Category Archives: In-game reports

2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo Gallery/Practice Notes: American Team, Day 1

There were several players who stood out during Day 1 of the American team practices at the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl. We go inside a few plays and give some of the notes from our film review in our photo gallery breakdown.

2021 Capital One Orange Bowl Photo Gallery

The Texas A&M Aggies finished off a 9-1 campaign with a fourth quarter flurry of scores versus a game North Carolina Tar Heels team that played without a plethora of its offensive firepower. We go inside the action with a photo gallery that describes some of the best action in the Aggies 41-27 victory over the Tar Heels. The game’s ebbs and flows were befitting of a New Year’s Six bowl.

2020 Boca Raton Bowl, UCF vs. BYU, in-game report: STOCK WATCH

2021 NFL Draft prospect Zach Wilson’s 425-yard, five-touchdown performance (3 PASS, 2 RUSH) led the day -and rightfully so- and now we take a look at some of the other pro prospects from BYU’s 49-23 victory over the UCF Knights in the 2020 Boca Raton Bowl.

STOCK UP:

95 Khyris Tonga
6’4 321 DT-Senior
BYU

Tonga’s stat line will never jump off the screen. In today’s NFL, the splash interior defensive line prospects typically are able to work to half a man for quick penetration. This is not Tonga’s game. Where he does flash in the passing game revolves around his timing to cloud passing lanes.

He posted a pass breakup in this contest and recorded three in the team’s final four games of 2020. He finished his career with 12 pass deflections. The former rugby star is strong, runs well in a straight line and projects as a zero-technique in three-man fronts.

STEADY:

5 Dax Milne
6’0 189 WR-Junior
BYU

Milne has been a model of consistency all season for the Cougars and this game was no different. There were several games this season where he flashed down the field capability in terms of high-pointing the football (see Houston ’20). The former walk-on uses deception and a quick-footed style to fool defensive backs. It is a big reason he was the team’s second-leading receiver on third downs. One of his better patterns is the stutter-and-go comeback route (see Western Kentucky ’20), but there have been occasions where he’s made deft one-hand grabs from his quarterback down the field in contested situations (TD vs. Sails, USF ’19). Milne recently declared for the 2021 NFL Draft and he could be the program’s first receiver picked since Austin Collie in 2008 (Indianapolis Colts, 4th Round, 127th overall).

67 Brady Christensen
6’6 300 LT-Junior
BYU

For the most part, Christensen has been steady. There are some occasions where players get the best of him due to a questionable anchor (see Boyles, USF ’19; Wiley, UTSA ’20). In those instances, he has even been knocked to the ground. Mobility and foot quickness, however, make him a viable option to hear his name called this spring after recently declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft. In this contest, he was adept at baiting the opponent up the field, particularly on QB Zach Wilson’s quarterback draw for a touchdown in the first quarter. Christiensen is also agile as a pulling option on the perimeter (1st QTR/0:25, Boca Raton ’20). Can he long-arm the opponent when quick-setting (2nd QTR/5:11, Boca Raton ’20)?

2 Otis Anderson
5’11 174 RB-Ret-Senior
UCF

After not playing against USF, Anderson was solid in what may have been his last collegiate game (16 carries, 73 yards). He does have the option of returning for one more season. The former wide receiver finishes with over 90 career receptions and a healthy six yards per carry average.

Anderson (pictured in the slot in the 2017 AAC Championship game) has rushed for 2,187 yards (6.1 YPC), caught 91 passes for another 1,025 yards and averaged 12.3 yards per punt return. Along the way he has crossed the paint for 27 total touchdowns in four seasons.

An adept punt returner who could carve out a niche in that role, he has more than one tool in his skill-set. His foot speed will likely determine whether he can sneak into an NFL training camp.

FUTURE WATCH:

83 Isaac Rex
6’6 247 TE-Redshirt Freshman
BYU

As the season has gone on, Rex continued to work the seams both in the field and the Red Zone. He scored two or more touchdowns in five of the team’s final seven contests. The team will line him up one-on-one for back-shoulder fades (Western Kentucky ’20, 2nd QTR/0:21). And just think what this offense would have looked like had NFL prospect Matt Bushman been available all season. Versus UCF, Rex led the team with five receptions for 96 yards and two touchdowns. One of his touchdowns came on a flea-flicker where he was left wide open down the right sidelines.

The former San Clemente High School (Calif.) product was a basketball recruit and part of the 2017 recruiting class. He has already served a mission in Samoa for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Is the future now?

2020 Myrtle Beach Bowl, in-game report: Appalachian State vs. North Texas

The Mountaineers rolled the Mean Green in the inaugural 2020 Myrtle Beach Bowl by a score of 56-28. We take a look at several prospects that we’ve had our eye on this season.

Appalachian State Mountaineers

6 Camerun Peoples
6’2 202 RB-Sophomore

For Peoples it was all about getting downhill over the course of the last year. In 2019, he missed most of the season with a knee injury. How would he return in 2020? The results were a bit up-and-down, as he put the ball on the turf four times (fumbles). In the 2020 Myrtle Beach Bowl, the game MVP displayed a build speed stride that often outpaced the angles of North Texas’ defense. His upright running style is offset by his quick one-cut ability. He scored on an outside zone late in the second quarter, displaying very good straight-line speed. Continued flexibility gains are in order for the redshirt sophomore.

12 Zac Thomas
6’1 210 QB-Senior

Thomas came into the season as perhaps the Sun Belt’s most ballyhooed quarterback, but his final stanza ended on a bit of a sour note. He struggled with decision-making in the Coastal Carolina contest and -despite a bounce back performance against Troy- ended the final month with the ball largely out of his hands. His impact as a running threat gradually faded over the final month of the year.

70 Cooper Hodges
6’4 295 RT-Sophomore

Hodges works his hands on the outside lanes. On Peoples’ 64-yard touchdown run near the end of the second quarter the sophomore finished a knockdown block by simply running his feet through the long arm of the defensive end. His hinge blocks on the backside of run away are technique-sound. He is a player to keep an eye on moving forward.

51 John “Bear” Hunter
6’3 295 RG-Senior

Hunter’s nickname is appropriate because he runs down the opposition. Hunter won to the spot versus North Texas DT Dion Novil on a reach block and then he flipped his hips to cut him off on the team’s outside zone run schemes (on more than one occasion). The former defensive lineman displays good hip torque on contact. He possesses good vision to pick up linebackers running through his gap control on run action away. The questions on Hunter revolve around length and whether he can transition into the center spot.

9 Demetrius Taylor
6’1 295 DL-Senior

Taylor posted one quarterback hurry and just two tackles in this contest. Taylor’s impact can largely go unnoticed until it doesn’t. He plays bully ball on the edge and has been one of the stronger players in the conference dating back to 2017. He finished his career with 35.5 tackles for losses and at least part of his emergence began with current Kentucky defensive line coach and former CFL standout Anwar Stewart (https://journalnow.com/sports/college/asu/app-states-demetrius-taylor-has-the-talent-to-make-a-big-impact-his-position-coach/article_7bdadc68-9943-5133-bc25-f7bfcb73f097.html).

North Texas Mean Green

North Texas DT Dion Novil (No. 97 pictured) finished his career with 28 tackles for losses.

97 Dion Novil
6’4 330 NT-Senior

This was a game that Novil needed to put a stamp on what had been a productive senior campaign, but he was reached and scooped by Appalachian State RG John “Bear” Hunter on Peoples’ long touchdown run near the end of the second quarter. His inactivity in this game was evidenced by a final line that included zero tackles. He was moved off of the ball versus double teams due to a tendency of playing on his toes (3rd QTR/0:21). Perhaps more disconcerting was the fact that he was unable to adjust his game versus the Mountaineers angle blocking schemes.

2018 Valero Alamo Bowl In-game report: Iowa State vs. Washington State, 12-28-18

Washington State emerged victorious in a back-and-forth thriller against Iowa State.  The Cougars defeated the Cyclones 28-26 to win the 2018 Valero Alamo Bowl.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

16 Gardner Minshew (6’2 220) Washington State QB-Senior

Former East Carolina quarterback Gardner Minshew’s transition to Pullman culminated with his selection as college football’s 2018 Johnny United Golden Arm Award winner.

The East Carolina transfer put together a season that ended with him winning the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award, which is given to the nation’s top senior quarterback.  Minshew impressed in the Valero Alamo Bowl with his short compact delivery and his elusiveness in the pocket.  Iowa State opted to rush just three defensive linemen for the better part of the game and he took his time with patient reads.  When he is at his best, Minshew can power off his back foot and drive the ball in the short and intermediate passing game.  At the next level, the Cougars quarterback will have to answer questions about his deep ball accuracy and ability to run a less quarterback-friendly offense than head coach Mike Leach’s air raid offense.  The former ECU Pirate finished his senior season with 4,779 passing yards, 38 touchdowns and nine interceptions. 

4 Marcus Strong (5’9 185) Washington State CB-Junior

Marcus Strong showed his anticipation and ball skills when he jumped a slant in the first quarter and ran the interception in for a touchdown. The junior cornerback, however, was called for a taunting penalty and had his touchdown negated.  For the game, Strong finished with seven tackles, one sack and one interception.  He impressed this season -and against Iowa State- with his ability to compete and play through the whistle.  Despite giving up nine inches against Iowa State receiver Hakeem Butler, Strong got physical and made life hard on the taller opponent.  The lack of size will concern scouts, but the Cougars cornerback has the right mentality to play on the outside in the NFL. 

18 Hakeem Butler (6’6 225) Iowa State WR-Junior

Butler is physical and not afraid to put his hands on the opposing cornerback to create room in his routes.  He also showed the skills to seal the edge during running plays.  Despite his height, Butler can still get low and get in-and-out of his breaks (see his comeback routes during the first half).  The junior had a productive season, posting 60 catches for 1,318 yards and nine touchdowns.  Against Washington State, he caught nine passes for 192 yards.  This included an acrobatic one-handed catch over the middle of the field. 

32 David Montgomery (5’11 216) Iowa State RB-Junior

David Montgomery has the tools to be an every down back at the next level.  He showed soft hands in the receiving game in the Valero Alamo Bowl (4 catches for 55 yards). And like he did all season long, he refused to go down on first contact.  Against Washington State, he ran for 124 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. On the season, the Cincinnati native rushed for 1,216 yards and 13 touchdowns. 

2018 Walk-On’s Independence Bowl, In-game report: Duke vs. Temple, 12-27-18

A dominant second half by the Blue Devils was enough to help them cruise to an Independence Bowl victory. Duke scored 35 unanswered points to defeat Temple, 56-27.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in game report:

17 Daniel Jones (6’5 220) Duke QB-Junior

With Oregon’s Justin Herbert returning to Oregon for another season, Duke’s Daniel Jones should get some attention earlier in next year’s draft.  That is if the redshirt junior decides to declare early.  The Blue Devil signal-caller finished with one rushing touchdown, five passing touchdowns and two interceptions against Temple.  A throw that stood out to me was his pump-and-go pass for a touchdown to T.J. Rahming, the slight pump was enough to get the defensive backs attention and clear the way for Rahming.  Jones not only sold the pump with his legs, head and arm moving in sync but he threw a good pass as well.  The game was a microcosm of his season: a mixed bag of good and bad.  Scouts will question his pocket awareness.  Against Temple, he was sacked three times and for his career, he’s been sacked 82 times. I would like to see the internal clock in his head operate a little quicker and if plays aren’t developing, see him throw the ball away.  The positives for Jones is that he has good size, great athleticism for his stature, can throw on the run and has worked with David Cutcliffe, who has enjoyed a myriad of success with young quarterbacks. 

Jones (No. 17 pictured) connected with Rahming (No. 3 pictured) on a career-long 85-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter of Saturday’s Walk-On’s Independence Bowl against the Owls.

3 T.J. Rahming (5’10 170) Duke WR-Senior

You can’t help but think of former Duke wide receiver and Redskins current slot receiver, Jamison Crowder, when you see T.J. Rahming. The two have identical builds and are used in similar situations. Rahming is used on jet sweeps as a motion man and works mostly in the slot.  Rahming might be a little faster straight-line than Crowder but he doesn’t have the same agility as his elder.  Like Crowder, Rahming also can help out in the punt return game (5.9 yards per punt career average).  Against Temple, Rahming caught 12 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns. 

9 Michael Dogbe (6’3 280) Temple DL-Senior

Dogbe is a little light for a defensive tackle but his activity and constant movement is never lacking.  In a time where defense is more about reacting than dictating, Dogbe is a throwback see ball/ get ball type of player.  In the Independence Bowl, Dogbe impressed with his ability to attract double teams and follow and stick with the play from behind.  He projects best as a 4-3 defensive tackle or a 3-4 defensive end at the next level.  At Temple, single digit numbers are reserved for tough and hardworking players and Dogbe has earned his stripes.  For the season, Dogbe finished with 12.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks and three forced fumbles. 

Texas Longhorns vs Oklahoma Sooners, 12-1-18: In-game report

The Oklahoma Sooners were able to get revenge for a loss against Texas earlier in the season by defeating their Red River foe in the Big 12 Championship Game.  Oklahoma used an efficient offense and an opportunistic defense to win 39-27 and clinched a spot in the College Football Playoff in the process.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

33 Gary Johnson (6’0 230) Texas LB-Senior

Johnson literally jumps out of nowhere to make plays.  The senior linebacker is able to contort his body,  get really low and explode past offensive linemen to make plays in the backfield.  Johnson had a third and goal tackle for loss on the Sooners first possession after he blew past the Sooners linemen to stuff the play in the backfield. Johnson also impressed with his hustle to the football.  After Oklahoma receiver CeeDee Lamb caught a curl route and took it 50 yards downfield, Johnson snuck up behind him and poked the ball loose, turning what would’ve been a massive play for Oklahoma into a turnover for Texas.  Johnson’s pursuit to the football will catch the eyes of scouts, but he will have to work on shedding blocks once he is engaged. 

2 Kris Boyd (6’0 195) Texas  CB-Senior 

Boyd is a technician at cornerback.  His ability to mirror receivers and play off of their motions is NFL-quality.  The senior cornerback has had a pass deflection in all but two games this season.  Boyd had another pass deflection when he mirrored Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown on a fade route and then brought his hands through Brown’s hands to knock the ball away at the last second.  Boyd is also a willing tackler on the outside.  Look for a team, who is looking for man-to-man corners to target Boyd in this year’s draft. 

2 CeeDee Lamb (6’2 189) Oklahoma WR-Sophomore

The Sooners star receiver is a fluid route runner, who also has excellent hands in traffic.  Regardless of his slight build, Lamb has shown the willingness to extend his body and leave himself susceptible to shots to his ribs.  The sophomore receiver can make big plays as a receiving option on screens or he can make plays for others as a lead blocker on bubble screens to other receivers like he did in the first half against Texas.  Lamb caught a touchdown over the middle to bring the Sooners within one point of the Longhorns in the second quarter.  Despite his fumble, Lamb was productive, finishing with six catches for 167 yards and a touchdown.

Michigan vs. Ohio State, 11-24-18: In-game report

Michigan and Ohio State met on Saturday at the “Horseshoe” with a spot in the Big Ten Championship and possibly a spot in the College Football Playoff on the line. Ohio State capitalized on Michigan’s special teams errors in the second half and rode its offensive and defensive lines to a 62-39 victory.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in game report:

9 Donovan Peoples-Jones (6’2, 208) Michigan wide receiver-Sophomore 

Peoples-Jones made all types of grabs on Saturday and when his team needed plays on late down situations, he was the man targeted. The sophomore wide receiver finished with seven catches for 64 yards against the Buckeyes.  Peoples-Jones isn’t afraid to make catches over the middle but will be a problem at the next level on the outside because of his quick feet and his ability to accelerate and de-celerate to relieve himself of tight coverage.  For the season, the sophomore has caught 39 passes for 541 yards and seven touchdowns.   The sophomore is also a threat as a punt returner (two career punt return touchdowns and averages 9 yards a return). 

Ohio State offensive and defensive lines

Chase Young (No. 2 pictured) has 5.5 quarterback sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss for the Buckeyes entering the 2018 Big Ten Championship game.

Michigan came into Columbus with the nation’s top-ranked defense and a huge reason why was because of their ability to pressure the quarterback with four men.  However, by games end, Ohio State’s offensive and defensive line had stolen the show. The Buckeyes didn’t give up a sack and sacked Michigan junior quarterback Shea Patterson (6’2, 205) three times.  In the fourth quarter on 3rd and 12, Buckeyes defensive end Chase Young (6’5, 265) flushed Patterson from the pocket and made him throw off-balance, which led to an interception by junior safety Jordan Fuller (6’2 204). Defensive linemen Robert Landers (6’1 283) and Jonathon Cooper (6’4 257) also contributed with sacks. Offensively, the Buckeyes rushed for 249 yards and passed for 318 yards.  

“They slowly devastated us throughout the game. Knowing all the yards they were putting up and how easily they were scoring, it was tough. It was very tough,” Michigan senior defensive back Tyree Kinnel said in a post game press conference. “They completely beat us everywhere. Run game, pass game, everyone is to blame.”

7 Dwayne Haskins (6’3, 220) Ohio State QB-Sophomore

Haskins has set Big Ten passing marks for passing yards (4.081) and touchdown passes (42) in 2018.

Haskins seems to be getting more and more comfortable as the season goes on. The Potomac, Maryland, native completed 19-of-30 passes for 318 yards and five touchdowns on Saturday.  Despite the big game atmosphere, Haskins never forced any throws against a stout Michigan defense.  Aided by a strong running game and a clean pocket, he picked the Wolverines apart.  Haskins has the arm to make all the throws and is big enough to shake defenders off.  If the sophomore can continue to play with the poise he showed on Saturday, look for him to continue to move up future NFL Draft boards.

39 Malik Harrison (6’3, 245) Ohio State LB-Junior 

Harrison has contributed 8.5 tackles for losses for the Buckeyes in 2018 (as of 11/27/18).

Harrison impressed with his form tackling ability against the Wolverines. The junior linebacker used his eyes well and was able to make tackles on Michigan senior running back Karan Higdon (5’10 202) by being patient and meeting Higdon in his running lanes. Harrison can also be used in blitz packages.   He sacked Patterson on the second play of the game when he came into the backfield untouched.  For a player his size, Harrison has excellent sideline-to- sideline ability  yet is strong enough to take on interior linemen in the running game.  Harrison projects best as a 4-3 outside linebacker. 

Cincinnati vs. UCF, 11-17-18: In-game report

A fast paced offense and some self-inflicted wounds aided UCF to its 23rd straight victory. The Knights defeated the  Cincinnati Bearcats, 38-13, and clinched a spot in the AAC championship in the process. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in game report:

UCF offense 

They aren’t called UCFast for nothing. The Knights play at one of the fastest paces in college football and have the players at the skill positions to make it work.  They currently average 43 points per game and scored 38 against Cincinnati, who hadn’t given up for more than 30 in the six games previous.  The list of contributors offensively is exhaustive.  Six different players caught at least one pass and five different players ran the ball at least once.  In his first season as head coach, Josh Heupel has carried over some of the spread principles that he used in Oklahoma under Bob Stoops. Junior quarterback McKenzie Milton (5’11, 185) isn’t the prospect that Sam Bradford was coming out of Oklahoma under Heupel’s tutelage, but the UCF quarterback is putting up reminiscent numbers.  The Knights will need a lot of help to get into the College Football Playoff but even if they don’t make it, their offense will pose a big problem to any Power 5 team because of the one-on-one matchups they can create week-to-week. 

UCF defensive ends 

Davis, pictured, has 15.5 tackles for loss for the Knights entering the team’s AAC Championship Game.

Senior defensive end Titus Davis (6’3, 250) and junior defensive end Brendon Hayes (6’3, 293) are two premier pass rushers who feast on opposing quarterbacks once UCF takes big leads. The two tag- teamed for a turnover in the second quarter, when Davis met Cincinnati freshman quarterback Desmond Ridder (6’4, 212) in the backfield, forcing a fumble that Hayes recovered.  For the game, Davis finished with three sacks, bringing his season total to six. Hayes, the better edge-setter and run defender between the two, had five tackles and a pass deflection.

Cincinnati mistakes 

Before the Bearcats could settle down, they were already in a hole. In the first half alone, the Bearcats lost a fumble, missed a field goal, had a field goal blocked and missed an extra point. 

“We generated some momentum early in the game and gave it right back to them, whether it was a missed field goal or extra point or something like that,” Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell said. “When you’re playing the champs, when you’re playing a team as good as they are, you can’t have mishaps like that.”

For the game, the Bearcats were comparable when it came to total yards and third down efficiency. But the early lopsided score made the Bearcats one-dimensional and turned what could have been a close game into a blowout. 

Mississippi State vs. Alabama, 11-10-18: In-game report

A pair of sophomores on different sides of the ball are leading the charge for the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.  Behind its star quarterback and dominant defensive line,  Alabama defeated Mississippi State, 24-0.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in game report:

13 Tua Tagovailoa (6’1, 218) Alabama QB-Sophomore  

While a bit undersized, Tua Tagovailoa has the traits of an NFL starting quarterback.  His excellent feet and natural throwing motion stood out once again on Saturday.  In the first quarter, the sophomore perfectly lofted a pass to junior tight end Irv Smith, Jr. (6’4, 240) at the one-yard line near the sideline between two defensive backs. The pass led to a one-yard rushing touchdown. The Hawaii native is also athletic enough to still be able to evade pressure even while dealing with a knee injury that requires him to wear a brace. When the pocket breaks down, Tagovailoa is able to sense it and tries to run.  This can be good and bad.  The positive is that once it led to a 10-yard first down pickup.   On the negative side, Tagovailoa was sacked four times partly because he refused to throw the ball away and sank in the pocket.  He has a lot of the tools to be successful at the next level but I will be interested to see how he improves when it comes to not taking unnecessary sacks. The sophomore quarterback completed 14-of-21 passes for 164 yards with one touchdown and one interception. 

92 Quinnen Williams (6’4, 289) Alabama DL-Sophomore 

Williams is one of the coveted defensive lineman in college football because he can play both the run and the pass. Against the pass, Williams was able to use a rip move and get up field to force a sack at the end of the first quarter.  Against the run, Williams plays with great leverage, which allows him to keep a low base and take on multiple interior linemen.  Williams (5 sacks on the season) is violent with his hands and should be able to contribute immediately in either a 4-3 front as a defensive tackle or 3-4 scheme in the NFL as a defensive end. 

Mississippi State blitz packages 

The Bulldogs mustered just 169 yards of total offense but on defense, they may have been on to something that could help other teams in their quest to dethrone Alabama.  Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop’s unit held Alabama to 305 total yards, which was 200 less than its season average.  They sacked Tagovailoa four times when Alabama had come into the game with just six sacks allowed.  Shoop did it with a variety of blitzes from a number of directions. Three different players accounted for the four sacks.  Sophomore linebacker Willie Gay, Jr. (6’2, 235) led the team with two sacks and also had an interception.  Gay, Jr. was used as a blitzer on multiple occasions prior to his interception, and he was able to fool Tagovailoa by dropping into coverage on the pick.  The numbers will show a blowout but the Bulldogs defense gave Alabama all they could handle.