2013 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps – Week 11

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 51, Mississippi State 41
It is a near certainty that this was the final home game for Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and wide receiver Mike Evans in their college careers. Both redshirt sophomores are believed to be locks to enter the 2014 NFL Draft (click the link for my mock). With the help of senior left tackle Jake Matthews, the Aggie offense has been a prolific point-machine the past two seasons. All three look like first-round picks with, Evans and Matthews being top-10 candidates.

Manziel had a nice drive midway through the first quarter where he moved the ball with his feet for some good yards. He scrambled to throw a 12-yard touchdown to Malcome Kennedy. On the next drive, Manziel had two receptions to Evans for 30 yards. Manziel then made a bad throw, however. On a third-and-6 from the 11-yard line, Manziel forced a pass to a well-covered receiver in the end zone on the far side of the field. He threw the ball very late, and that let the corner recover to undercut the route. Manziel’s receiver didn’t do a good job of breaking up the pass.

Manziel bounced back to hit a wide open receiver for a 33-yard touchdown on the next drive. A holding penalty on Matthews took away a nice decision by Manziel to lead to a conversion on a third-and-long. It wasn’t that bad and easily could have been a non-call. The next play saw Manziel hold onto the ball too long and he took a sack.

Late in the second quarter, Manziel hit Derel Walker for a deep ball along the sideline for a 41-yard gain. It wasn’t a great pass, as Manziel threw it late and short. If it was thrown on time, it could have been a touchdown. That came with 29 seconds remaining in the half. Manziel then hit a slant for an 11-yard touchdown with 20 seconds remaining prior to intermission.

Early in the third quarter, Manziel threw a pass behind his receiver, and it bounced off his hands for an interception. He rebounded to lead another touchdown drive. Manziel moved to his right and hit Kennedy on the run for a 21-yard touchdown.

Manziel then used two spin moves to avoid sacks and throw for a 26-yard completion along the sideline. It was an insane play of Manziel’s athletic ability. Two plays later, Manziel waited to late to throw deep for Evans and the safety came over to undercut the route for an interception. The next pass saw Evans get wide open along the sideline, and Manziel hit him about 30 yards down the field. Evans slashed across the field for a 75-yard gain. He threw another touchdown rolling to his left and hitting a receiver coming across the end zone.

Manziel finished 30-of-39 for 446 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions. He ran for 82 yards on 11 carries. Evans had five receptions for 116 yards. This tape will help Evans. Unsurprisingly, Manziel showed brilliance and flaws in this game. Manziel, Evans and Matthews all proved they are special talents in their final game at College Station.

One other prospect is worth mentioning. Mississippi State senior guard Gabe Jackson played well. He opened up a lot of holes in the ground game and was good in pass protection. He did have a holding penalty, however.

Vanderbilt 34, Florida 17
There were a number of defensive back prospects on display in this game. In recent years, Vanderbilt has put a number of them into the NFL (Casey Hayward, Myron Lewis), and this year they have been led by cornerback Andre Hal and safety Kenny Ladler. Florida junior cornerbacks Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson had the challenge of matching up with Vanderbilt senior wide receiver Jordan Matthews, the receiving yards leader in SEC history.

On the second play from scrimmage, Matthews caught a swing pass and ran for a first down with a gain of about 15 yards. Florida didn’t favor Matthews with its deep secondary as it let its nickel back freshman Vernon Hargreaves match up on him. Matthews had a dropped pass on a third down on a slant that would have gone for a first down.

In the third quarter, Matthews was well covered running down the sideline and a perfectly thrown fade pass dropped in for an over-the-shoulder catch. On the same drive, Purifoy came off his man to slap the ball out of the hands of the tight end for an incompletion. Matthews had another pass slapped away, this time by Jaylen Watkins.

The Gator secondary did a good job in coverage on Matthews, as he caught only five passes for 45 yards. However, Vanderbilt’s quarterback only attempted 12 passes. This tape was harmful for Matthews. It illustrated that he lacks speed to separate from NFL defensive backs. That lack of speed could easily send Matthews to the second day of the draft even though he has the production of a first-round pick.

Purifoy and Roberson had sound coverage, but didn’t make any splash plays aside from Purifoy’s pass breakup. Roberson did have a nice punt return that was negated by a holding penalty. They did well in their matchups against Matthews, and that could help them when they are graded, although they didn’t get a lot of reps against him as Vanderbilt moved him around to go against other cornerbacks.

Both Hal and Ladler had good games for Vanderbilt. Hal had tight coverage on a deep pass, but could have gotten away with a holding call. Hal had his first interception of the season late in the opening quarter. Hal was in zone coverage, and Tyler Murphy had an overthrow that sailed to a leaping Hal. In the third quarter, Hal was beaten on a pick for a fourth-down pass that went for a long gain. It was a tough play for Hal to make. He came close to an interception on the next drive, as he tipped a pass away.

Early in the second quarter a pass was thrown up for grabs like a punt. Ladler tracked down the ball for the catch at midfield. He returned it to the 22-yard line to set up the Commodores offense.

Hal had a strong start to the season before not playing as well in the past month. He had a nice bounce-back performance against Florida. Ladler started the season slowly before heating up lately, and he continued his improved play versus the Gators. This tape will help Ladler and Hal in their draft grades.

Stanford 26, Oregon 20
The Oregon vs Stanford game was one of the best college games of the year, and there was a ton of NFL talent on display. Ducks redshirt sophomore quarterback Marcus Mariota is viewed as a potential top-five talent, and he was facing the best defense he’ll see all year with the Cardinal. That stop unit is led by Stanford senior outside linebacker Trent Murphy, one of the best pass-rushers in the nation and a potential first-round pick.

Mariota converted a few passes on the first drive, but missed the opportunity for a long touchdown. Wide receiver Josh Huff got behind the secondary on a third-and-6. Mariota had him running wide open into the end zone for about a 50-yard score, but he underthrew the ball for an incompletion.

Late in the first quarter, Murphy burned the left tackle on a speed rush. Mariota kept his feet as Murphy dove to hit his ankles. Murphy got up and chased down a scrambling Mariota for a sack with teammate Henry Anderson.

The Cardinal offense dominated the time of possession in the first half and into the third quarter. Mariota used his legs to pickup a clutch fourth down in the third quarter. A few plays later, he made a bad decision. Mariota was under heavy pressure before scrambling to his left. He could have thrown the ball away, but he held onto it too long and was hit by three defenders. Mariota fumbled the ball away to Stanford for a critical turnover.

Early in the fourth quarter, Mariota moved the ball down the field to set up a touchdown strike from 23 yards out. His receiver came open in the middle of the field, and Mariota worked through his progressions to find his target.

Things got a little crazy as the Ducks blocked a fourth-quarter field goal attempt that they returned for a touchdown. Oregon then successfully recoved its onside kick attempt. Mariota kept moving the ball from here with some precision passes. He lofted a nice pass into the a receiver to the one-yard line. Mariota and De’Anthony Thomas fumbled an exchange, and Mariota had terrible ball security on a strip-sack on third-and-goal. However, the signal-caller recovered that fumble. On fourth-and-goal, Mariota scrambled to his left before throwing a bullet to his tight end in the end zone.

Oregon tried another onside kick, but Stanford recovered attempt and ran out the clock. Mariota finished the contest completing 20-of-34 passes for 250 yards. He hasn’t thrown an interception all year, but he has demonstrated poor ball security in terms of fumbles. The redshirt sophomore also didn’t hold up well under the Cardinal’s pass rush for three quarters.

Mariota showed a lot of good things as well with some accurate throws, mobility and the field vision to work through progressions. However, he looked a little green at times against a legitimate defense. This game shows that Mariota still has plenty of room to grow, but he still looks like a high first-round pick, which this game shouldn’t change.

A year ago, Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov led the Cardinal to an upset, and he is much faster this season after being another year removed from an ACL injury. Skov had a batted pass on a blitz around the edge on the first drive of this contest. He also had a tackle for a loss exploding into the backfield on a perfect angle to get to the running back.

Midway through the second quarter, Skov put a hard hit on De’Anthony Thomas around the two-yard line. Skov slapped the ball out and recovered the fumble to take points away from Oregon. That turned out to be huge play in the game. This performance definitely helps Skov. It gives further proof that he is recovered from his knee injury. The fifth-year senior had a sack to go along with the forced fumble and a lot of good plays in run defense. This should boost Skov to grade out as a second-day pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Oregon did a good job of limiting Murphy in the second half. He had some pressures, but the Ducks kept him from getting in on Mariota cleanly. It wasn’t a huge night, but Murphy still looks like a first-rounder.

One of the most impressive prospects in this game was Cardinal senior guard David Yankey. He had some excellent run blocks in the early going. Yankey blasted open a hole for a two-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Just before halftime, he executed a key block again pulling on a third-and-short to open up a hole.

Yankey missed one block when pulling, but otherwise he gave a performance that was reminiscent of David DeCastro in 2012. When Yankey gets graded out, he probably won’t be ranked as high as the 2012 first-rounder DeCastro, but this performance will help Yankey to be a second-day pick.

Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu had an eventful night. Ty Montgomery beat him on a double move for a first-down catch. Early in the second quarter. Ekpre-Olomu tracked down a ball thrown up for grabs near the goal line for a pick. However, the interception was taken away by a pass interference call on him. Instead of a turnover, Stanford got the ball moved inside the Ducks 20.

Ekpre-Olomu had a nice tackle for a loss in the third quarter after he fired into the backfield on a sweep. Ekpre-Olomu followed that up with another impressive play as he ripped the ball away from Tyler Gaffney, but the running back was able to recover the fumble. A little bit later, Ekpre-Olomu added another hard tackle on Gaffney where he flipped the back over. This performance won’t have a big impact, but Ekpre-Olomu flashed some ability against the Cardinal.

The final prospect worth mentioning is Oregon receiver Josh Huff (3-42). He was hurt in the fourth quarter after making a completion downfield. That hard hit sent him to the locker room with an apparent head injury, and if it is a concussion, Huff could miss more time in the weeks to come.

Baylor 41, Oklahoma 12
This looked like it would be a huge game for a lot of draft prospects. Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin had the challenge of going against Baylor speedster wide receivers Tevin Reese and Antwan Goodley. Bears junior tailback Lache Seastrunk is the top draft-eligible running back with a rare combination of size and speed. With quarterback Bryce Petty distributing the ball, Baylor presented the toughest matchup that Colvin was going to see. However, injuries took away the potency of this game.

Seastrunk wasn’t finding much running room early on. He did make a great cut to convert a third down on a five-yard run. However, Seastrunk came up with a groin injury on that play. He wasn’t the only one of the Bears’ weapons to go down early. Reese went out with a wrist injury and Glasco Martin left the game with a knee injury.

Seastrunk came back into the game during the third quarter, but didn’t look the same, so Baylor let third-string running back Shock Linwood run over the Sooners. This game should be neutral for Reese and Martin, but it was a little disappointing that Seastrunk didn’t get to take on one of the top defenses he would see all season.

Colvin had excellent coverage on the Bears receivers in the first quarter. Midway through the second quarter, Colvin got bumped on a rub, and that allowed a slant completion to Goodley before Colvin made a good open-field tackle. Baylor tested Colvin deep twice just before halftime, but he had tight coverage on each attempt to force incompletions.

In the final seconds before the end of the first half, Colvin let Goodley run by him thinking his safety would pick up the receiver. The safety wasn’t on the same page, thinking Colvin wouldn’t pass him off. That let Goodley run open into the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown. Overall, this game could help Colvin slightly as he held up while being tested deep in man coverage.

Baylor senior guard Cyril Richardson was superb against Oklahoma. He was excellent at opening up lots of holes in the ground game and locking down pass-rushers. Richardson went down with an injury during the third quarter, but walked off the field and came back on the next possession to finish the game. Richardson won his blocks and this tape will assist him to receive an early-round grade for the 2014 NFL Draft.

Another player wbo impressed was Bears senior safety Ahmad Dixon. He had a great play early on during a third-and-short as he knifed behind the line to make a tackle for no gain and force a punt. Later in the first quarter, Dixon was called for two 15-yard penalties. One was for taking his helmet off and the other one was for an unnecessary roughness. To help make amends, Dixon stuffed Blake Bell for no gain on a third-and-goal.

Dixon made a great open-field tackle in the second quarter that stopped a back for a moderate gain. The run went for a first down, but if Dixon hadn’t made the tackle, there was no defender deep to stop the Sooners running back from breaking a touchdown from about midfield. Dixon continued to fly around the field and make tackles all night. Aside from the penalties, this was a sound performance from him.

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