2015 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps – Week 8

This section breaks down many college football games each week and highlights how 2015 NFL Draft Prospects have performed. Or look at the 2015 NFL Draft Stock page (link coming soon).

By Charlie Campbell.
Send Charlie an e-mail here: [email protected]
Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell for updates.

Arizona State 26, Stanford 10
  • This game featured two future NFL receiving weapons with Arizona State junior Jaelen Strong and Stanford senior Ty Montgomery. Strong was going to be tested by a good Cardinal secondary, including a potential early-round pick in cornerback Alex Carter. A year ago, Strong had a huge performance in a coming out party against Stanford, which was committed to not being destroyed by Strong again this – like he already did to USC and UCLA earlier this season.

    The Cardinal played a lot of zone with safety help over the top to try to limit Strong. His first reception was a nice play of concentration as a linebacker tipped the ball, but Strong adjusted and made the catch. His next reception was a short back-shoulder throw, and Carter was there immediately for the tackle. Later on the same drive, Strong made a tremendous 15-yard catch over a defensive back.

    Just before halftime, Montgomery muffed a punt that Arizona State recovered inside the Stanford 20-yard line. Montgomery tried to make an over-the-shoulder catch and had the ball hit off his hands. It wasn’t an easy catch, and Montgomery should have let the ball go, but he’s probably frustrated with teams consistently kicking away from him.

    On the ensuing third-and-goal after the fumble, Strong faked like he was blocking and Carter peeked into the backfield. Strong darted to the back of the end zone to get open for an easy touchdown.

    In the third quarter, Carter had Strong covered and batted a pass away, but Carter was called for questionable holding penalty. It should have been a non-call. Later on the drive, Carter made a nice open-field tackle on Strong for a gain of only a couple of yards that forced the Sun Devils to settle for a chip-shot field goal. Strong came back to move the chains on a wide receiver screen, an out for 15 yards and a dig route for another 15 in front of Carter.

    Late in fourth quarter, Strong looked open on a quick slant in the end zone with Carter close by, but the throw was inaccurate. The game against Stanford was another quality outing for Strong, who had eight receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown. He showed the ability to move the chains as a possession receiver while also commanding a lot of attention from the defense. That opened up running lanes and other receivers as a result. Overall, this tape will help Strong and won’t do anything good or seriously bad to Carter.

  • Montgomery’s first catch moved the chains on third down. In the fourth quarter, he caught a short pass and darted through the defense for a gain of about 20 yards that stopped just inches short of the end zone. He made a shoe-string catch and a 24-yard gain on a screen late in the game. Montgomery caught six passes for 82 yards against Arizona State. He played well aside from the muffed punt, and like Strong, the Sun Devils were clearly concerned about Montgomery and sent extra attention his direction.

  • In recent weeks, the vaunted offensive tackles for the 2015 NFL Draft have generally been disappointing. Texas A&M’s Cedric Ogbuehi has gone into a big slump, while Iowa’s Brandon Scherff really struggled against Maryland. If Peat can maintain his high level of play, he could take control as the top-rated tackle for the 2015 NFL Draft, if he chooses to enter it.

    Peat played liked like a high first-rounder against Arizona State. He didn’t allow any pressures on Kevin Hogan and was rock solid in pass protection. In the ground game, Peat got some movement out of defenders as well. He is big, long, quick and athletic. This was a good tape for him.

    Oregon 45, Washington 20
  • This game was loaded with NFL draft prospects going head to head. Many believe that Oregon junior quarterback Marcus Mariota is the top prospect in the nation, and this contest had him taking on a defense loaded with early-round NFL talent. Cornerback Marcus Peters, linebacker Shaq Thompson, defensive tackle Danny Shelton and pass-rushing linebacker Hau’Oli Kikaha all could be selected in the first two rounds of the 2015 NFL Draft.

    Shelton entered the game with seven sacks on the season and going against him was perhaps the top center prospect for the 2015 NFL Draft in Oregon’s Hroniss Grasu. Trying to limit Kikaha was left tackle Jake Fisher, who has missed games with injuries. Thompson was also going against a good weapon in tight end Pharaoh Brown. With Mariota’s ability to make plays with his arm and legs, the Huskies defenders would be tested by the Ducks.

    On Mariota’s first throw of the game, he was pressured by Sheldon and didn’t see a linebacker drop in the middle of the field. The ball went right to the linebacker, but he dropped the pass, so Mariota got lucky he didn’t throw his first interception of the year. On the very next play, Shelton got penetration by going through Grasu and the left guard to sack Mariota. Kikaha worked around the right tackle and joined Shelton to split the sack.

    On a third-and-8 late in the first quarter, Mariota made a play that NFL evaluators are going to love to see for his development. He took a shotgun snap, looked to his left, worked his eyes across the field off his primary receiver and found his third option open on a cross. He fired a strike to set up a first-and-goal. That kind of pocket passing is the biggest question mark about Mariota, so showing that potential to operate in that manner is important for him. To end the drive, he got a pitch off on a option run on a fourth-and-goal with two defenders draped on him to let his running back score six.

    Mariota came back to make a great throw into a tight window, dropping the pass into tight end Pharaoh Brown over one defender and before the deep safety. Brown broke tackles from the safety and Kikaha to explode down the field for 67 yards. The next throw was an overthrow, and Mariota was lucky that Peters didn’t intercept the pass after it hit off his hands. In the third quarter, Mariota hit a touchdown with a ball placed ball high and deep in the end zone where only his receiver could make a leaping catch.

    Oregon did a good job of running the ball against Washington and didn’t need Mariota to produce as many big plays. He completed 24-of-33 passes for 336 yards with two touchdowns. This was a good tape for Mariota as he hung tough in the pocket against the Huskies’ pass rush and threw the ball accurately throughout the night. This performance should help Mariota’s draft grade.

  • Shelton gave the Ducks’ offensive line problems and ate up numerous double-teams. In the early going, he held his ground against Grasu and worked back to stuff a run. In the first quarter, Grasu was called for a holding on Shelton that erased a good run from Byron Marshall. Shelton would have had the run stuffed for no gain if Grasu didn’t tackle him. Late in the first half, Shelton got push in the pocket and destroyed a screen pass by tossing the blocker aside and bear hugging the back right after he caught the ball.

    In the third quarter, Shelton had a good tackle out of his gap in run support. He recorded eight tackles with 2.5 tackles for a loss, .5 sacks and drew a holding penalty. This tape should help Shelton’s bid to be a first-round pick and Grasu didn’t impress while going against an NFL caliber starting nose tackle.

  • Kikaha had an active game. He made a number of tackles in pursuit and got after Mariota. Mainly, Kikaha rushed off the right tackle and didn’t go against Fisher that much. In the third quarter, Kikaha beat the right tackle with an inside move and ran down Mariota for a sack. A few plays later on fourth down, Kikaha picked up another sack. He pushed a running back away and worked toward the middle of the pocket to get Mariota.

    For the next level, Kikaha could stand to add strength to hold up against runs that are coming straight at him. He totaled 10 tackles with 2.5 sacks versus the Ducks. Kikaha continues to have a strong senior season, and his stock should continue to rise.

  • Thompson should seek to improve in the same regard as Kikaha. Both players are better in pursuit than when runs come at them. Thompson does fire into the scrum and takes on lead blocks, so as he ages in a NFL strength and conditioning program, his run defense should only get better. In the third quarter, Thompson had a nice run fill for a tackle for no gain. He also had a good tackle in pass coverage playing zone. Thompson totaled seven tackles against the Ducks, and this tape shouldn’t impact his draft stock significantly.

  • It was somewhat surprising that Peters played in the game as his girlfriend gave birth to a baby boy the night before the game. Peters had a mixed outing as he missed a few tackles, but also made a few stops with seven tackles. He wasn’t burned for any long completions as Mariota threw the ball elsewhere and Washington played a lot of zone.

  • Oregon’s offense hasn’t gotten great production out of its wide receivers this season, but tight end Pharaoh Brown has stepped up to help fill the void. He caught three passes for 99 yards against the Huskies including the 67-yarder. However, Brown spoiled it to a degree with a dumb penalty for spiking the ball after the long gain. The 6-foot-6 250-pound junior could rise in a weak tight end class if he comes out.

  • Lastly, Ducks senior cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu continued his strong season against Washington. Early on, he came up from a cushion to make an open-field tackle to force a field goal on a third down. Ekpre-Olomu made a good tackle on short completion on a slant. In the second quarter, he had a receiver blanketed and broke up a back-shoulder attempt on a third down. In the third quarter, Ekpre-Olomu made a clutch open-field tackle downfield on an end around to prevent a touchdown. In the fourth quarter, he perfectly timed his hit on a receiver to break up another pass.

    This was a good tape for Ekpre-Olomu as he had four tackles with two passes broken up. Even though he’s undersized, the senior has some tackling ability.

    Florida State 31, Notre Dame 27
  • Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston would be the hands-down top prospect for the 2015 NFL Draft if it weren’t for the off-the-field concerns. He put his skills on display against Notre Dame as he, once again, put his team on his back and carried the Seminoles to a victory with clutch throws to produce points.

    After Florida State fell behind, Winston went to his favorite receiver to move the chains. Senior Rashad Greene caught a slant for 23 yards before getting wide open in busted coverage for a gain of 56 more yards. Winston closed out the drive by lofting in a short touchdown.

    Early in the second quarter, Winston made an uncharacteristically bad decision. He held the ball too long with rushers closing in on him. Winston should have thrown the ball away, but instead, he floated a pass off his back foot into double coverage, and it was easily picked off.

    Winston tied the game at 17 early in the second half as he led a drive that finished off with a quick slant touchdown pass to Greene. Winston also made a great play when he was pressured and flushed out of the pocket, but threw a perfect strike to his receiver in stride running vertically along the sideline. That helped set up a short touchdown run by Florida State. In the fourth quarter, Winston made a clutch throw with a blitzer in his face as he lofted the ball into his receiver to set him up for a good run after the catch. He lofted in another pass to Greene, who made a great sliding catch to set up a short touchdown run for running back Karlos Williams.

    Winston finished completing 23-of-31 passes for 273 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. With his arm, field vision, pocket presence and passing ability, Winston is a stud quarterback worthy of the first pick in the NFL draft. He just has to pass the character test over the months to come, but with some teams, he may have already failed it.

  • Greene finished with 108 yards on eight receptions. This was another impressive performance. If the 6-foot-1, 180-ponder were larger and didn’t have durability concerns, he would be a first-round pick.

  • Notre Dame senior quarterback Evertt Golson has featured an improved game after his year-long suspension in 2013. Golson stepped up and showed his improvement against Florida State and battled his tail off.

    Golson had some good moments moving the ball. In the first half, he threw a short touchdown pass to Corey Robinson, but also had an interception after getting hit as he threw and having the ball float to a defender. Golson bounced back from the pick to make two excellent throws. The first, he lofted a well-placed ball into his receiver in a tight window for a good gain. The next throw, Golson tossed the ball perfectly up high on the sideline for Robinson, who made a great catch for six. It was high and away where only Robinson could make a play on the ball.

    In the third quarter, Golson fired a perfect strike to let his receiver run with the ball to pick up about 30 yards. A few plays later, Golson did a great job of scrambling and flipping the ball to a receiver for another good gain. It was an impressive job of improvising by Golson after a play broke down.

    Golson later made a huge throw to convert a fourth-and-18 as he scrambled and kept his eyes downfield to hit Robinson open along the sideline. Right after throwing that pass, Golson was drilled by a defender. A play later, Golson had a receiver running open into the end zone behind the coverage, but Golson sailed the ball incomplete. After Notre Dame had a game-winning touchdown taken away on a questionable call, Golson was hit as he threw and the pass was intercepted as time expired.

    Against Florida State, Golson completed 31-of-52 passes for 313 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He has improved his passing skills and accuracy, but still is a work in progress who has to work on minimizing mistakes, including turnovers. Golson has to improve his field vision as he often stares down his receivers. Still, Golson is playing himself into a prospect worthy of consideration.

  • Florida State defensive tackle Eddie Goldman has enjoyed a good season. He continued that against the Fighting Irish. In the first quarter, Goldman got some push on Notre Dame center Nick Martin before shedding him to get a sack on Golson. Goldman made other plays in run defense and pushed the pocket. This was a quality tape for the junior.

  • Seminoles junior cornerbacks P.J. Williams and Ronald Darby had eventful games. Williams played well for three quarters before a few coverage busts late in the contest that almost cost Florida State the game. Early on, he had an impressive pass deflection. Late in the third quarter, Williams had blanket coverage along the deep sideline to force an incompletion. In the fourth quarter though, he was beaten by Robinson on a slant for a good gain. At the end of the game, Williams lost Robinson in coverage to let him get wide open for the fourth-and-18 conversion.

    In the first quarter, Darby was called for a pass interference in the end zone. Darby was burned by William Fuller after halftime on a quick slant for gain of 30 yards. Darby got caught with some missed steps on a few plays to allow separation. This tape should hurt Darby, while for Williams, it will be neutral.

  • The Florida State senior offensive linemen of left tackle Cameron Erving, left guard Josue Matias and right guard Tre Jackson have been disappointing this season, and that didn’t change against the Irish.

    Late in the third quarter, Erving was beaten by Sheldon Day on a speed rush to allow Winston to be sacked. In the second quarter, Jackson was beaten badly in pass protection, and that pressure forced Winston into a bad throw that was intercepted. Matias all but allowed a sack in the second half before he was bailed out by Winston breaking the tackle. Jackson had a personal foul penalty in the third quarter. In the first quarter, Matias whiffed on a block to allow a tackle for a loss.

    All three of those lineman hurt their draft grades against Notre Dame. With the way they’ve played this year, they really haven’t looked like players who should be drafted before the third round.

    Michigan State 56, Indiana 17
  • Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook flashes big-time ability, but he struggles with consistency. The junior had an interesting game against Indiana that showed lots of good and some bad.

    In the second quarter, Cook had a third-and-5 and with rushers coming at him, but he didn’t let the pressure get to him and threw a strike to his tight end Josiah Price for a 10-yard score. Later on a third-and-17 deep in his own territory, Cook made a bad throw. The receiver was in blanket coverage with three defenders in the area. Cook didn’t see the middle linebacker underneath, and he made a leaping interception. After that, Cook played very well.

    Cook bounced back to make a great throw to Price over a defender for a 67-yard gain. That set up a scoring run, and Cook ripped the ball through the secondary with a number of other well-thrown passes to lead to another touchdown on a 14-yard throw.

    In the third quarter, Cook had a third-and-long and had nobody open. He scrambled to his right but had defenders closing in, so he ran back to his left. Cook then pointed for wide receiver Tony Lippett to go long and lofted in a 41-yard reception to his target. It was a very well-thrown ball on the run. Cook finished the drive with a short shovel pass for his third touchdown.

    Cook finished completing 24-of-32 passes for 332 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. The junior needs to improve his footwork, and that could make him a more accurate passer. There are times when things break down and he makes some brilliant passes into tight windows, but then he can be off the mark on some routine easy throws. Cook has a lot of ability with his big arm, size, mobility and pocket presence. He just needs to improve his feet while getting more consistent with his accuracy and working through his progressions. Overall, this tape should help Cook’s draft stock.

  • Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes and safety Kurtis Drummond didn’t have their best games. Waynes was good in coverage, but missed a tackle on a reverse downfield along the sideline that allowed the receiver to explode for a 75-yard touchdown. In the third quarter, Drummond was called for pass interference. He was beaten running down the deep middle of the field and held the wide out to prevent a long reception or touchdown. Otherwise, both Waynes and Drummond were pretty quiet, and this game won’t help them, especially Drummond.

  • Spartans defensive end Shilique Calhoun had a slow start to the season, but he’s been playing well in recent weeks. Calhoun had a solid performance against Indiana. He came close to a sack in the first half, but the quarterback got the ball out. In the third quarter, Calhoun was part of a tackle for a loss on a busted play after he charged into the backfield.

    In the third quarter, Calhoun came unblocked off right tackle and sacked the quarterback. Overall, he played well, but he needs to get stronger for run defense while improving his repertoire of moves.

  • One of the nation’s leaders in rushing is Indiana running back Tevin Coleman, and here he was taking on one of the top defenses in college football. On the first play of the game, Coleman showed some blocking ability by standing up Calhoun. In the second quarter, Coleman exploded down the field on a stretch run for a gain of 65 yards. A little bit later, he sprung a 30-yard run before Drummond got him down in the open field to save a touchdown.

    Coleman totaled 132 yards on 15 carries against Michigan State. Considering this could be the best defense he’ll face all season, Coleman had a good tape to help himself.

    Maryland 38, Iowa 31
  • Iowa left tackle Brandon Scherff doesn’t see a lot of speed rushers, so his ability to play left tackle is harder to evaluate than other top offensive tackles. Stanford’s Andrus Peat, for example, has played a number of dangerous edge defenders already this season. Against Maryland, Scherff gave NFL teams evidence suggesting a move to right tackle as he really struggled in pass protection.

    Throughout the day, Scherff opened holes in the ground game. He pushed defenders out of their gap and rode them around the field. As a run-blocker, Scherff played really well as he simply mauled players at the point of attack.

    In the first quarter, Scherff had his defensive end blocked, but eventually the defender worked free to get a coverage sack. Scherff gave his quarterback time to make a throw, and that sack was more on the quarterback. Early in the second quarter, Scherff was clearly beaten with a speed rush to the interior on a stunt from the defensive tackle. Scherff allowed another hit on the quarterback shortly later as he was beaten by a swim move with a speed rush.

    In the fourth quarter, Scherff was rocked back on roller skates by the defensive tackle on a stunt. As Scherff was falling to the ground, he pulled the tackle down to the ground and was called for a holding penalty. A few plays later, Scherff allowed a hit on the quarterback, and that happened again on the next drive with an inside rush. Scherff was beaten on another speed rush, and the quarterback drew an intentional grounding penalty to avoid a sack. Late in the fourth quarter, Scherff allowed a hit on the quarterback, and that impacted the throw to almost lead to an interception.

    This was a bad tape for Scherff as he really struggled to keep heat off his quarterback. He was beaten on bull rushes and speed rushes. This performance suggests that for the NFL, Scherff could be better placed at right tackle or guard. He did not look anything like a top-20 pick against Maryland

  • Maryland wide receiver Stefon Diggs had an impressive performance. He was able to get open and move the chains all day. Diggs got wide open on a deep out for a 27-yard reception, but he caught it against his body rather than via his hands, and that isn’t the technique that NFL evaluators would like to see. In the third quarter, he made a good hands catch extended along the sideline and got a foot down before falling out of bounds. Maryland set up a screen to him on the next play, and he followed his blockers well. Diggs slowed down to set up a block downfield and then exploded to the end zone for a 53-yard touchdown.

    Diggs caught nine passes for 130 yards with two carries for 12 yards. This tape will help his draft grade as he showed the speed to get separation with run-after-the-catch skills.

    Alabama 59, Texas A&M 0
  • Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon had been in a bit of a slump, but that ended against Texas A&M. Throughout the first half, Yeldon was dominating and was the workhorse for the Crimson Tide. Yeldon was running with speed, balance and power to pick up yards after contact. He was on fire, and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin was feeding the hot hand as a runner and receiver.

    On a reception, Yeldon made a nifty move in the flat to avoid a tackle and move the chains. Yeldon then darted into the end zone with a nice run, weaving by defenders. On the next drive, he split out wide and ran a slant for a nice completion of almost 20 yards against cornerback Deshazor Everett. He added another run, dodging through the defense and powering into the end zone from a yard out. By halftime, Yeldon had 114 yards on 13 carries with three receptions for 45 yards.

    Yeldon wasn�t needed in the second half, but this was a great performance to help right his draft stock and season. The receiving ability that Yeldon showed will really get the NFL excited. This tape was Yeldon�s best of the year.

  • Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper had a great start to the season before being held in check against Ole Miss and Arkansas. Like Yeldon, Cooper got back on track against Texas A&M. Cooper got started with some short receptions and a nice run after the catch. Early in the second quarter, Cooper made a great hands catch and plucked the ball out of the sky for a 21-yard reception while running across the field. Cooper later beat his corner, running into the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown. Cooper had 95 yards at the half.

    Cooper caught a 45-yard touchdown in the third quarter, as he ran by Everett to get wide open for the score. That ended his game. Cooper caught eight passes for 140 yards and those two scores. This was another impressive tape for Cooper and illustrates why he�s a top-16 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, assuming he declares as expected.

  • Texas A&M senior left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi came into the game on a cold streak, as he was beaten for four sacks in the past two games along with a hit on quarterback Kenny Hill that helped produce a pick-six for Ole Miss. The trend continued for Ogbuehi against the Crimson Tide, as he started poorly. On the first possession for the Aggies, Ogbuehi got caught stepping to the inside and that let his end get a hit on the quarterback. Ogbuehi was beaten a play later for a sack by Xavier Dickson. Dickson pushed Ogbuehi into the backfield with a bull rush before disengaging and dragging down Hill.

    To start the third quarter, Ogbuehi was beaten on a bull rush to allow a sack of his quarterback. He later almost allowed a safety, as the defender got by him with speed to the inside, but the quarterback just got rid of the ball before the tackle.

    Ogbuehi has really struggled in the past three games, and this streak is troubling. He has been beaten by bull rushes and speed, especially to the inside. The talk of Ogbuehi being a top-10 pick looks very premature, and he has a lot to improve upon. This is another tape that will send his stock down.

  • Aggie senior cornerback Deshazor Everett had a big game two years ago when Texas A&M upset Alabama at home. That was the highlight of his career, and he continued his struggles in coverage that have plagued him this year and in 2013. Everett started the game with a dropped interception that could have gone for a 99-yard touchdown return, as he was in the flat and had nothing but open field. He was beaten by Cooper for two scores and long receptions. He also struggled to guard running backs in pass coverage.

    Everett looks like he should move to free safety in the NFL, as he is too slow and stiff to turn and run with receivers down the field. Everett should be a late-round pick or an undrafted free agent.

    West Virginia 41, Baylor 27
  • West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White has been enjoying a breakout year, and that continued with an impressive game against Baylor. Early in the first quarter, White was called for a holding penalty, but he made up for it to end the drive with a 31-yard touchdown reception. White got separation running a go route, but the pass was underthrown. White went over the corner to catch the ball at its highest point for the score. It was a great play for White that showed the ability to get separation, track the ball, attack the pass and make a contested catch.

    Shortly later, White got his feet tangled and fell down on a pass to let his cornerback intercept the ball. White then got open and made a pretty extended reception in the middle of the field. With the game tied in the fourth quarter, White got open running into the end zone and made a beautiful one-handed catch for a 12-yard touchdown even though he was being interfered with. It was a great play of concentration and hands.

    White totaled eight receptions for 132 yards with two touchdowns. He also drew multiple pass interference penalties. This was a great tape, as White showed a unique combination with size and speed. He got separation and made contested catches. White really showed it all against Baylor. This tape could send his stock up and makes the argument for White to get first-round consideration.

  • Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman had perhaps his worst performance of the year against West Virginia. To start the game, Oakman had some good pass rushes and hits on quarterback Clint Trickett. Oakman then was getting held consistently, but it wasn�t getting called. The frustration seemed to get to Oakman, as he was called for a hands to the face penalty. In the fourth quarter, Oakman fired into the backfield to get a tackle for a loss and that was really the only highlight on the day for him. This tape shouldn�t hurt his draft stock significantly.

  • Baylor senior quarterback Bryce Petty continued to show his inaccuracy. Petty left points on the field by sailing balls over open receivers. Senior wideout Antwan Goodley could have had a bigger day if Petty was more accurate.

    In the second quarter, Goodley got open for about a 30-yard touchdown, but Petty sailed the throw for an incompletion. It was a throw that Petty has to make, and it illustrated his inaccuracy. Petty got a do-over, as Goodley got open along the sideline again; this time Petty hit the throw, and Goodley bolted down the field for a 63-yard touchdown.

    In the third quarter, Goodley dropped a pass and also made some tough catches. Goodley caught nine passes for 132 yards and a touchdown. Petty was only 16-of-36 for 223 yards with two touchdowns. This was a solid tape for Goodley and a very ugly performance for Petty. Goodley looks like a second-day pick, while Petty is a day-three candidate, or even an undrafted free agent based on this tape.

    Boise State 37, Fresno State 27
  • Boise State running back Jay Ajayi has been enjoying a good year of racking up a ton of yards on the ground and through the air, but the talented runner has a negative in terms of ball security. Ajaji has three fumbles in the last two games. Trying to keep him in check were Fresno State safety Derron Smith and nose tackle Tyeler Davison, both of whom are pro prospects.

    Early in the first quarter, Ajayi was rolling, as he ripped off yards in chunks and picked up ground after contact. He had a 9-yard touchdown after running through a tackle from Smith. Ajayi also showed his strength by pushing through two tackles and then reaching the ball over three defenders trying to tackle him for his second score of the game in the following period.

    Ajayi had a nice reception with yards after the catch in the third quarter as he weaved his way around defenders. He also made an extended leaping reception that illustrated his athleticism and body control, and this was followed by a nicely run screen pass. In the fourth quarter, Ajayi took a fourth-and-1 and broke two tackles short of the first down before falling for the necessary yards. That set up the game-winning touchdown. Ajayi carried a defensive lineman on his back for about five yards on his next carry.

    To finish the night, Ajayi ripped off a 54-yard run as be bounced to the outside and exploded down the sideline. Ajayi concluded with 30 carries for 158 yards and two touchdowns. He had four receptions for 37 yards. It was an excellent performance for NFL evaluators, as Ajayi (6-0, 216) was a physical runner who picked up yards after contact with the speed to hit the hole. He also was excellent as a receiver. Ajayi is a skilled route runner and catcher. If he can fix his fumbling issue, he could be a second-day pick.

  • Davison started the game slowly and was getting moved in the ground game. On one play, Davison was buried by the center in a run up the middle. After a quiet start, Davison got going late in the second quarter when he got penetration on a bull rush. He then swam by the center and powered by the guard to get a sack. Davison didn�t make any big plays in the second half, but was generally tough at the point of attack and filled his gap. This was a solid tape overall for him.

  • Bulldog safety Derron Smith had a number of open-field tackles including one on a quarterback and another when he knocked a receiver out of bounds on a fly sweep. It was a clutch play, as Smith was the last defender to prevent a score. Smith later fired through the line to make a tackle for a loss on a third-and-1. Smith did well in the ground game, but didn�t make any big plays in pass coverage. This tape should be neutral for Smith.

  • Fresno State senior wide receiver Josh Harper was having a quiet stretch before a huge game last week against UNLV. He had a decent outing, but started it out with a drop. He later got open for a 32-yard touchdown. After that, he was able to get wide open, running a slant down the middle of the field. He went up over a cornerback for a tough reception to move the chains. Harper finished with four receptions for 57 yards. He looks like a potential mid-rounder.

  • Boise State wide receiver Matt Miller had his season end early because of an ankle injury.

    Utah 29, Oregon State 23 OT
  • Oregon State senior quarterback Sean Mannion hasn’t really gotten into groove during his senior year and is clearly missing Brandin Cooks. Against Utah, Mannion had a mixed outing that showed his impressive arm strength, but also some of his flaws, like a lack of mobility to go with inconsistent accuracy and ball placement.

    On Mannion’s first pass of the game, he threw an interception as he didn’t see the middle linebacker drop into the throwing lane. The linebacker read Mannion’s eyes and dropped in front of the receiver. Mannion was unable to move the ball in the first half as his offensive line was terrible. He had no time to throw the ball before the pass rush would get to him.

    The third quarter saw an interesting sequence in which Mannion ran a bootleg in the end zone and showed off his strong arm by throwing a bomb to an open receiver for a gain of 52 yards. A few plays later, Mannion overthrew a wide-open receiver on a slant that could have gone for a touchdown. Then on fourth-and-4, Mannion didn’t see an open receiver and threw incomplete to a double-covered wide out to squander the opportunity following the long completion. Mannion showed a strong arm in those throws, but was off with his ball placement and field vision.

    Early in the fourth quarter, Mannion laid out a well-placed deep ball and his receiver Jordan Villamin made a reception over the defensive back. He then bolted into the end zone for a 72-yard touchdown.

    After Utah took the lead with four minutes remaining, Mannion had a job to do to force overtime. He made a few completions to move the chains before he tossed a pass that was almost intercepted, but it tipped to a receiver – Mannion got lucky. However, soon Mannion took a bad sack on a third down to make a field goal attempt of 49 yards harder, but the kicker drilled it. In overtime, Mannion had a well-placed fade pass for a touchdown on a fourth-and-goal to send it into double overtime.

    Versus the Utes, Mannion completed 21-of-37 for 272 yards with two scores and an interception. This was a mixed outing as the senior showed a big arm and pocket-passing potential, but his lack of mobility makes his offensive line’s job harder. Mannion is rather ineffective when he has to move off his spot from his drop. His accuracy, ball placement, and field vision all need improvement, too. If given a good offensive line, Mannion can pick a defense apart, but those weaknesses are the reason why Mannion looks more like a second-day pick rather than a first-rounder.

  • Utah senior defensive end Nate Orchard has been enjoying an excellent season. Orchard’s pass-rushing ability has been on display as he had four sacks against UCLA and entered this game with 8.5 sacks on the season.

    In the first quarter, Orchard made a tackle for a loss and batted a pass away. In the second quarter, he got a step on the left tackle with a speed rush and used his hands to slap away the blocker to get to Mannion. In the final seconds before the half, Orchard split a double-team to almost sack Mannion, but ended up just forcing an incompletion.

    Orchard was mostly held in check during the third and fourth quarters as Oregon State made some good halftime adjustments to limit him. The Beavers ran plays away from Orchard with rollouts the other way, misdirection, and extra blockers against him. In overtime, Orchard used his speed to chase down Mannion for a sack.

    The 6-foot-4, 255-pound Orchard is a quick and athletic defensive end. It would help him to add 10-15 pounds for the NFL if he can maintain his speed. Orchard is a bit of a sleeper prospect to watch, and he could rise in the months to come.

  • Oregon State cornerback Steven Nelson is a potential prospect for the 2015 NFL Draft. He was unimpressive against Utah though. In the second quarter, Nelson drew a pass interference deep down the field. It was actually a bit of an accident as he was watching the ball and ran into the receiver to knock him down before the ball arrived. That happened again when Nelson rode the receiver and pushed him out of bounds. Nelson wasn’t getting burned, but he seems to panic when the ball is in the air.

  • Entering the season, Utah senior wide receiver Tres Anderson was considered to be a potential top-100 pick, but he has fallen quiet after starting well against Idaho State and Fresno State.

    At the beginning of this game, Anderson had a missed opportunity when he caught a pass in the end zone, but couldn’t hold onto the ball when the defender slapped it out of his hands. It was a play that Anderson should have made. It got worse in the second quarter as he dropped a screen pass and it deflected into an Oregon State interception. Anderson was a non-factor as he had only four receptions for 35 yards. It hurts Anderson that Utah’s quarterbacks are struggling, but he needs to produce more with the chances he has.

    Pittsburgh 21, Virginia Tech 16
  • A player on my watch list is Pittsburgh right tackle T.J. Clemmings. Big No. 68 is a former defensive end who was moved to right tackle as a junior in 2013. The 6-foot-6, 315-pounder is an intriguing athlete, and he had the challenge of taking on fast Hokies defenders, including speedy edge rusher Dadi Nicholas. Overall, Clemmings had a good game and handled himself well.

    Clemmings’ run blocking is clearly ahead of his pass blocking. With his strength, he can drive block defenders and open holes at the point of attack. In the fourth quarter, Clemmings blasted Nicolas out of his gap to open up James Connor for a 13-yard touchdown run.

    In the pass rush, Clemmings has potential with length and athleticism. He has agility and moves pretty well, but needs to improve his feet and get faster with shuffling his feet. There were times that he was reaching after his defender and got away with not giving up a sack. However, reaching after NFL pass-rushers won’t be good enough.

    Some have touted Clemmings as a first-round prospect, but that could be a stretch. He looks more likely to have second-day potential, and he will need some development to become a starting right tackle in the NFL. That isn’t surprising considering his position change.

  • Virginia Tech senior safety Kyshoen Jarrett has had a mixed season, and this tape won’t help his cause. In the first quarter, he was helping Kendell Fuller in coverage on Tyler Boyd. Jarrett had the inside help for Fuller, but Jarrett took a terrible angle and that allowed Boyd to reach out to make a reception. He then blew by Jarrett to get free for a score from midfield. In the second half, Jarrett was late to react to an interior quarterback draw that sprung Chad Voytik for a 49-yard run. Overall, Jarrett looks like a Day-3 prospect or undrafted free agent.


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