University of Arkansas Razorbacks @ Texas A&M University Aggies Saturday, September 24, 2016
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Score: Arkansas (24), Texas A&M (45)
Notable Prospects Entering the Contest
Jeremy Sprinkle, TE, Senior, #83: Week 4 was the first week that Sprinkle didn’t register a touchdown reception in 2016. But that isn’t the reason why his stock is down this week; it’s more about his reps when he stayed in at the line of scrimmage. Sprinkle had great difficulty in the run game playing consistently against two NFL caliber defensive ends. Sprinkle is much more of a receiver than a blocker to begin with; but these kinds of issues are the things that keep players off the field early on in their NFL careers. Not only did Sprinkle struggle, at times he looked flat out bad trying to work as a blocker. The upside here is although Sprinkle did not register a touchdown he’s very much the same natural receiver he’s always been. With a big frame and long arms; he should continue to be a consistent red zone threat (where he’s scored 80% of his career touchdowns).
Dan Skipper, OT, Senior, #70: Sprinkle was not alone in having a hard time blocking against A&M. Dan Skipper (a listed 6100 and 319) is a long, massive body to play at OT. His length suits him well against many comers; but not on this night. Skipper had a difficult time mirroring the short area agility and initial burst of the line shown by Myles Garrett. In a typical matchup of gifted prospects, you’d expect each player to have their share of hits and misses. Skipper seemed to be reeling and on the defensive against Garrett all night. Skipper is a people mover but the length he possesses also takes its toll in how quickly he’s able to counter his angles: he had a hard time in this regard as well because he was unable to envelope defenders like he can against lesser talent.
Deatrich Wise Jr, Senior, #48: Wise Jr. was a name I became a big fan of over the course of the summer: he has length, power and flashes of advanced hand techniques to shed the blocks of opponents both in pass and limited run situations. Unfortunately, we did not get so see much of that from Wise Jr; he was largely negated throughout the game due to responsibilities against the zone read and Trevor Knight. Wise spent a lot of time isolated on the edge and failed to show anticipation or short area explosiveness necessary to close down and challenge the dive. Furthermore, when Knight did keep the ball Wise showed only good motor, he didn’t have much success tracking down the elusive QB in space.
Brooks Ellis, MLB, Senior, #51: Ellis was a name to get hot after an impressive week 2 performance against Texas Christian (he logged 14 total tackles, 3 TFL and an interception). But Ellis was very much a non-factor against the Aggies; totaling just 4 tackles. The one time Ellis showed up specifically in my notes was being stiff armed up the right sideline and losing his angle in pursuit; yielding a large gain on the play. Ellis has NFL size for the position at 6020, 245 lbs and appears to be a cerebral player; I would chalk this one up as simply a poor performance. The Aggies offense did a lot to stress the Razorbacks on the boundary (both passing and running the ball) so we may need to take a deeper look into whether Ellis has enough range to play MIKE in a 4-3 defense.
Texas A&M Offense
Trevor Knight, QB, RS Senior, #8: Knight continues to impress as a 1st year transfer to the Aggies. He isn’t hitting a high percentage of this throws at 53.2% on the season; but the throws he does make illustrate nice velocity and trajectory. His best throw of the day was a nine route to Josh Reynolds for a 92 yard score; a very strong effort up the right sideline. Knight’s strengths may not lend themselves very well to a NFL transition; he’s something more of a modern CFB Quarterback. But he’s also a great athlete; he killed Arkansas with his legs (to the tune of 157 yards rushing). So while Knight isn’t operating to NFL standards as a passer, he’s showing he has NFL caliber athleticism. That might be enough to earn him a look somewhere. In the meantime; he has a chance to continue to further develop strong play and really push for consideration if he’s able to get consistent results operating the offense with greater amounts of timing and anticipation.
Josh Reynolds, WR, Senior, #11: Reynolds is trending up for two consecutive weeks now. He was also one of “my guys” over the summer; he’s finally getting the volume of targets necessary to hopefully prove me right. Reynolds does a very nice job attacking the football in the air and has the frame at 6040+ to come back to the ball with consistency to win in contested situations. I’m impressed with his level of looseness throughout his frame at his size; he runs route breaks with suddenness and can establish separation on his route stem regardless of the pattern. Keep feeding him the ball and let good things happen!
Texas A&M Defense
Myles Garrett, DE, Junior, #15: Box score scouts would suggest this was a quiet performance from Garrett (3 tackles, 0.0 sacks and 1.0 TFL). Box score scouts would also be wrong. Garrett put it all on display: initial burst and explosion off the line, length, power and ability to reset the line of scrimmage, ability to penetrate and slash in order to get hip to hip with blockers. You name it. The only thing he didn’t do was register a sack. But the penetration, violence and explosiveness were all on display. One of the top 3-5 prospects in the entire country right now; a true blue chipper who continues to show strong play.
Daeshon Hall, DE, Senior, #10: Hall continues to reap the benefits of playing opposite of “a true blue chipper”. Hall has logged a TFL in each of the Aggies four games this season and this past week logged his first sack. Hall’s sack of Austin Allen (who played a hell of a game and showed a ton of heart/toughness) was a nice illustration of build up speed translating into an explosive hit on the QB; who had just reached the top of his drop. I still have questions about Hall’s ability to get off of blocks and be the type of run defender Garrett is on the other side, but he’s continuing to thrive left 1 on 1 with blockers from week to week.
Armani Watts, DB, Junior, #23: Watts was probably the best player on the field for the Aggies on this given night. Playing the Strong Safety position, Watts was active in the box and in the intermediate areas of the field; having an impact against both the run and the pass. Watts’ best play of the night was a strong effort down on the goal line to stuff the Razorbacks on an end around; he showed excellent discipline in space and a good understanding of how to leverage the play against blockers on the inside and the sideline to the outside and cut down the ball carrier for a loss. 9 tackles, a forced fumble, 2.5 tackles for loss and a pass defended; it was an all-around impressive performance that at the end of the night was reinforced by the box score.
Justin Evans, SAF, Senior, #14: Evans was the talk of the Aggies’ opening night win against UCLA but has not been able to replicate that performance to this point in the remainder of September. If there’s one thing we can officially say about him, it is that he’s tough as hell. A few weeks after Evans popped his own knee back into place while lying on the ground against UCLA, he played through the game despite getting dinged up yet again. It seemed as though the pressure A&M generated and the activity of teammate Armani Watts kept Evans’ impact on this contest to a modest level.
Best Players on the Field: Myles Garrett, DE; Josh Reynolds, WR; Armani Watts, DB
Forgettable Performances: Dan Skipper, OT; Brooks Ellis, MLB