Player Notes – Week 6

by Tommy Lawlor  –

* Alabama WR Julio Jones broke his hand in the loss to South Carolina.  He had to have surgery on it to have a plate and some screws inserted.  There is no definitive timetable for his return.  The question really is one of pain tolerance.  There is some speculation he’ll still play this week.  Jones had a big game in the loss to the Gamecocks.  He caught 8 passes for 118 yards and a TD.

* The best Senior ILB is Greg Jones of Michigan State.  He’s a really impressive player.  Jones won’t be an elite prospect because there isn’t anything special about him in terms of size, speed, athleticism, or skill set.  He’s just a really good ILB.  Think of DeMeco Ryans or someone like that.    

Jones is very productive.  Through 6 games he has:  46 total tackles, 6 TFLs, 2 INTs, 3 FFs, and a pass break-up.  Jones is playing the best football of his career.  He’s always been a good tackler and solid run defender.  This year he’s better as a pass defender.  He understands the passing game.  He knows how to get in the passing lanes.  He’s athletic enough to cover some backs and TEs.  Jones has a solid build at 6’1, 240.  While not a great athlete, he’s fast enough to play sideline to sideline.  He does have good closing speed, which is an underrated trait for good LBs.

Jones didn’t have a huge game in the win over Michigan.  He was credited with 4 solo tackles.  He was a key cog in the Spartans containment of QB Denard Robinson.  They held him to 86 yards on 21 carries.  That was Robinson’s lowest rushing total of the year.

* LSU wideout Terrence Toliver played really well in the Tigers win over Florida.  He caught 6 passes for 111 yards and 2 TDs.  He gained valuable RAC yards on several of the catches.  He caught a pass late in the game that turned into a 28-yard gain and set up the winning score.  Toliver also caught that pass.  It was a really tough catch by the side of the endzone.  Toliver showed very good hands on that play.  I don’t think he’s as good as some recent LSU WRs, but Toliver played really well against Florida.

* Junior CB Janoris Jenkins of Florida didn’t have such a good night.  He missed tackles on a few plays. He had a long PR called back by penalty, then got his own penalty for spiking the ball.

* Nebraska DT Jared Crick is one of the best DL in the country.  He’s not in the class of Ndamukong Suh, but is very good.  Suh was physically overwhelming.  Crick has the ability to take on double teams and hold his ground.  He can easily get the best of single blockers.  He’s just not a guy who will collapse the pocket when getting double or triple teamed.  That’s what made Suh special.  Crick played well in Nebraska’s blowout win over Kansas State.  Star RB Daniel Thomas was held to 63 yards on 22 carries.  Crick helped to control the middle of the field.  The stat sheet shows 3 tackles, but Crick’s impact was felt on a regular basis.  Thomas didn’t have holes to run through on the inside.

* Ryan Mallett responded to his meltdown vs Alabama by playing well vs Texas A&M.  He was 27-38-310 in the game.  He had 3 TDs and only one INT.  NFL people wanted to see how Mallett would play after having the late picks in the ‘Bama game.  He’s been erratic in the past.  If he’s going to be a Top 10 pick, Mallett has to be more consistent.  He has to handle bad games in a good way.  He played well and Arkansas won on Saturday so those were good signs for NFL teams.  No one expects prospects to be perfect all the time.  Seeing how they handle adversity is important.

* Indiana lost to Ohio State 38-10.  QB Ben Chappell had been putting up crazy numbers against mediocre competition, but came crashing back to Earth vs OSU.  He was 16-26-106 with 2 INTs.  That doesn’t mean he’s not a prospect, but that you just have to keep the stats generated by the spread offense in perspective.  The spread can eat up teams with mediocre defenses.  The Buckeyes have pass rushers up front, LBs that can run, and DBs that can cover.  Chappell didn’t have a lot of time or many open receivers.

* Oregon State WR James Rodgers missed the previous week’s game, but played well vs Arizona.  He caught 7 passes for 102 yards and a TD.  He returned 2 kickoffs for 50 yards.  That was all before suffering a nasty knee injury that will end his season.

It was good to see him have a breakthrough game.  His numbers had been pedestrian the first month.  He had to deal with a new QB who was struggling in those games.  Rodgers is a good prospect.  His ability to help as a WR/RB/PR/KOR will make teams very interested in him.  He’s nowhere near a Dexter McCluster level.  Dexter was good enough to be a starting WR and RB in the SEC.  Rodgers is a WR who can run the ball in certain packages.

Now the focus shifts from football to rehab.  Rodgers will then have to decide whether to return to OSU.  He can apply for a medical redshirt and play in 2011.  That might be enticing to him, as his brother Jacquizz will be a Senior next year.  Should he come out early that could push James to just head to the NFL as well.

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