Notes from Championship Games

The title of this post should be “Notes from Championship Games Available on UK TV” as the Big 12 and Big 10 weren’t on, which is something that drives UK College Football fans nuts. But being a niche sport over here, we just have to live with it, despite paying what I think are high subscriptions rates to watch CFB.  Doing this, with the big games, I sometimes miss the occasion – and being a fan of College Football as well as the Draft, this week I took a step back and enjoyed the games.  So, this is a slightly shorter column with notes on who stood out.

I haven’t been Sam Darnold’s biggest fan, but one throw from the pocket against Stanford was outstanding.  He had pressure, but he kept his eyes up enough to see a late crossing route and hit a big play.  However, there was still some concern, particularly when they were in third and long and he had to do more “NFL stuff”.  The offense isn’t going to make him NFL ready – the talent is there, but he will need a little time.  His footwork is also a concern, again because of the offense.  I’m not sure if the talk he doesn’t want to be in Cleveland is a real thing, but the way they’ve handled Kizer this year makes you think it might be…  I don’t know what I would do if I was him, but another year isn’t going to make him that much better as a pro prospect because the offense isn’t that style.  If his O-Line doesn’t improve, he might even end up going back as he will drop his eyes against pressure and like Brett Hundley, it might hurt him.

This Draft is another strong year for the RB position – and Southern Cal’s Ronald Jones II looks to be a top 100 talent.  His ability to cut at full speed is impressive.  He’s not the biggest, but he’s a big play waiting to happen.  Also for the Trojans, OLB Uchenna Nwosu lacks the length some teams like with  pass rushers, but that can actually work for him as he is flexible and gets low.  His speed and hustle off the edge were impressive.

You have to give Stanford RB Bryce Love a lot of respect.  He limps off, clearly in pain – but he always comes back.  He eventually broke a big one and no one can say he lacks toughness to do with his obvious talent.  Also for Stanford, NT Harrison Phillips is a good example of a NT who isn’t 340lbs and just eats space.  Phillips is so active and you can see him being a perfect fit in a one gap 3-4 or as a three technique.

There wasn’t much defense played in the UCF/Memphis game, but still Memphis WR Anthony Miller was outstanding.  14 catches for 195 yards and 3 scores about says it all.  His routes were excellent and even when matched up aginst Mike Hughes, he won.  Coming into the year he wasn’t ranked by many as a top 100 prospect, but I think most will have him as one now.

It wasn’t a great day for Auburn and I thought OG Braden Smith struggled again (waist bending a bunch) and CB Carlton Davis wasn’t tested much, but struggled on the two occasions he was.  I thought Georgia played faster as a team, so perhaps that’s why I came away with that impression on both.

It’s taken me a little longer than some prospects to get a handle on Georgia RB Sony Michel, because he has to share touches in a deep backfield, but I think I’m about there.  I think he might be a day two guy, although in a deep RB class one or two might fall, but I’ll get into numbers nearer the Draft.  In terms of talent, I think he’s day two.  He did well in pass protection and as a receiver in this one – and also as a runner.  He can cut sharply and has some make you miss.  Not being a bell cow in college might even work in his favour for the league, as he doesn’t have as many miles on the clock as others.

Right from first watch, I thought Georgia LB Roquan Smith was really, really good.  In a big game, I thought he was outstanding.  His range was evident and he made numerous plays – plus showed up well as a blitzer.  I think he’s a first round talent.

I mentioned last week it’s hard to get a handle on Clemson WR Deon Cain and that remains the case – although his slant and go for a TD was an outstanding route.  I suspect he’ll be one where I’m watching YouTube stuff if he declares – but I don’t think he’s a Mike Williams obvious first round talent.  It was tough sledding for Clemson OT Mitch Hyatt, despite his teams easy win.  I thought he looked lacking in terms of athletic ability against the team speed of Miami.

As with Roquan Smith, it didn’t take long for me to rank Clemson DT Christian Wilkins high on my board.  He had a top game and as with Smith, I think we can safely say first round for him.  As the position carries a bit more weight on Draft day, we can expect top 10.

Boise State WR Cedrick Wilson didn’t have a perfect game against Fresno State, but when his team needed a big play – he delivered.  His 59 yard post route catch and subsequent 3rd and 5 catch for 7 yards got his team down the field for the winning score.  I didn’t think he separated consistently all night, and on the early ball that was nearly intercepted, he let the CB out-muscle him for the ball way too easily.  However, he caught the ball well and any game you put up 8 catches for 148 yards, it’s a good one.

It was my first watch of Fresno State.  Two juniors will be worth watching next year – the WR KeeSean Johnson looks like he can play – and the QB Marcus McMaryion, if he adds bulk, should get a look as he looked poised.  I guess Johnson could declare early, so I’ll look out for him in the Bowl game.

The MAC Championship game was pretty one-sided, so it wasn’t the best test for Toledo QB Logan Woodside.  He showed he can make throws with timing and anticipation, and flashes of “plus” ball placement.  His arm isn’t the best and that was evident on his second INT, a ball which floated rather to allow the FS to make a play on the ball.  That will limit him with some teams, but he’s smart, has a quick release and not too many horrible spread footwork issues, so I think he has a strong shot to stick as a number three QB as a rookie.

I read on one of the bigger sites that Toledo DE Olasunkanmi Adeniyi is thinking about declaring early.  Now, you’ll see on some sites come early declaration time “bad decision”/”good decision” type judgements on prospects – but the decision for many is about more than football.  Money, academics, not enjoying the college experience and wanting to find out how good you are right now in the NFL are al factors.  In football terms, there are good and bad decisions – but as I don’t know personal situations, you won’t find me judging.  Now, in pure football terms, my recommendation to Adeniyi would be, if it’s financially/academically possible, to return for his senior year.  There were flashes, but I would say he’s a day three pick, at best, right now.  He looked stiff in his movements and balance was a question, ending up on the ground too much.  There were flashes of a good get off and short area explosion, but over longer distances, while his motor was high, I would question his speed.  When he attacked blockers square on, he seemed to lack a bit of pop and technique.  I’d also like to see him develop more pass rush moves – his swim and inside move are good, but I didn’t see speed to power.  His sack and FF came against a HB, he didn’t get as much change against the two OTs.  We’ll see what his decision is over the coming weeks.

Updated: December 6, 2017 — 8:15 pm

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