Game of the Week Review: Stanford vs. Oregon
The game pretty much played out like I thought it would with Stanford and Oregon being close throughout, and then Oregon taking over at the end of the game. I was surprised at how the Ducks came out early giving up 21 points to Stanford (not sure why, they seem to get behind every week) but as I mentioned, the Ducks just had too many athletes for Stanford to complete against.
Analysis of Prospects
Best quarterback in the nation for the first 3 quarters but fell apart near the end of the game when he was trying to bring his team back. The most glaring weakness in his game is his arm. I counted 4 times he tried to throw a deep ball and each time it hung up, resulting in a ball that was knocked down, a completion, an interception, and an overthrow. In the NFL, these balls would have been picked off every time. While his arm is not weak enough to prevent him from being the top QB selected, it should be something to think about. I have heard, however, as a QB develops, throws more and with certain exercises, he can build a stronger arm. I am slightly skeptical how much a person’s arm can really improve though.
Luck also made some questionable decisions in the 4th quarter that need to be corrected. However I will not criticize him too much for this as his team was behind and he had to take a few more chances to get them back in the game. The second interception he threw in the end zone, I cannot blame on him. The receiver, Coby Fleener, did a very poor job of fighting for that ball and one would hope in the NFL that a receiver would do a much better job than that.
Overall I am impressed with Lucks footwork, mechanics, instincts and poise. While he did make some errors in judgment near the end of the game, his decision making is still MUCH better than that of Locker, Mallett or Ponder. He is just so much further ahead in understanding the position of QB. No question he is the best QB in the country right now.
Plays tough, disciplined and always does his job. This is a guy I would want on my team and I think it will not take him long to be one of the best FB’s in the entire NFL once he is drafted. In passing situations he performed very well, not missing an assignment or blitz pickup. As a lead blocker he hit holes quickly, creating a pop on contact every time. His recognition skills determining which holes to hit were good as well. As a receiver he did not show much, only catching one ball for 4 yards but there appears to be potential to him as a receiver. Coach Harbaugh obviously thinks so too, as they lined him up as a wide receiver in some sets and as a TE in others. Currently the most complete full back in the nation.
257 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns, what can you say other than an absolutely dominate performance. I am still not sold on him being able to run between the tackles on a consistent basis. At only about 5’9, 190 lbs, he is thin between the hips and does not keep his pad level low enough. However, he possesses great speed, elusiveness, vision, and the ability to make defenders miss in space. I was really impressed how he kept his legs and body moving forward all the time. Several times during the game he would be held up initially by defenders and would continue to fight for 1 or 2 extra yards never wanting to go down. James has the athletic ability to be a player at the next level, but I do not envision him being an every down back as I think he is just too slight in his frame.
He played pretty much as advertised. He was most effective when he was able to speed rush, but against the run and in situations where he was unable to get the edge on the tackle, he was non-existent. He finished with 1 sack, 2 solo tackles and 3 assisted tackles and was only able to pressure Luck twice. As well, Rowe was going against a Stanford line that while solid, is definitely not elite. Rowe does not project as a DE at the next level he is just too slight in build, and will make it as a rush specialist at outside linebacker. For him to do this though he is going to have to develop some more pass rushing moves, understand how to better make use of leverage and use his hands better to keep blockers off his frame.
3 guys I had my eye on during the game…..
Darron Thomas, sophomore QB for the Ducks. Thomas played well and has decent size for the position. He lacks experience and is not technically sound but shows a good arm, great mobility and appears comfortable leading the offense. If he is able to clean up his mechanics and footwork, and works on his overall understanding of the position he could be a good QB in a couple years.
Stepfan Taylor, sophomore RB for Stanford. While Taylor does not demonstrate elite speed or elusiveness, he is a big back that runs hard between the tackles, shows good balance and is not easy to bring down. He does not have the athleticism to be a starter at the next level, but there is enough potential there to consider him back up material.
Delano Howell, junior S for Stanford. Howell was having an outstanding game and was all over the field Saturday night until he blew a coverage in the 4th quarter, allowing a touchdown. He led the Cardinal in tackles last year and is on pace to do it again this year. A good athlete who exhibits the ability to decipher and react quickly to the play in front of him, he is a sure tackler but not a devastating hitter. Could be a starter at the next level.