#24 LSU Tigers v Ole Miss Rebels
Saturday, October 21, 2017, 7:15 p.m. ET
Vaught-Hemingway Stadium – Oxford, MS
LSU (40), Ole Miss (24)
1. Derrius Guice is special
Amidst all the Saquon Barkley hype, which is clearly well-deserved, Guice reminded us all that when healthy, he’s as dynamic a pure runner as any back in the country. Guice was incredibly difficult to tackle all night, showing power to fight through contact and ridiculous burst to accelerate away from defenders in a flash. Guice’s ability to alter stride length and speed in the blink of an eye makes it so hard to get a bead on him, and his vision constantly helps him take advantage of the slighter creases.
Playing fully healthy for the first time in several weeks, Guice finished the game with 22 carries for 276 yards and a touchdown, while adding one catch for nine yards. For my money, he and Barkley are the best two draft-eligible prospects in the country right now.
2. Darrell Williams might be a day 3 prospect worth rostering
He doesn’t have the burst or athletic gifts that Guice possesses, but senior Darrell Williams has played well this year, even posting a superior yards per carry to his younger teammate so far. At 6-1, 230 pounds, Williams runs with power and balance, absorbing contact and continuing to work forward through contact. He’s tough and capable of shouldering a load and wearing a defense down.
But one of the things that makes Williams an intriguing depth option are his receiving abilities, which were fully on display Saturday night. Four catches for 105 yards and 22 rushes for 103 for the Tigers backup running back, who came into the game with 12 catches already on the season. Showcasing a well-rounded skill set will be key for a prospect without high-end traits.
3. Arden Key finally putting it together
It’s been a slow start to the season for LSU’s Arden Key, who entered Saturday night’s game with just 1.5 sacks on the season. He eclipsed that in the first half however, with two sacks of Shea Patterson and a few additional pressures to make life miserable for the Ole Miss offense. The broadcast said he’s lost weight over the past four weeks after playing heavier seemed to quell some of his athleticism.
That’s not a great sign for a player that needs to bulk up, but Key looked explosive and violent against the Rebels, nearly cross-chopping the left tackle’s punch off on one sack. Key always plays with incredible passion, and his motor was running hot all night as he jumped in on six tackles and pushed the pocket on several occasions. I’m not sure his bend is elite and I worry about pad level for a guy that wants to work power moves as often as Key does, but his hands are sudden and the burst looked back tonight.
4. LSU secondary got some draft-eligible dudes
Tre White and Jamal Adams may have left for the NFL, but LSU’s defense still has several intriguing secondary prospects, both for this year’s class and for future drafts. Junior Kevin Tolliver had an insane, strip-the-ball-mid-catch interception against a receiver along the sideline, and his 6-2, 193-pound frame is going to attract a lot of NFL coaches coming from a spot with the defensive back pedigree of LSU. Donte Jackson wasn’t 100 percent for some of the game, but he played a couple high-point balls well and showed the speed to stay with receivers vertically in man coverage. He’s smaller at 5-11, 173 pounds, but word on the street is that he’s faster than your car.
The most intriguing player in this game was true freshman safety Grant Delpit, who played center-fielder much of the night. The free safety showed incredible awareness and range on the back end, racing over to intercept Patterson in the first half with a terrific high-point pick. Then later in the game Delpit made another play along the sideline, racing over from his deep middle zone to help break up a pass in the end zone. You don’t see that kind of ability from many true freshmen, and at 6-3, 193 pounds, I believe we haven’t seen the last of Delpit on the draft radar.
5. Jordan Wilkins impresses for Ole Miss
Redshirt senior running back Jordan Wilkins was not a player I had watched before, but he could be a potential day three prospect. Wilkins entered the game averaging 5.4 yards per carry on 71 attempts, and he eclipsed that average against LSU by carrying 13 times for 86 yards and a touchdown. Wilkins could have done more damage if the score had not gotten out of control, but the Ole Miss back ran hard with the opportunities he did have, showing good strength to run through tackles and the vision to find creases.
Wilkins already has 19 catches on the season as well, and seemed very comfortable in the open field despite not being overly elusive. The NFL loves big, well-rounded backs who play physical football, and the 6-1, 220-pound Wilkins looked like he could compete for a roster spot Saturday night.