Tag:BCS
Posted on: November 7, 2011 1:46 pm
Edited on: November 10, 2011 3:43 pm
 

Stanford may not have deep threat Owusu vs Oregon

Andrew Luck and the No. 3 rated Stanford Cardinal may not have big play wide receiver Chris Owusu in Saturday's showdown with No. 7 ranked Oregon.

Owusu was taken off the field by ambulance during the second quarter of Stanford's 38-13 victory over Oregon State November 5. Owusu absorbed a helmet to helmet hit by OSU defensive back Jordan Power Poyer and lay prone for several minutes before being loaded onto a stretcher and placed into the ambulance. He did show that he had feelings in his extremities by raising his hand for a thumbs-up as he was loaded into the ambulance. Owusu diagnosed with a concussion -- his third in the past 13 months.   

Though his numbers are rather pedestrian this season (35 receptions for 376 yards and two touchdowns), Owusu is the fastest of Stanford's wideouts and the talented receiver/returner was given a middle round grade by some scouts heading into this season. He is currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 23 rated wide receiver.

Though Owusu had only scored two touchdowns via Luck passes this season, he served an important role in Stanford's offense as the deep threat that kept safeties honest. Without him, Oregon's safeties may be able to place greater focus on slowing down the Cardinal's powerful rushing attack and Stanford's talented tight ends. 

Considering that Oregon boasts the most athletic secondary Luck has faced all season long, the timing couldn't be much worse for the presumptive No. 1 overall pick and his teammates' chances at remaining undefeated.

For Owusu, the recurring concussions will certainly pose a mighty red flag to NFL teams. Though he was characterized as "fine" by his father (reached by Tom FitzGerald, a staff writer for The San Francisco Chronicle), no timetable has been announced by Stanford as to when Owusu will be able to return to the field.
Posted on: June 17, 2011 10:29 am
 

Oregon Jr CB Cliff Harris suspended indefinitely

Oregon junior cornerback Cliff Harris, an underrated component of the Ducks' drive to a berth in the BCS Title Game last year, has been suspended indefinitely by head coach Chip Kelly after being arrested for speeding and driving a rental car with a suspended license early this week.

Harris, along with two other unidentified Oregon football players, was pulled over by an off-duty Oregon State police officer after the car Harris was driving was clocked at approximately 118 miles per hour. They were pulled over south of Albany, Oregon, which is north of the University of Oregon campus in Eugene.

This is at least the second time that Harris, 20, has been cited for driving with a suspended license.

Kelly announced that Harris would be suspended for Oregon's opener against LSU in Cowboys Stadium in Texas "at the very least" and cautioned that the suspension could go on for much longer should Harris' behavior not improve.
“Cliff’s future clearly is in Cliff’s hands,” Kelly said. “Earning an opportunity to represent the University of Oregon and this football program certainly rests far beyond a player’s ability on the field of play. Our behavior out of the spotlight often is more important and will be held to a higher standard. Until Cliff is able to conform to the same standards all of us must comply with, his status will remain unchanged.”
Though he's only entering his junior season, you can be sure NFL teams are already paying attention. Harris, 5-11 and 180 pounds, led the country with 23 passes defensed last season and led the Pac-10 with six interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown (against Tennessee). Harris is perhaps just as well known for his special teams' prowess, as he's one of the more dynamic return-men in college football.

Last year, he broke the Oregon school record with four punt returns for scores.

Harris currently ranks as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 2 junior cornerback prospect behind only Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick. Each would rate as first round values at this early stage in the process.

As this video will show, Harris' return skills are undeniable. So too are his ball skills. And while some of his punt returns come against weaker competition, three of his interceptions last year came against elite NFL prospects Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley.

 

Posted on: March 4, 2011 12:54 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2011 1:13 pm
 

Confirmed -- LB Matthews to work out at Pro Day

Oregon inside linebacker Casey Matthews "will do all drills except for the bench," at Oregon's Pro Day March 10 his agent, David Dunn, confirmed this morning.

Matthews, NFLDraftScout.com's No. 7 rated inside linebacker , injured the shoulder while performing the bench press drill at the scouting combine Feb. 27. The injury kept him from performing linebacker drills the next day.

Matthews said, according to NFL.com's Steve Wyche , that the injury occurred during the 14th repetition of 225 pounds. Matthews characterized the injury as a "freak accident" but also noted that he had suffered an injury to his left shoulder as a freshman.

Matthews, whose athletic pedigree has been well documented, emerged from his famous family's shadow this season to earn First Team All-Pac-10 honors lastseason with 79 tackles, nine tackles for loss, three interceptions and three fumble recoveries. Like his older brother, Clay, Casey Matthews' instincts and propensity to make the big play at critical moments stand out -- especially in this year's relatively weak class of linebackers.

His forced fumble of Cam Newton in the closing moments of the BCS National Championship game put Oregon in position to score the winning points.

Posted on: January 29, 2011 11:00 pm
 

Newton taking unnecessary risk with media workout

Auburn quarterback Cam Newton might be able to impress the media during a one-hour workout he's scheduled for February 10 at Cathedral High in Del Mar, California, but will it do any good?

Despite winning the Heisman Trophy and BCS Championship, there are plenty of questions about the Auburn junior's ability to translate his success into the NFL. The spread-option offense he ran under Gus Malzahn's direction won't cut in the NFL. He'll need to be able to read defenses quicker, be more accurate with a greater variety of passes and do both while dropping back from center -- something he was rarely asked to do with the Tigers.

Helping him improve in these areas is George Whitfield, the San Diego-based quarterback guru who helped keep Ben Roethlisberger fine-tuned while the Pittsburgh star served his four-game suspension this season.

I don't doubt Newton's talent as a quarterback, nor Whitfield's talent as a coach. I do question Cam Newton, Sr.'s decision to have this media-only workout in the first place.

And let's be clear, this is a media-only event. NFL scouts are forbidden to attend a prospect's workout of this nature in any other setting than the Combine, the player's hometown or his university.

The purpose of the workout, Whitfield told Jim Corbett of USA Today is to "differentiate [Newton] from Vince Young and JaMarcus Russell " and to determine if Newton should workout at the Combine or wait for Auburn's Pro Day in March.

The obvious question I'd ask is what could Newton possibly gain from this workout in front of the relatively untrained of national media?

Taking an optimistic approach, let's assume Newton blows us all away with his workout for a moment.

Doesn't he run the risk that NFL teams will be turned off by what appears to be an attempt to upstage the NFL and its Combine?

And to do what? Create some buzz? There isn't a more famous (rapidly becoming infamous) collegiate player in the country.

And, what if Newton struggles - or is even inaccurately portrayed by some as having struggled -- in his workout? Will he elect not to workout for scouts at the Combine, thereby opening himself up to questions about his competitive fire?

I asked a handful of scouts about this workout. All were mystified as to what gains could be made with what one front officie executive termed a "publicity stunt."

One high level scout put it this way:

"The Newtons would be best to realize they aren't in college anymore. Regardless of how good he looks for [the media], there isn't going to be a bidding war for him. We're not recruiting him. They could wind up turning more people against them than for them with this [workout]."

Posted on: January 11, 2011 8:47 am
Edited on: January 11, 2011 12:54 pm
 

'Fairley' dominant game won't push DT to No. 1

For those who have watched Auburn's Nick Fairley dominate the competition all year long, last night's performance against Oregon in the BCS Championship game was no surprise. Even the comparisons to the Detroit's Pro Bowl rookie Ndamukong Suh used by ESPN announcer Kirk Herbstreit had been used before.

The reality is, however, many had not seen Fairley play until last night's game -- including some NFL general managers.

The 6-5, 299 pound Fairley was his typically disruptive self, posting five tackles, including three tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble. Oregon tried beating with with traps, double-teams and having QB Darron Thomas "read" him in an effort to slow down the big fella and nothing worked consistently.

The All-American finished his junior season with an eye-popping 60 tackles including nearly half of them behind the line of scrimmage (24 for a loss of 106 yards) and 11.5 sacks.

And yet for as dominant as Fairley was last night, he isn't likely to have moved himself into position to be taken with the first overall pick.

Why? There are two reasons.

For one, scouts are rightfully afraid that he is a bit of a one year wonder. Fairley did little to stand out in his first season at Auburn after transferring from Copiah-Lincoln Junior College in Mississippi. Starting two of 13 games, Fairley posted 28 tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss.

There is no denying Fairley's talent - I've had scouts tell me he's the most gifted player in the country - but few teams have been willing to gamble a high first round pick on a "one year wonder" at defensive tackle since some high profile busts of similar players in the early part of the decade. The Browns (Gerard Warren), Jets (Dewayne Robertson) and Saints (Johnathan Sullivan)  each devoted top six picks to flashy SEC defensive tackles whose stock was based largely off of one dominant season and that tantalizing thought of "upside."

More importantly, Fairley is simply a poor fit for the 3-4 defense Carolina may incorporate if they do hire San Diego's defensive coordinator Ron Rivera as is being widely reported.

EDIT - Rivera played and coached extensively out of the 4-3 alignment during his time with the Bears (player and coach) and Eagles before becoming the Chargers defensive coordinator --

Fairley's best attribute -- his explosive burst upfield - makes him a prototypical fit as a three-technique defensive tackle in the 4-3 alignment -- just as he was being used last night (and all year long) by Auburn. His long arms make it possible that he could make the transition to the 3-4, but it would be a waste of his talents to put him at defensive end in the odd man front, especially considering that the "money" man in this alignment is at nose guard. Fairley, for as dominant as he is, is special due to his quickness, not extraordinary strength -- a requirement to play the zero technique in the 3-4.

Of course, with Carolina expected to strongly pursue any trade offers out of the No. 1 pick, a teaming built around the 4-3 and willing to gamble on Fairley's upside could still make him the No. 1 pick.

As always, for the best in NFL draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com.

Posted on: January 10, 2011 1:45 pm
 

This one on one matchup will decide BCS Champion

Breaking down No. 1 rated Auburn and No. 2 Oregon in the weeks leading up to tonight's BCS Championship, what is most clear is why these two teams went undefeated.

The Tigers and Ducks each boasted a rare combination of schematic and athletic advantages over their prior opponents. Their spread option offenses not only put their athletes in position to make big plays, their skill position players have the elusiveness and speed to take full advantage.

What is also clear is that the two teams match up very well against each other.

Auburn has been able to simply out-score their SEC opponents, protecting a pass defense that ranked 106th (out of 120 teams) in the FBS. Though Oregon's running attack, led by Heisman finalist LaMichael James, rightly gets most of the attention, how Auburn's secondary is able to handle the passing of Darron Thomas will be key. Few realize that Thomas tied Stanford's Andrew Luck with a sparkling 28 touchdown passes to lead the Pac-10 during the regular season -- or that the sophomore Thomas accomplished this with 28 fewer attempts.

Auburn has the beef inside with Nick Fairley and an active inside linebacker in Josh Bynes to potentially slow James, but it won't do any good if Thomas and the Ducks' prolific passing attack gets hot against the Tigers' vulnerable secondary.

It is the Oregon defense's ability to match up against Heisman winner Cam Newton, however, that will ultimately determine whether the Pac-10 or SEC champion will get to hoist the BCS Championship trophy.

Oregon isn't as heavy on the defensive line as the Tigers, but possess their own playmaking defensive tackle in Brandon Bair, who led the Pac-10's interior defensive linemen with 15.5 tackles for loss.

If Bair is capable of collapsing the pocket, it will allow Oregon to keep their back seven in coverage and allow the Ducks' inside linebacker Casey Matthews to serve as a spy of sorts against Newton.

SEC teams have tried and failed to incorporate a spy against Newton. Newton has proven far too athletic for linebackers to handle him and much too big for safeties.

Matthews is neither particularly physical nor speedy, but does present a different problem for Newton and the Tigers -- he is one of the country's most instinctive defenders and, just as importantly, more reliable open field tacklers.
 
If Matthews is able to corral Newton, the Heisman Trophy winner will have to rely on just his passing to beat the Ducks. While NFL scouts would certainly love to see Newton's accuracy in the pocket put to this type of test, Auburn fans would not. Oregon's secondary has long been a strength (consider they've sent Patrick Chung, Jairus Byrd, T.J. Ward and Walter Thurmond into the NFL the past two years) and feature two sophomores in cornerback Cliff Harris and free safety John Boyett headed that way. Newton has impressed with his passing ability, but if forced to stay in the pocket, he could struggle against this athletic secondary.

Clearly, there are many factors that could determine a game this closely matched, not the least of which is how each team handles the long layoff.

In the end, however, the winner of Newton and Matthews' one on one matchup is most likely to determine the 2010 BCS Champion.
Posted on: December 25, 2010 1:19 pm
 

Holiday presents - best 5 Bowl 1 on 1 matchups

On this winter holiday for many, I thought I've provide my readers with my own gift, of sorts.

The following are the five individual matchups I'm most looking forward to scouting over the upcoming bowl games.

West Virginia FS Robert Sands vs. NC State QB Russell Wilson: The 6-4, 221 pound Sands is considering leaving WVU after this, his junior season. Sands is allowed to freelance a bit in the Mountaineers' 3-3-5 defense, but is a natural playmaker who can bring the thunder as a hitter. His instincts and coverage skills will be tested against Wilson. A strong game by Sands could push him into the 2011 draft, where he'd rate among the best free safeties in a weak class needing help from the juniors if there are to be many candidates worthy of a top 75 grade.  This game is scheduled for 6:30 pm EST on Tuesday, December 28th.

Washington WR Jermaine Kearse vs. Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara: Many will point to Husky quarterback Jake Locker as the player to watch in this contest and for good reason. His 4 of 20 performance in the team's first matchup in October is considered by some to be the game that sent his stock sliding this year. (Loyal readers know that is not necessarily the case.) The reality is, without sudden and massive improvement by Washington's offensive line, Nebraska's defense should again be too much to provide Locker a chance in this game. If the 6-2, 205 pound Kearse, however, is able to shake free early for some big plays against Amukamara, Locker and the Huskies have a chance. Locker relies on the junior as his favorite target. When Kearse has been shut down, so too (generally) has Locker -- making this one on one battle a key in the most anticipated rematch of the bowl season.  This game is scheduled for 10 pm EST on Thursday, December 30th.

Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd vs. Miami CB Brandon Harris: Both the 6-3, 228 pound Floyd and the 5-11, 195 pound Harris are expected to leave for the NFL following this game. Harris has the agility, speed and physicality to eliminate most receivers, but Floyd's significant size advantage makes this an intriguing test for the Canes' star. Though teams are often hesitant to move around their corners to match up all game long against wide receivers, eliminating the big play Floyd from Notre Dame's arsenal might be the easiest way of crippling Brian Kelly's offense. This game is scheduled for 2 pm EST on Friday, December 31st.

TCU OT Marcus Cannon vs. Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt: Last year it was the one on one matchup between Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan and Iowa left tackle Bryan Bulaga that in my mind was the elite battle of the bowl season. This year it is Cannon and Watt. Watt is moved all over the Badgers' defensive line and it is this versatility that has been maddening for opponents to protect against and left NFL scouts salivating at his versatility in the pros. Watt, however, will have his hands full when playing against the Horned Frogs' left tackle, a 6-5, 350 pound behemoth with shockingly quick feet. Bulaga shut down Morgan last year, cementing his place in the first round. I have Cannon firmly in the second round, at this point, but if he's able to slow down Watt, arguably the most dominant defensive lineman in the country, he'll skyrocket up draft boards. This game is scheduled for 5 pm EST on Saturday, January 1st.

Auburn QB Cam Newton vs. Oregon ILB Casey Matthews:
Opponents have tried to keep a "spy" in to protect against Cam Newton's running all game long. The strategy has largely failed despite the fact that defenses have often resorted to their most athletic linebackers or physical safeties to do the job. Matthews isn't a spectacular athlete or terribly physical, but he might be the most instinctive linebacker in the country and among the surer tacklers. This one on one battle could dictate how well Newton is able to move the Auburn offense with his legs -- which could wind up as the key to the BCS Championship. This game is scheduled for 8:30 pm EST on Monday, January 10th.


On behalf of the entire NFLDraftScout.com crew of analysts Chad Reuter and Chris Steuber, editors Derek Harper and Jeff Reynolds, website tech expert Brian Hitterman and publisher Frank Cooney I wish you and your loved ones a very safe, happy and (hopefully football-filled) holiday season.


As always for the very best in pro football draft coverage, check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here.
Posted on: August 16, 2010 12:17 pm
 

Tebow's first game as predictable as it comes

There are times when I really do try to not mention a certain quarterback wearing the No. 15.

In explaining the hoopla to a few family members who don't care about football I realized that unless Tim Tebow truly revolutionizes the game, he'll never be able to match his hype. John Elway, who was the best all-around quarterback I've ever seen, couldn't live up to the expectations some are placing on Tebow.

And let's be clear, Tim Tebow is no John Elway.

Like many of you, I've intently watched Tebow for the past four years light up NCAA defenses with a brand of leadership, toughness, power running and passing just consistent enough to keep opponents in check.

I'm kicking myself this morning for not writing a Tebow Preview post yesterday prior to Denver's preseason game at Cincinnati.

Sure, it is easy to sound like a know-it-all after the fact, but was Tebow's up and down premiere really that surprising?

You tell me -- what wasn't predictable about last night?

Consider that:

  • One could see Tebow's nervous energy on the Denver sideline as the game went on and he knew his time was coming.
  • Once on the field, Tebow was loudly booed (amidst some cheers) by the Ohio crowd. Surprise, surprise that Buckeye and Bearcat fans remembered Tebow's impact in the 2007 BCS Championship Game (41-14) and 2010 Sugar Bowl (51-24) throttlings, respectively, of their beloved teams. 
  • Tebow's best throw was a 40-yard bomb to wideout Matt Willis. Though the ball wasn't perfectly placed -- it would have hit Willis in the helmet had it not bounced off of both hands first -- it was thrown with enough trajectory and speed to allow the receiver to catch and run away from the cornerback. It should have been a 60 yard touchdown. Tebow's deep ball prowess was among his most impressive traits I noticed when scouting him during his Pro Day workout and the Senior Bowl .
  • Once pressured, Tebow reverted back to the long wind-up delivery that we'd seen throughout his four years at Florida. By dropping the ball to his hip like he'd done hundreds of times with the Gators, Tebow had the ball knocked free when hit by a Cincinnati blitz. Bengal pass rusher Frostee Rucker picked up the ball and ran for an apparent touchdown. Replay ruled that Tebow's arm was going forward and the defensive touchdown was wiped away, but this was precisely what scouts were concerned about . Even when the ball wasn't knocked away during his wind-up, Bengal pass defenders still got a half-step advantage in breaking to the ball. Again, for all of the talk about Tebow's smoother throwing motion following the season, did anyone really believe the tutoring in a controlled situation would take over for his instincts and muscle memory once back in an actual game?
  • Finally, was anyone surprised that Tebow was able to score on the game's final play? Trailing 33-17, the last timed play of the game wasn't going to have any bearing on the final outcome. The players giving their all on this play would be the ones whose jobs were on the line or simply the most competitive on the field. Tebow's competitive fire is as impressive as any player I've ever scouted and he's a load as a runner (as his SEC-record 57 rushing touchdowns can attest) so it was quite predictable to see him take off from the 7-yard line and bowl over a defender (Bengals safety Kyries Hebert) on his way to the endzone. Even Cincinnati quarterback Carson Palmer wasn't surprised with the outcome. As he told reporters following the game, "It was one of those things where you knew he was going to score on the last play of the game, either run it in or throw it in there," Palmer said. "He's such a competitor. I've been a big fan of his ever since he started at Florida. He's one of the greatest college football players."
Now, the day after the game, sports analysts everywhere are micro-analyzing Tebow's performance. Some are surprised he didn't fall on his face, completely. Others, buying into Tebow-mania, are surely certain that his last-play touchdown forecasts immediate NFL success.

And I guess that mixed reaction is the most predictable of all.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com