Week one thoughts: Barkley, Moore and the rest

September 3rd, 2011 | Written by Rob Staton

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.

***UPDATE***

Thanks to JMPasq, we know have game tape to view of Barkley’s performance vs Minnesota:

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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?

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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.

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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.

28 Responses to “Week one thoughts: Barkley, Moore and the rest”

  1. Aaron says:

    Hey there Rob. I was just wondering of you can have a look on the Tide’s defensive line, especially JUCO juniors Quentin Dial and Jesse Williams after the whole defence allowed 90 yards on Kent.

    Also how did Austin Davis go this week?

    • Rob says:

      Hey Aaron – I’ll have a lot of opportunities to watch ‘Bama this year so I’ll take a look at the two guys you mentioned. I’ve listed Davis stat-line in the updated blog post.

  2. Ben H says:

    Is Bo Levi Mitchell a pro prospect? My goodness he was phenomenal against the Dawgs.

  3. Don says:

    Rob,

    Are you still as down on Kellen Moore as you were last year? He was incredibly accurate against Georgia.

    • Rob says:

      Hi Don – unfortunately yes because the issues with Moore are unlikely to be addressed this year. I’ve written up my thoughts on Moore in greater detail in the updated post above.

  4. Ralphy says:

    Weeden also passed for 388 yards and three TDs.

    • Rob says:

      Against Louisiana Lafayette. I understand you like Weeden Ralphy, but the yardage was expected in a blow out easy win – the picks were not.

  5. Carl Shinyama says:

    Nice to see that someone such as yourself thinks as highly as Barkley as I do, putting him on the same tier as Luck. (I also put Landry Jones there, too, and I even feel that there’s a chance that he could be the #1 QB chosen.)

    I do think the timing, velocity, and placement could be a smidge better on the second touchdown, but only just. That was a pro-level throw that he made.

  6. Troy says:

    Hey Rob, what is your opinion of Stephen Garcia? I already asked this question to Daniel and he had some great feedback, but I’m curious what your thoughts are.

    • Rob says:

      From a talent point of view he’s in that R 5-7 region for me but with a chance of becoming a very solid back-up down the line. However, the off field problems will make him undraftable I imagine. Decent overall skill set, not particularly spectacular in anyway. Not limited in the way some other QB’s are.

  7. Colin says:

    Barkley made some real nice throws. Lots of short passes and screens (could’ve swore I was watching OU not USC) but when they went down the field Barkley didn’t miss much. Kid looks golden.

    Didn’t like how he threw off his back foot a few times and missed a couple of throws, but other than that, he was great.

    P.S, Robert Woods is insanely talented.

    • Luke Peters says:

      colin, I’ve told you that’s why Barkley looks like a Sanchez or Clausen. Why? Those off the back foot throws. Barkley plays smaller than his 6’2″ when you watch him and when has Barkley ever faced a good secondary and succeeded?

      Barkley is OVERRATED! You’ll see next season in the NFL. Plenty of good college QB’s failed in the NFL. Barkley will be average. You’ll see.

  8. Misfit74 says:

    I still think Landry Jones will be a better pro than Barkley. It will be fun to watch the process unfold. I’m just excited that there could be at least three potential Seahawk franchise QBs in the draft next year. Power in numbers. :)

    • Colin says:

      I disagree. Whoever holds #1 takes Luck. There will be no compromising unless some form of contingency within the next 7 months.

      Hawks are too talented to win less than 4 games. I see 5-9 being optimistic. 9 if planets align. Honestly 6 is what will probably happen.

      • meat says:

        I agree that the Hawks are not the worst team and there will be teams with worse records, I am looking at you Bengals, Raiders, Broncos, Skins, and Fins. So, maybe 6th-10th pick. No luck, no Barkely looking at those teams. I however have the Hawks winning 5 games. The offensive line issues, injuries, lack of depth on D, and such a young-new team I cannot see then winning the division seeing how those Damn Rams are improving with a great QB.

  9. Ralphy says:

    You’re right about Weeden’s picks. Just trying to keep his name out there for you Rob. We’ll get a great chance to see him Thursday night against Arizona. He did do a great job of getting the ball to a lot of different WRs. Another player I like a lot on that team is Joseph Randle at RB. Keep an eye on him.

    • Rob says:

      Yeah looking forward to watching OKSU and Arizona… could be a lot of passing yards in that one, bit of a shoot out like the Bowl game but I expect a big Cowboys win. I’ll have a look at Randle.

  10. Frank says:

    Griffin looked silky smooth, i love the Brett Farve type underhanded shuttle pass while evading defenders.

  11. Bharad says:

    Hey Rob,

    I’ve been taking a long look at the Luck-Barkley comparisons made. I agree that Barkley is closer to Luck than anyone else at the moment, but I still see Luck as the decisive winner (by a small margin). I know you were talking about Luck having a more comfortable time with his team, running it like a well oiled machine, but based on seeing his freshman season, there’s nothing that says he can’t improvise as well as Barkley.

    My only other knock on Barkley is, he can’t keep the momentum going, especially in big games. Just like this one in Minnesota, I wondered why he couldn’t close out the game in the second half. Those are my main knocks and Barkley and why I think Luck trumps him. Barkley could get better on those fronts, but I have yet to see it.

    • Rob says:

      Hey Bharad,

      I think a lot of the momentum in that Minnesota game was taken away by bad game planning. It’s almost like USC had a ‘job done’ mentality at HT. They went away from what worked in the first half (stud QB throwing to stud WR). I suspect Minnesota found a way to cut out the pass to Woods and with a lot more rushing being called it just fizzled out. I really put that second half on the coach at SoCal and the lack of any credible plan to secure what should’ve been a blow out win.

    • Luke Peters says:

      Good call Bharad. Barkley isn’t in the same class as Luck. Barkley will get exposed in the NFL.

  12. shams says:

    I really feel like the Russian voiceover adds a lot to the Robert Griffin tape.

  13. Luke Peters says:

    Landry Jones will easily trump Barkley by season’s end.

    Did you get a chance to watch New Mexico State last Saturday? Probably not, but their QB, went 14 for 17 for 225 yds and 3 Td’s in the FIRST HALF against the Minnesota Gophers.

    He was even more impressive than Barkley. The love affair for Barkley will end once he ends up in the NFL and looks like Mark Sanchez, while Landry Jones is that 6’4″ pocket composed leader.

    It’s hilarious that you don’t give Landry Jones a round 1 grade but think Barkley is close to Luck.

    Saturday, Landry Jones will be in a hostile Tallahassee environment facing the #5 team with a dominate D led by all world pass rusher Brandon Jenkins and a ball hawk secondary led by Greg Reid, XRhodes and LJoyner.

    I’m sure you’ll find plenty of reasons and will focus on poor Landry Jones’ plays as there will be some in that hostile environment and D, while you skew Barkley to look good against a lousy Gopher D that made NMSU QB look like Tom Brady last Saturday.

    You’ll never change your mind on Landry Jones because you won’t want to admit you’re wrong and once in the NFL, you’ll realize how wrong you were all along.

    • Rob says:

      I’ve watched a lot of tape on both Jones and Barkley and don’t make suggestions on a whim. I have no agenda and I call performances on what I see and stick to the way I’ve always graded QB’s – in fairness – with a degree of success over the last few years. I wouldn’t ridicule your opinion – particularly if you’d gone into as much detail as I have to back up my views on Barkley and Jones. A bit of respect for other people’s views will always be championed on this blog – and that goes for yourself too.

      • Luke Peters says:

        That’s fine Rob, but you have your mind set and will only show videos to corroborate your premise that Barkley is 1a, when I’ve seen plenty of tape against Oregon and UCLA last year that Barkley held the ball too long in the pocket, got creamed, made poor deep throws off his back foot that got picked, looked poor under pressure against UCLA and throwing lousy interceptions.

        Barkley had like 8 picks in the final games and 5 int’s while looking very poor.

        However, you never balance your opinion with some objectivity. You’re going to “sell” Barkley with his positives but I see a lot of negatives. Go watch the final 5 games of 2010 and you’ll find plenty.

        Then, you’re more harsh on LJones and show his negatives but don’t show the positives that he possesses. Play action, pocket composure, accuracy, strong arm. I saw a lot of that from LJones but you call him the hype machine.

        It’s amazing we can watch the same QB’s and have such differing views. I see Barkley as the hype machine and JOnes will be that quality NFL pocket passer.

        I fully expect you to rip into LJones after his FSU effort, regardless of looking at the atmosphere and talent that FSU will throw at him.

        You run a nice website but balancing out reality even if it doesn’t support your premise would be welcomed.

        • Rob says:

          Come on Luke – I’ve gone into great detail on Barkley, Jones and lots of other quarterbacks. I go through positives, negatives and all the stuff in between. It’s tiresome having to read you claim I’ll rip Jones on Saturday whatever happens, suggesting I have some kind of hidden agenda here or that my mind is made up before I’ve even seen any 2011 tape. That’s not how the foundation of this blog was built. It’s not how we roll. Everything is about tape study, I watch hours every week. Hours I don’t have, but take anyway. We just disagree on the evidence so far on one particular player. It’s really no more complicated than that and people are allowed to disagree with your opinion.

          The tape is only ever used as evidence, not as an argument. I’ve changed my mind in the past – search Christian Ponder in the archives and see how my view flipped on him after watching 2010 games. Embrace that people can disagree, accept that your view is respected but not defining and please try to be more understanding of how things work here.