Tag Archives: Houston Cougars

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?

DraftNasty spotlights Buffalo Bills DT Ed Oliver: New Level

2017 Outland Trophy Award winner Ed Oliver tallied five quarterback sacks and 22 tackles for loss during his sophomore campaign. While his junior year didn’t quite match up, we did spotlight his disruptive nature early in September of 2018. For his career, he totaled 53 tackles for loss in a largely dominant three-year stretch. DraftNasty Magazine goes inside the game of the 2017 AAC Defensive Player of the Year.

Houston DT Ed Oliver totaled 13.5 quarterback sacks, 53 tackles for losses, five forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and 11 pass break-ups in his three-year career for the Cougars.

Houston vs. Arizona, 9-8-18: In-game report

The University of Arizona’s offense was supposed to be a challenge for Houston’s defense led by junior defensive tackle Ed Oliver (6’3 292).  In fact, the opposite happened as Houston routed the Wildcats 45-18.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

10 Ed Oliver (6’3, 292) Houston DT-Junior

Oliver (No. 10 pictured) has posted four tackles for losses in two games thus far in 2018.

Pundits have Ed Oliver as a consensus Top 15 pick in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft and he didn’t disappoint against the Wildcats. The junior commanded double teams throughout the game, which allowed his defensive counterparts to capitalize with big plays. Oliver’s best series of the afternoon came on back-to-back plays, where he didn’t even record a stat.  On two separate short yardage situations (third down; fourth down) in the first half, Oliver was able to eat up two offensive linemen and still push the line of scrimmage in the backfield.  His push created tackles for losses for his teammates on both plays.  The junior has started every game of his career and wins with effort.  Arizona junior quarterback Khalil Tate (6’2, 215) was forced to move off of his spot in the pocket numerous times because of Oliver’s inside pressure.  What stood out to me was Oliver’s willingness to stay involved in plays and chase Tate from behind, which negated any potential cutback lanes.  Oliver finished with five tackles and a pass deflection.

Houston defense

Davis (No. 1 pictured) contributed 51 tackles, two tackles for losses and four interceptions for the Cougars in 2017.

The Cougar defenders around Oliver made the most of their opportunities as well.  The team totaled seven sacks and forced two interceptions.  Eight players were credited with at least half of a sack and senior defensive back Garrett Davis (6’2, 210) came down with two interceptions.  Davis now has six interceptions in his career. Most impressively, the Cougars defense managed to keep Khalil Tate corralled and turn him into a pocket passer rather than a runner. Houston excelled in gap integrity and leverage, forcing Tate to work through his reads and be patient rather than giving him alleys to run. Tate finished with just eight rushing yards.

Cougars up tempo offense

It was an all-around dominating performance for the Cougars offensively.  The offensive line, quarterback and skill position players all deserve credit. The Cougars had 254 passing yards and 297 rushing yards.  As the numbers would indicate, Houston did a good job of remaining balanced between run and pass; thus keeping the Wildcats defense guessing.   Early on, Kendal Briles, the Cougars offensive coordinator, showcased some of the RPO concepts which made his father’s Baylor Bears teams so successful.  Houston forced Arizona to cover the field horizontally and vertically and make tackles in space. The Cougars first touchdown of the game came on a passing touchdown to sophomore wide receiver Marquez Stevenson (6’0, 190), who took a swing pass and made the Arizona defensive backs miss in space while breaking a couple of tackles.  Quarterback D’Eriq King (5’11, 195) finished with 246 yards passing and four touchdowns.

6 Shun Brown  (5’10, 188) Arizona WR- Senior

Brown has “wiggle” in his game.  The Wildcats used Brown on a couple of quick screens to get him one-on-one in open space.  Brown is a matchup nightmare when he gets a slot corner or a linebacker in the open field.  He finished with 73 receiving yards on nine catches. The senior wide receiver from Shreveport, Louisiana, is also a force in the return game.   He had a 15-yard punt return on Saturday and for his career has two punt return touchdowns.

 

Q&A with Arizona Wildcats DB Dane Cruikshank: ‘Handling business’

Q&A with Dane Cruikshank, Arizona Wildcats:

DN: Talk about the transition from the junior college ranks (Citrus College-Glendora, California).  You became such a consistent player for the ‘Cats.

Cruikshank: It was easy for me to adapt to it and everything. I had a great coaching staff that helped me out. It wasn’t that big of a difference. There’s a lot of good talent in JUCO that I’ve gone up against that doesn’t get out sometimes just cause they don’t handle their business in school. Luckily for me, I handled my business and actually matured and grew up. I ended up at Arizona and did my thing.

DN: Yeah, one of the big things that stood out not only throughout your career but also out here the in the first day of practice (East-West Shrine practices) is your ability to transition. You have your hips opened to the sidelines and still make the 45-and-90-degree breaks. What do you credit that to? Is it a lot of drill work or is it something that’s just always been natural?

Cruikshank: No, it’s a lot of drill work. I put in a lot of work. Coach Yates (Marcel Yates-2017 Arizona defensive coordinator/cornerbacks coach), Coach Donte Williams (2016 Arizona cornerbacks coach). They both coached me at the University of Arizona. I did a lot of offseason training with them before the season even started, both seasons…my junior season and my senior season. All the work that I put in is actually working out for me. I’m actually transitioning it to the field, just doing my thing out here and just having fun with it.

DN: You had a pretty competitive defensive backfield, in terms of Arizona.  (Demetrius) Flannigan-Fowles and some of the other guys. How did you feel about the competition? Did y’all have inner competition on who would make the most plays?

Cruikshank: Yeah, we went at it every day. Every day we came out with a goal. Who is going to come out with the most interceptions, who is going to come out with the most pass deflections, things like that. That just keeps our juices going, you know what I’m saying. That just keeps it more competitive every day at practice. So you’re not slouching around and getting used to everything. We’re competitors man, all those guys.

Cruikshank (seen picking off a pass during 2018 East-West Shrine practices) posted 76 tackles this past season. He intercepted both USC’s Sam Darnold and UCLA’s Josh Rosen in 2017.

DN: Looking at some of our notes, against Houston earlier this year. Your tackling coming off the edge, and tackling in general. You had 60 tackles in 2016 and quite a few this year.

Cruikshank: 76.

DN: 76 this year. So, run support, talk a little bit about that and what that means to you in terms of your game.

Cruikshank: Well I feel like I can play anywhere on the field in the secondary. I just feel like I can just get the job done no matter where you put me at: strong safety, free safety, corner, nickel. So, I’m a physical player. I like to come up and tackle. I’m not afraid to put my nose in the hole and hit someone. I give that credit to my Dad. He made me a rough player growing up.

DN: That’s what up man. What position do you want to play at the next level? What do you think is your best position?

Cruikshank: Cornerback. I feel like corner is just the best position for me. Don’t get me wrong, I feel like I can play anywhere on the field like I said.

DN: If you had to look at one player that you pattern your game after at the next level who would that be?

Cruikshank: Xavier Rhodes (Minnesota Vikings). Guys with longer arms, Marcus Peters (Los Angeles Rams) guys like that. I look at a lot of film on those guys and I just try to take after them.

DN: No doubt man, thanks a lot for your time and good luck the rest of the year and in the NFL Draft.

Cruikshank: Thank you. I appreciate it.

—2018 East-West Shrine practices, West Team, Day 1, DraftNasty staff reports

UPDATE: Cruikshank was selected by the Tennessee Titans in the 5th Round (152nd overall) of the 2018 NFL Draft.