BBD Staff Writer: Joseph Curtis
Southeastern Conference rivals No. 6 South Carolina and No. 11 Georgia matched up on Sept. 7 in an aggressive, tough battle early in the college football season. It was a close game most of the way, but Georgia came out on top in a 41-30 win.
The game was also full of potential draft prospects for the 2014 NFL draft. I took a look at how some of them fared throughout the course of the game.
#72 LT Kenarious Gates
-Overran pulling outside block
-Handling DE Clowney well inside
-False start trying to gain advantage on Clowney
-Beaten by Clowney for sack, shoved Clowney into QB; may have been looking for help inside
-Excellent cut block to spring touchdown
-Lunges on run block and whiffs
-No match physically for Clowney but holding own later in game
-Bit stiff in lower half
-Left game in third after right leg got rolled up, left field with help
Overview: Gates drew the toughest matchup in the game going up against consensus top prospect and South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Gates consistently struggled to contain the athletically-superior Clowney.
While Georgia’s offensive scheme was able to minimize Clowney’s impact to an extent, he consistently got around Gates with little effort. It’s not fair to compare him to Clowney, but Gates does not belong outside at tackle in the NFL due to his shorter stature and lack of overall quickness. His best bet is to move inside to guard at the next level.
He unfortunately got his right leg rolled upon during the third quarter and did not return to the game. He left the field with help and was shown on the sideline icing his knee and ankle. X-rays came back negative and Gates is expected to play in Georgia’s next game, according to Anthony Dasher of Rivals.com.
#88 TE Arthur Lynch
-Good short-to-intermediate pass target but lacks speed to be a deeper threat
-Dropped pass on right side
-Gets block at second level but lost as play stretched and his guy made the tackle
-Willing run blocker who can stand up defenders
-Stands up to bull rush with wide base, gets low and drives feet
-Lining up everywhere
-Absolutely no match as blocker against Clowney
-Choppy runner, not a fluid route runner
-Will block with shoulder rather than using arms especially from H-back
Overview: Lynch was perhaps the most versatile piece of the Georgia offense. He lined up outside, in the slot, inline and at H-back for the Bulldogs.
He caught three passes on the day, including one touchdown, but also dropped a pass. Other than the drop, which was a pass that wasn’t placed well, he showed good hands. He’s not the most fluid runner and likely won’t separate with solid route running. He’ll find holes in the defense and sit down.
Lynch was an impressive blocker versus South Carolina for the most part. He gets low and drives his feet with a base wide enough to absorb most bull rushes. He mainly went up against linebackers one-on-one. When he did face a lineman, he totally whiffed against Clowney.
He’s a good developmental tight end prospect who can both catch a pass and block, and a tight end who can do both of those well can usually find a spot on a roster.
#11 QB Aaron Murray
-Keeps composure despite pressure
-Good hands under center and quick timing to handoff
-Misread corner blitz and runs directly into it
-Rolls right and delivers good throw across body
-Won’t be a threat to run but can extend plays with feet
-Misread corner blitz and sacked
-Good velocity on left outside throw, but poor placement high and inside
-Will stand and deliver with pressure coming
-Keeps eyes downfield when scrambling
Overview: Unlike his subpar performance against Clemson in the season opener, Murray looked like a top senior quarterback against South Carolina. He did a great job reading the defense and making the necessary adjustments.
He made few mistakes under center delivering on-target passes one after another. Though his passes lacked elite velocity, he showed better zip on his throws than he has demonstrated previously.
The offense featured lots of short, quick passes likely to counteract the South Carolina pass rush. Due to this game plan, Murray only threw beyond 20 yards twice, both of which were completions to his left with one for a touchdown.
He is an efficient scrambler and versus South Carolina, he kept his eyes downfield and delivered good strikes on the run. He did miss a couple of corner blitzes that both resulted in losses.
While Murray lacks NFL-level arm strength, he shows good accuracy, vision and poise. That said, on his one true NFL-type throw of the game, he threw off-target and needed more velocity. He’ll need to show better and more consistent downfield passing to dismiss questions about his arm strength.
Passing Chart Key:
Rows = 20+, 10-19, 0-9, <LOS
Columns = Left, Middle, Right
In Each Box: Top Row = Completions/Attempts, Bottom Row = Yards, Highlight = Touchdown Thrown
#56 DL Garrison Smith
-Gets sack on stunt but QB Shaw scrambled into him
-Uses hands well and works down line to stop run
-Continually works despite not getting penetration
-Pushed out of play by RT
-Bit lazy in pass; extends arms but no push with drive
Overview: Smith was definitely a force on running downs but provided little pass-rush. He is slow off the line, but uses his hands well and works down the line to stop the run.
His fatigue was evident late in the game, as he basically gave up on many plays, just making contact with the blocker rather than driving to push the pocket or penetrate.
Smith will likely play 3-4 end at the next level, which is his best spot. He’s a good 5-technique project, but needs to play more consistent and not take plays off.
See page 2 for Jadeveon Clowney and other South Carolina prospects.