Login |

Ahead of the Curve

Ahead of the Curve is a syndicated football column by Frank Coyle that covers NFL and College football year round. It appears in different national publications and on web sites throughout the season and postseason each year.

GMen Win Super Bowl Behind Eli Manning's Late Dramatics - Manning's Scouting Report - Draft Insiders.com 2004 Yearbook

Photo – QB Eli Manning - NY Giants

The GMen beat the Patriots in a thrilling Super Bowl game behind another brilliant performance by QB Eli Manning. Manning lead the Giants to their second Super Bowl title in four years and in the process won his second Super Bowl MVP award.
Manning was hot the entire game especially in the Giant’s final drive that has become his trademark over his 8 year career. He has the uncanny ability to direct a critical late drive with the club behind and the clock and limited time outs pressuring the offense. Manning went 30 of 40 for 296 yards and 1 TD with no turnovers. He is one of only 11 starting QBs to win two Super Bowl titles. Eli is only one of five NFL QBs have won two Super Bowl MVP awards, Eli, Tom Brady, Terry Bradshaw, Bart Starr and Joe Montana (three MVPs).

Eli Manning was selected #1 over in the NFL Draft 2004 by the San Diego Chargers and was traded to the Giants who selected #4 overall. The Chargers proceeded to choose QB Philip Rivers, in addition to receiving a #3 pick and a future #1 pick from the Giants.

QB Eli Manning’s Scouting Report - Draft Insiders’ Digest 2004 Yearbook

Draft Insiders.com ranked Eli Manning as the #1 QB prospect in the NFL Draft 2004 with Ben Roethlisberger #2 and Philip Rivers #3 in the best class of premier QBs since the famous 1983 draft class that featured John Elway, Dan Marino and Jim Kelly.

1. Eli Manning #10 - 6'5" 225 lbs. - Mississippi - Sp. 4.8 - Rating 95
Hindu Theory: Peyton Manning

Talented senior passer completed an outstanding career in the SEC, earning numerous honors over his final season. Eli comes from a long family of pro QBs, including his brother Peyton the current NFL MVP and father Archie a Pro-Bowl performer from the ‘70s. Eli followed his fathers’ footsteps by attending Old Miss and shattered his dad’s passing records over the course of his career. This fifth year senior will challenge for the first overall selection in the NFL Draft ’04 whether the Chargers retain the pick or trade it. He has been one of the premier players in college football this past few seasons consistently putting up big numbers against a high level of competition. Over his first three starting seasons, he has developed nicely in all aspects of play and hopes to follow in his brother’s footsteps as the first overall selection in April. He developed nicely under the tutelage of head coach David Cutcliffe who ironically coached Peyton at Tennessee during the ‘90s as offensive coordinator/QB coach. Over his five-year career at Old Miss, he made excellent progress in the finer aspects of the position, which is so critical in the development of a young passer. He is a good athlete with a strong arm, fine intangibles and good mobility to avoid the rush and run with the ball. He sets up smoothly, displaying excellent footwork and the ability to quickly read coverage. He has a fine delivery that is quick to release the ball and wastes little motion. He throws a tight spiral, combining both velocity and accuracy that allows receivers to catch the ball in stride and make plays after the catch. He is a well-developed passer who combines the athletic ability with the intangibles and maturity necessary to succeed in the NFL. He is a sturdy well-built athlete with quick feet that allow him to setup fast in three, five and seven step drops. He delivers the ball with outstanding timing and precision, displaying the ability to make the consistently sound decision and reads in coverage. His basic mechanics are very sound and he has learned to set his feet firmly before passing the ball with a good follow through. He is a fine ball handler and has learned to work the play action exceptionally well. He runs well for a QB of his size and can make a critical play as a runner, though he is not a great scrambler. He has shown both poise and courage in the pocket with the ability to hang in ‘til the final moment and allow his receiver to break open. He has developed quick decision-making to go with the athletic talent to run or throw in or outside the pocket. As a passer, he has an outstanding arm with the strength to make all the throws and he has progressed in each aspect of that game. He uses the pump fake well and shows a fast trigger that allows him to bait cover men on the first move and then lay it out on a deeper throw. He can fire the quick out, seam or slant pass, in addition to the ability to use exceptional touch to make the fade, screen and deep plays work well. He throws the fade well, giving his receiver a chance to make a play on the ball. On the deep pass, he has progressed and learned to put just the right touch on his passes to allow his receiver to run under the ball. On the slant and crossing patterns, he displays a quick release with the zip, accuracy and timing to hit receivers in stride. Though not a great athlete, he is a self-made athlete who has worked hard in all areas of play to get the most out of his fine talent. He has developed a strong work ethic, nice intangibles and instincts through experience and following the advice of his dad, brother and coaches. He has excellent pocket presence and feels backside pressure quickly with the ability to make sound decisions to minimize negative plays. He uses his quick feet to avoid the pass rush with the toughness to fight off tacklers using his good strength and mobility to move outside the pocket and make plays. He throws fairly well on the move, displaying the ability to retain his accuracy and hit the open receiver. He made great strides over his career of reading defenses and has learned to pick up secondary receivers and find the best match up. As a senior, he was very impressive, displaying a strong, live arm with the touch and accuracy to make all the important throws. He has developed the courage, leadership and poise to lead an NFL offense. With five years to develop his talent, he has matured well in areas of football instincts and overall intangibles. He combines fine athletic talent with those intangibles to make him one of the most developed and refined QB prospects of recent years.
The Numbers: He completed a terrific career with another big season that included throwing for 3341 yards on 253 completions of 410 attempts for 62% completion rate with 27 TDs and 9 interceptions. Along the way, he set several new SEC career passing records. As a junior, he threw for 3401 yards with 279 completions on 481attempts for a 58% completion rate and 21 TDs and 15 interceptions. As a sophomore, he threw for 2948 yards with 31 TDs on a 63% completion rate and 9 interceptions. As a freshman, he did not start one game and saw action in only six games with only a total of 33 thrown with just 16 completions and no TDs. Over his final three seasons, he was a model of consistency against a talented level of defensive competition.
The Skinny: Talented well-developed passer with all the skills to succeed early in his NFL career. His level of development is very high and he is the type of passer who could start as a rookie in the right setting. His ability to make the proper read consistently and get the ball to the hot receiver while under heavy pressure will help his cause to become a first year starter. He goes through his progressions very well and his ability to pick up secondary receivers should allow him to compete for the starting job immediately. He is the most likely first overall selection in April by the Chargers who have struggled mainly because of inconsistency at the QB position. They should retain this pick and add a franchise caliber passer after making poor decisions on both Ryan Leaf and Michael Vick over recent drafts. At the combine, he did not workout. He has the talent to become an NFL star, if he gets into the right situation that allows him to succeed early in his career and does not ask him to carry an offense. This guy reminds me of Peyton Manning when he stands in the pocket and makes decisions. Both were self-made athletes who spent extensive time on the other aspects of the position like film work, weight room development and understanding the system and game plan on a weekly basis.
Draft Projection: 1st Round - First Overall Pick

EliManning.jpg

NFL Draft 2012 Selection Order - The Colts are ‘On the Clock’!

NFL Draft 2012 Selection Order -
The Colts are ‘On the Clock’!

The Colts hold the first overall choice of the NFL Draft 2012 this April after a terrible season that saw them win only two games all year. Their poor performance may cost head coach Jim Caldwell his job as NFL teams begin to make big changes with the regular season now completed. The final selection order is complete except for the playoff and Super Bowl teams, in addition to two coin flips for tied positions.

Photo - QB Andrew Luck - Stanford

* Playoff team / y - coin flip to determine order / Playoffs - Super Bowl determines final positions

Team - W-L - Opp W-L %
1 Indianapolis - 2-14 .539
2 St. Louis - 2-14 .590
3 Minnesota - 3-13 .559
4 Cleveland - 4-12 .531
5 Tampa Bay - 4-12 .551
6 Washington - 5-11 .477
7 Jacksonville - 5-11 .500
y 8/9 Carolina - 6-10 .504
y 8/9 Miami - 6-10 .504
10 Buffalo - 6-10 .520
y 11/12 Kansas City - 7-9 .512
y 11/12 Seattle - 7-9 .512
13 Arizona - 8-8 .469
14 Dallas - 8-8 .473
15 Philadelphia - 8-8 .488
16 NY Jets - 8-8 .500
17 Cincinnati (Oakland) - 8-8 .504
18 San Diego - 8-8 .516
19 Chicago - 8-8 .527
20 Tennessee - 9-7 .461
21 * Denver - 8-8 .520
22 * Cincinnati - 9-7 .492
23 * NY Giants - 9-7 .520
24 * Houston - 10-6 .453
25 * Cleveland (Atlanta) - 10-6 .480
26 * Detroit -10-6 .535
27 * Baltimore - 12-4 .477
28 * Pittsburgh - 12-4 .492
29 * New England (New Orleans) - 13-3 .441
30 * San Francisco - 13-3 .449
31 * New England - 13-3 .449
32 * Green Bay - 15-1 .457

Frank Coyle is a long time member of the FWAA and voter in College player awards - Heisman, Outland, Nagurski, Lombardi, Thorpe etc for the past 18 years. He writes College Football Mondays weekly during the season. He is a longtime scouting consultant for the Senior Bowl, the nation’s premier postseason All-star game. He does sports radio shows for ESPN, Fox Sports and Sporting News on a year round basis related to College Football especially during the postseason team and All-star Bowl time. He has worked for CBS Sports, NBC Sports, Yahoo and Rivals sports publications and web sites.

AndrewLuckNew.jpg

DraftInsiders.com 2011 All-American Team - Player Awards Voting

DraftInsiders.com 2011 All-American Team

Offensive Player of the Year
QB Andrew Luck – Stanford - Jr

Defensive Player of the Year
CB Tyrann Mathieu – LSU – Soph

Photo - WR Michael Floyd - Notre Dame

Offensive Freshman of the Year
WR Sammy Watkins – Clemson

Defensive Freshman of the Year
DE Jadeveon Clowney – South Carolina

Coach of the Year
Brady Hoke – Michigan (1st season)

DraftInsiders.com All- American Team

Offensive Team
QB Andrew Luck - Jr. - Stanford
RB Trent Richardson - Jr. - Alabama
RB Montee Ball - Jr. - Wisconsin
WR Justin Blackmon - Jr. - Oklahoma St
WR Michael Floyd - Sr. - Notre Dame
WR Robert Woods - Soph. - Southern Cal
TE Coby Fleener - Sr. - Stanford
OT Matt Kalil - Jr. - USC
OT Jonathan Martin - Jr. - Stanford
OG David DeCastro - Jr. - Stanford
OG Barrett Jones - Jr. - Alabama
OC Peter Konz - Jr. - Wisconsin
PK - Carson Wiggs - Sr. - Purdue
KOR - T.Y. Hilton - Sr. - Florida International

Frank Coyle's Individual Player Voting 2011 Season
Heisman Trophy Vote - QB Andrew Luck - Stanford
Jim Thorpe Vote - CB Morris Claiborne - LSU
Nagurski Vote - CB Morris Claiborne - LSU
Lombardi Vote - OT Matt Kalil - Southern Cal
Outland Vote - OT Jonathan Martin - Stanford

Defensive Team
DE Melvin Ingram - Sr. - South Carolina
DT Brandon Thompson - Sr. - Clemson
DT Fletcher Cox - Jr. - Mississippi St.
DE Whitney Mercilus - Jr. - Illinois
LB Brandon Lindsey - Sr. - Pittsburgh
LB Jarvis Jones - Soph. - Georgia
LB Luke Kuechly - Jr. - Boston College
LB Courtney Upshaw - Sr. - Alabama
CB Tyrann Mathieu - Soph. - LSU
CB Morris Claiborne - Jr. - LSU
CB Brandon Boykin - Jr. - Georgia
S Mark Barron - Sr. - Alabama
S T.J. McDonald - Jr. - Southern Cal
P Drew Butler - Sr. - Georgia
PR Joe Adams - Sr. Arkansas

DraftInsiders.com 2011 NFL Predictions

DraftInsiders.com NFL 2011 Predictions
Saints Top Chargers in Super Bowl Matchup

Photo - QB Drew Brees - Saints

Player of the Year –
QB Drew Brees - Saints
Defensive Player of the Year –
CB Darrelle Revis - Jets

Rookies of the Year
Offense - RB Mark Ingram - Saints
Defense – CB Patrick Peterson - Cardinals

Breakout Player of the Year
QB Alex Smith - 49ers

Comeback Player of the Year
WR Chad Ochocinco - Patriots

NFL 2011Forecast
Frank Coyle

NFC EAST
Philadelphia Eagles - 12-4 –

Eagles are among the best in the NFC after strong FA class. They are capable of winning the East and going deep into the playoffs behind Michael Vick.
New York Giants - 11-5 –
Giants can play with anyone on the league, but must stay healthy and play more consistently. They have a potent attack and tough veteran defense, though roster is thin after a few key injuries.
Dallas Cowboys - 8-8 –
QB Tony Romo returns after an injury marred 2010 season. They must prove they can run the ball consistently to balance this offense. Their defense is good, but not near the top two clubs in this division.
Washington Redskins - 6-10 –
Skins start another new QB this season in Rex Grossman. Their defense looks to return to their 2009 form mainly behind improved secondary play. Skins might again struggle to make .500 in the best division in the game.

NORTH
Green Bay Packers -10-5 -

Aaron Rodgers is the hottest QB in the game and Packers may be the best club in the league again. The play of both lines will determine if they can repeat.
Chicago Bears - 11-5 -
Bears can win this division behind veteran QB Jay Cutler. The defense is one of the best in this league that could spell the difference over the course of the season.
Detroit Lions - 9- 7 –
Lions will in the playoff hunt if they keep QB Matt Stafford healthy for 16 games.
Minnesota Vikings - 10-5 -
Vikes look to veteran Donovan McNabb to be the difference maker on an erratic club that is capable of big wins or total self destruction.

SOUTH
New Orleans Saints - 12-4 –

The Saints organizations have improved on defense that gives them the edge in one of the toughest divisions in football. QB Drew Brees is capable of leading this club to the Show again.
Atlanta Falcons - 10-6 –
Falcons are thinking title but they face a very tough schedule that might be the equalizer. They could struggle at .500 through midseason. Defense is suspect.
Tampa Bay Bucs - 8-8 –
Bucs began a turnaround last season with a 10-6, though vs a soft schedule. They will regress this fall and will be not better than a young .500 club that needs maturity.
Carolina Panthers - 6-10 –

Panthers begin the Cam Newton era, but will rely on a strong ground game to win games. They face a very tough schedule and will go through some painful growing pains in 2011.

WEST
Arizona Cardinals – 10-6 –

Cards look to return to the top of the weakest division in the NFL after adding QB Kevin
Kolb. There young defense is at playoff levels currently.
San Francisco 49ers - 8-8 –
New HC Jim Harbaugh will give this club an identity. He will turn QB Alex Smith into a solid
reliable starter. There defense is a solid group, but this club might struggle to get past the .500 mark.
St. Louis Rams - 6-10 –
Rams look to build off an improved offense directed by QB Sam Bradford. There changing defense is still not up to playoff levels at this point, though HC Steve Spagnuolo is a master leader.
Seattle Seahawks - 5-11 –
Seahawks won the divisional title with a 7-9 record, the first sub .500 team to ever accomplish that feat. This club will struggle to play above the .500 mark and challenge for the playoffs.

Divisional Champs
Eagles, Packers, Saints and Cardinals

Wild Card Clubs
Giants & Falcons

NFC Championship
Saint over Packers – Saints march back to the Big Show.

AFC EAST
New York Jets – 12-4 –

Jets look to young QB Mark Sanchez to take another step up. That would put them over the top in a tough division. They defense ranks among the top five in the game.
New England Patriots - 11-5 –
Pats look to premier QB Tom Brady to direct this changing potent offense. The new ground game and receivers could rank them at the top of the league. Their suspect changing defense will determine their final fate in key games.
Miami Dolphins - 7-9 –
Dolphins will be hard pressed to improve off back to back 7-9 seasons. QB Chad Henne is better than advertised and needs new vet Reggie Bush to become everything Ted Ginn did not become.
Buffalo Bills - 4-12 –
Bills are still rebuilding and will look to their young players to establish themselves as top NFL players. Their development will determine any improvement beyond a 4 to 6 win season.

NORTH
Baltimore Ravens - 11-5 –

The Ravens will look to young QB Joe Flacco to join the upper echelon of NFL passers. The defense is still capable of ranking with the best in the game and able to win this division.
Pittsburgh Steelers - 10-6 –
Big Ben makes big plays and the Steel defense is still among best in the game. They are a threat to win any critical game.
Cleveland Browns - 7-9 –
Browns continue to rebuild behind young QB Colt McCoy hoping to get them to respectability. Only one winning season in past six seasons may continue this fall.
Cincinnati Bengals - 5-11 –
With star QB Carson Palmer on the retirement list, the Bengals look to rookie QB Andy Dalton and top pick wideout
A.J. Green to begin a new era. Their defense has never improved under HC Marvin Lewis.

SOUTH
Indianapolis Colts - 10-6 –

QB Peyton Manning starts the season on the bench healing from neck surgery. This club is aging and faces but still dangerous to win big games in the playoffs. Whether the aging defense plays up to those levels remain to be seen.
Houston Texans - 10-6 –
A .500 record won’t get it done this season. Only a playoff berth will keep this club from facing major changes after the season.
Tennessee Titans - 8-8 –
The Titans look to veteran Matt Hasselbeck to keep this club respectable until top pick QB Jake Locker can take the reins. They might surprise and press for a playoff berth.
Jacksonville Jaguars - 6-10 –
Jaguars turned the page with the release of veteran QB David Garrard. They have taken a few steps back recently and a sub .500 record appears likely unless many questions are answered positively.

WEST
San Diego Chargers - 12-4 –

The Chargers are a loaded club with QB Philip Rivers directing a veteran club.
They can win the NFL title behind a veteran defense but needs their troubled special teams to improve significantly.
Kansas City Chiefs - 10-6 –
Chiefs won the division behind QB Matt Cassel and runner Jamaal Charles. The young defense is quietly improving and capable of helping them to compete for a playoff berth.
Oakland Raiders - 7-9 –
Raiders are a franchise in disarray and have not won more than 5 games since the 2002 season and this year looks like another repeat disaster.
Denver Broncos - 5-11 –
Broncos made huge changes this offseason under new HC Josh McDaniel. They should face difficult growing pains that will push them to the bottom of the AFC.

Divisional Champs
Jets, Ravens, Colts & Chargers

Wild Card Clubs
Patriots & Texans

AFC Championship
San Diego over Indianapolis

Chargers show a top defense can stop a potent offense in big
games.

Super Bowl Matchup

New Orleans Saints over San Diego Chargers
Saints win a wild Super Bowl showdown with Chargers.

Pro Days 2011 - March Workout Schedule

Pro Days 2011 - Workout Schedule
Updated March 10th

Pro Day schedules are posted by schools starting with the first week of March. Several schools will have two Pro Days, though most are attempting to utilize one date and event to provide the last workout and other pertinent information for the NFL Draft 2011. We intend to attend several Pro Days, in addition to many interviews over the final two months on the journey to the NFL Draft 2011.

Photo – WR Torrey Smith - Maryland

Date/College
March 3

Baylor
Florida Atlantic
Tulane
Utah
Wyoming

March 4
Alabama State
Arizona
Troy
Weber State

March 7
Arkansas Tech
Central Arkansas
Tuskegee

March 8
Alabama A&M
Arkansas
Auburn
Fordham
Liberty
Northwestern
Prairie View A&M

March 9
Alabama
BYU
California-Davis
California
Clark-Atlanta
Colorado St
Georgia Tech
Kent State
Mississippi St
North Texas
Northern Colorado
Portland St
Wisconsin

March 10
Kentucky
Nebraska
Northern Illinois

March 11
Eastern Illinois
Idaho
Jackson State
Ohio State
Purdue
Southern Miss
TCU
Tennessee

March 14
LSU
Newberry
Wake Forest

March 15
Bowling Green
Montana State
Towson

March 16
Arkansas-Monticello
Florida A&M
Florida St.
Illinois
James Madison
Louisiana-Monroe
Marshall
Maryland
Michigan State
Penn State
Virginia Union

March 17
Virginia
Virginia Tech
West Virginia

March 18
Arkansas State
Northwestern State (La.)

March 21
North Dakota State

March 22
South Dakota State

March 23
Boston College
Central Florida
Hampton University
Louisville
North Carolina State
Texas State

March 24
Middle Tennessee State
Southern Illinois
Wyoming

March 25
Arizona State
Ball State

March 28
Central Missouri
Cincinnati
Citadel
Missouri Western
Northwest Missouri State
Rice

March 29
Coastal Carolina

March 30
New Mexico State

March 31
Eastern Washington

Rams’ Bradford & 49ers' Mays Win Rookie Awards

Bradford & Mays Win Rookie Awards
Sam Bradford Wins Award for 2nd Week

Photo - Safety Taylor Mays - San Fran 49ers

The top overall selection of the NFL Draft 2010, QB Sam Bradford wins the Draft Insiders' weekly rookie award for the second week in a row after another outstanding performance. Bradford is joined by 49ers’ rookie safety Taylor Mays who had a strong showing on both the San Fran defensive and special team units.

Bradford had another solid performance that was instrumental in the Rams second consecutive win of the season, the first time they have achieved back to back victories in two years. It was only the third victory for St. Louis in the past 30 games overall, as they already surpass their poor 1-15 record from 2009. Bradford went 23 of 41 passes for 289 yards for 1 interception and 2 TDs. It was another strong performance for the top overall pick last April who shows a fine understanding of the defense and fast developing recognition skills of pro defenses. Over his first two games, he had four interceptions while being sacked five times.

On the defensive side of the ball, the 49ers safety Taylor Mays had a breakout performance when he made 11 total tackles, 2 unassisted and recovered a blocked punt at the back of the end zone for a TD. That score gave the 49ers’ 14-0 first quarter lead they failed to hold through the game. The 49ers lost a tough 16-14 contest to Atlanta that brought their early season record to a disappointing 0-4 after being highly touted to win the NFC West over the preseason.

Taylor beat out the Titans CB Alterraun Verner, a 4th round pick gem last April. Verner made 11 tackles and broke up 3 passes in the Tennessee heart breaking 26-20 loss to Denver. Several other defensive backs have made their presence felt in the early action. The Browns top two selections, safety T.J. Ward (2nd round) and CB Joe Haden (1st round) have established themselves as regulars in their young developing secondary. Rookie defensive backs Nate Allen of Philadelphia and Seattle’s Earl Thomas continue to make plays from the free safety spots and look to become fixtures on young defenses.

Weekly Player Winners
Week 4

Offense - QB Sam Bradford - Rams
Defense - Safety Taylor Mays - 49ers

Week 3
Offense - QB Sam Bradford - Rams
Defense - Safety Earl Thomas - Seahawks

Week 2
Offense - RB Jahvid Best - Lions
Defense - DT Nda Shu - Lions

Week 1
Offense - RB Dexter McCluster - Chiefs
Defense - Safety Eric Berry - Chiefs

Alabama Faces Arkansas in SEC Game of Week

Alabama Crimson Tide (3-0) @ Arkansas Razorbacks (3-0)
Key SEC West Division matchup

TE D.J. Williams – Arkansas

QB Ryan Mallett Faces SEC Acid Test vs #1 Alabama

Game Facts
QB Ryan Mallett leads nation with 360 yards passing per game with 9 TDs to 2 interceptions on a 70% completion rate. McElroy again has the best passing efficiency in the nation in 2010. He has not lost a game since pre high school. Last year vs Arkansas, he went 17 of 24 passes for 291 yards and 0 interceptions. This kid just does not make mistakes and clearly outplayed Mallett in last year’s matchup. He manages a game flawlessly and allows his club to gain field position over the course of a game even when drives stall and they have to punt. McElroy also outplayed both Tim Tebow and Colts McCoy in SEC and national title games that were instrumental in the Tides national title last season. Arkansas has averaged just under 116 yards rushing vs 111 yards rushing allowed per game. They have scored 5 TDs rushing this year with 6 fumbles losing 3 in three games, a disturbing fact. While averaging 116 yards per game, their 5 rushing TDs came from 5 different runners.

Arkansas totaled only 63 yards rushing vs Alabama last season for less than 3 yards per carry. They got behind 14-0 into the 3rd Q that forced Arkansas to abandon the ground game and throw the ball 41 times. Mallett was only 12 of 35 passing for 160 yards and 1 interception and 1 TD in Bama lost last season. Last week, the Hogs rushed for only 53 yards on 23 carries in win over Georgia. Last year, Arkansas had only a 3-5 SEC record and overall scored 234 points while surrendered 233 points over the schedule.

This year
Arkansas has been almost perfect in the Red Zone with TDs in 9 of 10 opportunities and a FG in other time. He has been sacked 4 times while the Arkansas defense has 12 sacks from 9 different defenders. They also have 26 TFL from 12 defenders, though only 1 FR and 3 FF this season.

Quarterbacks
QB Ryan Mallett is one of the premier passers in the nation and enters his second season as the Razorback starter. He is off to a fast start and showcases the premier passing arm in the collegiate game. He missed spring drills after breaking his foot last winter and had toe surgery. He returned 100% for summer camp and has had a hot hand over the first three games. He makes all the throws, the complete route tree, displaying a powerful arm with touch, accuracy and timing. He gets the ball into tight windows with fast improving decision-making. He shows fine pocket presence and has learned to go through his progressions better and the ability to locate secondary receivers quicker. He has shown progress in his initial reads and looking off the safety. He goes through his progressions quicker and better along with better decisions and few attempts to force the ball into heavy coverage. Last season, he forced the ball too much, attempting to do too much especially when the Hogs got behind.

After playing one season at Michigan, Mallett transferred to Arkansas with the arrival of HC Bobby Petrino. After sitting sat out the ’08 season, Mallett had a huge ’09 performance that included throwing for over 3400 yards, 29 TD passes and just 7 interceptions. They are very impressive statistics for a first year starter vs a very high level of competition. Unfortunately, he struggled vs the top SEC clubs, Alabama, LSU and Florida, failing to complete 50% of his passes in each of those key losses. In each of those losses, they were behind at halftime and their opponents rushed for at least 134 yards in those games. Mallett struggled in each of those defeats, facing a strong pass rush especially as the game progressed and the Hogs were down by more than two scores by mid game.

Nevertheless, Mallett is a big time player and capable of being a difference maker in this conference. He has a full array of weapons and will use them regularly, in what is an explosive high scoring attack and probably more balanced than most observers expect. This offense is in great hands, and the numbers should reflect his talented passing skills and well-rounded group of highly developed weapons. His big game performance has been questioned off a few subpar key ’09 games. This matchup with the defending champions can be a signature game for Mallett who has yet to beat a top ranked club over his short career. His maturation as a leader and passer will determine if he can take a good club to the next level on smarts, leadership and toughness that utilizes both his and teammates chip physical skills to the fullest.

The Tides QB Greg McElroy directs a potent offense that can beat a defense both on the ground and through the air. McElroy manages a game flawlessly and rarely forces the ball into difficult situations. He has fine accuracy and goes through his progressions quickly with sound decision making. His record is perfect over his HS and college career and his level of maturity is rare for a senior starting passer. He is very dangerous on the play action with most defenses loading the box to stop runners Ingram and Richardson regularly.

Running Backs
The Bama tandem of Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson is the best collegiate backfield duo since the Auburn pair of runners Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown almost a decade ago. Ingram is coming off a Heisman Trophy season. He played in his first game last week and produced a 48 yard run on his very first rushing attempt. He can pound a defense with the burst of speed to go the distance. He has shown good ball security and the toughness to carry the weekly load. Richardson is an awesome 1A compliment and more diversified as a runner and athlete than Ingram. He is a terrific kickoff returner and receiver with both power and speed. As a runner, he puts his foot in the ground and explodes to the second level with the speed to go the distance. He usually comes in after Ingram takes a break and has the speed to shock a defense with his change of pace talent. He also can pound with a compact frame that delivers a blow to tacklers. In that aspect, Richardson and Ingram are very similar – compact strong runners with low centers of gravity to be difficult to tackle and capable of finishing rushing attempts well. Richardson started last year’s rout with the first score on a 52 yard TD run.

The Hogs rely on sophomore runner Ronnie Wingo who has build on a solid ’09 season finish that included a fine performance vs rival LSU. He is a big hard-hitting workhorse type back with fine natural abilities including receiving skills. Wingo heads an unheralded trio that includes punishing tailback Broderick Green and fast compact runner Dennis Johnson. This young trio of backs may be one of the deeper sets of runners this season. They have slow to produce this season with the air game providing the catalyst for the Hogs undefeated season. This trio is capable of giving this offense the power to run inside and control games plus some big play ability to keep defenses honest and not focused on QB Mallett. Wingo combines power and speed that gives him the inside edge on the starting job. Green is a former USC runner that cannot be minimized to play a key role in this offense. He finished the ’09 season with 7 TDs in the last five games and one of the better red zone runners in the SEC. He will push Wingo for touches especially in short yardage and goal line situations. As a receiver, he is still raw that puts Wingo in the starting 3rd down role. Johnson is a big play weapon with good kickoff return skills. He had one of the Hogs’ three 100 yard rushing game last season vs highly rated Florida. He needs some development as a receiver, but gives the Hogs an interesting feature runner in some games and a change of pace back that can be highly successful in this potent attack.

Receivers
The Hogs return their top five receivers from last season to work with QB Ryan Mallett. Starters Greg Childs, Joe Adams and Jarius Wright are the best returning trio in a deep SEC group of pass catchers. Childs and Adams are big play specialists who have taken it up a notch with experience working with the fast emerging Mallett who has the talent to get them the ball. Childs will command double coverage after scoring another big TD last week vs Georgia. He scored in half of the Hogs games last season while beating double coverage at times. Adams is a burner with the ability to separate deep and hit the home run. He has scored a TD in 9 of the 12 regular season games he played in the past two years. He opens the offense up and forces the safeties to play deep and respect his speed and Mallett’s arm. The combination of Adams and Childs should guarantee an improving ground game with dual deep threats. Childs is the go to receiver but Adams is the home run hitter with a 22 yard average. Childs has fine run after the catch ability (winning TD vs Georgia) TE D.J. Williams is the best movement weapon in the nation. He lines up at tight end, H-back and fullback that give this offense one of the most versatile weapons in the nation. His ability to shift positions gives the Hogs offense the unique ability to run a diverse number of sets on the clock that they should be able to create many mismatches in coverage and run/pass play alignments. He probably faces premier strong safety Mark Barron in one of the critical matchups in the game. Mallett looks for him on the 2nd and 3rd and long in the intermediate zones where he shows excellent hands and run after the catch ability.

The Tides’ Julio Jones may be the best receiver in the nation. He has incredible raw talent that has developed nicely over his short career. McElroy looks for him in big situations especially after the ground game has been established and he faces an eight man front. McElroy works play action well with good ball handing and fine touch to give receivers a chance to make big plays. Jones is a very difficult matchup on size and speed and will probably command heavy double coverage in many situations, though McElroy will exploit any single coverage quickly using the ground attack to set him up.

Offensive Line
The Hogs return four of their five starters including bookend tackles DeMarcus Love and Ray Dominguez. They are proficient pass protectors who were instrumental in the fast development of first year starting QB Mallett and the quick progress of their young receivers and runners. This unit helped the Hogs offense that led the SEC in scoring and passing offense and 2nd in overall offense. Center Seth Oxner is a savvy pivotman in the mold of former Hog Jonathan Luigs. He is an anchor inside and an unsung leader on this blue-collar unit. This unit looks to take another step up vs top SEC talent and further extensive over a fine ’09 experience.

The Bama line returns three starters and have been instrumental in the overall offensive success. They get a consistent strong push at the point of attack that has allowed Ingram and Richardson to pound defenses with the potential to break long gains consistently. With little fanfare, this unit has been the key unit that has allowed this ground game to dominant and QB Greg McElroy to be the most efficient passer in the nation over the past two seasons.

For Defensive Evaluation Click on Next Page

Syndicate content