BBD Staff Writer: Joseph Curtis
Texas A&M faced Arkansas in a tough Southeastern Conference matchup on Sept. 28 that turned into a high-scoring affair.
Led by the redshirt sophomore connection of quarterback Johnny Manziel and wide receiver Mike Evans in the passing game, Texas A&M came out victorious 45-33. While Manziel and Evans garnered most of the attention with a solid game, there were many players in the matchup with potential to play on Sundays.
#42 DE Chris Smith
-Decent burst off snap
-Beat tackle around outside, but pushed away from quarterback at last second
-Carries guard into pocket, able to disengage and pursue scrambling quarterback
-Good motor, doesn’t give up on play
-Aggressive, keeps coming with active hands
-Good spin move to get inside, just misses quarterback
-Mainly rushing from edge, not a lot of variety
-Stays with play, eventually gets around tackle and get sack on scrambling quarterback
-No competition in run defense against tackles
Overview: Chris Smith faced the tough task of taking on two top offensive tackles in Jake Matthews and Cedric Ogbuehi (more to come on page 2), but did an admirable job. Smith recorded one sack by staying with the play and chasing down the quarterback outside the pocket.
He gets into opposing blockers fairly quickly and doesn’t stop fighting until the whistle blows. That said, he doesn’t display a wide variety of pass-rush moves except speed rushing to the outside and the occasional bull rush, which was ineffective against the Aggies. He only unleashed a spin move once against Texas A&M which was his best move of the game as he got around the tackle and forced the quarterback out of the pocket.
He wasn’t much of a threat against the run and both tackles easily handled him. Overall, his effort and sufficient burst and speed will get him drafted as a situational pass-rusher.
#64 C Travis Swanson
-Moves well on pull, doesn’t get full block at point-of-attack
-Engaged defender, extended and locked arms out
-Pops up after snap and immediately takes on nose tackle, moves him off line
-Overreaches and beat inside with rip, defender in on tackle
-Consistently holds line-of-scrimmage against nose tackle
-Very quick to engage lineman after snap
-Got to second level, lost balance but still bumped defender off course
-Stays aware, picks up second level blitz
-Looked lost on outside run
Overview: One of the top senior center prospects in the 2014 NFL draft class, Arkansas’ Travis Swanson flashed good technique and quickness against Texas A&M, but was inconsistent throughout the game.
Swanson had no trouble with snaps and quickly came out of his stance to engage the nose tackle. He routinely held up to the size and strength of the opposing nose tackle with only a few struggles.
He rarely faced a rusher one-on-one in pass protection but did a decent job of holding his ground. He picked up a delayed blitz from the second level on one play and held up very well.
His issues, however, came when he was asked to move from his spot. He moves well with good speed and quickness, but from there, he has a difficult time engaging defenders and looked lost a few times against Texas A&M. Even within the tackles, he lunged and overreached when asked to slide, causing him to get off balance.
#13 WR Mike Evans (RS So.)
-Tracks the ball and boxes out defender, makes sure he’s the only one who can make catch
-Big-bodied receiver, matchup nightmare
-Sees quarterback scramble and comes back, finds hole, extends for touchdown catch
-Brilliant leaping catch surrounded by defenders for touchdown, shows strong hands
-Comes up limping, back on field for next drive
-Good blocker, drives defensive backs downfield
-Overpowers defensive backs on blocks
-Visible limp again in fourth, playing through injury
Overview: Mike Evans made his presence felt right away against Arkansas by catching a 49-yard pass on the first play from scrimmage. Evans continued to make plays throughout the first half with his size and strong hands.
Listed at 6’5” and 225 pounds, he knows how to use his size to his advantage, and he easily overpowers defensive backs. He has surprising speed for his size and uses his very good leaping ability to get above defenders and make plays in tight coverage.
He came up limping after a spectacular leaping catch for his second touchdown reception. He returned to the field on the next drive with no visible issues but began favoring his right leg and limping late in the fourth quarter. He played through it, nonetheless, and still made a catch over the middle late in the game.
Evans is a matchup nightmare and a likely first-round pick at this point.
#8 LB Steven Jenkins
-Spying quarterback, breaks on quarterback outside of pocket and forces throw
-Always around the ball, not the one making the play
-Makes shoestring tackle in pursuit
-Touchdown-saving tackle on long run, took good angle and showed good speed
-Spying quarterback again, but takes poor angle and allows quarterback outside
-Throws shoulder for big hit and bounces off, defender scores touchdown
-Doesn’t weave through traffic well
-Decent coverage in slot
Overview: Steven Jenkins is an athletic linebacker with good hustle, but he just doesn’t make plays. Jenkins’ hustle allowed him to make tackles downfield especially on breakaway runs, but he made little impact on plays in front of him.
He moves well and was always around the ball against Arkansas, but rarely made the play. He has good physical ability and a good burst displayed on a quick break to hurry the quarterback.
Jenkins could be a serviceable project, but has a ways to go to be able to make it in the NFL.
See page 2 for more Texas A&M prospects.