Tag Archives: Oklahoma Sooners

Forcing the issue

Several of the nation’s top defenders have made their marks by forcing the football out of the opposition’s grasp. We take a look at four standouts who continue to impose their will.

Elijah Riley 6’0 205 CB-Senior Army

Along with his three forced fumbles in 2019, Riley has four tackles and six tackles for loss through eight games. His physical playing style is a big reason the Black Knights ranked 21st in the nation in pass defense in 2018. His standout performance against Michigan in 2019 (13 tackles, 2 QB sacks, 2 TFLs, FF) caught the eyes of NFL scouts.

Riley ranks as one of the more physical cornerbacks in all of college football. His confidence rarely varies on the field (after either making or giving up a big play). His ability to jam wide receivers provided former Army defensive coordinator Jay Bateman (now DC at North Carolina) plenty of options for the nation’s eighth-ranked defense in 2018. Thus far in 2019, the Black Knights are still allowing just a little over 200 yards passing per game.

Versus Oklahoma in 2018, Riley challenged wide receivers in man coverage, tackled eventual Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray one-on-one in the open field and saved another would-be touchdown with an open field tackle. He stood his ground and challenged the Oklahoma wide receivers. Against Michigan in Week 2 of the 2019 campaign, he displayed his knack for timing blitzes and his ferocity as a tackler. Riley is a prospect with positional flexibility on Sunday afternoons. Don’t be surprised if teams project him to a strong, H-linebacker or free safety position (which he played some in a backup capacity earlier in his career).

Jake Hansen 6’1 225 LB-Senior Illinois

Hansen (No. 35 pictured) began his 2019 campaign with an eye-opening performance against Akron (7 tackles, INT, FF). It continued when he earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors after posting 11 tackles, QB sack, TFL and two forced fumbles versus Wisconsin on October 19, 2019.

Hansen entered the collegiate ranks as a lightly-regarded two-star recruit from East Lake High School (Fla.). Fast forward four years later and the team captain ranks as the heart and soul of the team’s talented linebacker corps.

Illinois head coach Lovie Smith describes Hansen as “a football junkie.” His reactionary skills in coverage are impressive, evidenced by his first interception of the season versus Akron. On the play, he broke instinctively as an underneath defender in two-deep zone to record the pick. His ability to jar balls loose has grabbed the attention of the nation. The senior linebacker currently leads the country with seven forced fumbles. He is just as impressive timing blitzes, disguising defensive looks, covering tight ends or closing distances going sideways.

Joe Gaziano 6’4 275 DL-Senior Northwestern

Gaziano (No. 97 pictured) had five tackles, QB sack and one forced fumble versus Ohio State in Week 8 of the 2019 campaign.

Gaziano’s impressive resume’ is hard to match in terms of productivity. To put it in perspective, the Wildcats senior defensive lineman already has forced 10 career fumbles and broken up 11 passes (through October 26, 2019).

He aligns at the three-technique defensive tackle, right or left defensive end, and as an occasional two-point stand-up outside linebacker. While much of his success comes from positive hand usage and timing, he does contain a bit of rigidness changing directions. As evidenced by his game-changing strip-sack, forced fumble in the 2018 SDCCU Holiday Bowl, he can regain his footing after initially getting chipped while maintaining his courses.

Patrick Jones II 6’5 270 DE-Junior Pittsburgh

After a slow start to the season, Patrick Jones II (No. 91 pictured) has compiled 9.5 tackles for losses in the last five games.

Jones’ flexibility is aided by a nimble, light-footed nature. The Panthers defensive end’s sinewy nature allows him to long-arm offensive lineman from the outside-in as a left defensive end (Ohio ’19). His quickness to stab linemen creates immediate separation. Defensive coordinator Randy Bates will occasionally use him in a cocked two-point alignment from the right outside linebacker spot in his four-man fronts. From this alignment, Jones II is adept at winning on inside movement (Duke ’19). In this same game (Duke ’19), he won by dipping his inside shoulder (right) when coming out of his four-point stance to force a fumble in the third quarter.

Blessed with a 34-inch vertical jump at over 260 pounds, the former Virginia high school product has a game that has blossomed this year after serving an apprenticeship role in 2018 (23 tackles, 4 QB sacks, 7.5 TFLs, FF).

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.

2018 Season Preview: Texas Longhorns

Season outlook

Tom Herman enters his second season as the Longhorns head coach after a 7-6 season in 2017 and a bowl victory against Missouri.  The team returns a number of starters from last season and the same can’t be said for its Big 12 counterparts, which should make them a candidate to improve in the conference standings.  Texas did lose five starters on defense but return three seniors on the defensive line and three seniors in the secondary.   At the second level, the Longhorns also have two NFL-caliber linebackers in seniors Breckyn Hager (6’4, 245) and Gary Johnson (6’0, 230).  Offensively, the Longhorns are in need of playmakers around junior wide receiver Collin Johnson (6’6, 220).  Last season, Johnson caught 54 passes for 765 yards and two touchdowns.  If Texas wants to improve their fortunes offensively, then they will have to settle on the running back position.  In 2017, sophomore quarterback Sam Ehlinger led the team in rushing with 385 yards.  Defensively, they should be able to compete with anyone, but the team enters the season with question marks offensively.

Troy’s player to watch

2 Kris Boyd 6’0 200 DB-Senior
 
Boyd’s performance against West Virginia’s leading receiver, David Sills V, was exceptional in 2017.  Sills V, who finished the season with 980 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns, caught just two balls for 47 yards against Boyd and the Longhorns.  For the season, Boyd had two interceptions and 15 pass deflections en route to being named second team All-Big 12.  The senior defensive back will have another year to acclimate himself to second year defensive coordinator’s Todd Orlando’s scheme and has already been named to the Jim Thorpe and Bronko Nagurski watch lists.

Game of the season

September 15th against USC
What better way to announce the Texas Longhorns are back than with a win against the USC Trojans?  The rematch of the 2006 Rose Bowl will take place in Austin during Week 3 of the season.  Both the Longhorns and Trojans are coming off solid seasons after what has largely been a decade of underwhelming results from each team. Last year, the Trojans defeated the Longhorns by a field goal and expect this year’s matchup to be just as competitive.

DraftNasty’s Prospect Watch

90 Charles Omenihu 6’6 275 DL-Senior

Omenihu (No. 90 pictured) has posted 7.5 sacks, 12.5 tackles for losses and three forced fumbles in his three years as a Longhorn.

Omenihu has put together a combined 20 starts over the course of the last two seasons.  In 2017, he began to put his talent on display more consistently.  Despite requisite length, he hasn’t affected the three-step passing game up to this point in his career.  His hand usage is a work in progress as a pass rusher.  The former Rowlett High School (Tex.) star has a feel for slicing gaps and he can create inside penetration quickly off the snap.  For him to become a more dominant defender, he needs to improve at creating separation from offensive linemen.  Standing over 6-foot-5 inches, he has some upside as a 30-front defensive end prospect if he can put on an additional 10-to-15 pounds.

Prediction: 9-3

Draftnasty’s Troy Jefferson is predicting the Longhorns will fall to USC and West Virginia at home and on the road against Oklahoma State.  However, Texas will win two more games than they did a year ago and, most importantly, defeat rival Oklahoma.