Oklahoma Sooners @ Houston Cougars
Saturday, September 3, 2016 @ 12:00 p.m.
NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
Score: 23 Oklahoma – Houston 33
Notable Prospects Entering the Contest
Greg Ward Jr, QB, Senior #1
Ward is a dynamic athlete playing quarterback. At just 5’11” 190lbs, his size is not prototypical for the NFL but his entire game is not protypical. Last season, Ward became the first Houston quarterback to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season. Against Oklahoma, Houston utilized his ability to throw on the run multiple times. Regardless, when he was rolling out or in the pocket, he has a very nice touch to his short throws; he doesn’t throw it too hard for the receiver to see the ball but he doesn’t throw it too slow for the defender to react. He also has a nice touch on deep throws as well. I thought that his deep balls were fairly accurate and had a decent height trajectory on them. Also, his back shoulder throws were very accurate and on time. On his short throws, like a slant pattern throw, his release had a wind up to it and took too long for NFL standards. Also, it seemed like the play calling was conservative because most of the calls were screen plays, deep go routes on the sideline, option runs, and designed QB runs. Further investigation would be needed to see if the coaches called conservatively because Ward Jr. cannot handle more responsibility or if it was game plan specific for the week. Ward Jr. is also the captain of his team.
Duke Catalon, RB, Sophomore #2
What jumps out about Duke Catalon is his speed. He has the speed to hit the corner and out run everyone. This was evident at the beginning of the game after he caught a swing pass and burned past everyone up the sideline. Later in the game, he also demonstrated good vision and quick feet work when he cut back through the crowded trenches. It seems like he is a one cut running back and not much of a juker. If he is 1 vs 1 against a defender, he will either try to outrun the defender or lower his pad.
Steven Dunbar, WR, Junior #88
Was one of the playmakers of the game. He has a sturdy and tall build but when he needs to breakdown within his routes, he has the hip flexibility to sink low. He continuingly got behind the defensive backs on go routes no matter which dB was defending him. On one play he stuck the dB in and out at the LOS vs bump, then stacked the db and caught the go route with one hand. It seems like he is very consciousness of his hand and feet placement while running his route because when he released vs bump the first thing he did was swipe the dB’s hands away and then he would quickly stack him so that the defender would have to go through him to get to the ball (this is textbook and great). Then he kept his defender off guard because he caught multiple back shoulder throws displaying great balance and feet/hand control (caught the ball away from his frame). After halftime, the opposing team assigned their best dB to guard him but shortly after, Dunbar caught another back shoulder throw on him on 3rd and long. When he ran a slant route, he ran back “downhill” toward the QB after he cut inside and then he caught the ball with his hands, away from his fram, and then he broke the dB’s tackle when he spun back outside. Every time Dunbar caught the ball, he was looking to gain YACs; and he got them by juking, spinning, and dragging defenders. He also worked hard for his teammates by blocking hard whenever necessary. On one running play he blocked three people and on another he de-cleated a defender on a crack block. He also catches punt returns but he didn’t get a chance to return. Something to further investigate about Dunbar is his level of speed burst because he could have caught many more go routes but he was 1 step behind. In the NFL he would need to capitalize on the few chances he gets.
Ogbinnia Okoronkwo, LB, Junior #31
Film shows that he is overall a decent linebacker. Did not do anything spectacular but did make several tackles and contribute to the team’s success. The worst mistake he made was losing the RB (Catalan) coming out of the backfield during a trick play where the QB rolled out and then threw it back across the field to Catalan who snuck out of the backfield. He was best used as an edge rusher. When he lined up on all fours and rushed the edge like a DE, he ran with a lot of speed and created pressure on the QB almost each time it was called. When lined up as a rusher, he gets off of the snap fast, puts pressure on the tackle’s outside edge with his speed and then uses both his hands to quickly swipe away the offensive lineman’s hands; he got 2 sacks using this technique.
Jordan Evans, LB, Senior #26
Was voted 2nd team All Big 12 last season. He showed that he has the ability to attack blockers with extended arms to keep the distance and control of the blocker. He also showed that he has the athletic ability to explode off of blockers to make the tackle when they come within reach. He has the speed to track down runners moving toward the sideline. Far too often though I saw him almost jogging throughout plays, and it was disappointing. He doesn’t have the ‘reckless abandon’ mentality but rather he likes to stride to the spot he needs to maintain leverage. On one play, he had an opportunity to sack the QB but he slowed when he looked around to see if anyone was going to block him; this is not the attitude of a ferocious LB. If the runner seems like he is far away from him, then he will stride toward him but definitely did not run at full speed. Further investigation is needed to know his football intelligence/awareness because during one play on the goal line, his man went into motion yet he still got picked for an easy TD like he doesn’t understand that offenses want to use players to create a pick in the red zone.
Ahmad Thomas, S, Senior #13
He was 2nd team All Big 12 last year. I liked that he is always moving toward the ball hence he would continuously show up on film. In fact, in one stretch of plays he made the tackle 3 plays in a row. Even if he knew that the runner was basically tackled, he will still run down from his safety positon and evaluate. I know he is a team player because he encourages his teammates after a good play. His drawback is that based on film, it didn’t seem like he had the speed to cover sideline to sideline vs the pass.
Dakota Austin, CB, Senior #27
Last season, Austin got his first chance when he replaced an injured player for a 3 week span. At officially 5’10” 170lbs, he looks really small on TV and this may be a major hindrance moving to the NFL level. The receiver he was guarding, Dunbar, was getting open on any route he ran. Dunbar got behind him on multiple go routes and he also bounced right off his attempted tackles. It is even questionable where his head is at during the play because he literally tackled the wrong person because he thought that he was the RB.
Cameron Malveaux, DE, Senior #94
I would classify Malveaux as a run stopping DE. He has a long and lanky build with some bulk up top. His hustle game is a little above average. Evidence on plays such as a swing pass screen to the RB and he ran to the sideline to make the tackle. However, when he did make the tackle, he didn’t hit the runner with the authority of a defensive lineman trying to make his presence felt. In fact, the RB fell forward for another 2 yards. He does not have very good anticipation of the snap and/or get-off speed. Also, it took him a long time to get off of blocks to the point where, even when the RB was already behind him he was still fighting the offensive lineman. He did show some ability to rush the passer with a swim move and then power through to the QB but those reps were few and far between.
Jerard Carter, DE, Sophomore #52
Carter had an average game. He made a few tackles and caused penetration on a few others. He showed that he can play at the LOS with great pad level against offensive linemen. He has some moves that he utilizes such as the swim move. He does need more strength to be able to deal with double teams because when they did double team him he would get knocked to his knees or worse to his stomach.
Steven Taylor, OLB, Senior #41
Based on evaluating his performance in this game alone, he is an above average linebacker. His stats from last season back up my theory because was led the ACC with 10 sacks and also tallied 18.5 tackles for loss. On film, he showed that he has a knack and instinct for avoiding blockers, which is a big part of being an elite LB. On one play, the opposing team ran a sweep and he side stepped through the crowd of lineman zone blocking and made the tackle. He does not have elite sideline to sideline speed and he probably knows this so he uses high angles to track down the runner. This is good because he makes the tackle but it is also bad because he most likely gave up about 8 yards before he could get to the RB. He hustles very well and was continuously moving toward the ball.
Tyus Bowser, LB, Senior, #81
Bowser was in and out of the game on rotation so there wasn’t much film for him. I feel that he is mostly on the field because of his energy and hustle. Athletically he wasn’t better than anyone else but he played with a sense of aggression that got him past blockers and to the ball carrier. He hustled on the backside of sweep plays. He violently chopped down on offensive linemen forearms to cause pressure on the QB, Mayfield. In fact, Bowser crashed through the line and caused the one fumble Mayfield had in the game. More film would be needed to see if he could contribute to an NFL team.
Brandon Wilson, CB, Senior #26
Wilson was my favorite defensive player for Houston. He was always always around the ball and continued to show up on film throughout game. He played with a violent attitude that I liked. When he blitzed off the edge he always ran full speed and then laid the wood into the RB to cause pressure on the QB. He knocked Mixon on his butt a couple of times throughout the game when Mixon tried to block him. If the run play was coming towards him, he kept his outside arm free and violently held the edge until the runner was close and then he would explode toward him to make the tackle. He played with speed and violence. He also did the little things like celebrating with teammates, returning kickoff returns, and attempting to strip the ball when he saw the opportunity. He returned a field goal for a touchdown in the game as well, showing the all-around player that he is and that he capitalizes on opportunities. My hesitation on Wilson is his size. Although he is 5’11” 200lbs, which isn’t bad, sometimes he just could not get away from the blocker despite his aggression. When this happened he usually spun away from the blocker giving more yards to the runner but eventually making the tackle.
Baker Mayfield, QB, Junior #6
Mayfield has fantastic athletic abilities that he brings to the QB position as evidence by him being last year’s Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year with 3,700 yards passing and 43 total touchdowns. He plays with a lot of energy and is visually excited when the team makes a good play. His strongest asset is his escape ability. He is a big guy and has good speed on him which makes him very difficult to bring down. In one play he broke 4 tackles. I believe that he has good ‘football awareness’ because when the center snapped the ball badly, he automatically ran in the direction that the original play called for (some players run in the opposite direction or don’t know which way to go and stand there). He also called audiles at the LOS and set protections while running a ‘hurry up’ offense. Whereas I feel that Mayfield is a strong leader for his team, I don’t think the coaches give him much responsibility in critical situations. For instance in the 3rd quarter and 3rd and 7 distance, they opted to run a WR screen, which is little risk. In the 4th quarter and 3rd and 5, Mayfield threw a 3 yard under route that was covered too tightly for the receiver to even catch the ball. These situations lead me to question if Mayfield has the ability to consistently throw the ball downfield or if the coaches were just being too conservative. More research is required to answer this. Mayfield has average velocity on his throws as evidence by throwing a ‘speed out’ from the opposite hash. The throw was not overly fast but not slow either. He also would need to work on his accuracy because both of his medium distance throws in the 4th quarter were too high to catch.
Samajn Perine, RB, Junior #32
Perine is now entering his 3rd year as the starting RB and last year he rushed for a team high 1,349 yards. Because he got hurt for a period of time in the game and he was in rotation with Mixon, I saw tidbits of his ability that led him to rush for so many yards. He is a very patient runner. He allows the blocks to be fully executed and then he glides through the hole. I didn’t see much sudden burst but his one speed is plenty fast enough to get through a hole and break away. I did not see Perine show much juke ability as evidence by a play when he caught a swing pass and got leveled by a db although he had probably 5-7 yards to see that he was coming. Overall, I like his running ability and his size to be able to fall forward after contact. Although I believe he is a good player, after watching one game on him, I do believe the hype train is too high. However, I do understand that I he didn’t play a full game and he is coming of an ankle injury from the Spring so I will continue to do more study on him to reach a final conclusion.
Joe Mixon, RB, Sophomore #25
Mixon was the star of the Oklahoma offense. In his first two plays, Mixon ran for a touchdown and then caught a long pass up the MOF with one hand. His first play for a touchdown showed that he is aware of defenders around him and that he has the athletic ability to quickly move to avoid them. He high stepped a ‘would be’ diving tackler that was behind him and within the same steps he cut across another defender in front of him. I was very impressed by that display of athletic ability. Mixon also has breakaway speed. The team must know this because they also allow him to return kickoffs. He has the speed to hit the corner and also to outrun a defender that has the angle on him. If given space, he will not be tackled easily; when he caught the one handed catch up the seam he was looking to score again by high stepping a diving tackler until a defender finally fully wrapped him up. After his first score, he hopped on the team bench and pumped up the crowd. I have no problem with this but because of that action, more research is needed to determine if he is about the team or more about himself. He may have done that because he scored the first time he touched the ball for the season but more investigation is needed into his character.
Orlando Brown, T, Sophomore #78
Brown is just a sophomore but I think he will be a very good player after his senior season. He is a big guy at 6’8” 340lbs so no one is bull dozing him. Despite his size, he moves very well when he pulls. His athletic ability to move was also evident when he cut blocked. During his cut blocks, he hit the ground extremely quick and elongated his body to cover a large amount of area. In pass protection he played with a good base, never stepping outside of his frame and he was good at shadowing the rusher’s movements once he got his hands on the rusher. I would have liked to see more hustle from him, especially with a scrambling QB like Mayfield. The plays became long and sometimes he would give up on the play halfway through.
Dede Westbrook, WR, Senior #11
The best thing about Westbrook is his ability to juke defenders after the catch. That’s
why he did most of his work through screens and bubble passes. He has the body control and leg power to stop on a dime and change direction. He broke multiple defenders ankles throughout the game. I did not like his speed while running routes because it seemed like he was jogging through his route. In the NFL, he would need to run all of his routes full speed because if not, the dB would be so close to him that he would never get to catch the ball and then never get to show his ability to juke.
Other Players that Flashed
Ed Oliver, DT, Freshman #10 with Houston
He was in the running to be my favorite player of the game. He was a 5 star recruit last year and this guy is going to be a monster in college. I was amazed at his athletic abilities. He showed quickness at the snap of the ball, low pad level at the point of attack, the hand and leg power at the point of attack to push back the offensive linemen, the power to get off of blocks once he diagnoses the play, the speed to run sideline to sideline (darn near as fast as a linebacker), and best of all he had fantastic hustle. His hustle was evident on almost every single play he was in. One play he tried to run down a player that was 30 yards ahead of him and obviously going to score, but Oliver never stopped running full speed to chase him. That play showed the character and pride that he has. Another play, he rushed from one side but the QB scrambled in the opposite direction and Oliver ran across the field and tackled him on the sideline. He has a really nice pop on his initial strike with the linemen. I was absolutely amazed at how fast he for a DT. He ran sideline to sideline making tackles on bubbles and screens and when he hit the receiver, they felt it. To further his progression, he needs to work on his hand fighting when pass rushing because sometimes he got tangled up with the offensive lineman. Overall, this guy is going to be drafted after his junior season.
Garrett Davis, S, Sophomore #1 with Houston
He flashed when he absolutely leveled Perine on tackle. Perine caught a swing pass and Garret Davis ran at him full speed, without regard for how big Perine is, and knocked him on his butt. A few plays later he came downhill full speed to tackle Mixon. He continues to come up and deliver hard hits on RB’s. I will continue to watch him as his career progresses to see if he develops his all-around game.
Linnell Bonner, WR, Junior #15 with Houston
He flashed after he made a great sideline catch. He showed elite awareness and body control when the caught the ball with 1 foot in bounds while the rest of his body was perpendicular to the ground. Coupled with a few other catches, he gave me reason enough to further investigate his receiving abilities.
Howard Wilson, CB, Sophomore #6 from Houston
I watched the game on television so I couldn’t evaluate his cornerback abilities play to play but I do know an aggressive playmaker when I see one (or maybe he just had a good game, further evaluation needed). He bulldozed and knocked wide receivers on their butt when they tried to block him. He put all his effort into tackling by full length diving at their feet (although he missed Mixon on his td run, I really liked the effort). He recovered a fumble because he continued to run to the ball. When Mayfield and Mixon were running around trying to make a play in the 4th quarter, Wilson shot through the air and cut Mixon’s legs from under him to end the shenanigans. I like how every time I saw him, he was making an aggressive play; he showed up to make a statement.
Will Johnson, DB, redshirt Junior #12 from Oklahoma
He continually flashed on the screen by running to the ball carrier. He showed great hip flexibility when he got so low that he would go under the blockers’ arms and make the tackle on the edge of the LOS (did multiple times). He had a knack for side stepping the blockers and making tackles. He has a great ability to stop the speed option because he’s patient enough to stretch the play for as long as possible and then fast enough to get to both players. He plays hard every play as evident when he almost blocked the FG. He has the ability to cover the pass but also the aggression to be an edge force player. I feel that he will be a good addition to an NFL team.
Emmanuel Beal, LB, Junior #14 from Oklahoma
He flashed when he substituted for #26 for one play. On his first play, he bulldozed the lineman and made the tackle at the LOS. Then he went back into the game late in the 4th quarter and was very physical with the o line, making multiple tackles and he moved around very fast. Would have to investigate further as to why he doesn’t play more and to see whether he was playing at a different speed than everyone else because he was fresh.
Best Players on the Field
Houston’s Ed Oliver
Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon
Charles Walker, DL, Junior #97
I was looking forward to watching Charles Walker perform because he was a 2nd team All Big 12 selection last season. However, I came away disappointed because he continuously jogged throughout plays. He would watch the opposing player juke his teammates and continue running but would not match his effort but instead, jog and watch the action. I may have been able to let it pass if it was a 1, 2 time anomaly, but he jogged after the runner over and over again; especially if the runner was running in the opposite direction. He had 1 tackle in the 1st half. In the 2nd half, he showed up a little more and got 3 tackles and a pass knockdown. In the 2nd half, I could see the strength that most likely made him a 2nd team All Big 12 selection. He could create a good push on the offensive lineman at the initial point of attack and then he is strong enough to easily throw the lineman to the side he wants him to go after diagnosing the runner. He needs to understand that he has the potential to be dominant and show more consistent effort.
Jordan Thomas, DB, #7 with Oklahoma
Research told me that he was one of the best defensive backs on the team but I did not see him show up on film much. Actually, I pretty much forgot about him until I was writing this.