Jake Locker (QB, Washington) vs USC
I haven’t had the opportunity to watch any of Washington vs USC but give credit to Jake Locker for leading the Huskies to a 32-31 victory. He needed to bounce back after a highly criticized performance against Nebraska two weeks ago. Locker finished with 310 passing yards and a touchdown, adding 110 rushing yards from just 12 carries. It’s a key note road victory for Locker.
Andrew Luck (QB, Stanford vs Oregon)
Stanford got off to a quick start (at one point leading 21-3) but couldn’t maintain it in a 52-31 defeat. The numbers looked quite good for Luck - 341 passing yards with a pair of touchdowns and interceptions. He added 39 yards and a further score on the ground. However, to me he just looks so unspectacular. I came into the game wondering if he was just a good game-manager and in all honesty, not much has changed.
Here’s my view on Luck in a nutshell. Positives: Mobile quarterback, intelligent, has a good feel for pressure and doesn’t lock on to his receivers. Manages his offense well. Negatives: Nothing stands out (neither physically great or incredibly accurate), floats the deep ball too much, looks like a game manager, gets erratic at times and forces throws.
Mechanically he’s better than Jimmy Clausen was last year. Aside from the occasional low pass, he gets the ball out at a nice high point with a quick release. Clearly they are also very different characters. However, there are some great similarities between Luck and Clausen. Both rely a lot on short/medium range passes with a lot of slants and dump offs. Both will try to throw downfield but don’t put enough velocity on the ball. Luck’s first interception was a classic Clausen attempt – big high throw essentially put up for grabs except he didn’t have Michael Floyd jumping up to pluck it out of the air. Neither drives a deep pass, they put too much air on it and that won’t scare NFL defensive backs.
When Stanford went behind against Oregon Luck started to force things a bit and he became slightly erratic – something that has had a tendency to surface in the past. He isn’t that accurate. He hasn’t got a Matt Stafford type arm, but he hasn’t got Sam Bradford’s accuracy either. What stands out? Luck has a much better ground game and an offensive line than Clausen ever had at Notre Dame and that helps him to ‘manage’ things better. In terms of what they’ll be able to achieve early in the NFL I don’t think there’s a great deal of difference. I’m not that optimistic for Clausen in Carolina.
If Luck did declare for 2011 and he was considered a candidate to go very early, I’d be concerned if it was my team drafting him. If he’s drafted by a bad team that doesn’t have a great offensive line and running game, I’m not convinced he’ll get it done. This was a chance for Luck to prove he can lead an offense with his talents against another prolific scorer. I’m still dubious. I didn’t see enough in this game to pursuade me that we aren’t potentially witnessing another Joey Harrington.
Miami at Clemson
Allen Bailey (DE, Miami) had a better game than he did against Pittsburgh. He tipped a pass and generally got a lot more consistent pressure off the edge. It still concerns me how much he’s subbed in and out, but for the first time this year I felt like we were watching a late first round pick. Brandon Harris (CB, Miami) had another fine display and continues to impress with his tackling. He’s not a huge corner, but he tackles remarkably well in run support. He wasn’t tested all that much in coverage, but I’m confident he deserves a mid/late first round grade.
Texas vs Oklahoma
Jeremy Beal (DE, Oklahoma) might be better than I first thought. He had two more sacks against Texas taking his total to seven for the year already. He has an above average double move and flashed a better repertoire than expected yesterday. He’s an all out effort rusher too, which makes up for a lack of elite burst off the edge. Getting 18 sacks in 1.3 seasons cannot be ignored and he could get up close to 15 for the year at this rate. Beal fits Seattle’s LEO rusher position and is a definite one-to-watch going forward.
Florida at Alabama
It wasn’t a good day for the Gators, but it was a good day for Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins. He completely shut down Julio Jones who managed just 19 yards from four catches (screens). It was a master-class of coverage against a receiver who could easily be amongst the top-15 picks next year. I’ve previously had Jenkins amongst my top ten picks on the mock draft – that’s not changing any time soon. Very, very impressive.
A.J. Green (WR, Georgia) vs Colorado
This was Green’s return from suspension. He managed seven catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns. He added an extra forty yards on a single rush. Green is a dynamic playmaker who could even be the first overall pick next April. If you’re not convinced, watch the video below showing one of his scores yesterday. I was worried that Georgia’s struggles in general could hold him back, but not on yesterday’s evidence. A great start for a prospect who’s best years will come in the NFL.