Three games on my schedule this week – Oklahoma vs Texas, Alabama vs Missouri and West Virginia vs Texas Tech.
Oklahoma vs Texas
I made my mind up a long time ago on Landry Jones and despite returning for his senior year with the Sooners, I still don’t believe his destiny includes time as a starting quarterback in the NFL. Such is the importance of the position he might get a look in round two or three, but the days of him earning a round one projection (not from me) are long gone. He’s stiff, he doesn’t improvise, he’s handcuffed to the play call and isn’t really making a lot of decisions out there. He’s got the NFL arm and there are rare moment of pure quality, but not enough unfortunately. Jones also has a lot of careless turnovers. Texas has some nice defensive talent and it’ll be interesting to see how they deal with Oklahoma’s no-huddle, fast-tempo offense. They did a reasonable job against WVU and still coughed up 40+ points. The likes of Jeffcoat, Okafor and Vaccaro will play on Sunday’s. But the guy who really interests me is junior defensive tackle Chris Whaley. He’s a physical force with a high motor and is more than capable of knifing through to make plays. Keep an eye on #96 if you’re watching this game tomorrow.
Alabama vs Missouri
Alabama should have plenty of success running the ball against Missouri but this is still the most interesting game of the three. Sheldon Richardson has shown huge potential this year as an interior defensive lineman – but this will be a huge challenge. He’s playing at around 295lbs and he’s more of a pass rusher than run stuffer. How he copes with ‘Bama’s rampant running attack will be crucial for his stock. He doesn’t have to blow up Chance Warmack and Barrett Jones, but he does need to show he can hold his own and play at least decent run defense against the most physical attack in college football. A sack or two wouldn’t go amiss either. Richardson could be a top-15 pick next April and it’s games like this that scouts are going to turn to in the off-season.
West Virginia vs Texas Tech
Texas Tech are a dangerous opponent for West Virginia because they’re capable of scoring just as many quick points as the Mountaineers. I expect WVU to win this game and Geno Smith will probably put up huge numbers again, but it’s a potential banana skin for a team with ambitions of making a run at the BCS title. It’s worth noting that Smith has been liable to have the occasional off-day. That hasn’t happened yet, we’ll see if it comes in these tougher Big-12 meetings on the schedule. One thing I’ve noticed recently in studying Smith a little closer is he crouches down on certain throws, lowering the trajectory of the release. I haven’t seen any obvious issues with this so far and he does have an over-the-top throwing motion and mostly decent mechanics. It’s still something I’m going to keep watching and after last week’s double-fumble against the Longhorns (one for a touchdown) it’ll be interesting to see if WVU can do a better job in pass protection. Smith still needs to sense the pressure and not turn the ball over – but it’s hard to complain too much when he has 24 touchdowns so far this year and zero interceptions.
I’ll put an open thread on the blog tomorrow so please feel free to contribute if you’re watching a game or a prospect over the weekend. I’ve also added video on North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper at the top of this article. He’s a possible top-15 pick even for an interior lineman. Incredibly athletic, good against the pass and run. Expect him to have a long, successful NFL career.