Texas A&M Aggies v UCLA Bruins
Saturday, September 3, 2017, 7:30 p.m. ET
Rose Bowl/Pasadena, CA
UCLA (45), Texas A&M (44)
Notable Prospects Entering the Contest
Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M (Junior)
Analysis: Quick separation on in-breaking route against man coverage to convert a third down early in the game. Burst to separate is obvious. Still only being utilized in the short passing game, screens, slants, shallow crossers. Would love to see him down the field more often, but not how A&M is built this season. Made a terrific play to spin out of a tackle after catching a quick hitch, maximizing his yards after catch and picking up a first down. Stock: Up
Keith Ford, RB, Texas A&M (RS Senior)
Analysis: Easy night for Ford given the holes he had, but he showed excellent vision and decisiveness as a runner, especially in short yardage situations. Terrific pad level to power through contact at the goal line, and constantly kept his feet moving. Slashing running style got him to the second level quickly, where he can be dangerous with power/burst combo. Pressed and cut cleanly on zone runs, moving the second level and then flowing back against the over-pursuit. Stock: Up
Daylon Mack, DT, Texas A&M (Junior)
Analysis: Still looks like a strong rotation up front for A&M, which limited Mack’s impact. When I did notice him, he had very little impact as a pass rusher. Mack is strong and leveraged at the point of attack, but needs to maintain better eye level to find the ball and flow to it quicker. Can get caught up in phone booth brawls, but has a lot of traits that will bear watching. Stock: Same
Armani Watts, S, Texas A&M (Junior)
Analysis: Good angles in his downhill flow to the ball. Wrapped up and finished better as a tackler than his tape last season would have indicated. Still ducks his head into tackles and drops his eyes too soon. Good knowledge of his assignments down the field to mirror in coverage. Laid out for one PBU and consistently stayed with his deep man on rollouts, not getting sucked up to shallow routes in front of him. Got froze in man coverage by UCLA tight end Caleb Wilson on an outside jab step, giving up inside separation. Still, an encouraging performance for a player that has a lot of work to do heading into the season. Stock: Up
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA (Junior)
Analysis: Began the game well, with a threaded dime vs man coverage down the field. Through a timing pattern with anticipation on an out route on third and short on first drive. With trash around his ankles (took a low hit that was called roughing the passer), Rosen hung in and delivered a throw with zip on a curl. Things unraveled quickly however, as consistent protection breakdowns, drops and the failure of his receivers to get open got Rosen off his game. Held onto the ball too long and didn’t come back to checkdown quickly enough at times.
One of his biggest plays statistically came on perhaps his worst throw, as he badly underthrew receiver Jordan Lasley (who made a contested catch) for what should have been a touchdown. Took few deep shots, but the only other one that stands out was another underthrown ball that should have been intercepted near the goal line, and instead went through the defender’s hands for a touchdown. Both a bad decision and a poor throw. His penultimate touchdown pass of the game was under pressure and off-platform, and the ball floated out of his hand in a pick six waiting to happen. However no defensive back adjusted, and his receiver made a sliding catch in the front of the end zone instead. The third bad decision/bad throw of the game that paid off in a big play for Rosen. Tape > results, because good process is the consistent means to good results, not luck.
He did rally back to get in a rhythm late in the game and lead several nice drives, looking especially accurate attacking the middle of the field with terrific ball placement. He made a couple off-platform throws while altering his arm angle that were very impressive, but he also should have been undone by several questionable decisions. Also, still question if his arm is better than just solid, especially for distance.
Where Rosen stood out was in his personal unflappable demeanor despite pressure and adversity. Individually he was poised in his play, but he also failed to set the offense twice before snapping the ball, resulting in penalties that put the team in long down-and-distances. Rosen’s performance was definitely gutsy, but the results are muddying the process for many. Teams will love his toughness and winning mentality (fake spike was a straight stones move), but Rosen must process quicker from the pocket, be more accurate down the field and avoid terrible decisions if he is to be consistently successful at the next level. Stock: Same
Kenny Young, LB, UCLA (Senior)
Analysis: Wants to play fast, but doesn’t always diagnose cleanly. When he reads it right, can be an explosive downhill tackler. Was slow to pursue on one draw play and allowed the runner to get the edge and pick up a first down. Failed to erupt through the hole and wrap, drive and finish on the goal line against Ford. Broke up a checkdown pass in shallow zone coverage. Bit hard on misdirections and was too easily distracted by backfield activity. Stock: Down
Adarius Pickett, S, UCLA (RS Junior)
Analysis: Good run defender who played aggressive and filled quickly. Sure tackler who came up consistently to make plays in short passing game. Target area is clean and hits with everything he’s got. Diagnoses run quickly and has a great burst to the ball. Knocked Keith Ford out of bounds on 3rd-and-goal to force an A&M field goal early on. Got worked in man coverage by Christian Kirk on one crossing route, and may not have the speed to stick with certain matchups in man coverage. Blocked a field goal. I had very little exposure to Pickett before this game, so coming from a low level of expectation, his stock is up for me. Stock: Up
Jaleel Wadood, S, UCLA (Senior)
Analysis: Short-armed and tackle radius impacts ability to bring down runners consistently 1v1. Aggressive tackler with exceptional burst to the ball. Flies around and will come downhill physically in support of the run or short passing game. Outran by Trayveon Williams on long run in first half despite good angle. Kirk ran away from him a few times too. Played a lot in the slot, which might be his best spot. Stock: Same
Other Players that Flashed
Trayveon Williams, RB, Texas A&M – Obviously won’t fully eval until he’s draft eligible (only a sophomore), but I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t receive a first round grade from me next year. Special talent with incredible burst, power, balance and vision.
Jarrett Johnson, DE, Texas A&M – Got a quarterback hit on an inside move to thwart UCLA’s opening drive on third down in the red zone, then came back later to win with an outside move on left tackle Kolton Miller for a strip-sack. Later sold speed up the arc and then hit an inside spin counter move to drill Rosen. Only three starts before this season playing behind Myles Garrett. Can’t wait to watch his senior season unfold.
Caleb Wilson, TE, UCLA – 15 catches for 208 yards for the 6-4, 235-pound junior was an impressive showing, especially when you consider the attention to detail and smooth footwork he showed as a route runner. Wilson gained space against safeties in man coverage and caught the ball well away from his frame. Must-watch prospect moving forward.
Texas A&M offensive line, particularly the run blocking of right tackle Keaton Sutherland in the first half. He did get exposed a bit in pass protection later on, but given that this was my first exposure to him, I was impressed with the junior.
Best Players on the Field
Trayveon Williams, RB, Texas A&M
Keith Ford, RB, Texas A&M
Caleb Wilson, TE, UCLA
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M
UCLA front seven