As the 2009 collegiate season slowly escalates into the fever pitch of Bowl season, one TFY veteran scout will give his week by week impressions of what he has seen throughout the process. So as this new feature starts full swing, Brent Sobleski throws his first attempt into the pond only to see what ripples emanate. Come back each week to read about what you may not be seeing on the field.
– Last Thursday, two very talented ACC squads locked up for an early season inter-conference battle. Georgia Tech features top talents such as running back Jonathan Dwyer and defensive end Derrick Morgan. While watching these two particular prospects, questions can be raised despite their obvious talent. The system may hurt Dwyer to an extent. Rarely is he asked to run outside the tackle. He is not being asked to survey a defense while running behind any lead blocking. And his contribution to the little passing attack Tech possesses is non-existent. Jonathan Dywer may be a big time runner and a bell cow, but he is far from the complete package. Burnett on the other hand had a standout game. This defensive end was dominant through the first half showing a great first step, the ability to dip the shoulder, turn the edge, close on the quarterback, and hustle on every single play. The Rambling Wreck defender certainly wore down as the game went along and his play was no where near as stellar in the fourth quarter as it was the first. Both played well but now have questions risen about certain areas of their games.
– On the opposite of the aforementioned contest is where Clemson resides. Defensively it is a bit of a wash to really evaluate any prospect when facing the triple option attack. The offense then dictates the speed of play and never allows defensive talents to really shine. Even with that stated Ricky Sapp looked solid playing predominantly from a two point stance instead of traditionally having his hand in the dirt. Offensively, if any NFL team wants speed, Death Valley is a must stop. Both running back C.J. Spiller and wide receiver Jacoby Ford possesses truly elite speed and explosive. Clemson almost came back and ran away with the game because of these weapons. When looking at both talents closely, they both appear to be situational players at the next level. Spiller will never be able to handle the full load and instead prefers to constantly run outside instead of lowing his pads every once in a while getting the tough yards. Ford is small and will likely be well served as a slot target.
– The nationally televised Friday night contest featured a stunning upset by Toledo over the Big Twelve’s Colorado Buffalos. Offensively, the Rockets have been clicking on all cylinders. Senior quarterback Aaron Opelt was named the offensive national player of the week by one publication. Entering this season he did not receiver a grade from any of the NFL publications, but this sidearmed gunslinger has been lighting up scoreboards. His biggest deficiency may lie in the fact; this signal caller has trouble throwing the ball to the left side of the field with any accuracy. Because of his off kilter delivery, Opelt has trouble throwing across his body. This will definitely hurt him down the road. This unit has also been helped by the play of DaJuane Collins who may not be the biggest or fastest tailback, but he has nifty feet and always finds a way to pick his way through a hole. Against Ohio State this upcoming weekend, the Rockets will be helped greatly by the return of 6-feet-5-inches tall and productive receiving target Stephen Williams.
– Colorado, on the other hand, is a very young squad who has not been able to click yet on either side of the ball. Their one prime prospect of interest is their junior left tackle Nate Solder. A former tight end, this blindside protector is very athletic. Clearly, he needs to develop physically and with his technique. While Solder basically shut down any and all comers against a much smaller Toledo defensive line, too often he was seen leaning on his blocking assignments because he does not play with a good pad level. After his initial power step, his first inkling seemed to raise straight up instead of keeping good balance.
– The big upset of the weekend came at the hands of the Chippewas of Central Michigan over Michigan State. Quarterback Dan LeFevour is one of the most dangerous and productive signal callers in the nation. As much as his feet help this dual threat, they hurt him as well. A former high school running back, LeFevour really drives through the ball when he has his feet planted properly. When things begin to break down, and he has to scramble, his lack of arm strength becomes apparent as balls flutter inaccurately about the field. Even so, applause is deserved for a talent who was able to pass Byron Leftwich’s all time yards from scrimmage record in the MAC.
– LeFevour is spoiled to a degree because he possesses one of the best wide receiver tandems in the country. Antonio Smith is arguably the best player in his conference, but because he is a junior, he has not gotten the attention. This target has wonderful hands, catching two crucial balls one handed. He also is one of the most explosive players in the entire country as a returner as well. Smith’s athleticism, speed, and run after the catch ability will make him a prime slot receiver at the next level. While Bryan Anderson fits the opposite mold of a receiver: a large but slower possession receiver. Another 6-feet-5-inches tall target, Anderson highpoints the football exceptionally well. He will double catch some balls at times, but overall he has always been a reliable target for his record setting quarterback.
– Over on the west coast, a young and talented Washington program played host to the Idaho. Jake Locker is the most interesting talent on the field and is slowly developing nicely in Steve Sarkisian’s pro style offense. But the name which caught the eye most was the Vandals’ Mike Iupati. This interior blocker is very strong at the point of attack. He uses his power steps well, really driving off defenders. He displays strong hands to control opponents. He has the makings of a top NFL guard in the right system. A system not requiring Iupati to move in space often, because he does struggle in this area and will play a little high at times.
– Sidenote: The Huskies have a few other talents to watch closely down the road. The natural running of redshirt freshman Chris Polk can slash defenses as he showed against LSU earlier in the year. Also, sophomore Alameda Ta’amu has the makings of a potential pure nose tackle at 348 pounds a good motor.
– Another intriguing battle pitted UCLA against Lane Kiffin’s new look Tennessee Volunteers. These are two teams which are very similar in their makeup as both are still young and trying to develop their identities. One senior in particular caught the eye with his play, Chris Scott of Tennessee. Their offense was able to get much going mainly due to mental mistakes, but Scott was a piledriver at left tackle. A mammoth blindside protector at over 340 pounds, Scott lacks the feet to continue to play left tackle in the National Football league. His versatility though will make him valuable as he eventually fits into his professional position of guard. His play is reminiscent of a Floyd “Porkchop” Womack.
– Of course the attention of the nation was turned towards the highlight game of last weekend’s schedule, USC versus The Ohio State University. The Buckeyes may have come up short but the play of their lines should be encouraging after their dismal start to the season against Navy. Justin Boren is a nasty interior blocker who can dominate opponents at the point of attack. The rest of his linemates are average talents, but Boren is talent to keep an eye on being only a junior. Defensive number 72 gave USC’s talented offensive interior fits. The name of said defensive tackle? Dexter Larimore a junior for the Buckeyes who was a bull in the middle. He consistently reestablished the line of scrimmage and demanded double teams. He played much larger than his listed 300 pounds.
Well that ends our first installment with particular players who popped off the film. Hope to see everyone back next week!