Week 6 in the college football world gave us something so rare we had to check the score twice, an Alabama loss…..
A few weeks ago ‘Bama’s match-up with Texas A&M looked tasty, but with the Aggies losing two straight and having a back-up Quarterback in, most people, myself included, decided to ditch it from the must watch and focus on different games. Obviously on seeing the score there was no way I wasn’t going to do a deep dive on that game, and along with the Red River Showdown, these were perhaps the best two games of the season so far. So many twists and turns in each game, and afterwards you just felt that this is what makes college football so special.
We’ll start though with a game that happened the evening before….
Stanford @ Arizona State
I was looking forward to this game a lot as some of the F10Y College team have been hyping up a couple of guys on display in this one. The Sun Devils pretty much controlled this from start to finish, but this Cardinal team has a couple of really good looking young players in it, and you get the feeling they could be very decent next year in the PAC-12, where a lot of these teams are of similar ability, and any one of them can win the Conference.
Let’s start with a running back who a few of the lads really like….
Rachaad White, Running Back, 6’2, 210lbs, Senior
White shares carries in the Sun Devil backfield with DeaMonte (Chip) Trayanum, but it’s clear to see who the more dynamic player is, as White is a threat to catch the ball too, as displayed by his 24 catches through 6 games. He only had one catch in this game, but it was his running ability that really stood out here. He runs really gracefully, moving with ease at speed and consistently shows good athleticism, especially out in space. On one run, he took an option pitch near the sideline, exploded upfield and finished the play by hurdling a player and picking up extra yards. He also isn’t afraid to take contact and plough over people, and this is what makes him dynamic, as he can do the hard-nosed runs, the shifty runs and has great hands too.
So we’re talking about a complete back here, with limited tread on his tyres, who is very much under the radar right now.
The Lads are definitely right, he is certainly worth keeping an eye on. In what is becoming a bit of an underwhelming Running Back class, he has the potential to overtake some much bigger names comes draft time.
Kellen Diesch, Offensive Tackle, 6’7, 300lbs, Senior
I caught a bit of the Sun Devils game the week before against UCLA, and Diesch looked pretty good in that one. I put him under the microscope in this game and boy did he show up. In fact, he earned the highest grade so far by me for an Offensive Lineman this season, and I’ve done over 40 full games this year, so that’s pretty impressive!
He looks to have all the tools to work with, height, length, strength and plays with an unfazed demeanour. Always in control whether in pass protection or run blocking, sliding effortlessly around the pocket on one play and then leading out into space to open up holes for the run on the next.
He’s a transfer from Texas A&M where he got very few snaps on a very talented Offensive Line there, but he has now got everyone’s attention playing Left Tackle for arguably the best PAC-12 team right now. If this level of play is maintained I can’t see how he isn’t a top 100 player come draft day.
D.J Davidson, Defensive Tackle, 6’5, 325lbs, Senior
I’ve been a fan of Davidson’s since the 2019 tape. He seemed to flash every time I watched them play, and he, along with the currently injured Jermaine Lole, formed a very frightening duo in the middle of the Arizona State Defensive Line. With Lole out for the entire season, Davidson has taken it on himself to be a leader on that line, and his play has risen up another level.
He moves really well for such a big man, with a great burst off the line he is into the Offensive Lineman’s chest and controlling his opponent with ease. He consistently disrupts run plays with his power, penetrating gaps and filling run lanes. He makes play for others, and this is reflected in the stat sheet for him, only making two official tackles, with one being for a loss. There are plays where he seems to run out of steam pretty quickly, but for a big guy who plays a lot of snaps, this is understandable.
With Arizona State gaining a bit of momentum here, I think Davidson will get more publicity, and who can’t like a guy this size playing this well?
Tanner McKee (Quarterback, 6’6 228lbs, Sophomore) & Benjamin Yurosek (Tight End, 6’5 232, Sophomore)
We’ll put these two guys into one write-up as they are the future for Stanford’s Offense. Like Arizona State, I’d caught a fair bit of Stanford’s surprise win over Oregon the week before, but this was a chance to get a really good look at them, and these two guys stood out.
There’s been a fair bit of natter amongst the lads on the team about Quarterback Tanner McKee. Now if you just read the stat line (45-27-356-1-3) you’d think McKee had had a stinker, but this is where you need to look past numbers, as they don’t tell the whole story. Two of his Three Interceptions on the night were from deflections, the other was a terrible stare down on a slant, but the fact is the stat line would have looked much better with just the one pick. McKee has an air of authority about him, really looking the part both physically and as a passer. He can really zip the ball about, that thing comes out of his hand like a missile, which is good most of the time, but that also led to some drops, as it was too hot to handle at times. As first watches go there’s a lot to like here, and I think he’ll end up being a better prospect than Davis Mills was last year.
I’d never heard of Yurosek before the season started but he flashed last week against Oregon, and he really broke out big time here. He had 6 catches for 118 yards, at a very healthy 19.67 average. He was the main recipient of McKee’s missiles, and he made three wonderful catches, all key 3rd down ones, and two of them he really had to climb the ladder to get. He moves like a big Wide Receiver, which essentially he is right now, but the way Stanford traditionally likes to play, he’ll need to bulk up and learn to block better for the run going forward.
With Yurosek, McKee and a couple of other young guys, Stanford is certainly headed in the right direction.
Jayden Daniels (Quarterback, Arizona State), Tyler Johnson (Edge, Arizona State), Omarr Norman-Lott (Defensive Tackle, Arizona State), Jack Jones (Cornerback, Arizona State), Elijah Higgins (Wide Receiver, Stanford), Thomas Booker (Defensive Tackle, Stanford), Gabe Reid (Outside Linebacker, Stanford).
Oklahoma @ Texas
This game always seems to have everything, and it happened again this year, with the Sooners coming back from a 21-point deficit, to snatch victory from the heartbroken Longhorns. The big storyline here was QB Spencer Rattler being benched, and true Freshman QB Caleb Williams stepping in and leading the comeback. Where does Rattler go from here? Who knows, but you have to think Lincoln Riley has a tough job on his hands keeping both of these guys happy now. There were big games from the big names, but we go deeper than the star players here, so let’s delve into a couple of lesser known Sooners who helped make this game a memorable one.
Tyrese Robinson, Right Tackle, 6’3, 324lbs, Senior
Robinson has been an All-Conference Guard for the last two years, but he was surprisingly moved to Right Tackle for this season and he is still excelling, even at this new spot. They still love to pull him on run plays, and he helped open up big holes consistently, particularly in the second half when they needed it. He got injured in the third quarter and missed a series or two and it showed, as his replacement (Tennessee transfer Wanya Morris) couldn’t get the same push as Robinson did. There were times where he got beat with a speed rush to the outside, but in the 76 plays that he was out there, this happened only a handful of times, and again being a Guard normally he’d always have had help outside him, so this is just an adjustment that he needs to make at his new position. Between him and talented Guard Marquis Hayes, they helped the team rush for 339 yards at a 8.27 average and four touchdowns, which are absurd numbers.
His NFL future is almost certainly at Guard, but playing Right Tackle at the level he is right now, only adds to his draft day value.
Jeremiah Hall, H-Back, 6’2, 248lbs, Junior
Oklahoma still likes to use these H-Back types in their Offense, and Jeremiah Hall has excelled in this role for a number of years now. He can line up in the backfield next to the QB, as a traditional Fullback at times, as an inline Tight End too and occasionally split out wide as a Receiver. He has such a diverse skill set that you know the Sooners are just trying to get as much out of him as possible. He had a big play in this game, on a trick play where he led out wide as if to block, but arched through the defenders and up the sideline on a wheel route, and made a nice catch for a long gain. He has that ability to make plays in the passing game, but Oklahoma has so many mouths to feed that he isn’t targeted as much as he should be. They like to use him as a move blocker, and here he really looks good, often pulling and sealing the edges for big runs. He was a big part of the reason for the Sooners massive Offensive output (662 total yards) and he will have fans at the next level who value these multi-purpose players. I’m looking at you Kyle Shanahan.
Marvin Mims (Wide Receiver, Oklahoma), Anton Harrison (Left Tackle, Oklahoma), Marquis Hayes (Left Guard, Oklahoma), Isaiah Thomas (Edge, Oklahoma), Perrion Winfrey (Defensive Tackle, Oklahoma), Nik Bonitto (Edge, Oklahoma), Xavier Worthy (Wide Receiver, Texas), Casey Thompson (Quarterback, Texas), Keondre Coburn (Defensive Tackle, Texas).
Alabama @ Texas A&M
As I put in the intro, this was a game I wasn’t going to bother with, but the result certainly needed further investigation. Now I had no idea Aggies Quarterback Zach Calzada had this type of game in him, and I’m guessing nor did the Crimson Tide. They looked shell-shocked as it was Calzada ripping them apart through the air and not star Running Back Isaiah Spiller doing the damage on the ground. This whole game had everything, and with Johnny Manziel cheering along on the A&M sideline, it was Calzada doing a great impression of Johnny Football in the game itself. He was moving out of the pocket on designed roll-outs, stepping up in the pocket when under pressure, and taking off if necessary, things we hadn’t seen at all in his previous starts. Is this the start of something for Calzada? Probably not, but the one thing we do know is that the stats will now show that a Saban assistant has finally beaten the master himself, and I’m kinda glad it was Jimbo Fisher who got to do it.
Again, we’ll leave the biggest of the names alone, but I do want to briefly shout out a couple of Senior Alabama players who are really emerging from the shadows and into NFL draft relevance.
Brian Robinson, (Running Back, 6’1 225lbs, Senior)
During his five seasons at Alabama, Robinson has had to play behind such Running Backs as Bo Scarbrough, Josh Jacobs, Damien Harris and Najee Harris. Just let that sink in for a minute…. Now I’m sure 90% of players in Robinson’s position would have transferred out during that time, but he backed himself to make it with the Crimson Tide and it’s certainly paying off now.
Alabama leaned heavily on Robinson in this game to the tune of 24 carries for 147 yards, at a 6.13 average. He also caught four passes for 60 yards, giving him over 200 all-purpose yards against one of the stingiest defenses in college football. He has an aggressive running style that suits his size, but he can wiggle a bit too if he needs to. He was constantly ploughing his way through the bodies and gaining those tough yards that ‘Bama needed, and he was an absolute monster in Pass Protection too, stonewalling many an A&M blitzer. In his last two games Robinson has 60 carries for 318 yards and four Touchdowns, which is obscene.
Now where does this magnificent performance put his draft stock? Hard to say right now, as he’ll be an older prospect who hasn’t played much, but if we continue to see this level of play he will certainly have gone from an afterthought, to possibly an early day three guy.
Phidarian Mathis (Defensive Tackle, 6’4 312lbs, Senior)
When I did the summer scouting of Defensive Tackles for the Full 10 Yards, I had three Alabama players to look at. There was Mathis, D.J Dale and LaBryan Ray, and I thought all of them were massively overrated. Now Ray has hardly seen the field this season and Dale continues to flatter to deceive, but Mathis has been fantastic in the previous three games I’d seen this season, and he was even better in this one.
He seems to have found a role on that Defensive Line and he is playing lights out right now. It probably helps having Will Anderson as one of the Edges, but even so Mathis is dominating when lined up inside and they even shift him out to Edge on some plays which is a sight to behold! I remember watching Clemson do something very similar with Christian Wilkins a few years back, and Mathis is doing the same here, a 300+ man lining up outside of the Tackle and trying to take his outside shoulder. Now admittedly he didn’t get any sacks or pressures this way, but the raw athleticism was there for all to see, and if you couple that with the strength he was showing on the interior, we have a very exciting prospect on our hands.
Who knows why the light has only just come on for Mathis, but it has, and it will save his draft stock. This looks a very average interior Defensive Line class and he’s put himself right back amongst the top guys now.
Jameson Williams (Wide Receiver, Alabama), Evan Neal (Left Tackle, Alabama), Javion Cohen (Left Guard, Alabama), Darrian Dalcourt (Center, Alabama), Ainias Smith (Wide Receiver, Texas A&M), Zach Calzada (Quarterback, Texas A&M), Jayden Peevy (Defensive Tackle, Texas A&M), Leon O’Neal (Safety, Texas A&M).
Follow Keith on Twitter – @LordLucken