Illness has befallen the Watcher, at a crucial point in his college football season.
This will not prevent him or his surrogate, Head Scout Brent Sobleski, from instilling a few notes pertaining to last weekend’s games of consequence.
Ohio State/Indiana, Clemson/UNC, and LSU/Florida are on tap.
Terrelle Pryor has been the object of many, including the Watcher’s, disdain.
Against a potentially dangerous Indiana program, maturation at the quarterback position was seen. And the athletic quarterback’s growth has not been viewed on a game-by-game basis, but play-by-play.
In the first quarter, the signal caller many have come to expect was seen. Pryor was completing passes but to stationary targets often waiting for the football to arrive. When targets were on the move, they had to slow down and/or adjust to his passes.
During the second installment, a near breakthrough seemingly occurred after the aforementioned play.
Pryor caught running back, lined up as a wide receiver, Brandon Saine streaking 60 yards down field. The quarterback hit the versatile runner in stride as he could not pull fully away from his coverage. It was a big time throw perfectly placed.
Through the rest of the game, Pryor seemed to relax, once the decision was in hand, and became much more natural as the Buckeyes continued to work on their passing attack.
Pryor may have a long to go to become a legit NFL quarterback prospect, but there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel. Now, if he can appear more like the quarterback later in the game as opposed to earlier in the game, that type of needed consistency will be the key long term.
Up front highly rated guard prospect Justin Boren displayed chinks his in perspective armor. The powerful senior blocker can absolutely control and dominate defenders when he gets his big meaty paws on his assignments. Once within Boren’s grasp, a defender does not shed his block. But if they get him moving laterally, or ask the left guard to adjust quickly, he is then at a severe disadvantage. Boren is quite stiff in the hips and has great troubles moving outside of his small space.
Pryor’s counterpart, Ben Chappell, was coming off a fantastic week against Michigan. His 45/64, 70% completions, 480 yard, three touchdown performance turned a lot of heads within the scouting community.
Unfortunately, the Indiana quarterback could not even come close to replicating said performance. Instead, he laid an egg against a very talented Ohio State defense.
Even still there is something to be said about an accurate quarterback with prototype size…until one watches his game a little closer.
Chappell is very deliberate in his reads and progressions. He is slow to work his way through each target and his release only exacerbates the problem.
He is also very inconsistent in his release. At times Chappell rips passes clean and quick over the top. Others, his motion is quite elongated and the ball drops below his waistline as he winds into his motion.
Furthermore, the Hoosier senior has trouble completing passes outside the numbers and becomes rattled easily when pressure is applied by the defense.
Chappell is a signal caller with some upside but will require a ton of one-on-one work with a NFL quarterback’s coach.
Granted, it would have helped if top target, and the Big Ten’s leading receiver, Damario Belcher did not drop multiple passes. But he did. And Tandon Doss as bottled up throughout the contest.
The defense coming at Chappell, came in waves, and would not stop.
Despite highly regarded names such as Cameron Heyward, Ross Homan, Brian Rolle, etc., Nathan Williams was the best defensive player on the field this day.
It was somewhat surprising to see the hybrid end appear so fluid in the hips with his ability to drop off the line, taking on blocks, and even get to the quarterback.
Multiple times Williams was able to stack and shed blockers with authority. He showed an effective spin move and great hustle as well.
Williams displayed a solid all around effort that will open some eyes regarding the 6-feet-3-inches tall, 260 pound defender.
Heyward basically displayed what he already is, a dominant top talent. So it should have come as no surprise his ability to reestablish the line of scrimmage on a consistent basis against a banged up Indiana offensive line.
The versatile defender is very strong at the point of attack, shows tremendous hand strength, some burst off the edge as a pass rusher, and a solid motor. Nothing new regarding one of the nation’s top prospects.
Cornerback Chimdi Chekwa has improved his stock throughout the season with good efforts, particularly against Miami. Indiana’s top trio of receivers were generally shut down in this contest as well. But despite all of Chekwa’s natural ability, he is still inconsistent in his technique, particularly with his jam at the line. The senior should be able to redirect opposing wide receivers more regularly instead of continually giving up the inside route.
Last week the Watcher stated this about Clemson’s talented defensive end Da’Quan Bowers (and teammate Jarvis Jenkins)…
Clemson’s dynamic defensive duo, Da’Quan Bowers and Jarvis Jenkins were not much of a presence, and disappointed in their play.
Bowers was so dominant against North Carolina a week later; we had to go back to the Miami tape to make sure we were not seeing things against Miami.
Someone apparently lit a fire under Bowers entering this week against the TarHeels. And the junior defender displayed the type of talent which legitimately brings him into the top 15 overall conversation.
Bowers’ burst off the edge was incredible. He was more than any North Carolina lineman could handle. His body lean and leverage was tremendous. He was able to take on lineman with one arm, thus making himself a smaller target, and still drive them back into their quarterback, T.J. Yates. He accounted for multiple sacks.
Against the run Bowers was also special. He shot his hands, got extension, played with leverage, worked his way laterally down the line without turning his shoulders, and was basically more than anyone could handle on every play.
The concern is simple after seeing an effort of this caliber. What was the top knock on Bowers entering this season?
Jenkins’ play did not rival his teammates, but some of the aspects seen in his play as a junior presented themselves.
The 6-feet-4-inches tall and 315 pound interior defender has the tools to be tremendous two gap tackle.
He eats up blocks, uses his hands well, keeps those shoulders from being pushed down the line, and even shows a nice first step off the snap.
Meanwhile along the backline of both Clemson’s and North Carolina’s defenses, they were rarely tested. Neither team really showed the ability to push the ball downfield. Thus two top safety prospects, both of whom display questionable coverage ability, were not able to dispel said notion.
DeAndre McDaniel of Clemson was playing downhill with authority lighting up TarHeel ball carriers.
North Carolina’s Deunta Williams returned from suspension with vigor and excitable play. He was seen most often up on the box, even lining up as a pseudo-strongside linebacker. Early in the game, it was impressive to see him Williams scraping from the backside to make some early tackles.
The heralded linebacker Bruce Carter was a presence but did not make much of an impact. The issue, in part, was the fact the senior suffered an apparent shoulder injury playing special teams early in the game. It limited him as a tackler later in the game.
Carter’s athleticism is readily apparent, even with the mitigating circumstances. He runs well sideline to sideline. He drops in coverage with ease. North Carolina’s staff even uses him cover the slot.
It was interesting to see Carter take on a trap without even properly bracing for impact, yet still hold strong multiple times (even with a bum shoulder). The lineman would bend Carter back, but never uproot him.
Still, the dynamic plays from this type of athlete along the second line never presented itself.
Offensively, North Carolina has basically built their unit around their top receiver, tight end Zack Pianalto. The tight end is a reliable target, but does have issues separating from defenders. And those in coverage knew it, sitting back, never being truly threatened deep. As a result, Pianalto only registered one reception for six years against Clemson.
The last game to discuss quickly is LSU’s squeeker past Florida, as the Tigers found a way to win once again.
It would be easy to mention Terrance Toliver’s effort as he was the key in the victory. The 6-feet-5- inch receiver finally showed some of the dominant ability many have waited for a long time.
The very best player in the game was clearly LSU defensive tackle Drake Nevis. Nevis was an absolute force throughout the contest. The explosive 290 pounder is a potentially dominant three technique in an NFL team’s 43 scheme.
One concern is being overwhelmed by opposing blockers. In once particular instance, Nevis was almost bent backward by a much larger Florida guard.
A lineman who did not dominate against Nevis and LSU’s front line was Michael Pouncey. The Florida guard-turned-center is still having his struggles. Snaps are getting better. But the powerful straight line blocker is having issues stepping frontside to backside from the pivot. He did not show the feel, particularly on Nevis’ early almost safety, to pick up stunts and blitzes. The experiment, along the middle of the line, will very likely end once an NFL team selects this Pouncey and plants him at his more natural position.