We're back, folks. Week 3 of college football season is in the books, and boy did we learn a lot. A couple thrilling finishes, one major upset and one former powerhouse that is in danger of being the laughingstock of college football this season.
I'm here for all of it, every week, with this column.
Jarrett Stidham ain't it
Given countless opportunities by his defense to put LSU away and cement his status as one of the top quarterback prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft, Jarrett Stidham may have wilted worse than he did a year ago against the Tigers.
On his first pass of the game, Stidham rolled right and threw late, getting picked off by LSU safety Grant Delpit. Later in the game Greedy Williams also intercepted a back-shoulder pass in which Stidham and his receiver weren't on the same page.
Time and time again Stidham made poor decisions with the football, including abandoning clean pockets out of panic, one time even throwing back across his body to the middle of the field (pass was nearly intercepted, then nearly caught).
The play that did it for me was late in the game, with Auburn leading and needing to convert a key third down to keep the ball away from LSU. With his first read covered, Stidham immediately panicked in a clean pocket, scrambling around like a wild man and missing an open receiver in the middle of the field that would have moved the sticks. He ended up sacking himself.
I can't tell you which quarterbacks are the top guys just yet (we're narrowing down the list every week though), but I can tell you Stidham ain't one.
D.K. Metcalf having the year we hoped for
Already with 11 catches for 174 yards (15.8 ypc) and two touchdowns in two games this season, D.K. Metcalf added two more grabs for 94 yards and another score. He opened up the scoring against Alabama by roasting Savion Smith off the line of scrimmage with an exceptional release, then snagged the deep ball effortlessly outside his frame for a 75-yard score.
Despite his team's struggles, Metcalf got behind several Alabama corners consistently, and only errant throws from Jordan Ta'amu kept his night from being even better. He still only runs a few routes, which is the primary concern in his game, but his physical and athletic tools are incredible. Metcalf is establishing himself as at least one of the top options at his positions with a strong season, if not the top option, if the redshirt sophomore decides to declare.
Watch out for Irv Smith
I wrote about Irv Smith in my top 5 SEC tight ends before the season began, saying his tools were exceptional, but his lack of polish and usage kept me from being able to see just how close he was to standing out as a legit prospect.
This season Alabama has gotten Smith far more involved, already with nine catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns, putting him in position to surpass his numbers from last season as early as next week. Smith is an excellent athlete with great size, speed and quickness for the position, and he made a terrific combat catch for a touchdown in the first half against Ole Miss. He's one to watch this season.
Who is Hakeem Butler?
Before Saturday, I sure didn't know. That's partially on me, as Butler did have a solid season for Iowa State last year, catching 41 passes and seven touchdowns. But against Oklahoma, Butler's effort was Herculean. Five catches for 174 yards and two touchdowns, including a couple highlight reel post-catch efforts from the 6-foot-6, 225-pound receiver.
Big receivers who play big >>>>>>>. Safe to say he is firmly on The Draft Network radar. Expect content on him from one of us this week.
Florida State's offense is puke
It is truly embarrassing to watch Florida State's offense right now. It is unfathomable that a Power 5 school could produce such an incompetent offensive line this many years in a row. These guys literally can't play at the D-I level. They just can't. I don't think Deondre Francois is great, but it's insane what he has to overcome every week.
I cannot even. I am without words.
Florida State was 1-14 on third downs against Syracuse, managing just seven points against a team that gave up 42 to Western Michigan two weeks ago. I think the Seminoles are gonna have a hard time winning more than two games the rest of the season. It'll be interesting to see what happens with Willie Taggart if they go 2-10 or 3-9 and continue to look this pathetic.
Two preseason under-the-radar SEC guys are starring
LSU defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence and Alabama safety Deionte Thompson are off to monster starts this season, after injuries hurt the former earlier in his career and a lack of opportunity impacted the latter. Lawrence has been a monster at 3-technique for LSU, showing quickness, hand usage and power at the point of attack. He rang up his third tackle-for-loss today, and was constantly in the Auburn backfield. The one thing I want to see him do is finish more consistently in space, as Lawrence let a couple stops escape his grasp.
Thompson might be playing his way into the top 15. Against Ole Miss, Thompson skied for his second interception of the season, continuing to show outstanding range and ball skills. He's broken up three passes and been an absolute monster in run support as well. It is hard to find the traits that he is missing to be a difference-making single-high safety in the NFL.
Alabama cornerbacks post mixed performance
For the three first-year starters at corner for Alabama, this was their biggest test of the season. Facing three top-5o talents at wide receiver, the group was...ok. Alabama's pass rush was so ferocious that it made up for some of their struggles, but still Savion Smith got torched deep by Metcalf and was beaten off the line of scrimmage several other times.
Trevon Diggs broke up two passes, including an impressive recovery on a slightly underthrown ball for DaMarkus Lodge, who had beaten him soundly down the field. Shyheim Carter gave up a lot of separation to A.J. Brown in the slot, but Ta'amu rarely took advantage. I've gotta do a lot of tape study on these three underclassmen still, but based on this game I'm not sure their chances of declaring early went up.
Ohio State and Dwayne Haskins are for real
It wasn't their best game, but Ohio State still made the impact plays when they needed them, and they got a strong quarterback performance from Dwayne Haskins in the process. Facing some of the most intense pressure of his young career, Haskins absorbed some shots, a plethora of drops from his receivers and an early deficit to help rally the team with several pinpoint passes.
Throwing for 344 yards and two touchdowns on a Gary Patterson defense is impressive, but Haskins tools and physical traits also indicate a future NFL stud. We obviously need to see a lot more of him against top competition, and we will, but this was a really impressive performance in his first big test. As a redshirt sophomore, if Haskins continues to play at this high of a level, don't be surprised if he enters the draft if he hears he could be a high pick from the advisory board.
What a performance by BYU. They played so hard and physical all night, exposing the Wisconsin run defense to the tune of 191 yards on the ground. The Cougars might not have a prospect drafted this season, but they have a tough running back in Squally Canada (first round name) that could generate some buzz this season.
Alex Hornibrook hasn't been great this season, and Wisconsin's defense isn't as good as what we've come to expect from them. The Badgers are good, but they were never good enough to be considered a true playoff threat.