I’ve just completed the Boise State vs Georgia game and still have LSU vs Oregon to watch this afternoon. Tonight I’ll be watching West Virginia (Bruce Irvin) vs Marshall (Vinny Curry). I also had the opportunity to watch USC-Minnesota and have Baylor’s victory over TCU saved on tape, but you can check out Robert Griffin’s performance in the video above thanks to JMPasq. If Griffin can perform as he did in that game regularly this season, he’ll warrant greater consideration than the late ground rade I’d previously offered. Expect some thoughts on WVU vs Marshall later tonight or tomorrow.
A lot of our conversations this season will be based around quarterbacks considering the Seahawks starting situation. I don’t want to linger exclusively on the position and certainly we’ll cover a lot of different areas (particularly on defense) but I do want to start by discussing a couple of QB’s that were on show this weekend.
The USC Trojans slipped past Minnesota 19-17 and almost lost the game thanks to bizarre policy on two-point conversions and a truly horrible second half performance. It was such a far cry from the first two quarters, where Matt Barkley was sensational and Minnesota couldn’t get close to sophomore receiver Robert Woods.
Barkley reaffirmed my belief that there’s very little between him and fellow quarterback stand-out Andrew Luck. His control of play action was impressive, he was extremely efficient and could’ve had much more joy than the school-record 34 completions he compiled. All three passing touchdowns flashed different aspects of his game… The first a brilliant pump fake and fade to the back of the end zone for Woods, throwing the defensive back into confusion/embarrassment. The second score was a perfectly thrown deep ball from the 50-yard line – faultless placement, velocity and timing. His third touchdown was a little more simple, but no less well executed as a quick slant on the money to the right hand side of the end zone.
Yet the most impressive play that stood out to me came in the second half when Barkley took a play action, snapped back around and in a split second sensed the inside pressure with a defensive end cutting inside and evading the guard. He side steps the rusher buying enough time to throw for a three-yard gain. In reality it was a 13-yard play, a lot of quarterbacks wouldn’t have been able to diagnose the rush so quickly after the snap/play action. To not only avoid the sack and subsequent big loss but to also turn it into a three-yard gain is the kind of play that pro-scouts will drool over almost as much as the 43-yard touchdown bomb.
The second half was chaotic – and I’d blame Lane Kiffin mostly – but USC didn’t run the ball well enough and allowed Minnesota back into a contest that looked over at half time. They went away from the combination that worked so well between Barkley-Woods (who had a record 17 receptions and looks every bit a future NFL talent) and the offensive line, which includes Ryan Kalil at left tackle, didn’t do a good enough job to allow the Trojans to play this one out.
Andrew Luck deserves a lot of the hype he receives, but it’s 1a and 1b with Barkley and I’m still not convinced that the USC quarterback doesn’t deserve to be 1a. Luck has the better team at this stage and is clearly being set up for a big tilt at the Heisman. He will be the #1 pick next year if he stays healthy, but even now it’s hard to see Barkley lasting much longer on the board after that.
A name to watch on defense for USC this year – DE Nick Perry. He was being touted for a big year in 2010 but injury hampered his progress. He looked good in this one and back at 100% health. If he continues in this form people will start talking about his NFL future again.
Thanks to JMPasq, we know have game tape to view of Barkley’s performance vs Minnesota:
I’ve been critical of Kellen Moore’s pro-future and after watching BSU vs Georgia, nothing has changed in that respect. I’ll qualify firstly that I have a lot of respect for Moore and Boise State. They’ve created a defense which ranks amongst the best in college football and a timing offense which creates almost a ‘slow death’ mentality, frustrating the life out of the opposition and controlling the clock. Moore is integral to the offense clicking – he’s a student of the game who appears to have excellent intangibles.
However, I maintain an UDFA grade for Moore for several reasons. The obvious problem is a lack of physical clout, which isn’t totally unexpected for a 6-0 quarterback weighing 190lbs. A lot of people love to point to Drew Brees when you talk about 6-0 quarterbacks, but Brees weighs a good 20lbs more than Moore and even as a physically weaker passer who has enjoyed massive success, he’s still much more capable than Moore.
Mechanically there are issues - such as the shot-put style throwing motion when trying to generate more velocity and the slightly slingy release which will cause problems at the next level due to his height. There’s a lot of short passes into the flat and dump offs in the Boise State system and Moore is very efficient as you’d expect in a high percentage pass offense. Yet in the first half he’s completed just 1-3 attempted passes of 15+ yards yet managed 7-8 of 0-15 yards to his left hand side. Of the three passes of +15 yards he’s thrown a bad interception, where Georgia actually managed to get some pressure in his face forcing a bad read throwing into a zone with four defenders and one receiver. The pass itself is lofted, floaty and easy for the right cornerback to come across and snatch.
I don’t expect Moore to make that pass under any circumstance, but he locked onto the receiver and when pressured his decision is to try and force it anyway. It shows what pressure can do – and he still had a good 2.5-3 seconds to make a decision before the linebacker rush. This is one of my biggest concerns with Moore. Last year Boise State gave up five sacks (in comparison, there were games last year where Jake Locker was sacked more than five times in a single game). Their quarterback enjoys, for the most part, one of the cleanest pockets in college football. This allows the timing offense to work – short passes, one quick read then checkdown, get the ball into the hands of your playmakers. When Moore isn’t afforded that time and level of comfort, the timing is thrown off. How will he react?
We only had 3-4 incidents in this game because Georgia were awful, but the interception was a major concern for me. On the first drive with pressure in his face he similarly almost threw a pick into triple coverage only for the DB to drop the ball. It’s easy to sit back and admire another completion of 7-8 yards from a clean pocket, but in the NFL even if Moore is playing for New England he’s not going to enjoy that kind of environment. Can he make 2-3 quick reads and drive a ball 10+ yards quickly? Is he going to lock on to receivers and try to force things, as we see here, when pressured? Can he feel basic pressure up the middle, buy time and make the right decision? Can he avoid locking on and attempting the throw as his bail out when the timing is thrown off?
I can’t really answer these questions without seeing it happen and considering Moore is physically weaker than even most back ups in the NFL, it’ll take a major leap off faith to expect a team to spend a on the player. I’m not saying someone won’t take the relatively low gamble in the later rounds, but it’s not a choice I would make personally.
For an alternative view, it’s worth noting SI.com’s Tony Pauline has given Moore an UDFA grade too. Evan Silva from Rotoworld also noted on twitter today, “QB Kellen Moore was measured on campus last year. He is 5-foot-11 5/8 and 195 pounds. He has free agent-only grades from NFL.”
As for Georgia, somebody should’ve thrown the towel in during the third quarter. Just an awful performance on both sides of the ball. Who is responsible for ranking them at #19 and Notre Dame #16?
What about the other quarterbacks? Logan Thomas made his first start for Virginia Tech in a blow out victory over Appalachian State, going 9-19 for 149 yards and two scores. Thomas is a wild card to keep an eye on – physically capable of having a big year on a decent VT team, but ultimately learning on the run as the new starter. Cam Newton picked things up quickly and ended up dominating for Auburn – I don’t expect Thomas to enjoy that level of success, but he’s someone worth monitoring this year.
Kirk Cousins had the expected easy day against Youngstown State going 18-22 for 222 yards and a score. Michigan State have a big opportunity to go unbeaten this year and win a Big-Ten title – that will help Cousins as he aims to become the top ranked senior passer. He reminds me a little of Kevin Kolb in terms of technique and has a chance to go in rounds 2-3 next April.
Andrew Luck was another quarterback who had it relatively easy, as Stanford smashed San Jose State at home. It wasn’t a perfect performance, recording 17-26 for 171 yards and two touchdowns. He added a further rushing touchdown.
Austin Davis just about managed a winning start for Southern Miss in difficult weather conditions against Louisiana Tech. Davis passed for 226 yards and an interception, while running for 51 more yards in a 19-17 victory thanks to a winning field goal with just over two minutes in the game. Special teams mistakes hurt the Golden Eagles on several occasions, but they survived and maintain hopes for an unbeaten season.
Landry Jones had a comfortable afternoon against Tulsa, going 35-47 for 375 yards and a touchdown. #1 ranked Oklahoma were barely tested in a 47-14 victory.
Guest Blogger Daniel recommended watching NC State QB Mike Glennon this season – he went 18-31 for 156 yards and a touchdown in a 43-21 win over Liberty. This was his first start, expect greater efficiency as the year progresses.
It was a strange day for South Carolina against ECU as Steve Spurrier chose not to start Stephen Garcia, watched his team limp out of the blocks and then decided to bring back their presumed starting QB to force a comeback victory. Despite all of the off-field issues, it’s clear Garcia offers the best opportunity for the Gamecocks to realise their potential this season. He had 110 yards passing, 56 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Star receiver AlshonJeffery had five catches for 92 yards and no scores. Brilliant sophomore running back Marcus Lattimore – an expected key player in the 2013 draft – had 145 total yards and three touchdowns.
Tyler Wilson had a nicestart to life as Ryan Mallett’s replacement in Arkansas. He dissected the Missouri State Bears to the tune of 260 yards and two touchdowns. It wasn’t good news for John Brantley though, who struggled in Charlie Weis’ simplified offense in Florida. Brantley went 21-30 for 229 yards, one touchdown and two picks against Florida Atlantic.
Quentin Coples had two sacks to start the season for UNC. A possible orthodox 5-technique at the next level, that’s a good start for someone with legit top-10 potential. Tar Heels wide out Dwight Jones equally had a great start – scoring twice in a nine-catch, 116-yard performance against James Madison. Jones will surprise a few people this year.
The defensive player of the week may be Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burflict. A legitimate first round talent, Burflict had three sacks against UC Davis.
A player I have a lot of time for that hasn’t received much national consideration is Logan Harrell (DT, Fresno State). He started 2011 with a sack in defeat to California – he had 10.5 sacks last season.
Mohamed Sanu (WR, Rutgers) registered seven catches for 68 yards and a touchdown against NC Central. Interestingly, he didn’t run the ball once – something he’s done regularly as a multi-threat playmaker.
Brandon Jenkins (DE, Florida State) and Jonathan Massaquoi (DE, Troy) both went sackless in week one.
Biletnikoff certainty Justin Blackmon had eight catches for 144 yards as Oklahoma State rolled past Louisiana-Lafayette. Quarterback Brandon Weeden threw three interceptions in the game.
Despite a bitterly disappointing defeat to South Florida, Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd had 12-catches for 154-yards and a pair of touchdowns. That’s a good start for a guy troubled by off-the-field issues.