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Solak | 5 takeaways as #5 Oklahoma dashes #8 TCU’s playoff hopes

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Scouting Notes

Solak | 5 takeaways as #5 Oklahoma dashes #8 TCU’s playoff hopes

#6 TCU Horned Frogs v. #5 Oklahoma Sooners

11/11/2017

Owen Field – Norman, OK

Score:  (#8) TCU 20, (#5) Oklahoma 38

1) Rodney gosh darn Anderson

That was one of the greatest individual performances I’ve ever seen.

TCU came in to the contest allowing less than 14 points a game–Oklahoma ended the first half with 38. Responsible for 4 of those 5 touchdowns? Redshirt sophomore RB Rodney Anderson.

But this wasn’t some goal line vulture performance. Anderson ripped off scores of 15 and 24 yards on the ground; 14 and 33 through the air. At the end of the half, Anderson had 203 total yards (86 rushing, 117 receiving). He finished the game with 151 and 139, respectively, as the first Big 12 player to ever accumulate 130+ in both categories.

You can’t produce like that without at least some skill set–but Anderson’s got the full picture. At 6’1 and 218 pounds, Anderson is thick and incredibly powerful. He regularly rocked would-be tacklers, and his thickness allowed him to stay upright through glancing blows with shocking consistency. His lower body must be insanely powerful: his first touchdown catch modeled some of the best balance I’ve ever seen.

Despite his bruising style and powerful frame, Anderson has multiple gears and instant acceleration. He can maintain velocity around the corner when running outside of the tackles, burst through the hole with intention, and stick a foot in the ground to leave defenders grasping for air.

But wait! There’s more! Anderson ran excellent routes all night and caught the football naturally and cleanly away from his frame. This ability to adjust to the football in the air models body control that few RBs have:

Rodney Anderson is only a redshirt sophomore in an offense that has multiple RBs worthy of touches–the long-term production isn’t necessarily there yet. But, for whenever Anderson declares, he will have my full attention.

2) Oh, and that Baker Mayfield character is still pretty good

There isn’t a team right now that can stop Baker Mayfield.

Magic Mayfield’s legs–and his discernment in when to use them, and when to hang in the pocket–is an excellent trait. The touch on his arm is truly wonderful, his pre-snap recognition seems sound, and his competitive toughness is freakin’ fantastic.

But his best trait is, plainly, his accuracy. The ball goes where Baker Mayfield wants it to go. Whether attacking the sideline or middle of the field, throwing deep or short, facing man or zone coverage, Baker was dealin’ all night long. He rarely put the ball in harm’s way or made the job more difficult on his receivers.

He’s got that ‘gamer’ in him, too. You can just tell he looks at every throwing window and thinks: “Yeah, I can hit that.” He’s almost categorically correct.

If you want a further breakdown on Baker’s traits, you should check out Director of Scouting Kyle Crabbs’ piece on him here. To finish this segment, I’ll just say this: Oklahoma should be the favorite for the championship right now, because nobody is playing better football than Baker Mayfield.

3) Trench battle in the interior

I came into the contest as a big fan of TCU senior C Austin Schlottman. I remain so, but his opponent for the evening, Oklahoma redshirt sophomore DT Du’Vonta Lampkin, showed that he’s got the goods as well.

Schlottman should really be a guard–that’s where he played originally, as injuries earlier in the season have moved him to center. You could see his unfamiliarity flash on reps he lost to Lampkin, as he struggled to get his hands up and base set after completing the snap. Lampkin, often lined up as the 0-tech directly over the ball, took advantage of that pause by winning Schlottman’s chest and walking him back.

On reps on which Lampkin wasn’t head up, however, Schlottman more often came out the victor. He has good form, generating maximum power in the running game by rolling his hips underneath his pads. He does well climbing into space, and particularly impressed in sustaining second level blocks. At 6’5 and 300 lbs, he has positional versatility across the offensive line. Learning his arm length will help define his ideal position.

Lampkin, on the opposite side, was only able to flash–it seems he’s still putting all the pieces together. When he’s rested, with his ears pinned back, he has natural power and great quickness of the snap. He was a little slow to see it and generally raw in the running game, but he has disruptive ability that should be honed over more and more starting reps.

4) Oklahoma may have solved their CB problem

Draft-eligible senior CB for Oklahoma, Jordan Thomas, has struggled this season. Plain and simple: he hasn’t looked terribly draftable. Oklahoma decided at the end of last week’s Bedlam match-up that they’d start rotating freshman CB Tre Norwood into the secondary. He did enough against the Pokes to warrant the start this weekend.

That turned out to be a good idea.

Tre Norwood caused problems all night long for the Horned Frogs. His disruptive ability stood out most strikingly, as he had multiple PBUs and almost an INT in man coverage by reading through the wide receiver and attacking the ball at height. Oklahoma deployed their corners on both boundaries to the inside, daring TCU QB Kenny Hill to throw to the sidelines–for a young player, Norwood showed an acute understanding of technique and spacing that really impressed me.

Oklahoma’s biggest struggle this season has been stopping the opponent–particularly through the air. If Norwood continues to play at this level, he’ll both elevate his team’s chances at a title, and begin to generate Draft hype for the future.

5) Travin Howard: a continuing struggle in evaluation

I’ve covered TCU three times this season (because I’m a lucky sonuva gun who loves Gary Patterson). This will be the third time I write about Travin Howard–and, for the second week in a row, I’m going to say it: I think his stock is free-falling.

Conceptually, Howard is a great idea. A linebacker who can run with RBs into space, close in a heartbeat, and still play physical within the tackle box. The problem is, that LB exists in college football already, between Roquan Smith, Shaun Dion-Hamilton, Skai Moore, and others. And those guys? They’re around 230 lbs.

Travin Howard is 215. That, plainly, precludes him from effectively taking on blocks or filling gaps with any consistency. He’s too easy to bully, and too often runs himself out of ideal position by squirming around blocks he should take head on.

The news only gets worse for Howard: the stuff that he needed to do well? The carrying of RBs in space? He didn’t. Anderson’s 4 TD performance came at a price, and that price was Howard’s performance.

The closing burst and recognition are still there, but Howard lacked the long speed to cover Anderson in man coverage, and his zone instincts did not impress either. This was the toughest team Howard faced, admittedly. But I’m not sure what position, or of what caliber, he is moving forward.

 

Benjamin Solak

Ben Solak has been a football fan and film junkie for all of his life, and has the pleasure of serving as a National Scout for NDT Scouting. He also covers the Philadelphia Eagles for Bleeding Green Nation and co-hosts the Locked On Eagles podcast. Ben takes many things far too seriously, including fishing, Captain America, grammar, and Game Of Thrones.

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