Originally written on Optimum Scouting  |  Last updated 11/18/14

While Week 2 didn’t feature nearly as many big time match-ups from a scouting perspective, it did show how vulnerable Arkansas’s offense (and what this means with or without Tyler Wilson) is and the “battle’ between Matt Barkley and Ryan Nassib (which ended up being a bit one-sided). 

Along with those main storylines, we have scouting notes from across our staff on Penn State, Virginia, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Florida, Georgia, and Missouri, and the Top 10 offenses, based on yards produced this far this year.

The Barkley vs. Nassib Match-Up Broken Down
In a much anticipated match-up (at least in my and NFL scouts’ mind) of the Syracuse vs. USC quarterback battle, it ended up a bit one sided of a display. Matt Barkley, clearly the better quarterback talent and having much better NFL talent around him, didn’t dominate the game. But his efficiency and consistency in his pre-snap reads and post-snap progressions shows why the quarterback position isn’t all about the big arm.

In this game in particular, I was most impressed by Barkley’s ability to quickly set and reset his feet as he makes his progressions. He kept his stance balance and able to quickly get his release off in a variety of situations. He showed the ability to flip his shoulders as he switched fields, showing great ball placement considering the quickness of his reads. He did have quite a few easy throws (screens, quick slants) in this game and a majority of his throws went to two future 1st round receivers (junior Robert Woods and sophomore Marquis Lee), but he still seems to be progressing as a quarterback despite already being in elite company in my and likely most NFL scout’s eyes.

As for Ryan Nassib, things didn’t go as smoothly. He was without left tackle Justin Pugh, who is among the country’s top left tackles, which severely hurt his ability to have time in the pocket passed his initial read. Still, he showed his quick, smooth, and high velocity release that at least gets him serious NFL looks to go along with his size. As a passer, he was very aggressive and confident in his throws, and that gunslinger mentality lead him to mistakes in that game, but at least he didn’t seem to get rattled/indecisive. I do think he needs to show better ball placement in the mid area, have much better velocity control at the different levels of the defense, and use his eyes better to open throwing lanes. All were noticeable issues in his game against USC.

RELATED: 9/2 Scouting Notebook: Geno Smith/Matt Barkley, Injuries, and Scouting Notes


Arkansas Loses to UL Monroe?! What Happened and What it Means
Before Tyler Wilson went down with an injury, things seem to be right on track. Wilson showed some indecision in his pre-snap reads on a few plays, and his accuracy over the middle/on the sidelines wasn’t perfect. But his deep touch on a handful of throws was fantastic, not over-aiming nor floating passes, and was on target and on time. That’s an attribute of his game that’s continued to improve, and he shows the ability to make deep throws to both quicker and not as deep speed-gifted receivers.

Along with Wilson, the running game with Knile Davis (who showed fantastic body control through contact, and utilized his bulk in the middle and on the outside) and Dennis Johnson (who flashed the pop, burst, and ability to drive through traffic well) impressed. But once Wilson went down with an “upper body injury”, the offense, including the running game, seemed to unravel.

Once Wilson went down, the offense became very vanilla initially after quarterback Brandon Allen came in and struggled early. Slowly, the sporadic and exciting junior quarterback Kolton Browning continued to make plays and finish drives to put points on the board. The defense, even before the Wilson injury, was far too overaggressive and trying to make the big play behind the line of scrimmage. The crafty Browning continued to make plays with his feet and find receivers downfield, which slowly let UL Monroe get back in the game. And as for the offense, the offensive line displayed poor blitz pickup, pre-snap recognition of assignments, and not being more consistent on the interior to help both Wilson and Allen.

RELATED: Our 2013 Senior Quarterback Rankings, Along With the Rest of Our Position Rankings


General Scouting Notes From the Country
-In the Pitt/Cincinnati contest, all eyes were on the game’s highest rated prospect, Pitt Senior RB, Ray Graham, who’s still working on regaining his top level explosiveness and cutting ability after sustaining a season ending knee injury less than a year ago. Early on, Graham looked tentative and sluggish, but as the game wore on, he occasionally flashed some of the old form. Eventually finishing with respectable totals of 19 carries for 103 yards, Graham clearly isn’t all the way back, but he took some important steps in that direction on Thursday night.

 -The Virginia/Penn State game produced a fourth quarter come from behind, one point win, for the Cavaliers. On a day where PSU missed four field goals and an extra point, the lone bright spot for the Nittany Lions was Senior linebacker Michael Mauti, who made plays all over the field, including a big open-field tackle on the punt coverage team, which he volunteered for due to PSU’s depleted ranks.

-The Cavs also received an outstanding performance from their middle backer, Senior Steve Greer, who took good angles to the ball all day, en route to 15 tackles, including 2.5 behind the line of scrimmage, and emerged as an aggressive “A” gap blitzer, recording 2 sacks on the afternoon.

-Mississippi State QB Tyler Russell may have been the biggest story of the weekend, making his physical presence and arm talent known by completing a variety of NFL throws with a combination of touch, accuracy, and velocity. Calm, poised, and in command throughout this game, Russell also exhibited the mental makeup necessary at the quarterback position. The two biggest concerns at this point for Russell are his slow, methodical pass drops and inability to consistently recognize pressure packages from the opposing defense.

-Florida RB Mike Gillislee proved himself to be a tough, competitive and decisive one-cut runner in today’s game, driving through arm tacklers and fighting through a groin injury. Showed outstanding vision to either cut runs back across the line of scrimmage or bounce outside, consistently reading linebacker flow and reacting properly. Good acceleration and bust to and through the hole.

-The best pure athlete and most explosive defender for the Gators, bar none, OLB Jelani Jenkins is a developing linebacker that has a 1st round skill set. Long, fluid and smooth in space, yet explosive and instinctive between the tackles, Jenkins is a scheme diverse, versatile linebacker that can play anywhere. Expect big things from Jenkins this season as a high rising prospect.

-Virtually non-existent in this game, Texas A&M receiver Ryan Swope doesn’t appear to be anywhere near as involved in the offense, as in years past at Texas A&M. He struggled to separate from press man coverage, lacking explosiveness and suddenness at the route break. This slot receiver may be in for a long season without a high number of footballs thrown his way.

-Still not fully comfortable or decisive with reads from the bubble, Texas A&M’s OLB Sean Porter struggled to be the active force that I expected him to be in this game. A player whose draft stock will be highly dependant upon his senior game tape from a 4-3 outside backer position, Porter will be a player to watch closely, in terms of progression as a read and react player. Instincts and feel for the new position will only come with added experience, and I fully expect Porter to improve each week this season.

-Missouri’s James Franklin’s arm talent was one of the more pleasant surprises to this SEC showcase. Franklin’s football really jumps off his hand with natural zip and velocity, something I didn’t see often in 2011 games viewed. Driving two seam routes on time and on target for long touchdowns, Franklin anticipated separation versus man coverage and threw accurately past the 2nd level of the defense. Having obvious athleticism, with mobility to stretch defense out and force an extra defender into the box, James Franklin has a bright future and high upside as a dynamic quarterback prospect.

-Showcasing excellent ball placement and accuracy in attacking man coverage mismatches down the field, Georgia QB Aaron Murray reacted correctly to the heavy, man blitz schemes run by the Tigers. More impressive than the throws he made in the game, was Murray’s confidence and composure under duress. Murray showed outstanding balance and footwork in a muddy pocket, maintained downfield focus, and continually “looked down the barrel of the gun” by stepping into his throws, even when defenders were bearing down on him.

- An elite prospect with an all around skill set as a 3-4 outside linebacker, Jarvis Jones completely changed the outcome of the game with his play. On one of his more impressive plays, Jones showcased sudden and explosive hands to knock his opponent off balance, while setting the edge and redirecting to the football. Explosive and quick twitch off the line, this Georgia outside linebacker won with pure speed all night, versus an inferior set of Missouri tackles. Even intercepting a pass for a near touchdown, Jarvis Jones turned in one of the more impressive defensive performances college football fans will view all season long.


Top 10...FBS Teams With The Most Yards
While yards isn’t an ideal factor to display offensive talent and true production, it does provide an interesting look at which teams and offenses are beginning to hit their stride. Many of these teams have played “cupcake” games thus far, but it’s surprising to see UCLA, Marshall, Ole Miss, and Ohio showing so much production thus far this season.

1. Oklahoma State, 1318 yards
2. UCLA, 1299 yards
3. Marshall, 1160 yards
4. Arkansas State, 1149 yards
5. Oregon, 1137 yards
6. Arizona, 1125 yards
7. Ole Miss, 1103 yards
8. Texas Tech, 1091 yards
9. Oklahoma, 1089 yards
10. Ohio, 1083 yards


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