Georgia defense, Matt Elam impressive
Jarvis Jones missed a couple of games for Georgia recently but his return couldn’t have been any more timely. Jones recorded 13 tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles and two separate fumble recoveries in a performance which confirms his position as the top prospect in the country. A supreme athlete, Jones was a terror off the edge all day. One criticism has been his lack of big games against ranked opponents, but he dominated the Gators for the second year running. In two games against Florida, Jones has seven sacks. They’ll be glad to see the back of him.
Yet this wasn’t all about one guy. Georgia’s 17-9 win was a total defensive effort. Linebacker Alec Ogletree is almost as talented as Jones and was again all over the field. He’s got the athleticism to match-up well in coverage plus the speed to react and sprint to the quarterback as a pass rusher. Not many players have his range or nose for the ball and only off-field concerns will move him out of the top-15. Most people in Seattle want a receiver or another offensive player next April – but be prepared to pine for this guy too. Ogletree is a sensational prospect. He’d be a terror in Seattle’s scheme with his ability to go from 0-60 in a second, his untapped pass rushing potential and ability in coverage.
Jonathan Jenkins is an incredibly impressive nose tackle. He has the huge size of a +330lbs lineman but the athleticism of a guy playing 30lbs lighter. He moves so well – even lining up at defensive end for some snaps. Any team looking for a cornerstone pick on a 3-4 defense (this screams Indianapolis) should consider drafting Jenkins. He’s a better prospect than Dontari Poe who went #11 overall this year. Bacarri Rambo had a pick and a sack and like Ogletree – may provide great value due to off-field problems. Safety Shawn Williams called his team ‘soft’ after three poor games for the unit – he led the charge in the secondary with what can only be described as a ‘legal clothesline’. On fourth down early in the game, Williams shed his block, sprinted from the centre field-to-right and made an aggressive tackle to force a turnover on downs. It was a tremendous play.
On the other side, Matt Elam had another great game and justified his place as a potential top-20 pick. He had two impressive tipped passes and showed great strength early in the game to disengage from a block to force a tackle at the LOS. Aaron Murray gifted him an interception and he was always around the ball. Everything Florida did well on defense seemed to have Elam at the heart of things. He’s going to be a high pick.
Defense won the day, and so many players in the game will go on to play on Sunday’s. Jones could be the #1 pick next year.
Marcus Lattimore suffers another heartbreaking injury
Anyone watching the Tennessee vs South Carolina game will understand how upsetting an experience it was. Some NFL pro’s get chance after chance after chance. Some of them don’t deserve that honour, but they keep getting opportunities. It’s used, abused and taken for granted by plenty. Then there’s a guy like Marcus Lattimore. Intelligent, well spoken, a leader and a damn good running back. And after today, we have to hope he’ll get just one chance to play in the NFL.
Lattimore suffered a horrific injury, catching his leg between a defender and the turf. For some reason the TV crews kept showing replay after replay of the incident, but it wasn’t pleasant. At first it looked like a clean leg break, but then concerns moved towards a potentially devastating knee injury. Having endured a serious left leg injury last year, to come back and injury your right leg will be incredibly upsetting for Marcus and his family. The one saving grace is he’s the kind of guy that can come back form this. He probably won’t be a high pick in the future (just a year ago he seemed to be a top-15 shoe-in). But he’s got the character to fight back, maybe even at the end of next season. Playing football again may be the first or last thing on his mind tonight. Every football fan will stand shoulder to shoulder with Lattimore as he faces this latest challenge.
In terms of the game, Justin Hunter was again mediocre. He failed to catch a jump ball at the death leading to a game ending interception. He dropped two passes. He also made a couple of nice, athletic grabs and ended with eight catches for 90 yards. Even so, no touchdowns again and Zach Rogers ended up being Tyler Bray’s most reliable target. I said it yesterday and stand by it – the guy isn’t ready. He isn’t the kind of player some want you to believe. He needs to return next year – with Bray – and work on a big season. Cordarrelle Patterson was also unable to make his usual big play this week – catching just three passes for 26 yards and rushing three times for 21 yards. When you’re not hitting home runs, you have to find a way to contribute. This is the big issue with Patterson – if he can’t return a kick or break out a big run, are you getting enough from him as a pure receiver?
A final note on this one – Dallas Thomas had an incredible game blocking Jadeveon Clowney. He’s another great interior lineman (who can play tackle) to go along with Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper.
– Rutgers had a disappointing loss to Kent State, but Brandon Coleman had five catches for 51 yards including this score.
– Matt Barkley and USC suffered their second loss of the year, falling at Arizona 39-36. I saw snippets of the game and Barkley unusually lacked poise, made two sloppy interceptions and just isn’t playing at the same level he was at the end of 2011. He’s still the #1 quarterback in a mediocre 2013 class, but it’s a game like this that makes me question where he’ll actually fall next April. He ended 31/49 for 493 yards and two touchdowns. I’ll watch this game in full on Tuesday.
– North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard might be the most underrated draft prospect in CFB right now. Every week he makes stunning plays. Some of them are pretty unique – like his fumble return for a TD last weekend. Today it was a game winning punt return for 74 yards against NC State with seconds remaining. He also had 135 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, plus a further 95 receiving yards. He could be a first or second round pick.
– Speaking of underrated players, it’s time to start taking A.J. McCarron at Alabama seriously. We’ve talked about him a lot on this blog and the guy can play. And don’t doubt his physical tools – as evidenced on this play. He had ‘Bama rolling again at the time of writing – they lead Mississippi State 21-0. He’s still yet to throw an interception this year.