2016 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps – Week 1

This section breaks down many college football games each week and highlights how 2016 NFL Draft Prospects have performed. Or look at the 2016 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.

Ohio State 42, Virginia Tech 24
  • Entering the 2015 season, NFL scouts were hoping that Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones would be the starting quarterback for the Buckeyes. Sources from multiple teams say that if his three-game stretch to close out 2014 was extrapolated over a season, he would be a first-round pick and franchise quarterback. Jones has a great skill set with size, athleticism and a cannon of an arm. Ohio State went with Jones as its starting quarterback, and this was great news for NFL evaluators.

    Jones has a ton of talent around him with wide receiver Michael Thomas and running back Ezekiel Elliott. Matching up against Thomas was Virginia Tech junior cornerback Kendall Fuller. That matchup of Jones and Thomas versus Fuller would be great for the NFL as all three have first-round potential.

    On the initial third down for Ohio State, Thomas was covered closely by Fuller but a bullet from Jones beat the coverage to move the chains. It was a money throw by Jones. He made another accurate dump-off to Ezekiel Elliott to convert a fourth down. On the next play, Jones scrambled with a flick of the wrist off his back foot to toss a 24-yard touchdown pass. It was an impressive start for Jones.

    Throughout the first half, Jones was playing well, although he had an interception on a tipped pass. He answered that with a designed run of about 20 yards on a third down. In the third quarter, Jones rolled out and lofted in a well-thrown ball to quarterback turned wide receiver Braxton Miller for a 54-yard touchdown. Jones later rumbled for a 10-yard touchdown run.

    Jones completed 9-of-18 passes for 186 yards with two touchdowns and an interception on a tipped pass. He ran for 99 yards on 13 carries with a touchdown. Overall, it was a good start for Jones, as he showed an amazing physical skill set to be an NFL starting quarterback. He needs more work with reading the field and football I.Q., but his physical talent is tremendous. Aside from his right arm cannon, Jones also showed his running ability and how difficult he is to sack with his huge size.

  • Fuller and Thomas had an eventful night. On the initial third down for Ohio State, Thomas was covered closely by Fuller but a bullet from Jones beat the coverage to move the chains. It was a money throw by Jones.

    In the fourth quarter, Thomas tested Fuller on a deep ball into the end zone. Thomas got behind Fuller, and while the pass fell incomplete, Fuller was flagged for a pass interference. In the fourth quarter, Thomas burned Fuller for a 26-yard touchdown on a stop-and-go that Fuller bit on. Thomas got wide open for J.T. Barrett to make an easy touchdown toss.

    This tape will hurt Fuller, and he has to show that he can learn with better eye discipline in the weeks to come. Teams will copy Ohio State and send more stop-and-go routes Fuller’s way in the weeks to come. Thomas helped his draft grade by getting the better of Fuller.

  • On his first carry of the year, Elliott followed a great block by guard Pat Elfin to take out Dadi Nicolas and another Hokie. Elliott exploded down the field for an 80-yard touchdown. He only had four carries in the first half, as the Buckeyes mainly threw the ball. Just before the half, Elliott muffed a punt that was recovered by Virginia Tech.

    Elliott totaled 122 yards on 11 carries. He had two receptions for 16 yards. He also showed some blocking ability. Overall, this tape shouldn’t hurt Elliott. The NFL will draft him as a starting three-down running back and won’t have him returning punts.

  • Braxton Miller proved that he isn’t a typical quarterback turned receiver. Miller was phenomenal against Virginia Tech. He had six carries for 62 yards including a 53-yard touchdown run with an unreal spin move to break free from some defenders. As a receiver, he had two receptions for 78 yards with a 54-yard score. Miller (6-2, 215) showed that his speed and athleticism make him a legit prospect as a receiver and runner.

  • The Virginia Tech defensive tandem of end Dadi Nicolas and tackle Luther Maddy flashed but didn’t control the game as the Hokies’ front did a year ago in their upset of Ohio State. Nicolas had a nice tackle on Cardale Jones along the sideline and also had Jones in the grasp for a sack, but the big quarterback broke the tackle.

    In the third quarter, Maddy exploded into the backfield to make a tackle for a loss on a third down run. He then fired through the line to stuff a run for no gain.

    Overall, Nicolas and Maddy weren’t overly impressive, but they didn’t have bad performances either.

  • Ohio State defensive tackles Adolphus Washington and Tommy Schutt had impressive games. Washington did well defending the run and he destroyed a single block to slam quarterback Michael Brewer into the turf. That sent Brewer to the locker room and ended his game with a broken collarbone. It also took away the Hokies’ momentum, and Virginia Tech wasn’t same without Brewer. Schutt had two sacks and looked very good as the replacement for Michael Bennett.

  • There was a rare sight in this game with a breakout performance by a fullback. Virginia Tech junior Sam Rogers was incredible versus Ohio State. He ripped off a nice 16-yard run early in the game, hit a block on two defenders to spring his back for a long run, and then caught a 51-yard touchdown on a wheel route with a superb run after the catch. He had 23 yards rushing on three carries and two receptions for 54 yards. He showed some real talent for a fullback.

    Texas A&M 38, Arizona State 13
  • Texas A&M has been an offensive line factory for the NFL in recent years with first-round picks in the form of tackles Luke Joeckel, Jake Matthews and Cedric Ogbuehi. This year, their prospects are right tackle Germain Ifedi and center Mike Matthews, the younger brother of Jake.

    Like the former teammates in the NFL, Ifedi and Matthews are athletic offensive linemen who are reliable but lack physicality and a mean streak. That is intentional, as the Aggies want to run an up-tempo system, and having linemen finish off defenders can slow down the pace. Still, it is increasingly dampening enthusiasm from NFL evaluators about A&M lineman, especially with the struggles of Joeckel lacking strength after being the second-overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.

    Ifedi has a little more power to him, so perhaps he could adapt better to the NFL. He did well in pass protection and looked better in the ground game. In speaking with NFL team sources, they view him more as a guard. Matthews needs to add some power for the NFL.

  • Texas A&M senior running back Tra Carson got his season started well. Early on he got the Aggies on the board as he showed great balance on a reception while tight roping along the sideline for a nine-yard touchdown. Late in the fourth quarter Carson topped off the win by following Ifedi for a 10-yard touchdown run. He totaled 96 yards on 29 carries. This tape will help him with teams to consider him as downhill pounder for the next level.

  • Last year, Arizona State running back D.J. Foster had an excellent season as a runner and receiver out of the backfield. He was so good at catching passes that he was moved to wide receiver for 2015. The early returns were just mediocre, as Foster wasn’t the dynamic playmaker that he was last year. Foster moved the chains on a lot of quick slants out of the slot, but he didn’t get the number of touches that one would like to see.

    Against Texas A&M, Foster had modest production as a receiver (6-48), and as a runner (3-13) on some jet sweep carries. For the NFL, Foster looks more special as a running back who can be a weapon in a passing offense rather than lining up as a wide receiver.

    Alabama 35, Wisconsin 17
  • With T.J. Yeldon in the NFL, this is Derrick Henry’s year to be the featured player in Alabama’s offense. In speaking with scouts, Henry already had made a good impression on them entering the fall. The season opener against Wisconsin will only serve to increase his draft grade, especially with what he did as a pass protector against the Badgers.

    It didn’t start great, however. On the initial third down of the game Henry tried to help left tackle Cam Robinson, but they were beat for a sack. He came back to get Alabama the lead when he ran into a scrum at the line, broke a tackle and exploded down the field for a 37-yard touchdown. Henry continued to rip off yards in chunks up the middle of the Wisconsin defense.

    Early in the third quarter, Henry produced almost the same exact play, except he didn’t break a tackle at the line of scrimmage. He followed his blocks and darted down the field for a 56-yard touchdown. Henry then blocked on a blitzing linebacker and negated the pressure from that blitz. He stood his group and stonewalled the rusher with two big shoves. Shortly later, Henry added a short touchdown run on the goal line.

    Henry finished with 147 yards on 13 carries with three touchdowns on the ground and two receptions for 12 yards. Not only was his running impressive, but the blitz protection will really excite scouts. This tape will definitely help Henry’s draft grade and give NFL teams the evidence that he can be a three-down starter as a pro.

  • Another Alabama player that helped his draft grade was defensive end Jonathan Allen. He was a tough defender that Wisconsin struggled to contain. In the second quarter Allen comes unblocked and got a sack by closing on the quarterback in a hurry. In the third quarter Allen shoved aside the right tackle to sack Ricky Stanzi for the second time in the game. This tape will definitely help Allen’s draft stock.

  • Alabama has employed two backs to lead their backfield in recent years, and Kenyon Drake had an impressive comeback to the field. Last year, Drake’s season ended early after a broken leg against Ole Miss. Drake was a superb change-up as a speed back to Henry’s power against Wisconsin. Drake ran for 77 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. He also had two receptions for 48 yards. This was a nice start to the season for the senior Drake.

  • Wisconsin running back Corey Clement left the game with a groin pull and it was disappointing not to get a better view of Clement against a tough defense like Alabama. Crimson Tide linebacker Reggie Ragland had a good performance and defended the middle of the field well. It would have helped to gauge both players draft stocks if they had more reps against each other, especially Clement because the Badgers run over a lot of weak Big 10 defenses. Last year, what Melvin Gordon did against LSU and Auburn was very helpful in evaluating him for the 2015 draft.

    Georgia 51, Louisiana-Monroe 14
  • In a storm-delayed game, a few Georgia pass prospects got their seasons started well.

    Junior linebacker Leonard Floyd is a dangerous edge rusher that has needed to get more consistent while also improving his run defense. Floyd played inside and outside linebacker in the season opener. Coming from the inside, he made some plays, including a nice tackle for a loss when he fired through the hole to take down the back. He came close to a strip-sack, but the quarterback delivered a pass just before. Just before the half, Floyd swam to the inside of the right tackle to combine with a teammate for a sack.

    Georgia cross-trained Floyd for both inside and outside linebacker positions, and he did well in the ground game. In pass coverage, Floyd looked awkward dropping in coverage, but that isn’t surprising given that he’s been a pass rusher and not a coverage linebacker. Floyd’s ability to play both will interest 3-4 teams, but cutting down on his pass-rush opportunities could hurt his production and stock. Still, this was a solid start to the 2015 season for Floyd.

  • Fellow linebacker Jordan Jenkins made some noise as well. In the second quarter, Jenkins beat the right tackle with a speed to power shed of the right tackle and took down the quarterback for his first sack of the season. Jenkins was active and around the ball on his plays.

  • Georgia left tackle John Theus made a wise decision to come back for his senior year. His pass protection in 2014 made him look more like a right tackle in the NFL. Theus did well against Louisiana-Monroe. He was rock solid in pass protection, although he wasn’t tested by a dangerous rusher. In the ground game, Theus was effective at getting movement and opening holes for his back.

  • It was good to see Georgia wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell healthy. He was impressive as a freshman and sophomore in 2011 and 2012. He missed 2013 with a knee injury, and didn’t play a lot in 2014. Against ULM, Mitchell had a leaping 28-yard touchdown and caught three passes for 52 yards. Mitchell is a sleeper prospect to keep an eye on.

    BYU 33, Nebraska 28
  • Sources said that while studying Randy Gregory, Nebraska defensive tackle Maliek Collins really impressed them. With Gregory playing for the Dallas Cowboys, the Cornhuskers needed the 6-foot-2, 300-pound Collins to step up and lead their defensive line. Collins didn’t produce a big stat line against BYU, but he was being disruptive and consistently getting into the backfield. Collins saw a lot of double teams and even some triple teams.

    Despite the extra attention, Collins put a number of hits on BYU quarterback Taysom Hill. Early in the game, he fought through a double team to hit Hill, but the pass got off for a deep completion. That was a trend, as he had about a handful of hits on the quarterback, but was slowed up enough by the double teams to prevent sacks.

    Collins looked somewhat gassed late in the fourth quarter, and that was seen for a lot of defensive lineman across the college games in Week 1. Overall, this was a solid tape for him that shows his speed and disruptive ability.

  • Another defensive lineman who looked good to start his senior year was BYU edge rusher Bronson Kaufusi. He was around the ball throughout the game, contributing to the run defense and was getting pressure on the quarterback. Late in the second quarter, Kaufusi forced an intentional grounding, as he had a sack coming with speed to the inside versus the right tackle. He had a number of other hits on the quarterback as well. This was a good tape for Kaufusi, and he looks like he would be a nice fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL.

  • This game ended brilliantly on a BYU Hail Mary. Here’s the highlight if you haven’t seen it:

    Auburn 31, Louisville 24
  • Auburn senior wide receiver Duke Williams was suspended for part of training camp, so there were some questions about whether he would start. Sources have said that Williams has character and off-the-field concerns, so avoiding benching and getting suspended are important for his draft stock. On the positive side, Williams started and played, but on the negative side, he didn’t make a real impact.

    In the first quarter, Williams came close to a touchdown on a quick slant on his first catch, but was tackled on the one. He moved the chains with a tough catch while getting hit in the middle of the field. Williams finished the game with only three receptions for 40 yards. This tape shouldn’t have a big impact on his draft stock.

  • The prospect I was very eager to see was Louisville outside linebacker Devonte Fields. Two years ago, Fields was a dynamic edge rusher for TCU and was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year as a freshman. Fields had injuries, but off-the-field issues led to his exit from the Horned Frogs and transfer to Louisville.

    In his debut for the Cardinals, Fields was virtually a non-factor. He showed that he still has a great get-off and is a fast defender. He made a tackle for a loss when he read zone read well and had one other nice run tackle. However, too often he was getting washed out in the ground game. His conditioning and motor could stand to improve significantly. Overall, Fields was disappointing, but he is better suited to go against a pocket-passing pro-style offense rather than a read-option attack like Auburn.

  • The most impressive prospect in the game was Auburn defensive tackle Montavius Adams. In the first half, the junior was an animal at the point of attack whom Louisville was incapable of blocking. He got his game started quickly by showing a lightning pass rush by the right guard to hammer the quarterback.

    In the second quarter, Adams fired into the backfield to help force a fumble on a handoff. The loose ball was scooped up and returned for a touchdown. Just before the half, Adams had a great play where he pushed the right guard back, shed his block, bounced off the center and sacked the quarterback stepping up in the pocket.

    In the second half, Adams slowed down some and looked gassed, so improving his conditioning is necessary. The 6-foot-4, 296-pound Adams is an interesting body type that could fit as a 4-3 three technique or a 3-4 defensive end. This was an excellent start to his season and Adams tape will help his draft grade.

  • Auburn inside linebacker Cassanova McKinzy was impressive. He did a good job of defending the run and showed nice coverage with an excellent open field tackle running over to halfback in the flat. McKinzy showed some real speed on that play. He had other hard hits on the perimeter. McKinzy started the season well.

  • Auburn defensive lineman Carl Lawson started the game well and had sack with a speedy rush to the inside. However, Lawson left the game with a leg injury that appears to be minor.

  • Louisville safety Josh Harvey-Clemons is a transfer from Georgia and he made an impact for the Cardinals as a replacement for James Sample and Gerod Holliman. Harvey-Clemons had two interceptions on balls thrown right to him. He came to Georgia with a lot of hype so perhaps Harvey-Clemons is poised to validate it this season.

    Northwestern 16, Stanford 6
  • Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan was inconsistent the past two seasons, so in order to improve his draft stock, he needed to be more accurate and steady in his play as a senior. Hogan got his final season off to a terrible start.

    Hogan had a nice drive to start the game with some dink-and-dunk passes to move the chains for a field goal. After that, Stanford was incapable of getting any run game going despite them sticking with it. Hogan had some passes dropped, some off the mark, and the Cardinal was not getting vertical at all.

    In the second half, Hogan got lucky when he had a pass off the mark dropped by a linebacker, and then Hogan made a beautiful throw deep down the field that Michael Rector dropped. Hogan had an interception called back by a pass interference and then another defender dropped a pick. To end the game, Hogan had a receiver open in the end zone but he waited and threw late. The pass floated and was picked off by Northwestern.

    Hogan completed 20-of-35 passes for only 155 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. It was a frustrating game, and Hogan will have to play much better in the weeks to come.

  • Stanford tight end Austin Hooper and senior wide receiver Devon Cajuste are pro prospects who were also underwhelming. The Redshirt sophomore Hooper was suspended for the first half for a team rules violation, yet he still led the team with five receptions for 45 yards. Hooper was really missed in the first half and he could have made a difference. It was a disappointing start for senior Devon Cajuste as well with four catches for 39 yards. They all need to play better to improve their draft stock.

    Michigan State 37, Western Michigan 24
  • Entering the 2015 season, Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook is one of the top quarterback prospects for the 2016 NFL Draft. The senior has had accuracy issues in the past, as he has shown the ability to make superb throws, but miss on some routine completions. The season opener against Western Michigan was more of the same from Cook.

    In the early going, he missed some openings in the middle of the field, but completed a back-shoulder beauty, and then two other completions to beat tight coverage including a nine-yard touchdown pass. Shortly later Cook did lose the football on a strip-sack where he held onto the ball too long, but a penalty bailed Cook out of the turnover. In the second quarter, Cook made a brilliant throw, dropping in a pass to his tight end, knowing he was about to get hammered by a free rusher.

    In the second half, the trend continued with some passes off the mark and a pretty pass along the sideline to lead his receiver into the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown to DeAnthony Arnett. Shortly later, he dropped in a beauty down the sideline for a chunk gain.

    Cook finished completing 15-of-31 passes for 256 yards with two touchdowns. There were a number of good passes thrown by Cook that were dropped by his receivers. Clearly, replacing Tony Lippett and Keith Mumphrey is a work in progress for the Spartans. From this game, Cook didn’t show an improvement in his accuracy and consistency compared to his junior year. If that stays the same throughout his senior year, Cook could end up being more of a mid-first-round talent rather than a top-10 pick.

  • Michigan State left tackle Jack Conklin and center Jack Allen had a strong start to the season. They got a push in the ground game and were rock solid in pass protection. The Western Michigan defensive linemen were undersized and not a real test for either blocker.

  • Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun was wise to return for his senior year. He had an impressive performance in the season opener. Calhoun was consistently beating the left and right tackles to get heat on the quarterback. He also showed an improved set of pass rushing moves with a spin move and a rip move.

    Even though he wasn’t getting sacks for three quarters, Calhoun was causing problems as he drew two hands to the face penalties that were essentially holds by the right tackle. In the fourth quarter, Calhoun exploded into the backfield with a cut to the inside, but Calhoun missed the tackle and sack. Finally, Calhoun got home in the middle of the fourth with a lightning spin move to beat the left tackle and take down the quarterback. He drew another holding penalty on the next down.

    Overall, this was an impressive performance from Calhoun. He looked faster, stronger, and more developed than he did in a lot of his junior year. This tape will help his draft grade.

    Baylor 56, SMU 21
  • Before the game, it was announced that senior defensive end Shawn Oakman would be suspended for this contest. Sources said they had off-the-field concerns about Oakman for some time, dating back to his tenure at Penn State, so this suspension will only reinforce those issues with teams. Oakman got his season off to a terrible start with another off-the-field issue for him to explain.

  • Two Baylor prospects really stood out in this game. The most impressive of them was defensive tackle Andrew Billings. Big No. 75 was disruptive at the line of scrimmage all night. He was blowing up running plays and collapsing the pocket. He missed a tackle on a running back on a touchdown run, but overall, Billings was a beast.

    In the second quarter, Billings worked off blocks from the center and right guard to fire into the backfield and drop a back for a loss of four. The next play, he almost beat a double team for a sack with a nice spin move. In the third quarter, Billings did it again, firing into the backfield to drop a back for a loss of three.

    Billings’ stat line may not be huge from this game, but he was overwhelming the SMU offensive line. He flat out ran over the right guard on one embarrassing play. The interior of the Mustangs line couldn’t handle him with his power and explosion off the snap. Billings has an impressive get-off.

    For the NFL, Billings should get in better shape. If he trimmed down some, that could make him more explosive with a greater ability to close. Billings’ game was reminiscent of Patriots first-round pick Malcom Brown at Texas last season. This was a good tape from Billings that will aid his draft grade.

  • Baylor junior wide receiver Corey Coleman is the other prospect that impressed. Coleman (5-11, 190) produced some huge plays for the Bears, including a 43-yard reception to get the game started. On the second Baylor drive Coleman took a slant and raced down the field for a gain of 60 yards. Later in the second half, Coleman caught a quick-stop route, broke a tackle, and raced for a 57-yard touchdown. He totaled 178 yards on five receptions. This was a strong start to the year against a weak secondary. Coleman looks more like a slot receiver candidate for the NFL.

    TCU 23, Minnesota 17
  • This game featured a nice matchup in the passing game with Golden Gophers cornerback Eric Murray going against Horned Frogs wide receiver Josh Doctson. After a huge season in 2014, Doctson could go on the second day of the 2016 NFL Draft – if he stays consistent. Murray also has Day-2 potential in the 2016 NFL Draft.

    In the first quarter, Doctson caught an 11-yard touchdown pass on a curl to the inside, but he wasn’t going against Murray on that play. Murray had a couple of excellent plays in the second quarter. First, he had a good open-field tackle on Doctson in single coverage to make it only a four-yard pickup. A few plays later, Murray flew up to hit a running back on the perimeter with a crushing hit that forced a fumble at the 10-yard line. Minnesota recovered the ball to take points away from TCU.

    Murray allowed a couple of receptions to Doctson in the second half, notably a slant and a comeback route. Midway through the third quarter, Murray read an errant throw in zone coverage to cut in front of the pass for his first interception of the season. It was a good read by Murray in zone and an easy pick.

    It wasn’t all good for Murray as he was flagged twice for pass interference. The first ball was uncatchable and a questionable call, but the second penalty was a clear interference by Murray. He also had a pass breakup that easily could have been called as a third pass interference penalty.

    Overall, it was a mixed performance for Murray. He held his own in his man-coverage matchups against Doctson. Murray also showed his play-making skills with a forced fumble and interception, but he had too much contact on receivers and will need to be coached up on that in the NFL. Murray could be better off in a zone system like a Tampa 2.

  • Doctson finished with 74 yard on eight catches with his score. He had a solid game, but didn’t really impress.

  • TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin put up a ton of points in 2014 as a thrower and runner, but this season opener gave further evidence that he is a dual-threat college quarterback for a spread offense. Boykin didn’t display the traits of a pro pocket-passer and lacks the size of the vast majority of NFL quarterbacks.

    Boykin is a college quarterback who is more of a third-day-caliber prospect. He will probably be one of those signal-callers who is being discussed as switching positions to wide receiver, running back or cornerback.

    Utah 24, Michigan 17
  • Utah running back Devontae Booker is one of the top senior draft prospects at his position. In the first half, Michigan was bottling up Booker with heavy run fronts. He had a 10-yard run on a draw and then had a short touchdown by going over the top. At halftime, Booker had only 21 yards on 14 carries. He showed his receiving skills though, collecting five receptions for 50 yards. Booker showed nice hands with a one-handed catch and snagged four passes on the final drive before the half.

    Booker had a little more success running the ball in the second half and finished the evening with 69 yards on 22 carries and seven receptions for 55 yards.

    As a runner, Booker is more of a slasher. He has quickness, vision and athleticism. He isn’t overly big or powerful, so he shouldn’t be expected to break a lot of tackles and pick up lots of yards after contact in the NFL. Booker has the potential to be a third down-back as well. He looks more like a second-day prospect in a similar mold of the Lions’ Ameer Abdullah or the Browns’ Duke Johnson.

  • Utah defensive tackle Lowell Lotulelei is the younger brother of Carolina Panther Star Lotulelei, and like his older brother, Lowell Lotulelei is a strong defensive tackle. However unlike Star, Lowell Lotulelei isn’t as explosive and didn’t show the potential to make an impact in the pass rush. He had a quality performance in the season opener as a run defender though. Lotulelei had a number of tough run stops while holding his gap at the point of attack.

    On one fourth-quarter fourth down, Lotulelei powered his way into the backfield to set up a tackle for a loss. He definitely has some nose tackle potential for the next level, but he doesn’t look like a high first-round talent like his older brother.

  • One draft-eligible player who really stood out in this game was Michigan junior tight end Jake Butt. He was consistently getting open down the seam in the middle of the field while showing good hands with size. The 6-foot-6, 248-pound Butt caught eight passes for 93 yards and a touchdown against Utah. He looked like a natural in Jim Harbaugh’s offense and definitely is a player to keep an eye on this season.

    South Carolina 17, North Carolina 13
  • The top prospect in this game was South Carolina junior wide receiver Pharoh Cooper. At the start of the second quarter, he got separation on a quick slant to catch a short touchdown pass. Cooper moved the chains a short time later with a 27-yard run on a shallow cross, but his size limitations were seen on a fade pass to the corner of the end zone.

    South Carolina struggled with a new quarterback, and as a result, Cooper had only three receptions for 45 yards. He showed some skills as a route-runner to get separation and pick up yards after the catch, but this tape made him look more like a slot receiver for the NFL.

  • Gamecocks senior tackle Brandon Shell was a right tackle before moving to the left side this season as the replacement for Corey Robinson. Shell had a decent game and showed some movement in the ground game. Based off this first game, it doesn’t look like he has the feet for left tackle in the NFL. Shell should be a right tackle or guard, and probably is more of a mid-rounder.

  • Some analysts have North Carolina’s Landon Turner as one of the top guards. He was solid in this season debut, though he started off sloppily. Turner went on to open more running lanes as the game progressed. He opened a few good holes for chunk runs, but also came close to being beaten for a sack. Turner has athleticism and quickness on the inside, but he looks more like a zone blocker for the NFL. Turner has some punch, but isn’t a true bull in the ground game.

  • South Carolina linebacker Skai Moore is a productive player who will have to move to safety in the NFL unless he gets much bigger. Moore got his season started well by killing the Tar Heels’ first drive when he made his eighth career interception in the end zone. He dropped into coverage and had the ball thrown right to him. Late in the fourth quarter, nearly the exact play happened again when Moore had a pass float right to him in the end zone on a fourth-and-goal. Aside from those splash plays, Moore was active against North Carolina. He showed NFL evaluators that he has some good hands.


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