2013 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps – Week 9

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.
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Texas A&M 56, Vanderbilt 24
There were a number of good NFL prospects on display in this SEC battle. Aggie quarterback Johnny Manziel and wide receiver Mike Evans are expected to join senior left tackle Jake Matthews in the NFL next year. Taking them on were Vanderbilt senior cornerback Andre Hal and safety Kenny Ladler. Manziel was questionable to play with a banged-up shoulder, but he suited up and dominated in the early going to set up an Aggie blowout.

On the first drive, Manziel was a perfect 10-for-10 with a short touchdown strike on a slant. Manziel then threw a short bubble screen for his second touchdown pass. Late in the third quarter, Manziel laid out a perfect 48-yard touchdown to Evans. The big wideout streaked down the field and got separation from Hal. The ball led Evans into the end zone for the score.

Matthews, meanwhile, had a slow start to the game with a false start. In the second quarter, it was interesting to see Matthews moved to right tackle. That could be because right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi left with an injury and the Aggies felt the replacement unit was strongest with Matthews at right tackle.

One play after Manziel was sacked from the left side, Matthews had his man blocked, but when Manziel stepped up in the pocket the defender turned around and had Manziel right in front of him for a sack. It goes against Matthews but it really wasn’t his fault as he had his man blocked long enough for a pass to be thrown.

Late in the first half, Manziel forced a pass to Evans. Hal had good coverage and tipped the pass into the air. Ladler came down with the interception for Vanderbilt. Despite that play, Manziel had a superb first half completing 15-of-17 passes for 175 yards with three scores.

The Aggies were about to go in the end zone again in the third quarter when Ladler made a clutch tackle in front of the end zone and forced a fumble into the end zone that was recovered for a Vanderbilt touchback. A few minutes later, Ladler squared up a big back with a form tackle and stripped the ball out for another Vanderbilt turnover. This game definitely aids Ladler’s bid to be a mid-rounder. Hal didn’t help himself at all, as he struggled to cover the Aggie receivers.

Manziel left the game with the Aggies up 42-17. On a third-and-goal, Evans ran a crossing route in the end zone and got open for a 10-yard touchdown catch. That ended the day for Evans and Matthews.

This game should help Manziel’s draft stock. Because of the injury, he didn’t run as much, but Manziel showed his pocket passing ability as he completed 25-of-35 attempts for 304 yards with four touchdowns and an interception. Manziel generally threw the ball accurately and showed improved feet. He also played well while not being 100 percent.

Overall, Matthews played well for the Aggies and his draft stock should remain unchanged. Evans continued his phenomenal season with five receptions for 77 yards with two touchdowns. Both players look like high first-round picks.

Vanderbilt senior wide receiver Jordan Matthews made history against Texas A&M. Matthews set the SEC career receiving yardage record when he passed 3,093 yards for his career. He had eight receptions for 92 yards against the Aggies to break the record. No doubt he’ll add to it in his remaining games with the Commodores.

In the second quarter, Matthews made an impressive catch in the middle of the field. He climbed the ladder and made a good leaping catch. Just before halftime Matthews made a nice adjustment to make a leaping snag and kept his feet to get extra yards and move the ball inside the 10-yard line. That set up a touchdown to make it 17-28 at halftime.

Matthews caught a swing pass in the third quarter on a third-and-8 and was stuffed about three yards short of a first down. He carried two defenders to push his way for yardage to get a first down. In garbage time, he had a 21-yard reception running a post across the field.

Matthews is a polished receiver with excellent hands, route-running and size. Because he lacks mismatch speed, Matthews is more likely to be a second-day selection than a first-rounder.

BYU 37, Boise State 20
Two excellent pass-rushing prospects for the NFL were on display in this former Mountain West rivalry. BYU senior outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy has been a steady source of splash plays the past two seasons and is enjoying a strong senior year. Boise State junior defensive end Demarcus Lawrence started the season slow before heating up lately. Last week, Lawrence had 3.5 sacks against Nevada. Both players made an impact this game.

Van Noy made his presence felt quickly with a tackle for no gain on a read-option run. On the next possession, Van Noy came close to a sack-fumble. He showed impressive power as he cut to the inside and charged into the quarterback with the right tackle hanging on to his side. Van Noy batted the pass away just as the pass was thrown.

Van Noy nearly had a diving sack in the third quarter, but the quarterback was able to step out of the linebacker clutching at his ankles. A few plays later, Van Noy couldn’t quite get free of the right tackle to bring down the quarterback for a loss on a draw. With Van Noy not making the tackle, the runner scooted into the end zone from about five yards away.

Van Noy was Johnny-on-the-spot during the next drive, as a teammate forced a fumble and Van Noy dived on the loose ball to get possession for BYU. He came close to a sack on a speed rush on the next possession.

Van Noy had two tackles and recovered a fumble in this contest. ESPN play-by-play announcer Carter Blackburn said that Van Noy was “certainly a first-day pick and maybe a first-round pick.” This performance won’t help Van Noy to be a first-round pick but it won’t send his stock out of the first day. Someone at ESPN needs to tell Blackburn that a first-day and first-round pick are the same thing. Thus, this game was neutral for Van Noy.

Like Van Noy, Lawrence was solid, but unspectacular. Lawrence was in on a tackle for a loss on a stretch run to the right side in the first quarter. He had a nice pass rush where he rocked the right tackle on his heels and cut to the inside to chase quarterback Taysom Hill out of the pocket.

Lawrence had a nice sack in the third quarter. He started with a speed rush to the outside against the left tackle. With a strong swim move, he cut to the inside and chased down Hill. In run defense, Lawrence made a few tackles in pursuit, but he is undersized and struggles to defend runs that come straight at him. It might be a good idea for Lawrence to return for his senior year and get bigger before going to the NFL. He had one sack with seven tackles against BYU.

The final prospect worth mentioning is BYU senior wide receiver Cody Hoffman. His senior year hasn’t been as productive as 2012. Hoffman missed a game with an injury and also was suspended for a contest. On his first reception of the night, Hoffman made a juggling catch down the field for a big gain with a corner in his hip pocket. That set up a touchdown throw on the next play. Just before halftime, Hoffman out-fought a defensive back for a short touchdown catch on a fade pass. Hoffman came close to a second score, but dropped the pass after getting planted by a safety. The defender got flagged for targeting for the vicious hit.

Hoffman finished with four receptions for 57 yards and the score against Boise State. He is a big possession receiver who has solid hands and can operate well in the short-to-intermediate part of the field. However, Hoffman lacks quickness and doesn’t get much separation from defensive backs. That forces him to have a lot of contested catches. His lack of speed makes Hoffman look like a second-day or mid-round prospect.

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