– As always, this piece shall start with the previous Thursday night contest as it is a national event everyone can watch and critique. Concentration was centered on West Virginia right tackle Selvish Capers after watching his disappointing performance against Auburn less than a week earlier. Against Colorado this offensive lineman did not face the same level of competition off the edge, but did look better from a technical aspect. Generally, Capers kept a nice base and moved well in his pass set. There was an instance or two when he did get a little wide with his initial kick step, thus put him off balance slightly. But with no pass rushing threat, even this small snafu could not be exploited. Capers also looked better in the run game. In one particular instance the strongside blocker drove a defender into his sideline.
– Over the past two weeks one Mountaineer defender has continued to impress. Junior Chris Neild has been a rock in the middle of the team’s 3-3-5 defensive schemes. This nose tackle does not possess elite size at only 6-feet-2-inches tall and 298 pounds, but he plays with great leverage and technique. Particularly, Neild uses his hands very well as a 0 technique, controlling opposing centers, and working his way down the line, owning his gap responsibilities.
– Lately, Cincinnati’s Tony Pike has garnered plenty of attention as one of the top quarterback prospects in this upcoming draft. This past weekend the BearCats tangled with local rival Miami of Ohio. This should have been a contest where Pike shined against lesser competition. His overall statistics would indicate a solid performance with 270 yards passing and 2 touchdowns. Unfortunately, potential holes in his skill set became obvious:
1. Pike has a slow and deliberate release. Against NFL coverage this will give cover men extra time to break on his throws.
2. This senior does not spin the football particularly well. His rotations were limited and weather may have had somewhat of an impact with windy conditions, but all the more reason this deficiency becomes more glaring.
3. Because of Coach Kelly’s offense, Pike was rarely asked to drive the football downfield or to ever get under center other than in running situations. It was hard to ascertain how strong his arm truly is or how accurate this quarterback can be throwing into small constricting windows.
When looking purely at Pike’s combination of size, athleticism, and production; it would indicate he is legitimately an elite prospect. Upon further review, at least in this game scenario, he looked far from that company.
– Meanwhile, Miami’s top prospect, linebacker Caleb Bostic, has now missed multiple games due to an unspecified injury, which is worrisome because of his already long history. Also, Miami of Ohio entered this season with their own solid quarterback prospect Daniel Raudabaugh. The senior was eventually benched after the team’s woeful offensive start in favor of redshirt freshman signal caller Zac Dyser.
– Arkansas and Texas A&M christened the new Cowboys’ stadium with a new rivalry which will commence in the venue over the next decade. The spectacle of redshirt sophomore quarterback Ryan Mallett was the main attraction (outside of that unbelievable mid field high definition screen). Once again, this particular signal caller proved erratic. Mallett is a big strong armed prospect who can easily make all the throws. Yet, he is very streaky and his touch goes at times. His stat line was still very impressive, but he did miss some wide open receivers early because of improper trajectories placed on his tosses. His play is quite reminiscent previously seen by current Cleveland Brown and former Oregon State Beaver Derek Anderson. Mallett once again appeared rattled by pressure as well and still lacks the where with all to understand where the blitz is coming at all times.
– Applying that pressure may be the best player in the country; no one really discusses…Von Miller. This junior is absolutely terrorizing opposing offenses and has already notched 9 sacks at this early point in the season Last year Miller served as a back-up outside linebacker, but his coaching staff thought he would be better served rushing off the edge. Obviously, they were right. Miller is a bit slender at a listed 240 pounds on a 6-feet-3-inch frame. He does have great burst off the ball and has shown multiple pass rush moves. He did appear to rely a little heavily on the inside move against Arkansas, but that could be something he saw as a weakness against his immediate competition.
– Along Arkansas’ offensive line, one has to watch closely as they line up according to strength call. Guard Mitch Petrus is the best of the bunch and a former fullback. His overall athletic ability has looked solid early in the season. What also seems to be emerging though is some stiffness in his hips. Too often Petrus appears to bending more at the waist, instead of dropping those hips and really driving defenders off the ball with good power steps. Something to keep an eye on as the season progresses, if Petrus is to even be considered as a top interior prospect.
– Whereas Idaho guard Mike Iupati has continued to look solid all around as the season really kicks into gear. This massive line prospect consistently fires off the ball and overwhelms opponents at the point of attack. Two nitpicks have surfaced to a degree. First is arm extension, which Iupati is inconsistent. Second is this guard’s ability to effectively locate assignments while moving in space. Otherwise, this has been a dominant performer early in this campaign.
– Idaho faced Mountain West opponent, Colorado State. The Rams have the most experienced offensive line in the nation and a pair of potential NFL guards. Shelley Smith and Adrian Martinez helped dominate the line of scrimmage early as CSU gained a large lead only to see it disappear late. Both linemen are similar in regards to their experience and marginal size hovering around 300 pounds. Both are asked to pull and move a lot in their team’s system. Smith, in particular, had an outstanding contest. He is the more athletic of the two and does a fine job blocking at the second level and out in space. Smith is a good technician, especially in his short set. He even had a couple of crushing down blocks against smaller Idaho defenders. Martinez is the slightly bigger of this duo; as such he is stronger at the point of attack. More of a straight line blocker who fires off the ball low with a flat back. Colorado State’s offensive line is good enough to keep them in every game, while possessing legitimate NFL talent throughout the unit.
– Surely everyone has waiting on their update from the Coal Bowl as well. This inaugural event pit the California PA Vulcans against the Indiana PA Crimson Hawks. Wide receiver A.J. Jackson has continued to torch this lower level of competition with three more touchdown receptions and over one hundred yards receiving. This 6-feet-5-inch target’s output is certainly impressive considering Indiana possesses one of the most highly rated cover men in the nation, Akwa Owusa-Ansah. Owusa-Ansah did make his presence known as well with a 53 yard punt return for a touchdown.
– As an added bonus, since this piece was delayed a day, a quick peek at last night’s rain soaked showdown in Columbia, Missouri. The game itself should have been renamed the Ndamukong Suh show. Already considered an elite prospect, his talents were on display for all to see. This Nebraska product notched two sacks, a forced fumble, an interception, multiple quarterback pressures, and few crushing tackles. This was all accomplished against veteran guard Kurtis Gregory who is greatly experienced in the trench warfare seen in the Big Twelve. His combination of pure brute strength, quickness off the snap, and hustle is astounding. Suh completely controls opposing offensive lineman with his Herculean upper body strength. Once he has said control, the defensive tackle locates the football and sheds blocks with ease. Always disciplined within the defensive scheme when this versatile defensive lineman is allowed to pin his ears back, his first step off the lines of scrimmage is explosive and usually catches opposing offensive linemen off guard. All the while the defender is simultaneously displaying multiple pass rush moves. Though clearly the bull rush is his pet move. Suh just drives opponents into the ground when tackling as he did quite well when locating screens. This 300 pound man was also seen dropping back in coverage multiple times. Not sure there really is enough to say about his performance in last night’s critical contest for the Nebraska Cornhuskers against division rival Missouri.