2013 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps – Week 4

This section breaks down many college football games each week and highlights how 2014 NFL Draft Prospects have performed. Or look at the 2014 NFL Draft Stock page.

By Charlie Campbell.
Send Charlie an e-mail here: [email protected]
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Michigan 24, Connecticut 21
Connecticut linebacker Yawin Smallwood has been one of the breakout players in college football this season. After playing in the shadow of Sio Moore and Trevardo Williams last year, Smallwood has been a force in 2013 and entered the weekend as one of the nation’s leaders in tackles. He stepped up with a superb night to help lead the Huskies to a near upset over the Wolverines.

The redshirt junior Smallwood was on Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner all night. Early on, Smallwood tackled Gardner to limit a run to a short gain. Smallwood read his keys well on the next play to snuff out a screen to a running back. Smallwood almost recorded a sack late in the first quarter, but other Connecticut defenders were able to bring down Gardner for a big loss. On a blitz up the middle, Smallwood contributed to a sack. He added another tackle for a loss firing behind the line of scrimmage.

Smallwood spied on Gardner in the second half as he dropped back to pass. After seeing him scramble, Smallwood darted into the backfield to sack Gardner for a loss of seven. Smallwood ran down Gardner from behind a bit later to tackle him and force a fumble. It came on a fourth down and stopped Michigan short of a first down. Smallwood really helped himself with a double-digit tackle total to go along with those splash plays.

It is very clear that Smallwood is very fast and flies around the field. He does have some areas to improve; the most important of which is holding up when runs come straight at him. Also, Smallwood takes some bad angles at times and can be overly aggressive. The 6-foot-4, 236-pounder could add more weight for the NFL, too. Still, Smallwood has the speed and agility to be a potential three-down starter at the next level. This performance will definitely help his draft stock.

Michigan senior left tackle Taylor Lewan is a potential high first-round pick for the 2014 NFL Draft. He was dominating in the first quarter of this contest until he was beat by a blitzer on a speed rush and Gardner was brought down for a sack. Other than that play, Lewan was generally solid the rest of the night. He did well in pass blocking and was solid in the run game. Depending on how certain scouts and teams grade, some will hold that sack against Lewan more than others. Therefore you might consider this performance neutral for Lewan’s draft stock.

Stanford 42, Arizona State 28
There was an interesting draft matchup with Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton going against Stanford guard David Yankey. Both players are seniors and the victor in their matchup would definitely help their draft stock.

Sutton wasn’t making much of an impact in the early going. On a goal-line play, hen hung tough but Stanford got enough of a push on him for a touchdown. Sutton got blasted off the line on the next drive and was ridden down the field by the center. Yankey pancaked him into the turf later. There were a few plays were Sutton was run over and washed out in run defense.

Late in the second quarter, Sutton burst into the backfield but missed a tackle. He had a nice run stuff after halftime that ended a carry for no gain. Sutton had a clutch tackle later when he was able to avoid a block by letting his guard dive past him. Sutton got up off the ground to stuff the back for no gain. Later on, he made tackles on back-to-back run plays.

Sutton played better when he went against the right guard rather than Yankey. The senior guard Yankey looked good pulling around the right side. Overall, Yankey helped himself in run blocking and pass protection. Sutton didn’t flash his pass-rushing skills, but he showed that he is able to battle and defend the run. Sutton had some bad plays and good moments, but he proved that he isn’t a complete liability against a power running offense.

The defensive tackle who really helped himself in this game was Stanford’s Ben Gardner. He dominated Arizona State and made a living in the Sun Devils’ backfield. In the second quarter, Garner knifed by the guard to blow up a run in the backfield for a tackle for a loss.

Gardner planted quarterback Taylor Kelly into the turf after halftime just after he released the ball on a long pass play. Later, Gardner couldn’t be stopped as he had a power speed rush up the middle to get a sack. Gardner finished the drive by busting through the line to block a pooch punt. He scooped up the ball and advanced it 10 more yards. One play later, the Cardinal ran the ball into the end zone.

Gardner showed an impressive skill set against the Sun Devils. He powered through blocks and had a burst to close on the quarterback with excellent hands to shed blocks. This was a great performance by Gardner, and it will definitely help boost his draft stock. He was the most impressive player in Stanford’s talented front seven.

Elsewhere in the Cardinal’s front seven, inside linebacker Shayne Skov had an active game making tackles in run support and blitzing well up the middle. He had a nice blitz to run down Kelly for a sack.

Stanford outside linebacker Trent Murphy had a quiet game by his standards. He got in on a gang tackle for a loss at the end of the first quarter. Murphy was doing a lot of dropping into coverage in passing situations. He came close to a sack just before halftime. In the fourth quarter, Murphy almost had a sack, but Kelly got the ball off. This performance won’t have a big impact on Skov or Murphy.

A few unheralded players stepped up for the Cardinal. Henry Anderson was out of the game with an injury, but his replacement Josh Mauro was excellent. The fifth-year senior had a sack and an interception in his first-ever start. Stanford junior outside linebacker James Vaughters made a big impact, too. He caused Mauro’s interception with a hit on the quarterback. Later, Vaughters got a hit for a tackle for a loss to force a punt from Arizona State’s own end zone. Vaughters (6-2, 254) and Mauro are players worth watching.

Cardinal safety Ed Reynolds is one of the top safety prospects in the nation, but he didn’t do himself any favors against the Sun Devils. In the fourth quarter, Reynolds hit tight end Chris Coyle down the middle of the field but didn’t wrap up for a tackle. Coyle bounced off Reynolds to run into the end zone. Reynolds was slow to react to a receiver running a slant on the next possession and compounded the mistake by taking a bad angle. Reynolds dove, but missed the tackle and the receiver cruised into the end zone.

On a safety blitz, Reynolds blasted Kelly with a helmet-to-helmet hit. He was called for targeting and was ejected. This was an ugly night for Reynolds and this tape will hurt his stock mainly because of the touchdowns he was beaten for.

Stanford redshirt sophomore quarterback Kevin Hogan is a prospect for the NFL. He had an efficient outing versus Arizona State. Hogan connected with wide receiver Ty Montgomery on a screen, and Montgomery coasted into the end zone with a 17-yard touchdown. On the next possession, Hogan threw a strike down the middle of the field on a deep post for a gain of 34 yards. It was a nice throw and an even better diving catch by his receiver. Hogan and Montgomery hooked up again as the signal-caller threw a rope to Montgomery for a 30-yard touchdown. The wide out was wide open for the score.

In the third quarter, Hogan saw blitzing linebacker Carl Bradford coming free at him down the middle of the pocket. Hogan made an ill-advised throw well short in response, and it fell short of his receiver for an interception. Stanford ended up establishing a large lead and Hogan left the game. However, he returned to the field to finish off the Sun Devils after they began to make an impressive fourth-quarter comeback. Hogan basically did that with a 27-yard run. The redshirt sophomore completed 11-of-17 passes for 152 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He didn’t have to do much in this game, and overall, it will help him whenever he enters the draft.

Another prospect worth mentioning is Sun Devils linebacker Carl Bradford. He was excellent in the third quarter, including a sack where he beat left tackle Andrus Peat to take down Hogan. Bradford is a physical player who is a tough run-defender with some pass-rush skills.

Florida 31, Tennessee 17
Even though Tennessee hasn’t won a lot of football games the past few years, the program has one of the best offensive lines in the nation. Going against this unit led by star left tackle Antonio Richardson was a very talented Florida front seven featuring defensive end/tackle Dominique Easley. Whoever got the better of this matchup could see a nice win for their draft stock.

The first half was ugly for Richardson as he was beaten for a strip-sack on a third-and-long. Florida sophomore Dante Fowler bull-rushed Richardson back into the pocket. The Gator then shed him to hit the quarterback and Florida recovered inside the 10-yard line. It was the second forced fumble and Gators recovery caused by Fowler in the first quarter. Shortly later, he blew by Richardson again to get in on busted run play.

Tennessee’s offensive line struggled to control the line of scrimmage throughout the first half. The team’s freshman quarterback played horribly and the Volunteers had only 31 yards and three first downs by halftime. Senior center James Stone was struggling with Easley and Florida’s other defensive linemen. Easley was in the backfield and showing a great motor. He had a pressure to help force a terrible pass and interception for his defense.

This performance definitely helps Easley as he was very disruptive and caused a lot of havoc behind the line of scrimmage. Easley also displayed a phenomenal motor as he was utterly relentless. Easley is putting together a senior year that is showing why he belongs as a late first-round pick.

Richardson hurt his stock in this game, although he played better in the second half. Richardson allowed a few other pressures outside of that strip-sack. It was maybe his worst performance over the past two seasons. This tape definitely won’t Richardson’s cause to compete with some other highly regarded offensive tackle prospects.

Florida has two potential first-round picks in junior cornerbacks Marcus Roberson and Loucheiz Purifoy. Roberson was out of the game with a knee injury suffered against Miami. The first play from scrimmage saw Purifoy take a handoff at running back and run for 15 yards.

In the third quarter, Volunteers wide receiver Pig Howard beat Purifoy on a wheel route for a 27-yard gain. Purifoy almost intercepted a pass on the next play, but couldn’t stop his momentum enough to reach the pass. On a kickoff return, Purifoy took a hard shot on the thigh and was knocked out of the game.

Tennessee junior inside linebacker A.J. Johnson had an active game making tackles in run support. He had close coverage on a third-and-7, but was beaten for a reception by receiver Quinton Dunbar for a first down. On the same drive, Johnson blitzed and had a hand on quarterback Tyler Murphy, but couldn’t bring him done as the signal-caller broke the tackle to run for eight yards.

Johnson showed his speed in the second quarter by making a run tackle along the sideline. He continued to make a lot of tough tackles in the box. Johnson wasn’t fooled on a reverse and ripped the wide out into the ground with some violence. However, the drive didn’t end well when Matt Jones powered through a tackle attempt by Johnson to get into the end zone. Against Florida, Johnson was solid for Tennessee and he showed some pass-coverage ability which will be loved by NFL linebackers coaches.

The last prospect worth mentioning is Volunteers defensive tackle Daniel McCullers. The heavy tackle had some good battles at the point of attack, but he really didn’t make a significant impact. McCullers recovered a fumbled snap by Florida for his highlight of the game. He has a lot of potential with athletic ability while being a massive players, but he doesn’t produce up to his talent level or play consistent football.

Notre Dame 17, Michigan State 13
The Notre Dame duo of senior defensive tackle Louis Nix and junior defensive end Stephon Tuitt have had opposite starts to the season. Nix has been impressive while Tuitt has been underwhelming. The latter gained weight following hernia surgery in the offseason and has lost of some of the speed that made him a difference-maker in 2012. However, he looked better against Michigan State.

Nix was pummeled early on by a wham block from Michigan State’s heavy tight end. The rough day continued when Nix reached back behind him and ripped off the helmet of a running back. It wasn’t intentional as Nix was reaching to stop the back, but only got a hold of a face mask. In the second quarter in back-to-back plays, Tuitt had two pressures and a hit on the quarterback.

Surprisingly, Nix was buried by senior guard Blake Treadwell in the third quarter. Treadwell (6-3, 304) executed that play by gaining leverage on Nix, which is a rare sight. With some double-team help, Treadwell was having some success getting movement out of Nix. The Fighting Irish senior came back to get pressure on a bull rush and swat a pass down against the other guard. He tipped another pass in the fourth quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Tuitt picked up his second sack of the season. He was able to beat the block from the tackle with power, maintain balance after a chip from a running back and chase down the scrambling quarterback. A few plays later, Tuitt sandwiched the quarterback with a teammate, which ended the signal-caller’s day. Tuitt had another sack late in the fourth, but a delay of game flag canceled out the play.

Both Tuitt and Nix had an active game. The afternoon got off to a rough start for Nix, but he came around and finished the day strong. Neither Tuitt nor Nix dominated in this contest, but both played well enough that this tape should help them.

On the other side of the ball for Notre Dame, senior left tackle Zack Martin had an impressive performance. He did a good job of opening running lanes and had no issues in pass protection. Granted, Michigan State doesn’t have an elite pass-rusher, but Martin did his job. He looks like a guard or right tackle in the NFL.

Michigan State senior middle linebacker Max Bullough had active contest. He showed his run-defense skills by beating some of the Fighting Irish offensive linemen. Bullough was tough in the box and made a lot of tackles against the run. The senior doesn’t look like he has the speed or athletic ability to be an impact linebacker in pass coverage at the next level. Bullough could be a mid-rounder as a run-down defender.

Spartans cornerback Darqueze Dennard had a mixed game. He had tight coverage in the end zone at point that was too tight; he was fortunate to not be called for a holding or pass interference. Dennard ended up being called for a holding on a deep post route just a little while later. In the final seconds before halftime, he was beaten for a touchdown. Dennard had tight coverage, but T.J. Jones went high to catch the one-yard score.

Dennard broke up a pass to force a punt in the third quarter. He later pulled down a receiver on a deep pass and made an interception, but was called for the penalty. Dennard is a gritty defender with coverage ability, but he needs to play more disciplined football, especially for the NFL. Dennard could be a second-day selection.

Minnesota 43, San Jose State 24
There was a nice draft matchup in this under the radar game. San Jose State senior quarterback David Fales has an easy schedule to navigate and the improving Minnesota Golden Gophers could be a decent test for him. Charged with helping to contain Fales was Minnesota senior defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman, a projected first-round pick by some.

Fales ripped up Minnesota in the first half. He threw a nice pass for a 40-yard gain to a tight end who was streaking down the sideline wide open. Fales later lofted in a deep ball to his receiver, Chandler Jones, who ran a go route toward the sideline from the slot. He had a few steps on the cornerback and Fales made a perfect pass to hit his receiver in stride. Jones ran for about 40 yards after the catch for a 76 yard touchdown.

Later, the duo hooked up for a 32-yard touchdown. Jones was running free down the far hash and Fales put it on him for another score. The senior signal-caller was 12-of-16 for 294 yards passing at halftime.

Fales had some bad luck in the third quarter. He threw a pass that hit his receiver in the hands, but the ball was deflected up in the air and intercepted. In the second half, the Golden Gophers’ defense did a good job of making adjustments so Fales didn’t have receivers running wide open. That resulted in some San Jose State punts. Minnesota’s offense also controlled the ball on the ground to keep Fales on the sideline.

Late in the fourth quarter, Fales lofted a ball into the end zone to a well-covered Jones, who made a phenomenal catch for six. The pass should have led his receiver more than it did, but the wide out rewarded his quarterback. In garbage time, another deflected pass by a Spartans receiver resulted in an interception for Fales. The senior quarterback completed 22-of-35 passes for 465 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions versus the Golden Gophers.

Fales lacks velocity on throws when going downfield. He has some natural accuracy and generally makes good decisions with the ball. Overall, Fales doesn’t look like he has the skill set to be a first-round pick, but this tape could help his ability to be a second-day selection.

Hageman was a non-factor in the first half. He had plenty of single-block opportunities, but didn’t make plays. In the third quarter, Hageman came alive when he buried the running back for a loss of four yards. Hageman tossed the center to the side and blew by the guard to slam the ball-carrier into the turf.

Shortly later, Hageman had a nice bull rush against the center and almost batted the pass. He then had some more single-block opportunities that he did nothing with. There were also plays where Hageman was neutralized by double-teams. Overall though, the senior held his ground at the line of scrimmage and did a good job of preventing holes in the middle. Hageman led a tough Minnesota run defense. This was a solid, but not great performance for him.

Georgia Tech 28, North Carolina 20
There was a good draft matchup in this game with North Carolina senior left tackle James Hurst going against Georgia Tech defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu. The speed pass-rusher Attaochu would battle perhaps the best tackle he’ll see all season. North Carolina senior quarterback Bryn Renner isn’t a mobile threat, and the Tar Heels like to throw the ball, so this was a good day of pass rushing opportunities for Attaochu.

On the first drive, Attaochu jumped offsides and got washed out on a touchdown run on the next play. Attaochu then burned the right tackle to get a hit on Renner just after the ball was thrown. He did it again, but Renner stepped up in the pocket to avoid a sack. Attaochu got a pressure on Renner against Hurst, but the quarterback scrambled to throw a touchdown pass downfield.

In the third quarter, Renner threw a strike to a receiver for an 82-yard touchdown, but the penalty was called back because the right tackle held Attaochu to keep him from sacking Renner. The next play saw Renner get sacked by Attaochu as he burned Hurst with a speed rush. He lined up standing above Hurst and burst into the backfield off the snap. Attaochu got leverage by dipping his left shoulder and exploded into Renner for the sack. He did that while Hurst tried to hold him and the penalty was decline.

Overall, this game will help Attaochu with 3-4 teams that could use an edge rusher. Attaochu isn’t a great fit for a 3-4 though and would have to play a role similar to Von Miller in Denver, but Attaochu isn’t as special as Miller. Attaochu looked like a second-day prospect, but not a first-rounder against North Carolina. He overwhelmed a weak right tackle and had one good rush against Hurst.

This performance won’t help Hurst’s draft stock as he was beaten for a sack and didn’t get a good push in the ground game. There were a number of plays where Hurst negated Attaochu on speed rushes. Hurst lacks power and a strong punch as a run blocker. He looks like a zone blocker in the NFL who will function getting to a spot rather than manhandling a defender.

Renner and junior tight end Eric Ebron are both pro prospects who haven’t had a fast start to the 2013 season. Ebron changed that this week.

Ebron ran a nice hitch-and-go route to get open in zone coverage for a gain of about 20 yards. He caught another pass from Renner to set up a short touchdown run. Later in the first, Ebron hit a superb block on a linebacker to spring his back for a long run. Renner hung tough with Attaochu bearing down on him to throw a bullet to Ebron in the middle of the field to move the chains. The drive ended when Renner had an inaccurate pass go over the head of his receiver who was wide open along the sideline for a likely touchdown.

Ebron ran down the seam wide open after a double move heading into the end zone at the end of the first quarter. Renner’s pass was high, but Ebron reached up and leapt high to control the ball with one hand into his body for a touchdown.

On another play-action attempt, Renner hit a wide open Ebron in the middle of the field for a 35-yard gain. He slipped into the middle and was left completely uncovered. That set up Renner to scramble and hit a 24-yard touchdown.

In a crowd of three defenders, Ebron let a pass slip through his hands for an incompletion. It was a tough catch but one he should have made even though it was in a steady rain. Ebron then tried to made a one-handed catch on a pass thrown behind him, but after a hard hit, he lost the ball for an incompletion.

Ebron showed his speed and athleticism when he came in motion and caught a shovel pass to turn the corner for a gain of about 10 yards. The drive ended when Renner threw to a perfectly covered Ebron. A defender deflected the pass and it was intercepted by Georgia Tech.

Renner never got into a groove in the second half and had bouts of inaccuracy. He completed 14-of-29 passes for 218 yards with two scores and an interception. This tape won’t help him.

Conversely, Ebron definitely provided scouts with tape that will boost his draft stock. He was excellent as a receiver and showed some nice blocking ability. Ebron was fast getting down the field with the athleticism to make some difficult catches. This performance should help Ebron in his bid to be one of the first tight ends selected if he enters the draft. He showed three-down starting ability for the NFL.

North Carolina senior defensive end Kareem Martin has a special combination of size and speed, but he lacks pass-rushing moves and is unable to produce up to his physical talent. Martin was quiet for the most part against Georgia Tech. In the second quarter, Martin got some penetration to get on a tackle for a loss. He made a tackle in pursuit and punched the ball out after the runner hit the ground. That was about it from Martin. This tape won’t help him.

The final prospect worth mentioning is North Carolina senior safety Tre Boston. He’s played well in 2013 and kept it going against Georgia Tech, though Boston was a little too physical in coverage on a pass to a tight end down the field and was lucky that he wasn’t flagged. In the second quarter, Boston made a tackle at the 1-yard line and slapped the ball out of the hands of the running back, but the officials ruled the back broke the plain of the goal line and it was a touchdown. It was still a nice play from Boston that could have been called his way. Boston was active making tackles all day and made his presence felt. This tape should help him.

Clemson 26, N.C. State 14
Clemson senior quarterback Tajh Boyd and junior wide receiver Sammy Watkins are among the top draft prospects at their positions for the 2014 NFL Draft. Even though North Carolina State is not a ranked team, playing on the road on a Thursday night can be a challenge, so it isn’t completely shocking that Boyd didn’t live up to his typical standards.

Boyd had a few missed opportunities for long touchdown passes in the first half. Boyd had wide receiver Martavius Bryant running free down the deep part of the field, but Boyd overthrew him in what could have been about a 95-yard touchdown pass. That happened again on the very same drive when Watkins was open on a deep post but overthrew his receiver. His inaccuracy led to field goals and a punt instead of touchdowns.

After that, Boyd started to throw the ball better. Watkins ran a nice post corner route for a 28-yard pass lofted in from Boyd. In the second quarter, Boyd hit on a 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Sam Cooper. There was tight coverage and Boyd threw the ball low where either his receiver would make a shoe-string catch or an incompletion. It was a fine throw and an excellent catch. Boyd wasn’t in sync in the first half, but he was protecting the ball and getting some points.

Boyd had a pass off the mark on a quick throw to Watkins that was dropped by his receiver in the third quarter. After a N.C. State turnover, Boyd hung tough in the pocket despite pressure and lofted in a 30-yard touchdown to Bryant. The ball placement was a little short and it should have been thrown sooner, but Boyd’s pass was good enough for six.

On the next possession, Boyd threw a fast ball up high to Bryant for a 15-yard touchdown. The 6-foot-5 receiver reached up to snatch the pass above the head of a cornerback. Boyd completed 24-of-37 passes for 244 yards with three touchdowns. He ran for 55 yards on 11 carries. Watkins caught 10 passes for 96 yards while Bryant had six receptions for 73 yards and two scores.

Overall, this tape should help Watkins to show quality route-running and generally reliable hands. Boyd won’t get any help out of this performance. Boyd has a good arm and nice mobility, but for the NFL he will need to continue to work on his accuracy and ball placement. These aren’t catastrophic concerns, as it’s something Boyd can improve on with good NFL coaching.

The prospect who helped himself the most in this game was Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley. The junior was a monster with three sacks and a forced fumble. He also batted a pass and had a number of other pressures on the quarterback. North Carolina State was incapable of blocking him.

In the third quarter, Beasley had an impressive sack. He fired to the inside, shed a block with a rip move to free himself and burst into the quarterback for a sack. A few minutes later, Beasley powered through the left tackle and shed the blocker to get a strip sack on the quarterback. Later in the fourth quarter, he notched his third sack when he pushed the tackle back when he swam over with his outside arm to shed the block. He buried the quarterback for his third sack. A little bit later, Beasley showed a wicked spin move to get another pressure on the quarterback.

The 6-foot-2 Beasley weighs in the 230s. He’s strong for his weight, but he is still very undersized for the NFL and he may not be able to add much more weight. There is no doubt that he won’t be able to stay at defensive end. He could play in a 3-4 defense and be moved around. His best fit could come as an outside linebacker in a 4-3 and play in a similar style to Broncos linebacker Von Miller. Beasley definitely helped his bid to be an early-round pick with this performance.

Another draft-eligible player who made a statement was N.C. State junior wide receiver Bryan Underwood (5-9, 180). He had two long touchdown runs called back because it was ruled that he had stepped out of bounds. A 36-yard run was inches away from an 83-yard touchdown, and it looks like the officials missed the call. Underwood ran for 54 yards on two carries while catching four passes for 35 yards. The speedy Underwood is worth keeping an eye on.

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