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North Carolina Tar Heels vs Illinois Fighting Illini 09/10/2016

Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire

Scouting Notes

North Carolina Tar Heels vs Illinois Fighting Illini 09/10/2016

North Carolina Tarheels vs Illinois Fighting Illini

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Memorial Stadium/Champaign, IL

Score:  North Carolina (48), Illinois (23)

Notable Prospects Entering the Contest

North Carolina Offense

Elijah Hood, RB, Junior:  Hood’s performance left a lot to be desired with several runs where he lacked decisiveness and that “see 3, get 3” mentality and was left lead-footed in the backfield. He did finish with 18 touches for 111 yards but 62 of those yards came against a worn-out defense late in the game where Hood actually hit a hole with full burst. That leaves the rest of his touches totaling just 49 yards on 17 touches which equals 2.88 yards per touch. Stock:  Down

TJ Logan, RB, Senior:  Logan was the better of the two UNC backs against Illinois although he isn’t as highly regarded of a prospect but posses a skillset that helps the Tarheels in a variety of ways. He initially impressed in the game by ripping off a long kickoff return which is an area that he has excelled in throughout his career. He is adept at finding lanes and hitting them with ideal burst giving him additional potential at the next level. Logan is dynamic with the ball in his hands and battles hard for extra yards at the end of runs. Logan racked up 93 yards from scrimmage on just 11 touches including a receiving touchdown. Stock:  Up

Ryan Switzer, WR, Senior:  Switzer should the ability to find space against zone coverage and work the middle of the field. He has a clear ability to make people miss in space and pick up yards after the catch. For the day, Switzer had 5 catches for 68 yards including some very timely grabs on third down where he created separation with crisp routes. Switzer had a terrible day as a punt returner including 2 muffs; one which directly lead to an Illinois touchdown. On the 2 punts he did return he only totaled 5 yards. Typically an outstanding punt returner, this was a poor showing for Switzer in that area. Stock:  Same

Lucas Crowley, C, Senior:  Crowley repeatedly showed off his athleticism and ability to make blocks in space. The UNC offense takes full advantage of his skills to pull and execute trap/kick out blocks and seal at the second level. He compliments those traits with good pass blocking ability with quick feet that slide well to seal gaps and a good anchor to not allow penetration.  Stock:  Up

Caleb Peterson, G, Senior:  Illinois DT Chunky Clements gave Peterson all he could handle and exposed several areas of concern with Peterson’s game. There were reps that Clements was able to get under Peterson’s pads and easily knock him off-balance and expose a clear lack of a functional anchor to absorb contact. It goes hand-in-hand that Peterson failed to generate much push in the run game to go along with compromising pocket depth with continual penetration allowed. Stock:  Down

Jon Heck, OT, Senior:  Heck had an outstanding pancake block on Dawuane Smoot that flashed a powerful punch which is something I have not seen much in Heck during the 5 games I have studied. Heck benefitted greatly from a lack of discipline in Smoot who continually rushed the passer even on running plays making for easy angles to create lanes. Heck performed better in pass pro than I have seen from his junior tape. Perhaps there is some improvement from Heck which is encouraging. Stock:  Up

Mack Hollins, WR, Senior:  Hollins made a few clutch receptions including a touchdown where he demonstrated an outstanding release and long, upfield stride to create separation. With that said, Hollins doesn’t offer much in terms of suddenness or twitch with minimal skills to pick up yards after the catch. Stock:  Same

North Carolina Defense

Nazair Jones, DT, RS Sophomore:  Jones had an extremely active game contributing seven tackles and two for loss. Highly effective at shooting gaps, Jones was able to frequently cross the offensive lineman’s face and disrupt run plays. Showing good lateral pursuit, Jones was able to close down gaps and make plays near the LOS. There was even a rep where Jones beat his man and was able to chase to down QB Wes Lunt in the boundary for a minimal gain. This was a solid showing for who also played well last week against Georgia. Jones has an impressive frame, power and quickness. Stock: Up

Des Lawrence, CB, Senior:  Lawrence wasn’t tested in coverage but I was disappointed in his lack of physicality. On one rep he had a perfect opportunity to square up and make a tackle in the boundary but chose to sidestep and attack from the side which resulted in a whiff. There were other opportunities that Lawrence had to get involved with a tackle but opted to play passive. This has become the norm in watching his tape. Stock:  Same

MJ Stewart, CB, Junior:  Stewart is a superior to prospect to Lawrence in my view. He is far more feisty, competitive and willing to challenge with physicality. There was a rep where he allowed vertical separation but showed good recovery speed and technique at the catch point to pull the receivers arm down to eliminate his chance to secure the catch.   Stock:  Same

Illinois Offense

Wes Lunt, QB, Senior:  Based off this game, Lunt is not a NFL quarterback. He telegraphs his throws and fails to see the field and read coverages. He has average to below average physical tools. Finishing 17 of 35 for 127 yards, Lunt failed to deliver in the passing game despite a good ground game effort. To his credit, his receivers weren’t overly impressive in creating separation but from a process perspective Lunt leaves a lot to be desired. Stock:  Same

Joe Spencer, C, Senior:  Spencer had an up and down game but particularly struggled in reps facing Nazair Jones aside from one impressive pancake block. The offensive tasks Spencer with frequently getting out in space but he did not perform well in that area.  I have 2 notes where his inability to block a LB on a screen lead to a minimal gain where if he made the block there was plenty of space for the RB to work. His feet looked heavy at times in pass pro where he couldn’t slide his feet to close gaps while allowing pressure to the QB. Stock:  Slightly Down

Illinois Defense

Hardy Nickerson, LB, Senior:  I came away thoroughly impressed in my first exposure to Nickerson. He was literally everywhere as he piled up 11 tackles including two for a loss. Its obvious that Nickerson has plus ability to process plays and quickly get to the football. He works through traffic and finds his way to the football with ascertion. Nickerson is capable of slipping blocks and his reactionary skills leave him a step ahead most of the time. Nickerson has plenty of range and can impact the game from sideline-to-sideline. There is an obvious “field general” mentality to his approach. Stock:  Up

Dawuane Smoot, DE, Senior:  Smoot’s physical traits continue to impress but he literally rushed the passer on every down with no regard to playing the run. This worked to his favor on a few occasions where he was able to make a few tackles for loss because he was able to get upfield and make a play but his overall discipline against the run was poor. Smoots first step and ability to get depth to pursue off the edge is outstanding. Stock:  Same

Chunky Clements, DT, Senior:  Clements showed the skills to be sa disruptive, interior penetrator with flashy technique. Clements showed good hand technique and functional anchor to maintain his gap integrity against the run. His overall play strength again showed up as a pass rusher where he displayed a good bullrush to pressure from the interior. There was a dominant rep where he got his hands under the offensive lineman’s pads, lifted and tossed him to disengage and disrupt. His motor runs hot on every snap and he brings a load of effort on every down. On his sack, he showed tremendous burst and worked his hands to separate from his blocker. This is a breakout candidate to monitor the rest of the way. Stock:  Up

Other Players that Flashed

Illinois RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn

Best Players on the Field

Hardy Nickerson, LB, Illinois

Chunky Clements, DT, Illinois

TJ Logan, RB, North Carolina

Nazair Jones, DT, North Carolina

Lucas Crowley, C, North Carolina

Forgettable Performances

Wes Lunt, QB, Illinois

Elijah Hood, RB, North Carolina

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Joe Marino

Marino began his career as the Assistant Editor for USA Today Digital Properties Draft Sites Network in 2011. A member of the FWAA, Marino writes about the NFL, College Football and NFL Draft for FanRag Sports.

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