University of Alabama Crimson Tide @ University of Arkansas Razorbacks Saturday, October 8, 2016
AT&T Field at War Memorial Stadium, Little Rock, Arkansas
Score: Alabama (49), Arkansas (30)
Notable Prospects Entering the Contest
Calvin Ridley, WR, (Prep) Sophomore, #3: Ridley has been streaky in his touches this season; no better embodiment of that than his double digit receptions last week vs. Kentucky followed by a low key performance this past weekend. Ridley did register a touchdown but against USC, Arkansas and Kent State Ridley has 6 receptions for 28 yards and a touchdown. Western Kentucky, Kentucky and Mississippi? 28 receptions for 384 yards and three touchdowns. Those numbers need to level out down the stretch as the Crimson Tide continues to play throughout their SEC schedule.
ArDarius Stewart, WR, Junior, #13: Stewart returned to the lineup after missing time with a knee injury the past several weeks and quickly re-established himself as a big part of the Alabama offense. Stewart is well regarded but often a second thought to Calvin Ridley; a trend I feel needs to change. Stewart is effective separating vertically and has a knack for making big plays. He was a huge factor in the season opener against USC and was back to his tricks again with another 20+ YPC performance. Steward is a gifted open field athlete and has the ability to create both prior to receiving the ball and after the catch.
O.J. Howard, TE, Senior, #88: Howard continues to have another relatively quiet season; which is concerning to a degree. He’s largely handled the drops issue that dogged him as a Sophomore but a failure to develop into a greater part of the offense is curious. Howard has a vertical receiving skillset and the athleticism to be a priority as a target in the middle of the field. Yet Howard has just 18 receptions on the year and only one effort this year with more than 40 yards receiving. Howard’s skill set will never be the question, but I want to see it translate onto the field for more than just the 2016 National Championship game.
Stock: Slightly Down
Cam Robinson, OT, Junior, #74: Robinson had a strong effort in this game; he continues to look the part of a NFL Left Tackle. There’s going to be continued speculation about his off the field status (he was reportedly referred to as high maintenance and has a gun charge to his name that was graciously dropped by the local DA) but between the lines he’s been just as strong as he looked down the stretch in 2015. Robinson’s blend of mobility, footwork and physical power in the upper/lower halves make him a strong candidate for the top OT selected in 2017 if he declares at the end of the year.
Jon Allen, DL, Senior, #93: Allen was a wrecking crew along the defensive front. He gave the Razorback OL fits all game, regardless of who he aligned across from. Allen showed nice versatility as well; he was capable and effective both as a run defender, stunter, boundary rusher and interior rusher. One rep in particular flashed in which Allen bowed the edge and leaned around Dan Skipper at LT; only losing his footing at the last second prior to what would have been a sack. It was an impressive rep from a nearly 300 lb player and one that is going to make him a challenge for OTs both the rest of this year and going forward.
Reuben Foster, LB, Senior, #10: Foster continues to be the most dynamic, explosive player on the field for a defensive unit that is filled with them. Foster’s click and close ability and lower body explosiveness regularly illustrate an ability to break on plays and be a force between the tackles *AND* working into the sideline. Foster was aggressive blitzing up the barrel of the A-gaps in this game as well and on more than one occasion got hip to hip with blockers and disrupted the pocket; leveling QB Austin Allen (who continues to be a tough SOB). Foster will be a strong contender for a top 15 selection and is a strong contender for the top LB off the board in April, pending his health.
Eddie Jackson, FS, Senior, #4: Jackson’s route leveraging and field spacing continue to benefit his teammates. Jackson’s production is not the same as the year prior; but it’s more of a byproduct in not being tested. Jackson rarely has the ball thrown in his direction and as a result is not making him impact plays. His performance was a key part of Minkah Fitzpatrick registering 3 interceptions and Jackson had a great effort to get out in front of the last one and assist the 108 yard return for a touchdown. Jackson continues to impress with his consistency and discipline on the back end.
Tim Williams, OLB/DE, Senior, #56: I thought Williams had his most disruptive performance of the year against the Razorbacks. While the TFL column wasn’t quite filled up like it was against Kentucky, Williams regularly flushed Allen from the pocket. I was most impressed with how well he transitioned into a secondary rush effort and nearly finished a number of other plays inside and outside of the pocket. His touchdown was a byproduct of being at the right place at the right time but I really enjoyed the motor Williams put on display as well. He continues to play effectively and with greater disruption with full time reps but like Cam Robinson is going to have some questions to answer regarding his off the field behavior (he faced a gun charge and was suspended the first half against Kentucky; in addition, there are rumblings of other issues below the surface as well).
Keon Hatcher, WR, Senior, #4: Hatcher continues to be a reliable part of the Razorback passing offense. He’s logged 5 touchdowns on the season (2 this weekend) and has made a number of nice plays on tightly contested throws. He lacks any elite traits other than his hands but has shown enough to warrant consideration on my watch list for the 2017 Prospectus. Hatcher is a bit mechanical in the open field but has strong football intelligence and tracks the ball well.
Jeremy Sprinkle, TE, Senior, #83: I would have liked to have seen Sprinkle be a bit more active in his targets but he finished with a nice game, overall. Unsurprisingly he did not have many strong reps as a blocker, but we know who Sprinkle is as a player by now and he’s more of a MOF flex receiver than inline blocker. Sprinkle did well with his touchdown reception to adjust to an erratic throw and get quality RAC to slip into the right corner of the end zone. He will likely be a Day 3 player but is going to hold some value. Continues to fly under the radar on a national scale.
Dan Skipper, OT, Senior, #70: Skipper struggled again this weekend; another poor performance against NFL caliber defenders after being dogged against Texas A&M earlier this year. Skipper struggled yet again with the short area quickness of LBs Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson; while also getting folded and collapsed by DE Jon Allen. Skipper’s failure to implement his core strength and anchor against Allen OR his length against boundary rushers is problematic and a great cause for concern. Skipper’s viable status as a next level prospect is now in serious jeopardy in my eyes. Needs to have a strong second half to the season.
Deatrich Wise Jr; DL, Senior, #48: The more I watch of Wise this year the more I question whether he’s fully healthy. He isn’t moving with the same mobility that he had in 2015 on limited reps. At this point he’s projecting more cleanly as a B-gap defender than an edge defender, there is a noticeable lag in his transitions and getting width. Wise has tremendous length and was able to stack blocks effectively when playing a traditional edge setting role in the run game but did not show the same get off I was accustomed to in 2015. Wise looks to be moving in slow motion in relation to the offense and his teammates when flowing laterally to the sideline; it’s been a down year for him thus far. Like Skipper, Wise needs a strong second half to the 2016 season.
Best Players on the Field:
Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB (Sophomore, Alabama); Reuben Foster, LB; Jon Allen, DL; Ardarius Stewart, WR
Dan Skipper, OT; Calvin Ridley, WR; Deatrich Wise Jr; DL