Was Week 2 the wildest week in college football? No, but raise your hand if you didn’t have fun. That’s what I thought. There weren’t many upsets, but a couple close calls captivated our attention nonetheless.
Pretty soon, every week will be filled with quality games like the few gems we had on Saturday. Consider this your practice run. In the meantime, we also learned quite a few things from the action this weekend that we can take with us moving forward.
Don’t look now, but Drew Lock…
Wyoming isn’t exactly Alabama, but the Cowboys have a strong defense with several NFL prospects and Drew Lock absolutely shredded them. The senior finished 33-of-45 for 398 yards and four touchdowns, numbers that included a couple well-placed tight window throws.
We already knew Lock’s arm was excellent, but the rest of his game is starting to come along beautifully as well. Running Derek Dooley’s pro-style offense, Lock seemed very comfortable communicating pre- and post-snap, traits that the NFL will be thrilled about if he can continue to display mental prowess against even stronger opponents.
Amani Oruwariye shuts down Pitt
There will be legitimate questions about Amani Oruwariye’s long speed and overall athleticism, but it’s impossible to deny the cornerback’s ball skills, size and improvements as a mental processor. He picked off one pass against Pitt by boxing out the receiver on a vertical pattern, then reeling the ball in despite getting face-masked violently during the act of the catch.
Later in the game, Oruwariye closed quickly underneath to break up a hitch route, looking a lot smoother out of his pedal than he did a year ago. With two picks in two games and a couple great plays on the ball, Oruwariye has proven to clearly possess two traits the NFL covets: size and ball production. In a weak cornerback class, that could go a long way.
Who is Kendrick Rogers??
Texas A&M nearly pulled off a wild upset over Clemson, and a redshirt sophomore wide receiver named Kendrick Rogers was the biggest reason why. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound receiver caught seven passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns, including a dazzling concentration grab for a touchdown that brought the Aggies within two with under 50 seconds to play.
Coming into the game, Rogers had 13 career catches for 132 yards and had never scored a touchdown before. What a coming out party, against one of the best defenses in the country. Congrats for putting yourself squarely on The Draft Network’s radar, Mr. Rogers.
Clelin Ferrell was dominant
In a big-time game that saw Clemson needing a big-time performance from their defense, Clelin Ferrell was as good as it gets. He finished with two sacks, a forced fumble, 3 tackles-for-loss and three additional pressures, including three straight near-sacks on the Aggies final drive of the game.
Ferrell doesn’t have great bend at the top of the arc, but that may be the only thing holding him back. His first step looked improved, and his hand usage is as good as ever. His vision to get back inside tackles after threatening them on the edge is an ability that should translate to the NFL.
Florida wasn’t ready, but we knew that
The Gators snuck their way into the national rankings last week, but that endeavor ended quickly after an 11-point loss to Kentucky on Saturday night. The issues for Florida extend well beyond quarterback Feleipe Franks (who is truly awful), as the Gators offensive line is one of the softest in the country.
Even defensively, where Florida has hung their hat for years while the offense has sputtered, the Gators just aren’t as strong as they’ve been up front. Kentucky gashed them for 303 yards on the ground while averaging over seven yards per carry. I don’t think we’ll hear the Gators mentioned as a team on the rise again this season. Dan Mullen has a lot of work to do here.
Jeffery Simmons, whew
The first big test for Jeffery Simmons came on Saturday afternoon, and boy did he pass with flying colors. The rocked up defensive tackle tossed around Kansas State’s interior offensive line all game long, finishing with two tackles-for-loss and constantly pressuring the pocket with a bevy of power moves and rips.
I don’t know how people have either of the Clemson defensive tackles ranked over Simmons right now. You could make a strong argument that Simmons is the best interior defensive lineman in the country, and yes, that includes Ed Oliver. I have Oliver ranked higher, but Simmons isn’t nearly as far off as some people suggest.
Mississippi State’s interior offensive line
Whew, buddy did these three take a boot to the backside of Kansas State’s front seven. Left guard Darryl Williams, center Elgton Jenkins and right guard Deion Calhoun methodically took apart the Wildcats defensive front, opening up gaping holes for true sophomore running back Kylin Hill to run for 211 yards on 17 carries.
As a whole, Mississippi State ran for 384 yards to the tune of just under 10 yards a carry. While Hill and Nick Fitzgerald got a ton of the credit, and rightfully so, the Bulldogs three interior offensive linemen, all of whom are legit draft prospects, were the biggest reason for their success. They also might be the biggest reason why the Bulldogs have a legitimate shot at knocking off Alabama in two months.
Deebo Samuel’s limitations
It wasn’t a terrible game for Deebo Samuel, but he dropped a pass, struggled to create in space and couldn’t get over the top of a slow corner in Deandre Baker. Part of the reason for Samuel’s vertical struggles was how physical Baker’s play was down the field, which got him penalized twice. But I would have liked to have seen Samuel work free a bit more, even if that meant getting physical with Baker in return.
I hate that South Carolina rarely moves Samuel around, a problem he certainly will not face in the NFL. Still, the 5-foot-11 receiver will have to prove that size and physicality will not be an issue for him if he wants to see outside reps at the next level.
The importance of speed
Oklahoma wide receiver Marquise Brown and Georgia wide receiver Mecole Hardman are undersized players without a ton of polish to their games, but they’re consistently impactful because they have wheels most receivers can only dream of.
Brown shredded UCLA’s secondary on a couple catch-and-runs, finishing with four grabs for 88 yards and a score. Hardman was even better, snagging six passes (almost all bubble screens) for 103 yards and a touchdown. The acceleration after the catch by both players just destroys pursuit angles, making them the kind of player the NFL has shown the desire to find at least a situational role for, if not more.
Notre Dame is good, but too limited to be a threat
We didn’t learn much about the best teams in college football this week, except that Georgia should unquestionably be the favorite to face Alabama in the national championship and Notre Dame isn’t ready to be a contender yet. A 24-16 narrow victory over Ball State was concerning enough just by looking at the box score, but the way the Irish lost – turning the ball over three times and surrendering four sacks and ten tackles-for-loss – is the bigger worry.
I think the Irish defense is a really talented group, but I don’t think their offense has enough difference-making skill players or strong enough quarterback play to really be a threat this season. Notre Dame will have a good year, it just won’t be a title-contending year as many hoped for.