch in the game.
Luck made one bad throw in the game. He overthrew his receiver, who may have run the wrong route, and Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant backpedaled into the end zone, having the ball bounce off his hands. Other than that, the Stanford signal caller was virtually mistake free.
Late in the second quarter, Luck rolled to his right and tossed a strike to a wide receiver in the end zone. He put the ball up where only his receiver could get it, and he also threw it with enough velocity to beat the defense, but not so hard as to make it a tough catch for his receiver.
When receivers weren’t open, Luck ran with the ball. He totaled 23 yards on seven carries. One carry went for 15 yards and got Stanford a first down on a third-and-eight.
For the game, Luck completed 16-of-21 passes for 169 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions. It was a textbook performance that Luck made appear easy.
Senior wide receiver Chris Owusu caught five passes for 40 yards in the game. At the beginning of the game, he ran for a big gain of 45 yards on an end around. Owusu did a great job of using his blockers downfield. He set up his blocks and got a lot of extra yardage from being patient. Owusu looks like an early pick on the third day of the draft.
There was the potential for an excellent draft matchup in the game with Stanford right guard David DeCastro and Washington defensive tackle Alameda Ta’amu. Both are potential first-round picks next April. DeCastro is the top guard in the draft class while Ta’amu is the top defensive tackle.
Unfortunately, DeCastro and Ta’amu rarely went against each other. Typically, Ta’amu lined up over the left guard David Yankey or the center Sam Schwartzstein. They both got the better of Ta’amu, blocking him well all night while opening up holes for their running backs. Ta’amu had one good bull rush against Yankey to close on Luck, but other than that, Ta�amu did nothing against the sophomore Yankey and the senior Schwartzstein.
In the third quarter, Washington tried to change it up and placing Ta’amu against DeCastro. The play saw Ta’amu try a bull rush on DeCastro which was stonewalled. The next play saw DeCastro turn and seal a hole on Ta’amu. Shortly later, he was back over the center and left guard where he remained quiet.
Ta’amu was shut out in the game. He recorded zero tackles while Stanford ran for more than 400 yards. This game definitely hurts his stock and is a horrible tape for NFL evaluators. Ta’amu still is a first-round pick, but this hurts his chances of cracking the top 20. He is benefiting from the 2012 draft having a weak defensive tackle class.
DeCastro on the other hand, had a massive game. All night long, he blasted open running lanes and was perfect in pass protection. DeCastro put on a clinic for pulling and hitting blocks on the run. He dominated the Huskies linebackers at the second level and made a number of blocks to spring touchdown runs. It was phenomenal game that sends DeCastro’s stock up and shows why he is the top guard in the draft.
Stanford left tackle Jonathan Martin is a likely top-10 pick, and he showed why with a dominant game against the Huskies, opening up a lot of running lanes and doing a perfect job in pass protection.
Martin was a tenacious run blocker who sealed many holes for his running backs. Stanford had a lot of success with the power-left run. He would seal the edge and DeCastro would pull through the hole to take out a defender. Stanford ran for 446 yards with three ball carriers going over 90 yards and four different runners getting into the end zone.
‘Moose’ Martin showed why he is a franchise left tackle against Washington, and a definite high first-round pick.
Stanford wasn’t the only team that had a big night on the ground; Washington running back Chris Polk had an excellent game. He played a tough defense, and gave them all they could handle. Polk started the game with showing some special skills by executing well in blitz pickup. Offensive coordinators in the NFL will love to see that. A little bit later, he gave them even more to get excited about.
On Polk’s first touchdown run, a 46-yarder, he took a draw around the left side of the line. Polk did a fabulous job of setting up blocks and showing patience to let his tight end recover and hit a second block that sprung Polk free down the sideline for the score.
The next possession saw him make two excellent runs. Polk started with a trap run where he carried a linebacker for three or four yards on an eight-yard run. On the next carry, Polk run a trap to the right side. He cut back and slashed across the field to his left. In the open field, Polk juked the safety and sprinted down the field for a 61-yard touchdown, his second of the game.
Later in the first half, Polk powered his way through a few defenders to pick up 11 yards on a third-and-10. It was an impressive run as he fought his way to get his team a fresh set of downs.
Polk ran over other linebackers and safeties on interior runs. The second half didn’t see him get as many carries as Stanford opened up a huge lead. It was still a fabulous night for Polk since he ran for 144 yards on 15 carries with two touchdowns. He showed the speed to go with his power and physicality. This game definitely helps his stock and pushes the junior from the third round into the second round.
A few other draft prospects had notable nights. Stanford outside linebacker Chase Thomas had a good game. He jetted behind the line of scrimmage to make tackles for loss on Polk on back-to-back plays in the second half. For the game, Thomas recorded six tackles with 2.5 tackles for a loss. He looks like a solid second-day pick.
Washington sophomore quarterback Keith Price is going to be a special player. He showed a lot of potential against Stanford even though the Huskies were blown out. Price made a number of good throws. He has good touch on the ball, but is still raw and needs to work some on his mechanics and footwork. That will help his accuracy.
Price typically makes good decisions. He had one bad decision just before halftime by throwing into a crowd instead of to his receiver running open on a cross. The pass was jumped, picked off and returned for a score. In the game, the Washington signal caller was 23-of-36 for 247 yards with a touchdown and interception.
Hurting Price was a terrible night in pass blocking from his offensive line. That hurt former Washington quarterback Jake Locker last year, and Price is dealing with it this year. He also had a lot of dropped passes from his receivers. They had a terrible night.
One of those receivers that let Price down was senior Jermaine Kearse. He had a bad drop on an easy catch after running a good route to get open in the midfield. In the second half, Kearse dropped an easy touchdown on a short pass while running free into the front corner of the end zone. In the game, he caught four passes for 52 yards. Kearse entered the game as a high pick on the third day of the draft, but his stock will go fall after this game.
Michigan State 37, Wisconsin 31
The game between the Michigan State Spartans and the Wisconsin Badgers featured some quality draft matchups for the 2012 NFL Draft and, potentially, the 2013 draft. The Badgers entered the game undefeated and have produced a ton of points in the 2011 season. Their star point producer is junior running back Montee Ball. He entered the game as one of the nation’s leaders in scoring, and he added to his impressive total against the Spartans.
Ball started the game strong, running hard up the middle of the Michigan State defense. He was hitting the hole quickly and showed his good vision and cutting ability to exploit holes in the defense. Midway through the first quarter, Ball scored his first touchdown of the game when he ran up the middle from nine yards out.
Ball went behind senior guard Kevin Zeitler whi sealed off defensive tackle Jerel Worthy to give Ball a good hole to run through. In the first half, Ball got dinged up and left the game for a while. The Wisconsin offense wasn’t the same without him, and in that time the Spartans� defense and offense stepped up to score 23 points.
In the second half, Ball returned the action and got the Badgers� offense going. He had a nice 22-yard reception which brought some life to the offense and got him back in the flow of the game. Ball ran the ball extremely well late in the fourth quarter, and he tied the game at 31 with a short catch that he ran into the end zone from a couple of yards out.
In the game, Ball totaled 115 yards on the ground on 15 carries with one touchdown. He totaled 24 yards and a touchdown on two receptions. The game yielded some good draft information on Ball. The Wisconsin offense wasn’t the same without him, and that give an indication that he is not just a product of the system. Ball also showed his toughness and play potential with some huge plays late in the game to help his team make a comeback. If Ball decides to enter the 2012 NFL Draft, he looks like a late first-round or early second-round pick.
Overall, Worthy had a pedestrian game going against perhaps the best offensive line he’ll see all season. Zeitler and center Peter Konz both had success going against Worthy. The senior defensive tackle did come up with a few big splash plays that helped his team, but overall the Wisconsin offensive linemen got the better of the matchups.
Worthy broke out in the second quarter when he split two linemen and blew by right tackle Josh Oglesby to stuff Ball just in front of the end zone. It was a loss of three yards, and on the next play Michigan State got a safety. Worthy lined up as a three technique on that play, and he seems to play better when lining up over the guards outside shoulder rather than head up over a guard.
There were other plays where Konz pushed Worthy off the line and opened up running lanes, and other times where Worthy was pass blocked one-on-one by Zeitler. Worthy’s draft stock as a late first-round or early second-round pick looks stable, but that has more to do with a weak crop of defensive tackles than him having a good senior season.
Zeitler has helped himself this season and looks like a pick in the top half of the second round. He had a good game against Michigan State. Konz could get consideration in the first round if he decides to enter the 2012 draft.
A potential third-day pick in next year’s draft is Wisconsin senior wide out Nick Toon. It was a mixed outing for him, which probably won’t help his draft stock. The game started out fairly well when he caught a 16-yard slant from quarterback Russell Wilson. Toon had run a good route to get separation in the middle of the field from his cornerback.
A little bit later Toon made a bad mistake that hurt his team. Running a route downfield he didn’t turn his head around quick enough to look for the ball. As a result Toon kept running his route while the ball was in the air. He turned his head to late and couldn’t adjust his route. That led to the pass being thrown behind him and into the arms of Spartans safety Trenton Robinson. That was Wilson’s first interception of the night. Had Toon turned and looked for the ball, he could have stopped his route to make the catch or at least would have been in position to potentially break up the interception.
Later in the second quarter, Toon was called for a false start. After that, he was quiet until the end of the game. Late in the fourth quarter, Toon set up the game-tying touchdown with a 42-yard catch. He had run a deep out and was wide open. This game won’t help Toon, but his draft stock should stay around the third round.
The senior signal caller Wilson started the game well and hit Jacob Pedersen for a nine-yard touchdown pass. In the middle of the game, Wilson had some passes off the mark and wasn’t helped by some poorly-timed dropped passes by some of his receivers. In the fourth quarter, he made some big plays to help mount a comeback.
As usual, Wilson did a good job of picking up yards with his feet. Midway through the fourth quarter, he ran into the end zone from 22 yards out. He had pump-faked a defender up in the air to get free to run into the front corner of the end zone. A little bit later, Wilson threw his second interception. It came at a bad time as it was midway through the fourth quarter with the Badgers down by seven. He was pressured and threw the ball deep across the field to the sideline to a wide receiver who was double covered. The ball sailed over the receiver into the hands of the safety.
The senior quarterback set up the game-tying touchdown with his 42-yard strike to Toon. Wilson scrambled and saw him open in the deep part of the field. Wilson capped the drive with the short dump-off pass to Ball for his second touchdown pass of the night. For the game, Wilson was 14-of-21 for 223 yards with two scores and two interceptions. He ran for 30 yards on eight carries for a touchdown.
Wilson is having a great season for Wisconsin, but is still likely to be nothing more than a late-round pick. At 5-foot-11, his height limitations are going to kill his stock.
Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins had a strong game for the Spartans. After a quiet first quarter, he heated up and led his team to a big point total before halftime. On an excellent drive in the second quarter, Cousins made some excellent throws. For one, he hit a wheel route downfield on the far side of the field. It was a fabulous throw to fit the ball on the hands of his receiver between two defenders. On fourth-and-2, Cousins hit wide receiver B.J. Cunningham in the middle of the field for a good catch. Cunningham burst downfield and ran away from a few defenders for a 35-yard score. In the fourth quarter, Cousins helped get the ball back into the end zone. On third-and-11, Cousins threw a short pass to wide receiver Keshawn Martin who ran around a few defenders to get into the end zone from 15 yards out. On the two-point conversion, Cousins threw a high pass to Cunningham in the back of the end zone, and the wide out made a fabulous leaping catch.
Late in the fourth quarter, Cousins scrambled outside the pocket and fumbled the ball on a big hit. It was a bad decision as he held onto the ball too long and didn’t throw it away when he didn’t have anything open. That was one of the few mistakes from the senior.
On the final play of the game, Cousins helped make one of the most memorable plays of the college football season. The score was tied at 31 with four seconds left when he threw a Hail Mary that was deflected to wide receiver Keith Nichol. He was initially ruled short of the end zone, but the review of the play gave the winning touchdown to Michigan State. The 44-yard touchdown capped off a strong game from the Michigan State signal caller.
Cousins finished the game 22-of-31 for 290 yards and three touchdowns. He looks like he could go in the third round next April. The 6-foot-3, 202-pounder has a strong arm with some accuracy. His offense does not give him the opportunity to air the ball out, so Cousins could have bigger numbers if he were in an offense that didn’t put such a heavy emphasis on the ground game.
Cunningham (6-2, 220) had a strong game with six receptions for 102 yards and a score. He showed good yards-after-the-catch ability and made some tough catches. The game helps Cunningham’s stock. He looks like an early pick on the third day of the draft.
Senior running back Edwin Baker had 15 yards on 11 carries. He fumbled the ball on his first carry of the game. It was a bad performance that will knock down his draft stock. Currently, Baker looks like a pick on the third day of the draft.
USC 31, Notre Dame 17
There were plenty of future NFL players in the rivalry game between USC and Notre Dame. Of those, four or five of them are potential first-round picks in the 2012 NFL Draft. USC quarterback Matt Barkley and left tackle Matt Kalil could both go in the top 10 next April if they decide to enter the draft.
On the first drive of the game, Barkley made a series of intelligent decisions to lead USC to a touchdown. He made a good decision in running for a first down. Barkley then ran again when nobody was open. Those plays with some good runs led the Trojans to a 66-yard drive. He capped the drive with a good play-action fake and a one-yard touchdown toss.
On the next possession, Barkley moved the ball down the field for another score. He threw a good screen to wide receiver Robert Woods, and connected with him for the score. Barkley then executed a fake toss to a running back and rolled out to hit Woods who was wide open in the back of the end zone.
Later, Barkley tossed a nice 22-yard gain in the middle of zone coverage to help set up a field goal for the Trojans. In the first half, he was 12-of-20 for 125 yards passing with two touchdowns.
Early in the fourth quarter, Barkley made an excellent decision to run with the ball on a third-and-short. He dove forward between a few defenders for first-down yardage. On the same drive, Barkley hit Woods on a deep slant. The drive ended in a missed field goal. Shortly later, Barkley connected with Woods who was running open to the back corner of the end zone for a 14-yard score. For the game, Barkley was 24-of-35 for 224 yards with three touchdowns. He also ran for 19 yards on four carries. It was a heady, highly efficient game that should help Barkley’s draft stock.
Left tackle Matt Kalil did a good job of blocking against the Irish. He was called for a facemask in the second quarter, and it was a dumb penalty as it was completely unnecessary for him to get his hands into the facemask of the safety on a block away from the ball.
Other than that play, it was a mistake-free night for Kalil. He was utterly dominant as a pass blocker, not allowing any of his defenders to get pressure on the quarterback. Kalil was also very effective as a run blocker. It was an excellent game for him, so he still looks like a top-five pick and franchise left tackle in the NFL.
Senior running back Marc Tyler was playing a week after separating his shoulder against California, and he ran the ball well. Tyler moved the ball with some tough, physical runs for the Trojans and had 59 yards on 10 carries by half time. In the second half, he only got three carries, while senior running back Curtis McNeal had a fabulous game. McNeal ran for 116 yards on 21 carries. The 5-foot-7, 185-pounder ran with speed and power.
Irish linebacker Manti Te’o also looks like a potential first-rounder. He had a mixed game against USC. At times, Te’o seemed a step slow and that allowed extra yardage for the USC offense. He also had some quality tackles. Generally, Te’o regularly shows textbook technique in tackles. He wraps up well and has the strength to hold on to bring ball carriers to the ground. Te�o did have a missed tackle in the hole on McNeal. The running back bounced off the chest of Te’o and broke the run outside for a big gain.
There were times were Te’o struggled to shed blocks. After that missed tackle, he bounced back to make a nice tackle in the open field on a crossing route by Woods. Overall, Te’o played a decent game that shouldn’t impact his draft stock.
Another player with first-round talent is Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd. In the first half, he had only one catch for two yards. There were plays on which Floyd looked to have separation, but was not thrown the ball. The Irish also didn’t do a good job of working the ball to their playmaking receiver on easy throws like bubble screens, quick outs and quick slants.
In the third quarter, the Irish started getting the ball to Floyd on some of those routes. He caught a deep cross late in the third quarter for a nice gain. Floyd finished the game with four receptions for 28 yards. He was open more than he got the ball, and it had to be a frustrating game for the Irish wide out.
Junior tight end Tyler Eifert had one catch for 11 yards in the first half, but made some big plays in the second half. He made a fabulous catch on a third down in the third quarter. The pass was thrown high, and Eifert leapt to come down with the ball. On the same drive, he made a clutch catch along the sideline for a fourth-down conversion.
Eifert finished the game with seven receptions for 66 yards. It was an impressive performance. If the 6-foot-6, 242-pounder decides to enter the draft, he could be a second-day pick.
Virginia Tech 30, Boston College 14
The game between Virginia Tech and Boston College showcased a good draft matchup on the ground game. Boston College is led by the nation’s leading tackler in linebacker Luke Kuechly. The Hokies have one of the better running backs in college football in David Wilson.
Early in the game, Kuechly was getting the better of the matchup. He got in on a lot of tackles near the line of scrimmage to keep Wilson from breaking loose. In the first half, Kuechly was all over the field. At one point, he had a big hit in pass coverage as a receiver ran a slant and Kuechly came running up to blast the him. In the first half, Kuechly had around 10 tackles, unofficially. Wilson was held to 21 yards in the first half.
The second half saw a turnaround for Wilson and the Hokies. In the beginning of the third quarter, Wilson broke out a 42-yard touchdown run. On an option to the right, he used his speed to break downfield along the sidelines. Wilson showed his strength and balance by shedding a tackle inside the 10 and staying in bounds for a couple of yards before diving into the end zone.
On the next drive, Wilson ran through a tackle from Kuechly on a strong 12-yard run up the middle that saw him go through multiple defenders. Wilson had a fumble late in the fourth quarter, but the play had already been blown dead by the officials as he ran into a pile. It may not be ruled an official fumble.
Even with the fumble, Wilson had an excellent second half that led the way to seal the win for his team. Overall, he carried the ball 17 times for 134 yards (7.9 average) and one touchdown. Wilson went over 1,000 yards for the season against Boston College.
The 5-foot-10, 205-pounder has a nice mix of power and speed. If Wilson enters the 2012 draft, he looks like a second-day pick. Wilson could return for his senior season and be one of the top senior running backs in the nation. If Wilson puts together two banner collegiate seasons before going pro, he could push his stock towards the top half of the second round.
When the official tackle totals are released, Kuechly probably will have around 20 tackles in the game. He also had a couple of quarterback hurries on blitzes. The 6-foot-3, 237-pounder is a good read-and-react linebacker who flows well to the ball and gets in on stops outside of the tackle box. He has excellent instincts and intelligence to not get caught out of position. Kuechly looks like a solid top-20 pick who will upgrade a team’s run defense. He could play Mike (middle) or Will (weakside) linebacker in a 4-3 defense, and has the frame to add another 10 pounds of bulk.
Virginia Tech safety Eddie Whitley entered the game as a mid-round pick. He had a mixed outing against Boston College. Early in the game, Whitley had good coverage on a wide receiver running downfield to force an incompletion. He used the sideline well to force the receiver out of bounds.
Later, Whitley was called for pass interference on a short incompletion on a third down. He came over the back a little early and it drew a penalty. Other than those plays, Whitley was quiet. He looks like a fourth or fifth-round pick right now.
Two quality players were out of the game. Virginia Tech cornerback Jayron Hosley was out of the game with an injury, as was Boston College running back Montel Harris.
Miami 24, Georgia Tech 7
The game between Georgia Tech and Miami was going to be a good indicator for the caliber of run defense from Hurricanes linebacker Sean Spence. The Miami standout is a speedy, undersized linebacker who has been a tackling machine over the past couple of seasons. The Yellow Jackets� option offense runs the ball all game and can be tough for defenses to defend.
Spence (6-0, 225) was up to the challenge as he led the way for the Hurricanes� defense to stifle running quarterback Tevin Washington and running back David Sims. Washington averaged only 1.7 yards per carry while Sims had 2.9 per attempt. They totaled 66 yards rushing on 31 carries.
Spence was excellent, so it was impossible not to notice him throughout the game. Routinely, he made good tackles in pursuit. In the first half on one play, Spence ran across the field and jetted into the backfield for a tackle for a loss. On the next play, he had a good tackle after chasing down another ball carrier. Those kind of plays happened for four quarters.
Spence made a good tackle on Washington on a short third down run to force a fourth down. He was just all over the field against the Yellow Jackets. Spence is constantly around the football. He has fabulous instincts and recognition to get himself in position to make tackles. When the official tackle totals are released, Spence figures to have to put together an excellent statistical game. He entered the game as a mid-to-late third-rounder, but his strong performance could push him towards the beginning of the round.
Safety Ray Ray Armstrong also played well in run support. He looks like a second-day pick.
The top pro prospect in the game is Miami running back Lamar Miller. The redshirt sophomore has carried Miami this season and has been an explosive playmaker. The 5-foot-11, 212-pounder entered the game averaging 6.4 yards per carry with 706 yards rushing and five touchdowns in six games. He showed special speed with the ability break off long runs on any touch. Georgia Tech’s defense sold out to stop Miller and kept him from having a massive game. He was still somewhat effective running for 92 yards on 27 carries (3.4 average) including a 14-yard touchdown run.
If Miller enters the 2012 draft, he could be a first or second-round pick. If Miller returns for his junior season, and plays well, he could secure his stock in the first round.
Arizona 48, UCLA 12
The game against UCLA was a strong tape for Arizona quarterback Nick Foles and wide receiver Juron Criner. The duo had a massive game and burned the UCLA secondary that was without their best player.
On the first drive of the game, Foles connected with Criner for a touchdown. Criner juked the defensive back off the snap and ran to the corner of the end zone. The defender fell down, so Criner was wide open for an easy four-yard touchdown catch.
Foles and Criner kept hooking up for passes downfield. They hooked up for another touchdown at the beginning of the second quarter. On a jump ball, Criner had a defensive back all over him. He reached around the head of the defensive back and made a tremendous catch. His concentration and hand strength to hold onto the ball was very impressive. Foles tossed a ball that showed his trust in his receiver, and Criner rewarded him with a seven-yard score.
Later in the second quarter, Criner scored his third touchdown of the night on a 25-yard catch. He ran a go route and ran by the defensive back to come open running through the end zone.
In the third quarter, Criner had a couple of receptions where he got good yards after the catch. One of them saw him shed a tackle and spin away from another defender to get extra yards and a first down.
Arizona got the ground game going late in the game as they had a huge lead over the Bruins. Foles finished the game completing 26-of-39 passes for 291 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. He looks like a solid second-day pick.
Criner finished the game with 10 receptions for 101 yards and three scores. The 6-foot-4 receiver is fabulous at going up and getting jump passes. Criner is very trustworthy as he either catches the ball, or it falls incomplete. He looks like an early second-round pick who could sneak into the end of the first round, especially with a good time in the 40-yard dash at the combine.
Arizona junior running back Taimi Tutogi ran for a touchdown in the second quarter. The junior is a bowling ball of a running back who should move to fullback in the NFL. Tutogi (6-1, 250) could be a good short-yardage running back and receiver out of the backfield. He entered the game with five receptions for 51 yards and a touchdown.
Tutogi scored an eight-yard touchdown with a run up the middle. He made a nice cutback to get into the end zone. For the game, Tutogi ran for 32 yards on seven carries with two touchdowns. It would be a shock if Tutogi entered the next draft, but he could end up being a draftable fullback in the late rounds of the 2013 draft.
UCLA safety Tony Dye missed the game with a neck injury. He may not play again this season and is considering seeking a medical redshirt to get another season of eligibility.
Clemson 59, North Carolina 38
There was a lot of pro talent on display in the game between North Carolina and Clemson. The Tar Heels� defense had their hands full with Clemson sophomore quarterback Tajh Boyd and he certainly had some tough defenders to contend with. The highest-rated player in the game was North Carolina senior defensive end Quinton Coples, and he didn’t disappoint.
Early in the game, Coples had a good rush where he spun away from the tackle. A running back dove at his legs, but Coples dove over the back to get his hands on Boyd who had just gotten the ball off for a completion downfield.
Coples got a sack in the third quarter. He came on a stunt and bull rushed the guard straight into the pocket. Coples then shed the guard and wrestled Boyd to the ground. On the play sophomore defensive end Kareem Martin was called for a facemask, so the lost yards were canceled out but it still was an impressive rush by Coples.
Later in the third quarter, Coples used a speed rush to beat the left tackle for his second sack of the game. He showed his agility by dipping his shoulder and turning the corner. Coples put a massive hit on Boyd and slapped the ball out of the hands of the Clemson signal caller. The ball flew away, and was recovered by Clemson. The next play saw Boyd toss a bomb for a touchdown.
Overall it was a good game for Coples and his second multi-sack game of the season. He saw extra blockers on the majority of pass plays. The 6-foot-6, 285-pounder looks like a top-10 pick next April.
Another potential first-rounder for North Carolina is linebacker Zack Brown. He also had a multi-sack game for North Carolina. Early in the game, Brown had a sack when he came unblocked on a blitz up the middle. He put a nice hit on Boyd to force a third-and-18, and an eventual field goal attempt. Later in the first quarter, Brown made another big tackle for a loss in the backfield. He came off the edge unblocked and took down Boyd before he could set up to throw.
While Brown was unblocked on those plays, he showed his 4.3 speed by closing on Boyd in an instant to make the sack. Brown has fabulous pursuit skills.
In the first half, Brown had a good hit with a teammate on Clemson running back Andre Ellington that knocked the running back out of the game for a time. Brown had another nice physical tackle on a punt return. He grabbed the returner by the shoulder pad and ripped him to the ground.
Later in the game, Brown had an excellent pass breakup. He dropped into zone coverage and leapt into the air to slap the ball away. It was a good game for North Carolina’s leading tackler. He looks like a late first-round pick right now.
Clemson has two quality defensive prospects in end Andre Branch and tackle Brandon Thompson. Early in the first quarter, Branch had two good plays chasing down the running back on the other side of the line. The Tar Heels ran away from Branch, but he had good pursuit skills to make tackles for little to no gain.
Branch had some good pass rushes in the game. He put pressure on the tackles and was getting in the quarterbacks line of vision. Branch looks like a solid second-rounder right now, but it is not out of the question for his stock to rise and get consideration in round one due to the annual need for pass rushers.
Thompson pressed the pocket rarely in pass defense, but did a good job of stuffing his gap in run defense. He also pursued the ball away from him. Thompson really is not a pass-rushing threat while being a good run defender who eats up double teams. Some rate him as a first-rounder, while others view him as a second-rounder.
Another second-rounder for Clemson is tight end Dwayne Allen. Thus far in 2011, he has established himself as the top tight end in the draft class. Allen is quick, athletic, and a strong blocker. He is a natural pass receiver with good hands. Allen is a fabulous red-zone weapon.
Against North Carolina, Allen showed his skill set. He did a good job in run blocking while getting a number of first downs for Clemson. Allen made a few nice catches to move the chains. He had one nice catch darting in front of Brown in zone coverage. Late in the third quarter, Allen found a soft spot at the goal line in zone coverage for a nine-yard touchdown catch.
For the game, Allen caught six passes for 51 yards and a score. It was a good game for the under-utilized tight end, and should keep his stock steady in the second round.
North Carolina has a potential second-rounder in wide receiver Dwight Jones. He had a quiet game overall. Jones first reception came late in the first quarter when he caught a ball that was ankle high. He fell forward for a 14-yard gain. Later in the first half, Jones ran a go route and burned the coverage. He was running wide open down the middle of the field, but the pass was overthrown and Jones could barely get his finger tips on the ball.
Later, Jones made a fabulous one-handed catch going out of the back of the end zone. It was one of the best incompletions anyone will ever see as he reached over his head with one hand and cradled the ball while he backpedaling into the wall around the field. Jones (6-4, 225) finished the game with only two receptions for 16 yards, but that was more the fault of North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner. Jones should go no lower than the second round next April.
Oklahoma State 45, Missouri 24
It was a run-of-the-mill day for the Oklahoma State offense as they put up another big point total. Senior quarterback Brandon Weeden had a good game completing 33-of-49 passes for 338 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. The Cowboy signal caller spread the ball around to nine different receivers and tossed touchdowns to three different targets.
Weeden weathered a comeback from the Missouri defense in the second quarter. The Tigers got some pressure on him and stepped up their defense. At halftime, the Cowboys were up by only seven with the score at 24-17. Junior defensive end Brad Madison and junior linebacker Zavier Gooden flashed at times. Both are quality players who should return for their senior seasons to improve their draft stock. Oklahoma State got the ground game going in the second half, and that took the pressure off of Weeden. This game didn’t really hurt or help Weeden’s stock, so he still looks like a third-day pick.
The top prospect in the game was Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon. It was a rather quiet game for him since he saw a decent amount of bracket coverage. Blackmon dropped a touchdown on a deep stop and go route. Granted, the ball was thrown over his shoulder as he was running free inside the 10-yard line. It bounced off his hands and fell incomplete. It wasn’t an easy catch, but one that Blackmon should have hauled in. He came back to catch an eight-yard slant for a touchdown later in the drive.
Blackmon was rather quiet in the second half and finished the game with eight receptions for 54 yards and a score. The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder looks solid as a top-10 pick next April.
It was a disappointing game for Cowboys offensive tackle Levy Adcock. The senior played both left and right tackle against Missouri. Adcock was beaten for an ugly sack. Playing at right tackle, he got beat by a hit and speed rush to the inside from Jacquies Smith. Adcock had some good run blocks for the Cowboys, but was playing on his heels in pass protection.
Adcock has had a relatively easy slate of rushers to go against thus far in 2011. Smith has some good speed, so it hurts Adcock’s draft stock to see him get burned for a sack, especially when he was lining up at right tackle. The 6-foot-6, 322-pounder does not look quick enough to be a left tackle in the NFL. If he continues to struggle at right tackle with speed rushers, he may have to move inside to guard in the NFL.
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