The Watcher returns to oversee a wonderful weekend of college football.
His all-seeing ways concentrate on the juicy match-ups seen at the Red River Shootout, Stanford v. Oregon, and Miami in Death Valley.
Head Scout Brent Sobleski channels his inner omnipotent being to bring you just some of the observations made from the past weekend’s games.
Texas may be the most talented defense top to bottom in the nation. So, it must be maddening for ‘Horn fans to see opponents seemingly run roughshod over their team and can now be counted amongst the unranked masses. A struggling UCLA spotted 34 points by using the pistol to overrun a stunned Texas squad. Oklahoma had their way offensively early in the Red River Shootout. It is somewhat surprising considering there is multiple NFL caliber talents at every level of the unit.
Defensive lineman Sam Acho has become this year’s focal point of opposing offenses. Despite a similar physical profile to former end prospects, Brian Orakpo and Sergio Kindle, at 6-feet-3-inches tall and 260 pounds; Acho plays and is used differently within Defensive Coordinator’s Will Muschamp’s scheme.
The senior does not present the same type of explosion as the previously stated edge rushers. Against the Sooners the team came out in a three man front which counted S. Acho among its five techniques instead of standing from a two point predominantly rushing the passer. A large reason as to why pertains to Acho being better than those already mentioned, and those currently on his unit, against the run. He plays with good leverage, shoots his hands, gets extension, works his way laterally down the line, and is tougher to move than the rest of his undersized unit mates as evidenced by eating up multiple double teams.
A downfall of this two gap approach is seeing Acho underutilized as a rusher. He was most often seen slow playing the run in a read and react fashion. Texas even likes to move him inside to defensive tackle on obvious passing downs. It hampered his play for three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, Acho was unleashed to a degree. After sitting back and allowing another offense to pick them apart, Muschamp went in a different direction attempting to slow down Oklahoma’s impressive quick hit offense and rattled their talented young signal caller, Landry Jones.
Acho was able to garner multiple pressures from both the defensive tackle and end spots finally registering a quarterback sack on the first play in the fourth quarter via a simple speed rush off the right side of the defense. Inside, the defender used his hands well to avoid being overcome by bigger offensive lineman. Outside, his rush was inconsistent based on the defensive scheme but came alive when asked to do so.
Upon reviewing the Oklahoma tape, Sam Acho is not the presence which dictates the type of attention needed from an NFL caliber edge rusher. With that said he could be a valuable asset as both a versatile defender with talent and a locker room presence. It should be noted the upperclassman is an outstanding student with top notch character which many NFL teams shall look favorably.
On the day the most impressive Longhorn, if not simply the most active, was the little brother of Sam Acho, Emmanuel Acho. Emmanuel fits the role his brother was likely expected to play as the edge setter on the strong side of the defense from a two point stance.
Not possessing quite the same size as big brother, Emmanuel is about an inch shorter and twenty pounds lighter. But the linebacker clearly makes up what he lacks in size with athleticism and hustle.
Throughout the afternoon, the junior was seen effectively stacking and shedding blockers and always flying around the football to make plays. He can drop back in coverage as well, but is rarely used as a pass rusher.
As Texas football progresses into next season and the Sam backer grows physically, Emmanuel Acho will quickly be on the tip of the tongue of every opponent and scout.
Keenan Robinson is another very athletic junior linebacker along the second level, but must learn to play more disciplined arriving at the football with proper angles and filling his gap responsibilities from the weakside.
In the secondary the Longhorns have three NFL caliber cornerbacks. At times it is hard to decipher which one is which, but as one watches their play trends begin to appear. Aaron Williams is the most talented of the three displaying the best all around game: a willing tackler, good locating the football in the air, and runs well with assignments. Chykie Brown is the most physical of the lot. He loved to jam Sooner targets at the line of scrimmage using his long reach and size, but struggled when asked to open up his hips and readjust to routes. Curtis Brown had his issues due mainly to a lack of foot speed and recovery ability. Cu.Brown was beaten over the top on multiple occasions. Each will find a home in the professional ranks next year, but the talent between the three is starting to separate.
It should be noted quickly, Texas running back D.J. Monroe displayed unbelievable speed and burst on the team’s initial touchdown gallop. The smallish runner was a former track star in high school, and his speed pops off the film.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma has a feared defender as well. Jeremy Beal was more of a presence rushing the passer for the Sooners than his Texas counterparts.
Unlike the aforementioned S. Acho, Beal did show the ability to bend the edge getting to the quarterback. This defensive end consistently used his hands to swat opposing offensive linemen. He effectively ripped underneath numerous times. And the senior displayed the body lean essential to really get underneath blockers and shorten the porch.
Consistency during the Shootout became a concern while watching Beal. Backside pursuit was generally non-existent. Once stymied after initial blow, the end would shut down his pass rush and simply look in the backfield hoping to knock down a pass. Basically, if Beal was not directly involved in a play, his motor would shut down. If he was involved, he was tough to block. But it should be noted as a concern regarding a prospect with potential first round ability.
Moving on past one highly anticipated matchup into the ranks of another, the Oregon Ducks flew past Stanford Saturday evening to the dismay of Cardinal Coach Jim Harbaugh and his top notch quarterback prospect, Andrew Luck.
Watching college football intently the past two weekends and grading out the top NFL quarterback prospects, both Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett fell flat in their marquee matchups of their respective seasons.
Luck was no different.
Initially, the sophomore signal caller appeared poised and in complete control. It is obvious, in stretches, as to why so many believe he is the one elite quarterback prospect in this upcoming draft class.
The Stanford product manipulates safeties, quickly works through his progression, hits receivers in stride, and spins the football very well. He is also quite athletic and mobile while possessing prototypical size (6-feet-4-inches tall and 235 pounds).
All these factor favorably into becoming a top quarterback prospect, potentially the number one overall selection, and being able to make the transition from one level to the next.
When discussing Luck three week ago, it was mentioned he has some issues with technique; particularly distributing his weight properly threw his throwing motion. It is still a concern, and it appears to effect his arm strength at times. As a result, his deep passes tended to float.
Two drafts ago Mark Sanchez became the apple of the NFL’s eye as the top quarterback prospect in a weak draft class. Sanchez was perceived to have arm strength issues. What seperated the USC product was his ability to explode through his hips and really deliver the football despite average arm strength.
Luck does not have the same type of hip turn as a Sanchez, which can actually be construed as a positive. Nor does he display ample arm speed delivering the football.
The things mentioned regarding his game previously, and again today, are correctable. Timing, accuracy, and pocket presence, all traits he does possess, are not.
The biggest concern leaving the game against Oregon is twofold. The Ducks were able to apply pressure, Luck became rattled, and forced some ill-advised throws. Also, the inability of the perceived best quarterback in the nation to bring his team back after momentum swung inversely. These are the areas of his game which will need greater scrutiny as the season progresses.
Snapping the ball to Luck is one of the best pivots in the nation, Chase Beeler. Although an afterthought entering the season due to physical limitations at a listed 6-feet-3-inches tall and 285 pounds; Beeler is the type of center that can find a way into the the NFL. He is technically sound, firing off the ball with quick hands and leverage. A three year starter, two at center, give him experience leading the offensive line and making calls. Beeler is the leader of a nasty and pilemoving offensive line often dubbed the best in the country.
Fighting off Stanford’s hogs all evening was Oregon middle linebacker Casey Matthews. Another in a long line of great football lineage, this incarnation is not the presence his father or brother once were along the second line of defense. Against Stanford mixed results became present.
When allowed to roam free, Matthews played down hill aggressively slashing through his gap responsbilities making tackles. When asked to take on blockers, he was overwhelmed and overmatched. One play in particular stuck out as Stanfords highly rated fullback, Owen Marecic, rudely deposited the Mike backer on his behind during an isolation play.
Matthews is a solid football player but appears limited in his abilities as an NFL prospect.
Entering the season TFY Draft Insider graded redshirt sophomore guard Carson York as the top prospect currently eligible within the Ducks’ roster. Upon further review the grade was certainly warranted. York consistently plays with a low pad level. He is quite athletic, nimbly moving laterally with ease. He gets extension upon contact. A potentially premiere zone blocking prospect down the road for teams which employ a particular scheme and require interior linemen. York’s one concern will be improving on functunal playing strength as his career commences. Because of the Oregon’s predominant zone read system, the guard is not required to blow defenders off the football. Against Stanford’s physical play, York often stopped his feet upon contact and attempted to wall off his assignments instead of really uprooting them. At 6-feet-5-inches tall and a listed 286 pounds, the interior blocker still has time to grown into his frame and improve on all areas of his game.
Time to finish where the weekend viewing began in Death Valley, as the Miami Hurricanes defeated Clemson 30-21.
Defensive end Allen Bailey has worked his way into almost every top ten overall conversation. And the discussion has clearly been validated. Bailey played lights out against Ohio State earlier in the year and has gotten better week in and week out. Physically, Bailey is a legitimate top ten talent, which is without question. At 6-feet-4-inches tall and 285 pounds, the latest Miami defensive stud has the athleticism to effectively play defensive end and the strength to play inside at tackle. His long arms and quickness make him hard to handle for either guard or offensive tackle.
Quickly diving into this game, two bad habits were presented by Bailey. First is a propensity to try and shoot the gap and then backdoor running plays instead of correctly working across the face of a blocker and maintaining gap control. Second is losing contain, at times, when playing outside on the end. Neither are issues with ability, but rather mental breakdowns. Small gripes while nitpicking a top talent.
Sticking with the theme of highly athletic defender, junior Sean Spence is arguably the most athletic linebacker in the nation and runs better than some safties and cornerbacks. He is overly aggressive playing downhill, moves well enough to cover tight ends and even some receivers in the slot, but will overrun his responsibilities and get caught out of position.
Clemson’s dynamic defensive duo, Da’Quan Bowers and Jarvis Jenkins were not much of a presence, and disappointed in their play. Bowers struggled against talented and experienced offense tackles, while Jenkins played up field far too much generally neutralized in his gap assignments.
That is it for another week!
Remember…the eye in the sky does not like, and the Watcher sees all.