A couple teams traveled back East to show off their skills, and the results couldn't be more different. Oregon starred in a Red Bull commercial in Charlottesville, while San Diego State looked like they were wearing ankle weights in Columbus. BYU got Manny Diaz fired by putting on a rushing clinic against his invisible linebackers. There were a couple of inter-confrence game in the West where the Pac-12 showed it's still boss. And then there was USC beating USC. I'd love to give Wazzu some credit, but I haven't watched the game yet and judging from the highlights and recap, Lane Kiffin spent the offseason doing whatever he could to avoid coaching his QBs.
On an individual level, there were a lot of great performances that showed off the wagon load of talents we have out West. So far Kyle Van Noy is the most dominant player I've seen. DAT is the fastest player I've seen. And Stanford's O-line showed fat kids can do more than the truffle shuffle.
BEST: Marcus Mariota (ORE) is fast. He averaged 30 YPC and led the Ducks on a route of the Hoos. His passing numbers weren't overly impressive (14/28) but there were a couple of drops, and most importantly he didn't throw any picks. He looked comfortable reading defenses and was able to use his legs to buy time. The UVA defense stymied BYU the week prior, but couldn't do much to stop the Ducks as Mariota is so much more of a threat with his arm. He doesn't get much pressure, but also doesn't throw as many gimme throws as Derek Carr. I still think Carr is the best pure passer, but Mariota's dual threat ability makes defenses so much more vulnerable.
Honorable Mention: Taysom Hill (BYU) introduced himself to CFB fans across the country by rushing for 259 yards. It's doubtful he can make the NFL as a QB, but he's got a couple years to hone his skills. If he can improve his passing you never know. Kevin Hogan (STAN) had a great game. He throws a great ball. SJSU was dropping a lot into coverage, and Hogan was able to be patient and make the throws he needed to. He actually showed good athleticism by rolling out and running when he needed to. Chuckie Keeton (USU) got us all excited for a game in two weeks against USC by rolling up Air Force. I didn't scout this game, but 400+ yards to total offense speaks for itself. There's a buzz around Keeton right now.
Needs Work: David Fales (SJSU) is good, but Stanford's D was just too much. He was pressured all night and never had time to set himself. He was still accurate considering the disadvantages. He's not mobile enough to make his own play when his O-line gets blown up. I'll be looking for more when he's not wiping Shane Skov's eye black off his jersey.
Needs a lot of Work: Nick Sherry (UNLV). I like Sherry, but in two games he's proven he's not ready for primetime. He's got a good arm but he forces throws and has been a turnover machine. I'm going to take a break from Sherry in the hopes that he can build back some confidence later in the year.
BEST: DeAnthony Thomas (ORE) is more than a track guy in pads. When he runs between the tackles he's really good a slipping the big hit. He also has incredibly powerful legs that allow him to run through arm tackles. He's got so many moves, that sometimes he can trip himself up. But he's not a dancer. When he sees a hole he hits it without hesitation.
Honorable Mention: KaDeem Carey (ARIZ) made a 58 yard house call on his first carry of the season against UNLV. He has a little jump step move he does at the LOS and then accelerates through the hole. I'll be interested to see if that move can hold up against good Ds.
Needs Work: Adam Muema (SDSU) was battling a sprained ankle, but I don't think Bob Toledo's 1999 offense is going to do him any favors. Tim Cornette (UNLV) had a couple of nice runs, but they were down too much and Arizona's LBs were all over him. I have my doubts about his speed.
BEST: Cody Hoffman (BYU) had two nice catches along the sideline. He has great size, footwork and concentration. Since Texas wasn't stopping the run, there weren't a lot of opportunities for Hoffman. I'll be watching his routes over the middle of the field in future games.
Honorable Mention: Josh Huff (ORE) had a TD catch, but it was his blocking of punts and defenders that will get him in the league. He is strong and fast enough to be a stud special teams player in the NFL. Devante Davis' (UNLV) 70 yard TD catch was just about the only highlight for the Rebels. His route was bendy, but he got open and got the ball over the middle and was gone.
Need Work: Colt Lyerla (TE ORE) has all the physical attributes to be a 1st rounder, but I have my doubts about him mentally. He dropped a couple balls against UVA that weren't that hard. He's getting a lot of buzz on draft sites, but I'm not sure what these guys are watching. He's no doubt a great player, but I'm not sold on him being the next Gronk.
BEST: Guards David Yankey and Kevin Danser (STAN) blew up San Jose State's front seven all night. Both of these guys get off the ball quickly and pull and hit guys. When they get locked in you're done. I need an ice bath just thinking about them hitting LBs.
Honorable Mention: Cameron Fleming (RT STAN) was solid. His body doesn't look as fit as you might hope, and he doesn't look quick. However, his footwork is incredible, and he doesn't get beat. The results are there, but I'm not sure he the "combine" type. Ryker Matthews (G BYU) switched from tackle to guard and look dominant. There were a couple of trap plays where he just crushed the UT defender.
BEST: Ben Gardner (DE STAN) got a sack on David Fales, but pretty much made Fales run for his life all night. He was in the backfield almost every play. Not super fast, but over powered his opponents consistently.
Honorable Mention: Taylor Hart (DT ORE) has one of the best inside moves I've seen. He sets up the tackle to bull rush, but steps between him and the guard to get into the backfield. It sounds simple but I don't see many players do it so well. Travis Raciti (DT SJSU) seemed to be the only guy who could get pressure on Hogan. He clearly picked the weak spot of the fence (Stanford's C) and was very active all night. He played almost every down.
BEST: Kyle Freaking Van Noy (BYU)! Holy shit! He is effing awesome! Everyone was talking about Taysom Hill, but this guy was the best player on any field on Saturday. David Ash may have shit his pants. I felt dirty just watching KVN abuse the entire Texas line. There are so few plays in which he’s not involved. I swear there must be two of him out there. At this point, his only weakness seems to be lack of superman strength. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a more dominant pass rusher. The only way to contain him to get you hands on him early, but he’s so fast that if you get too close, he’ll blow right by you. He’s long and athletic and has hips that make Shakira jealous. It's early, but I’m having a really tough time seeing how he drops out of the top 10 in the draft.
Honorable Mention: Shane Skov (STAN) was a beast. He had one play where he was out of position (or maybe his teammate was) but other than that he seemed perfect. He's the total package: tackling, coverage, pass rushing, pursuit etc. AJ Tarpley and Trent Murphy are studs too, but Skov seems to be the star. Scouts might feel differently, but it's just tough to watch the other guys when SS is on the field. Arizona LBs Marquis Flowers and Jake Fischer each had a turnover return for TD or close. I will want to see them against better competition.
Needs Work: SDSU LBs Nick Tenhaeff and Jake Fely looked slow against tOSU. Fely made a lot of tackles, but for a guy his size (5'-10") he's got to be faster.
BEST: Ed Reynolds (STAN) was all over the place. SJSU spread the ball around, and Reynolds seemed to have a beat on where the ball was going. He was rarely threatened deep so it give him the luxury of being agressive.
Honorable Mention: A week after getting ejected for targeting Terrence Mitchell (CB ORE) had a pick and was great in coverage. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (CB ORE) was solid as well. Daniel Sorenson (SS BYU) made a lot of tackles and seem to be contesting a lot of Ash's throws over the middle. Bene Benwikere (CB SJSU) had a play over the middle where he showed great closing speed to break up a pass. I though for sure he was beat, but he hit the turbo button to get the ball.