Sunday, September 5, 2010

Scouting College Football - Week One

Since I think I am good at just about everything, I figured I should really test these things out. I assessed minor league baseball players, analyzed the NFL Draft, and predicted that Derrek Lee would be traded to the Braves after a Troy Glaus injury. Now I will take the next step and start looking into college football and give my opinion of teams and players. Before I get into the nitty gritty, I encourage anyone to share their thoughts on what they see in games as well.

Arizona @ Toledo
First off, my opinions on Toledo are limited, because A) nobody cares, and B) they got rid of Toledo Tom and now have a coach named Toledo Tim. I once drove two hours on a Thursday night just so I could support Toledo against Iowa State in Ames. Evidence of that trip is here:
I'm the guy without the stupid mask.

So onto scouting Arizona. I figure this will probably be far more interesting since most of my readers either love or hate Iowa.

Arizona has five returning starters who are all seniors this year on their offensive line. That would be worrisome, but then you would watch them and not worry so much. I will give them credit in that they did a good job in pass protection to give their QB time to read and pick apart the defense. Still, for these guys all being at the pinnacle of their powers, their push in the run game was very poor. In obvious running situations, the offensive line got no push, and they were eventually responsible for a safety as they had a holding call in the end zone.

Arizona QB Nick Foles was pretty impressive in this game. He put nice touch on the ball on his first touchdown pass towards the back of the end zone. He also showed nice touch on a fade route to the end zone later that the receiver dropped. Arizona kept their routes short, and Foles connected well on those routes. They run the immediate pass to the outside which Iowa has a tendency to struggle with since their corners play off the line of scrimmage quite a bit. When Toledo was able to apply pressure, Foles mechanics really broke down and his accuracy suffered. Since I think the Iowa defensive line should be able to win the battle against Arizona's offensive line, I could definitely see the Hawkeyes giving Foles a lot of trouble. If Foles is given time to throw though, he is smart enough to take what defenses give him and move the ball down the field.

Nic Grigsby is awesome in the open field, and his final cut on his touchdown run was a thing of beauty, but he doesn't run hard between the tackles, so I think he will struggle to get to the second level against good defenses. He's miscast right now, as he does have the necessary attributes to be a good third down back. I'd be worried about him getting the ball on draws or screen passes as that will be his greatest strength.

Most Impressive Offensive Player
The scariest person on Arizona's offense is, without a doubt, Juron Criner. He had eleven catches on 187 yards and had a ridiculous catch on the one (underthrown) deep ball that Nick Foles released. At 6'4", I'm already shuttering as a Hawkeye fan as I remember the James Hardy debacle. Criner is very good at winning the ball in coverage and is able to use his body to create space to make catches. This guy is going to be a tough matchup for teams.

Most Impressive Defensive Player
My favorite Arizona player was defensive end Brooks Reed. He was nonstop hustle, and with the long blonde hair, he definitely reminded me of former Hawkeye, Mitch King. He created problems for the Toledo offensive line with his speed on the outside. Arizona's whole line is dependent on speed, and they are aggressive in pursuing up-field. I could definitely see them struggling against draws and screens because of this. Their line also struggled when the offensive line got their hands on them. Toledo wasn't able to do it often, but their defensive line looked like they were in quicksand when it happened, a lot of flailing around, but they really weren't going anywhere.

Wisconsin @ UNLV
The offensive line is good; this is not groundbreaking news. They were excellent in pass protection, and good in run blocking. I really like John Moffitt as he was able to seal off the defensive tackle and create a good running lane for the Wisconsin backs on multiple occasions.

Tolzien had all day to throw last night, and he did a solid enough job on it. He did throw a Stanzi, but it wasn't a terrible throw, just a really good read by the cornerback.

Clay is a good power back, and it's always fun to see people try to go high on him when tackling. That strategy never works. Montee Ball was unimpressive. He was obviously less powerful than Clay, and although he probably has a speed advantage, he did not display quick feet last night. I liked their third back, James White much more. Fast and quick and can provide a good change of pace from the pounding that they get with Clay.

Most Impressive Offensive Player
I really like Nick Toon as a wide receiver. Good size, and does a good job of utilizing his quickness on his routes.

Most Impressive Defensive Player
Chris Borland is awesome. If you like football at all, watch him play, because it is an absolutely magical experience. He's big, he's fast, he's strong, he's quick, he has good instincts, and he wreaks havoc on the football field. He ended up with only five tackles, but he was all over the field, and he stuffed one run behind the line of scrimmage and also had a sack when he lined up at defensive end on a third down. This guy is just a beast.

Other Notes
Listening to the Hawkeye radio crew is always a pleasure. Dolph dropped this one yesterday, "There is no better person in college football than Ricky Stanzi." My only issue is that he put "in college football" in that sentence. Remove that, and I couldn't agree more.

Adam Robinson ran hard and looked very good yesterday. With Jewel coming though, it will be hard for him to win the "Battle of the A-Robs" against Iowa State.

TCU isn't a great team, but they're a tough team that really can grind out games.

Like most PAC-10 teams, Oregon State can't tackle.

Yep, Michigan has me worried. UConn beat themselves in that game with a ton of mental mistakes. Still, the Michigan offense looks dangerous. They did convert a ridiculous amount of third downs, which seems somewhat lucky. Still, it wouldn't surprise me if dual-threat quarterbacks like Denard Robinson convert more third downs than teams with more conventional quarterbacks, because they can still make something happen even if the downfield coverage is there.

Although all I caught were highlights, was anybody surprised that Jake Locker barely completed 50% of his passes and his team lost? Right now, Jake Locker is a more athletic Kyle Boller.


P.S. Jose needs to get back on steroids, because it looks like his head is going to explode just by holding up an extra 120 pounds (I have no clue how to estimate lady weight, but that seems reasonable).

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