Jeff Risdon, DLD Editor
It was a beautiful fall afternoon in South Bend, 81 degrees and sunny with a light westerly breeze and a few cirrus clouds dotting the sky. Oklahoma scored 14 points almost before the game started and held on to win 35-21. I noticed scouts from at least 10 teams in attendance, and a front office personnel staffer from another.
Scouting the games in person is quite different from watching the game on TV. It’s harder to note specific details but easier to get a feel for the flow of the game. It’s also quite intriguing to watch the players warm up and interact before the game.
FB #33 Trey Millard
–attempts to block outside the tackle on 4th & short and whiffs, falls on the ground and the play gets stuffed by his assigned target
–fails to initiate contact on a run block, chooses to just run aside
–catches a swing pass but quickly loses his footing and falls down short of the first down
–dives at Jackson’s feet on an attempted edge block
–lazily approaches a block and gets beat to the point, gets his RB pushed OOB for no gain. Pathetic effort!
–the man he was supposed to block on the edge makes the tackle as Millard trots upfield completely unaware he was supposed to block him
Overall: As I Tweeted during the game, what do you do with a fullback that is terrible at blocking? It’s not hyperbole either, as scouts in attendance were openly laughing at his awful blocking attempts. I saw nothing in this game to indicate a draftable prospect, as he had almost no touches. He’s strictly a power RB at the next level, no chance he’s a fullback or even a H-back.
WR #8 Jalen Saunders
–stutter step move after the catch fools nobody and he is immediately thumped
–cannot hang on when Jackson thumps him with a hard shoulder on a corner route
–flashes good hands and balance to catch a low outside throw at his feet
–quickly secures the ball on a short throw but has no room to operate in red zone
–rounds off an out route, cannot flag down the low and outside throw from Bell
Overall: Saunders did not have a lot to work with, as Bell didn’t look his way very often and he almost never ventured further than about 5 yards down the field on his routes. His slight build is more pronounced in person than on TV.
RB #26 Damien Williams
–scores OU’s 2nd TD with an 11-yard run that showed balance and burst
–shows good vision and cuts sharply behind a good block to get outside on a trap run
–gets open on a quick slant and blows past the safety down the field, but Bell never looks at him
–misses an outside lane, burrows inside but still gets the 1st down
–lowers his shoulder nicely as he’s heading out of bounds
Overall: Williams doesn’t have a lot of wiggle to his game, but he’s an efficient runner with some power behind his pads.
QB #10 Blake Bell
I’m including Bell here because two different scouts in attendance were doing preliminary evaluations of The Belldozer. He’s a redshirt junior but it would stun everyone–most notably Oklahoma’s press–if he left early.
–wildly overthrows a wide open receiver down the seam, dipped his shoulder on the follow thru
–poor touch on a sideline throw to an open receiver
–stares down his receiver badly and gets him creamed. It’s not even the second quarter and I’m wondering why anyone would consider him a NFL prospect
–makes first two reads & sees nothing, tucks and runs, getting to top speed quickly and picks up a 1st down
–buys time after his first read is covered, stands tall and delivers a strike on an end zone comeback for a TD
–left game in 3Q with an ankle injury after getting walloped on consecutive plays
–delivers a precise strike, hits his receiver Shepard at full gallop on slant and he takes it to the house for a TD. NFL throw right there
–throws across his body and misses Saunders wide
Overall: He looks like a very talented athlete that hasn’t been asked to do much as a passer. The arm strength is there and he flashed vision and patience, but too often he still looks like a fullback playing quarterback. Give him another year of experience and practice at quarterback.
C #64 Gabe Ikard
–fires out and attacks in combo block on Nix, creates a seam behind him
–gets too upright and his hands are high in pass protection
–effective combo block moves Nix aside
–slips out to second level and engages LB, quickly turns his shoulders to create a bigger seam
–high with the hands, nearly hits Nix in the facemask & loses leverage
–nice cut block on 2nd level gets defender to the ground
–high snap; caught by QB at facemask
–gets away with being illegally downfield on a screen, was a good 12 yard sup the field before the throw
Overall: Ikard was badly whipped by Louis Nix and Notre Dame last year. This year was another story. Ikard looked balanced, quick, and worked very well in combo blocks. I did note issues with his hand placement (too high) a few times. Ikard did nothing but reaffirm my belief that he’s a solid 4th or 5th round pick with potential to start in the NFL at some point.
T #71 Tyrus Thompson
–shows good agility in kick step to pick up outside rush
–false start penalty, though it appears they called it on another player
–down blocks with force, peels off and finds target at second level but run went behind him
–lunges out too far, cannot engage with any force and avoids falling down only by leaning on defender
–engages initially but cannot sustain, gives up QB hit
–pancakes Tuitt on run & let him know it after the play
–another pancake block, great leg drive topples over Tuitt
Overall: his technique can look awkward, as his legs bow way outside when he squats, but Thompson showed excellent strength at the point of attack. In a heads-up battle with touted Stephon Tuitt, Thompson clearly won more battles and the war. Slow-ish feet and waist-bending on occasion limit his NFL upside.
CB #14 Aaron Colvin
–sticks on hip of WR even as he breaks back to catch the hook, immediate tackle
–mugs the receiver making a corner break, gets away with it as the throw sails 20 yards over their heads
–sits very low, almost unnaturally, in his pre-snap crouch, but backpedals smoothly from it
–doesn’t bite on the play fake, subtly pushes his mark wide
–gets proper depth and shows good route recognition in a rare zone cover
–runs step for step on inside hip of receiver on post route, blanket coverage 35 yards down the field
–gets away with a hold on the outside, hands all over the receiver well down the field
Overall: Colvin is still coming back from an injury a couple weeks ago that impacted his conditioning, but he once again demonstrated very impressive press man cover skills. He has a natural stickiness to him in coverage, and his feet and hips are better than many would lead you to believe. He holds and grabs way too much, however. The Chicago Bears would love Colvin as a 2nd round pick, he’s perfect for them.
LB #7 Corey Nelson
–crashes hard off the edge to assist in tackle right at line of scrimmage, nicely ducked under the blocker
–shows no hesitation in taking on the tight end and forces the run inside to his help
–run blitz from the slot, not fooled by fake and gets the sack with a nice drag tackle on Rees
–good timing on B-gap blitz, forces a Rees scramble that results in a sack
–delay blitz inside, gets his hands on a low Rees throw
–beaten over the top by Niklas on a rub route but recovers quickly and breaks up a late throw
Overall: Nelson was very active and consistently wound up at the ball. To compare him to a recent draftee, he reminded me a great deal of Khaseem Greene at Rutgers with a little better anticipation but less speed. His best game I’ve seen thus far.
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Tags: Aaron Colvin, Blake Bell, Chris Watt, Corey Nelson, Damien Williams, Gabe Ikard, Jalen Saunders, Louis Nix, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Oklahoma Sooners, Stephon Tuitt, TJ Jones, Trey Millard, Tyrus Thompson, Zack Martin