Taking a Look: Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss

Laquon Treadwell is a third year wide receiver for the Ole Miss Rebels. The Rebels will surely “miss” Treadwell when he enters the Draft. He hasn’t officially declared for the 2016 NFL Draft yet, but he is strongly considering entering as an underclassmen. From the players I have scouted so far, at the receiver position, Treadwell is the best. He seems to have it all with no weaknesses. He is a 6’2”, 210 lb, big bodied receiver, who is deceptive with his speed. He can do so much and is a freakish athlete. It is incredible to see Treadwell where he is today after suffering a horrific leg and ankle injury against Auburn in 2014. He has bounced back and hasn’t missed a beat, so let’s take a look at first, his statistics from this season:

  • Played in all twelve games this season, and is slated to play in the Sugar Bowl vs Oklahoma State on New Year’s Day
  • 1,082 receiving yards with 76 total receptions this season
  • 8 receiving touchdowns and even 1 passing touchdown
  • 14.2 yards average per catch

Now let’s take a more in depth look at Treadwell:
Games Scouted:
vs Vanderbilt (2015), vs Florida (2015), vs Auburn (2015), and vs Alabama (2014)
When you watch film on Laquon Treadwell, one of the first things that will jump out to you is the way he can create separation against defenders. It doesn’t matter whether the corner lined up against him is in press coverage or zone, Treadwell will find a way to get open. The first thing that jumps out at me is how he dips his shoulder when he takes off on his route. Many times, I have seen him dip his shoulders on a corner, and gain at least two to three yards of separation. He does an excellent job of selling a pass play when the offense is actually running the ball. He will take off like he is running a post route, the corner bites, and he effectively takes one defender out of the play. He is also excellent at getting open and finding holes in zone coverage for his QB to float the ball into.
So he can get open, big deal. Can he catch the ball? In the games I watched him play in, I saw him drop the ball twice. Most of the time, Treadwell is a very reliable receiver who catches the ball with his hands. He seems to also have very strong wrists as he will win a contested ball the majority of the time. He does a great job of adjusting to the ball and has made some very acrobatic catches in his college career. The QB play was not the best this season, and so the ball placement wasn’t the best either. Treadwell didn’t miss a beat as he was able to adjust in the air and make the grab.
So, now that he has the ball in his hands, can he do anything with it? Absolutely. Treadwell does an excellent job of running with the ball after the catch. He is a very physical receiver who doesn’t mind lowering his shoulder for a few extra yards. He can be a slippery receiver who can make you miss in the open field. His physicality comes into play in the run blocking game. I have never seen such a physical blocking receiver. He does an excellent job of driving his legs, staying aggressive, and knocking a defender out of the play. Treadwell knocks one defender out of the play and moves on to the next defender in line.
There wasn’t much I didn’t like about Treadwell’s game, but there were two things that were worth noting. When he run blocks, or faces off against corners on his routes, he can get too careless and become too aggressive. Many times, I have seen flags thrown against him for unnecessary roughness or grabbing too much jersey. Second, I worry about whether his route tree is developed enough. For the first two years at Ole Miss, his primary routes were screen plays and post plays. This year, I saw his route tree develop some as he ran slants, hook routes, and a few in and out routes. He is no Amari Cooper when it comes to route running. From what I could tell, he is a an adequate route runner who seems to be a little tight in the hips, but I feel that is something he can work on and fix once he gets to the pros.
I love Treadwell’s potential. I strongly feel he will be a high first round pick. He has made an incredible bounce back from his horrendous injury last season and has put up some great stats and play on film this year. There are a lot of teams this season who are going to be looking for a future number one receiver, and I feel Treadwell can be that guy. He is an all-around receiver with the size, speed, catching ability, and the ability to make something happen after he gets the ball in his hands. I cannot wait to see what he will do in the pros.
Austin Morris is the creator of The Scouting Lab. He is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached atamorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

A Mid-Season Look: Derrick Henry

Coming out of the University of Alabama is a huge running back by the name of Derrick Henry. Henry stands at six feet and three inches tall and weighs 245 pounds. On the field, he looks like an absolute monster. Henry is in his junior year with the Tide and is not a guarantee to declare for the draft. The only time I scout underclassmen is when I feel there is a very high chance they will declare for the draft. I feel with the past two seasons Henry has had, he will.
Last season, Henry rushed for just under 1,000 yards and had 11 rushing touchdowns. He also had two touchdown receptions on the year, with the most memorable being an 80-yard reception against Ohio State in the College Football Playoff. This season, he has already outdone last year’s statistics, and we are just past the halfway point in the season. As of 10/25, he has over 1,000 yards rushing and 14 rushing touchdowns. Did I mention he also has a rushing average 5.8 yards per carry?
The first thing that stands out when watching film on Henry is his size. He is absolutely huge and is very hard to stop when he gets acceleration. He is a bruiser back who is one of the taller backs the Crimson Tide have seen come through their program. Henry is extremely physical, but I feel because of his height and long legs, he can go down too easily. Too many times, I would see a defender dive at his legs and go down after only one hit. There is not much I feel can be done about this. You cannot make the man shrink, but at times, he could do a better job at lowering his pad level at the first contact.
Second, he can make plays happen on a regular basis. But is he a home run threat? It depends on the situation. If he is not allowed to get some speed early in the play, he will get stuffed at the line of scrimmage. But, if he is allowed to get those long legs going, he is a threat to take it to the house. No, he does not have the instant speed you see in a lot of smaller running backs, but he does have good speed when he is allowed to get into the open field. Then, the speed combined with his physicality makes it even harder to take him down.
Due to Alabama’s offense, he is not the main running back used in the passing game. His partner in crime, Kenyan Drake, is the main pass catcher out of the backfield. However, he can be very useful in the passing game, he just isn’t targeted often. I am not impressed with his pass blocking ability. Surprisingly, for his size, he is asked to cut block often, which he is not good at. When he cut blocks, he lowers his head way too early causing him to completely whiff on the block. Many times, he has done this and the defender he was assigned to went straight to the ball carrier.
Overall, I think Henry will be a player used only in certain situations in the pros. There just aren’t that many running backs in the pros that are as big as he is and are successful. In Henry’s case, he is not quick enough to make cuts and is not elusive enough to juke defenders out of their shoes. True, he will knock people over, but he can only do that when he gets a full head of steam. He is a great open field runner, but his ability to make things happen when there is little to work with leaves much to be desired. As of now, I feel he will go in the 3rd or 4th round of the draft.
Austin Morris is the creator of The Scouting Lab. He is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached atamorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

An Early Look: Kenneth Dixon, LA Tech

Coming out of Louisiana Tech is a senior running back by the name of Kenneth Dixon. Dixon is a talented running back, but he has a lot of wear and tear. He plays in a pass-first offense. Still, amazingly, he has quite the stat line over the past few years. Here are his careers stats so far. (as of 10/3/15)
• 699 carries with an average of 5.7 yards per carry
• 3,993 rushing yards and 59 touchdowns
• 69 receptions with 653 receiving yards
• 10 receiving touchdowns
Games scouted: Illinois (2014), Oklahoma (2014), and Western Kentucky (2014)
First, I would like to look at some concerns I have with Kenneth Dixon. Dixon does have a lot mileage on his tires, which is something that could hurt his draft stock. Soon, he will be breaking the barrier of 700 career carries and over 4,000 rushing yards. When you stop and think, that is over 700 hits he has taken in the stretch of only 4 years. I feel it is highly doubtful a team would spend a high draft pick on him because of that alone. Likely, he will not be averaging about 200 carries per year in the NFL, which is something that does stand in his favor.
Second, Dixon has a tendency to run upright, which causes him to take some rather big hits. I can recall several instances of him running down the sideline and getting hit very hard. His running upright not only leads to big hits, but it also decreases his ability to push piles. I feel his inside running is not as effective because he stands a little too tall when he hits a pile. Instead of being able to push a pile forward, he either gets driven back or has no gain.
But the good outweighs the bad. First, you have to look at the production. It is clear that, in his college career, Dixon has put up some great numbers. Has he faced the best of the best defenses on a consistent basis? No, but when has that played a factor in how great backs are in the NFL? It didn’t matter in the case of Doug Martin, Lesean McCoy, or Matt Forte, who all played for schools that played less than stellar teams on a consistent basis. If Dixon has the skill level mixed with the desire to win, the level of competition will not matter.
Dixon has great athletic ability to play the running back position. He will not be a power back, but will be used likely as a scat back. He is a very slippery runner who lives and breathes on runs off the tackle. He is extremely dangerous when he is allowed to cut the corner. Often, it will be a first down run or longer when he is allowed to do so. He can make quick cuts in the open field to make defenders miss and he can also make some crazy moves showcasing his agility and elusiveness.
I like how he is active in the passing game. He has shown on film that he can make catches and get yards after the catch without dropping passes or making errors. I even saw him line up in the slot some in the Louisiana Tech offense. This could add some draft stock to him as a lot of running backs are rarely involved in the passing game and are not three down backs. As of now, as we are reaching the start of conference play in the NCAA, I have Dixon listed as a third to fourth round pick in next year’s draft.
Austin Morris is the creator of The Scouting Lab. He is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached atamorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

Life for the Pittsburgh Panthers…without James Conner

Going into this season, I was really looking forward to watch the running back for the Pittsburgh Panthers, James Conner. Conner was on his way to what looked like a great season against Youngstown State. To my surprise, the worst happened. In the middle of the game, he went down with a knee injury. At first, reports stated it “wasn’t serious”, until it was examined further, and Conner heard the two words no athlete wants to hear, “MCL tear”. So what is next for the Panthers as they have to handle life without Conner?
It will not be easy for Pitt to replace the former ACC Player of the Year. That kind of production is hard to duplicate. However, I feel Pitt should still be okay. The Panthers are a very run-oriented offense, which showed in the 2014 season when Conner ran for 1,765 yards (5.9 YPC) and 26 rushing touchdowns. I expect them to continue running the ball because they have sufficient replacements.
First, there is freshman RB Qadree Ollison. Ollison had a very impressive debut in his first ever football game last week, rushing for over 200 yards and a score. It helps that Ollison has a similar body type to Conner, standing at 6’2”, 231 lbs. He also plays with the same style of play Conner does; a bruising, downhill runner that you don’t want to tackle unless you absolutely have to. On the lighter side, they have someone to help split carries, Chris James. James is a little bit of a smaller back that will have some needed quickness to add to the Pittsburgh running game.
The passing game for the offense will still be sketchy as usual. The Panthers are still unsure about which QB to start, either freshman Nathan Peterman or junior Chad Voytik. Both QBs had mediocre play against Youngstown State last week. Both threw their fair share of good and bad passes, so there is still a lot of uncertainty. One thing remains certain, and that is they have a future NFL receiver in their midst. Barring any unforeseen circumstance the Panthers will have their WR Tyler Boyd for the rest of the season. My preseason expectations for the Panthers haven’t changed because their run game still has talented backs, and they still have good targets in the pass game.
From a scouts’ perspective, I do hate that Conner got injured. I considered Conner one of the best bruiser backs who could possibly have declared for the draft this season. He also would likely have been surrounded with many other great running backs that are draft eligible this season. Conner’s brutal, physical game is nearly impossible to stop. I now am looking forward to Conner’s senior season at Pittsburgh, and I expect him to come back even stronger (after all, most beasts do).
Austin Morris is the creator of The Scouting Lab. He is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached atamorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

NCAAF headlines and observations from Saturday

The first week of college football play was one of the more intriguing opening weeks that I can remember. Usually, the beginning of the college football season is full of blowout wins, and one of the rare times backups play in the season. Though that did happen, there were some interesting moments as well.
FCS can play, too
Two FCS teams made statements in the opening week of college football. The first action took place in Kansas. The Jayhawks of Kansas took on the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. Granted the Jayhawks team is so rank it would make a fly cry, but they are an FBS team and are expected to beat an FCS opponent. Heading into the game, Kansas was a 3-point favorite. Much to the Jayhawks’ surprise (but likely not to the Jayhawks fans’ surprise) the Jackrabbits would end up defeating Kansas 41-38. A second FCS team had a major upset on a heavily favored team. Washington State was a 31 point favorite over Portland State. According to ESPN’s FBI ratings, Portland State was given around a 2% chance of winning the game. To everyone’s shock, the 2% chance came through as Portland State came through with the upset beating WSU 24-17. Just goes to show, wins against FCS opponents are not always guaranteed.
Penn State gets a stone to the Temple
Going into Saturday, I was looking forward to seeing Penn State take on the Temple Owls. I was anxious to see how DT Anthony Zettel performed and how much QB Christian Hackenberg would live up to his hype. Let’s just say I was highly disappointed. Anthony Zettel was the highlight of a defense that had the run game shoved down their throats all the way to their socks. And Christian Hackenberg did not look like a “future #1 pick” as many analysts referred to him. Hackenberg went 11/25, 103 yards passing, no touchdowns, and an interception which eventually turned into a touchdown for Temple. Granted, all the blame cannot be placed on the QB in this game. The offensive line was hideous, allowing 10 sacks and never giving Hackenberg enough time to throw, the receivers dropped easy passes, and I feel the play calling did not really give Hackenberg a chance to showcase any sort of talent. The game was ugly for Penn State Football, and they can only hope to rebound against Buffalo next week. Meanwhile, Temple is celebrating their first victory over Penn State since 1941; talk about ending a drought.
The Rosen One

The UCLA Bruins seem to have found their answer to losing Brett Hundley in the Draft. Freshman QB Josh Rosen had an extremely impressive game against the Virginia Cavaliers, going 28/35 on his passes, throwing for 351 yards, and three passing touchdowns with no interceptions. He did an excellent job of spreading the ball around to a variety of receivers and looked like he was ready to be the leader of this offense for seasons to come. Is it beginners luck? Only time will tell.
Austin Morris is the creator of The Scouting Lab. He is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached at amorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

An Early Look: Tyler Boyd, Pittsburgh

The number one guy catching passes for the Pittsburgh Panthers this fall is redshirt junior Tyler Boyd. Boyd stands at 6’2” and 200 lbs. This is Boyd’s third year starting for the Panthers, and he is considered to be one of the best receivers that could possibly declare for the 2016 NFL Draft. He will miss the first week of the regular season due to being suspended for a DUI in the offseason. Here are the 2014 season stats for Boyd:

  • 1,261 receiving yards off of 78 receptions
  • 16.2 yards per catch
  • 8 receiving touchdowns
  • 16 kick returns for 442 yards
  • 27.6 return average

Games scouted:
Georgia Tech (2014), Miami (2014), Duke (2014), UNC (2014), Virginia Tech (2014), vs Houston (2014)
Strengths:
Boyd is a four-star recruit out of Clairton High School in Clairton, Pennsylvania. He is the best receiver to play at Pitt since the days of Larry Fitzgerald. He has a nice build for an NFL receiver, is tall enough, but could add on some more weight. He is a very proficient route runner and was asked to run multiple types of routes at Pitt. He runs crisp, smooth routes and does not take any unnecessary steps. He can make very quick moves to leave a defender standing in one spot, while he runs uncovered down the field. Boyd plays very loose, and the receiver position seems natural. He is a very good pass catcher, and for the most part, he catches the ball with his hands; it usually depends on where the ball is thrown. He is a receiver who can go up for the 50/50 ball and come down with it. Multiple times saw him beat double coverage and win the battle. he does well against zone coverage and can easily find the holes so his QB can get the ball to him. He does equally well against man coverage and can beat anybody one-on-one. He has faced some press coverage and does not seem to have a problem separating from it. He has some experience as a punt/kick returner. He is a very patient return man and waits for his lane to develop before going full speed. He is a durable receiver, has taken a beating in many games, and has endured it.
Weaknesses:
He will be suspended one game this season because of a DUI conviction. He is a very poor run blocker. On about 95% of run plays, the guy he was assigned to block ended up making the tackle. He doesn’t square up and block, instead almost lunging at the defender. He doesn’t put up a fight and is a pushover on run plays. It wouldn’t hurt for him to beef up a little bit more. He muffed two punts last season against UNC and Virginia Tech. He has some slight awareness issues, has had false start calls on him and holding calls in the blocking game.
The Bottom Line:
Boyd is one of the best receivers heading into next year’s draft. His route running, hands, and ability to go up and make a tough catch are excellent. However, his one off the field issue is a concern to me. If he can move past this, play good ball, and keep his nose clean, it won’t be as big of an issue on Draft day. Given the recent need for high quality receivers on NFL teams, Boyd is an easy first rounder. Granted, he may not have the explosiveness of Kevin White or the size of Breshad Perriman, but he is a consistent player who does not take plays off. I am extremely interested to see how he does this season against the very competitive ACC. This year, he will face off against some tough competition like Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and Notre Dame. With a new head coach, a more experienced QB, and some decent competition, I can see Boyd having another 1,000 yard season and about 10 receiving touchdowns. Pitt’s offense will likely continue to run the ball first and pass second, but I still see a great season for Boyd.
Austin Morris is the creator of The Scouting Lab. He is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached at amorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

An Early Look: Devontae Booker, Utah

Carrying the rock for the Utah Utes for the second season is an intriguing running back by the name of Devontae Booker. Standing 5’11” and 212 lbs, Booker is a Redshirt Senior, heading into his second year of being a starting back for the Utes. Booker is coming off an impressive season last year; here are his stats from 2014:

  • 1,512 rushing yards off of 292 rushing attempts
  • 2 yards per carry average
  • 10 rushing touchdowns
  • 43 receptions for 306 receiving yards
  • 2 receiving touchdowns

Here are the games I scouted for Devontae Booker:
Washington State (2014), vs. Oregon State (2014), and vs. UCLA (2014)
Note: The GIFs are of plays that caught my eye
Strengths:
He was a three star recruit out of American River College (JC). Booker has the perfect body type for an NFL running back. He has great size and the perfect build to play professionally. He doesn’t have a great deal of mileage on him since he only has played one full season. Booker can make quick cuts to make defenders tackling air. He has unbelievable balance and is extremely hard take down by trying to take his legs away. Has crazy strength and explosion, will blow through a simple arm tackle. He can easily gain extra yardage by simply lowering his shoulder and taking defenders with him. He is an excellent inside the tackle runner; can move piles to gain a few yards on a third and short situation or find a small hole to burst off a big gain. When running outside, he is hard to stop when allowed to cut the corner. Booker is a very instinctive runner; he seems to naturally find the holes in the defense and knows where to run. He has great vision and finds seemingly small holes and is able to make something out of them. When in the open field, he has nice long strides to separate from defenders and makes him hard to catch. He does not have fumble issues at all and is a very reliable runner. He usually tries to help his QB out when running pass routes, sees his man in trouble, and tries to get open.
Weaknesses:
He needs a better spin move; it is rather slow and could be sped up some. On occasion, he can go to upright when running up the middle. That is not a big problem. He just needs to work on consistency. He takes some time to get up to speed, so his initial quickness is a little lacking. Due to not being able to get up to speed, his outside run game struggles some. Often, he gets slowed up in the backfield and is unable to get positive yardage. He doesn’t run very many pass routes and mainly catches passes in the flat or on screen plays. His pass blocking is absolutely hideous. Half of the time, he gives a half effort it seems. Often, he gets destroyed and pass rushers can make him look stupid.
The Bottom Line:
Devontae Booker is one of the top running backs heading into the 2016 NFL Draft. His power and explosiveness will make him a great asset to any team. One thing does concern me about his gameplay; he didn’t face the toughest of defenses last season. He faced Stanford last season and struggled against their top ten rushing defense. The majority of the defenses he ran against were ranked 40th or worse defending the run. Plus, he was not the starting back through the first three games of the season. This year, he will be the main workhorse and will get to face teams like Michigan, Oregon, UCLA, and Arizona. All of those teams have a chance to have some outstanding defensive play this year. If Booker can prove himself with another 1,000+ yard rushing season, and can continue to prove he is a reliable pass catcher, there is no doubt in my mind that he should be the “filet mignon” of the 2016 running back class.
Austin Morris is the creator of The Scouting Lab. He is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached at amorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

2015 College Football Preview: Miami Hurricanes

The 2014 season went great for the Miami Hurricanes until the last four games. They started off the season with wins against soft teams followed by losses to Nebraska and Georgia Tech. They went on a three game roll beating Cincinnati, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina. Then, they played the dominant FSU Seminoles and it went downhill from there. They closed out the season losing four straight games to FSU, Virginia, Pitt, and South Carolina. This year, the Canes are hoping to bounce back and be more consistent.
2015 Schedule:

  1. Sept. 5th—Bethune-Cookman
  2. Sept. 12th—at Florida Atlantic
  3. Sept. 19th—Nebraska
  4. BYE
  5. Oct. 1st—at Cincinnati (Thursday)
  6. Oct. 10th—at Florida State
  7. Oct. 17th—Virginia Tech
  8. Oct. 24th—Clemson
  9. Oct. 31st—at Duke
  10. Nov. 7th—Virginia
  11. Nov.14th—North Carolina
  12. Nov. 21st—Georgia Tech
  13. Nov. 27th—at Pittsburgh (Friday)

Offense:
The offense for the Hurricanes will have a hard time replacing the offense threat they had last season in RB Duke Johnson. Johnson was a very valuable cog in the rushing attack for the Hurricanes. He provided over 1,500 rushing yards and 13 total touchdowns. Replacing him will be tough but they do have two up and coming backs that should do a decent job. Gus Edwards and Joe Yearby were both great backups last season and will hope to develop themselves into key parts of this offense. On the passing side of the ball things are looking very positive. They have QB Brad Kaaya, a promising prospect for the 2017 Draft in two years. Kaaya blew people’s minds last season. As a freshman, he threw for over 3,000 yards, threw 26 touchdowns and had 12 interceptions. Although the Canes lost both WR Phillip Dorsett and TE Clive Walford, the receiving staff still looks like they will be in great shape. The offensive line for Miami looks very weak heading into this season, seeing as they have only one returning starter. They also lost the leader for the line, Ereck Flowers, to the Draft last year. They do have some linemen who are coming off of injuries from last season such as OT Sunny Odogwu who stands at 6’8” and 322 lbs.
Defense:
The defensive side of the ball for the Hurricanes does not look as promising as the offensive side. Last year the Canes were ranked 30th in the nation in rushing defense. This year will likely be a different story. Miami lost four starters from their front seven in the draft. The most missed piece will be LB Denzel Perryman his hard hitting play style. This year there is a lot of young talent who needs some polish. The biggest one to keep an eye on will be DT Jelani Hamilton. The leader of the LB core would be Jermaine Grace. Grace is the only returning LB for the Hurricanes. He will have to be the glue that holds this defense together. The Canes have a lot of experience returning to their secondary this year, three starters to be exact. Last year they allowed only 192.5 passing yards per game, which ranked 20th in the nation. With a more experienced staff, they are hoping to have one of the best pass defenses in the nation.
2015 Outlook: 8 out of 10
The Miami Hurricanes have an extremely tough schedule to overcome this year, and I am struggling with whether they can do it or not. Don’t get me wrong, the Canes have a great team this season, but in many instances, the teams they are facing will be stronger than them. It is a very rough road schedule. They face Florida State, Cincinnati (who has a brand new stadium), Duke, and Pittsburgh (in November) all on the road. Anyone who follows the ACC knows that in-conference road games are extremely difficult. Even their home schedule is hard, with matchups against Nebraska, Virginia Tech, Clemson, and Georgia Tech, all of which have a very good chance of beating them. I say to not expect more than eight wins out of the Canes this season. The schedule just does not favor them.
2016 NFL Draft Prospects:
#2 DB, Deon Bush, Senior—6’1”, 198 lbs
#5 LB, Jermaine Grace, Junior—6’1”, 210 lbs
#15 QB, Brad Kaaya, Sophomore—6’4”, 218 lbs
Austin Morris is the creator of The Scouting Lab. He is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached at amorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

2015 College Football Preview: Mississippi State Bulldogs

Last season, the Mississippi State Bulldogs were a captivating team to watch. Week after week, they seemed to pull off impressive win after impressive win until, eventually, they became the #1 ranked team in the nation. With a perfect 9-0 record, the inevitable came, and they had to face Alabama at Tuscaloosa. Mississippi State lost 20-25 in a close defeat. The Bulldogs were never the same after ‘Bama and they would go on to lose at Ole Miss two weeks later, ruining their chances of being in the College Football Playoff. It didn’t get any better as they would then lose to Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl. Let’s see how the season is looking for the Bulldogs in 2015.
2015 Schedule:

  1. Sept. 5th—at Southern Mississippi
  2. Sept. 12th—LSU
  3. Sept. 19th—Northwestern State
  4. Sept. 26th—at Auburn
  5. Oct. 3rd—at Texas A&M
  6. Oct. 10th—Troy
  7. Oct. 17th—Louisiana Tech
  8. Oct. 24th—Kentucky
  9. BYE
  10. Nov. 5th—at Missouri (Thursday Night)
  11. Nov. 14th—Alabama
  12. Nov. 21st—at Arkansas
  13. Nov. 28th—Ole Miss

Offense:
Last season, the Bulldogs had a great rushing attack in RB Josh Robinson. Sadly, he left early for the NFL, but he did not leave MSSU high and dry. The duo of juniors Brandon Holloway and Ashton Shumpert will look to continue to keep their strong rushing game together. Surprisingly, the QB Dak Prescott was one of the top rushers for the offense last season. His productivity dropped near the end of the season due to an ankle injury. He will look to be a consistent runner this season as well and stay healthy. The passing game is also very strong for the Bulldogs, and it strives because of the success of such a strong run game. Dak Prescott is a great passer for this team and has really improved over the years. He is surrounded by a very talented receiving staff this season. Junior WR De’Runnya Wilson leads the receivers; he is coming back from a knee injury last season and will look to be stronger than ever. Junior receiver Fred Ross will be a great #2 receiver and will help make a tough duo for opposing teams to stop. The offensive line for the Bulldogs is not looking good for this season. They lost their three starting offensive linemen from last season and their top three options for the starting spot at center.
Defense:
The rushing defense for the Bulldogs ranked 44th in the nation by averaging 151.5 rushing yards per game. The defense will be without two of their stars this year, DE Preston Smith and LB Benardrick McKinney. Both were solid contributors to the defense and will be sorely missed. The anchor for the LB core will be junior Beniquez Brown. He will have to be the leader of a very young LB core this season. The pass rush will miss Preston Smith and his 9 sacks a great deal this season. Left to fill the void will be Ryan Brown and A.J. Jefferson. Both are not sack masters by any means, but they will hope to try and cause some pressure on the opposing QB. The pass defense struggled last season giving up 272.8 yards per game, which ranked 117th in the NCAA. This year the secondary still looks a little bleak but there is more experience on the squad which should help out some.
2015 Season Outlook:
Last year, the Bulldogs had a roller coaster ride, struggling against teams they shouldn’t have struggled against. They had some tough road games against Alabama, LSU, Kentucky, and Ole Miss. This year, they should not have as tough of a schedule, this year the Bulldogs face LSU, Bama, and Ole Miss at home this year. While all three will be tough SEC battles, Mississippi State will have the home field advantage. The only truly tough road games they will have to go on will be Auburn and Texas A&M at Kyle Field. Due to a weaker defense, and a QB who went on a decline towards the end of last season, I am questioning whether the Bulldogs can pull off another great season like last year. I can see another strong season from MSSU, but they will not be headed to the College Football Playoff this year.
2016 NFL Draft Prospects:
#15 QB, Dak Prescott, Senior—6’2”, 230 lbs
#81 WR, De’Runnya Wilson, Junior—6’5”, 225 lbs
#45 LB, Zach Johnson, Senior—6’2”, 210 lbs
Austin Morris is the creator of The Scouting Lab. He is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached at amorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

2015 College Football Preview: Oklahoma Sooners

Last season, the Oklahoma Sooners had an above average season, as they finished 8-5 (5-4 conference record) on the season. Oklahoma started off the season 4-0 with a decent non-conference schedule. They were able to keep up with TCU in week five but still lost. They suffered a bad loss to Baylor later in the season. Also, the Sooners had very close losses to Kansas State and Oklahoma State, and ended their season on a bad note by getting blown out by Clemson. The Sooners had a lot of big wins and painful losses in 2014. How does the season look for them this year?
2015 Schedule:

  1. Sept. 5th—Akron
  2. Sept. 12th—at Tennessee
  3. Sept. 19th—Tulsa
  4. BYE
  5. Oct. 3rd—West Virginia
  6. Oct. 10th—vs Texas (Held in Dallas)
  7. Oct. 17th—at Kansas State
  8. Oct. 24th—Texas Tech
  9. Oct. 31st—at Kansas
  10. Nov. 7th—Iowa State
  11. Nov. 14th—at Baylor
  12. Nov. 21st—TCU
  13. Nov. 28th—at Oklahoma State

Offense:
Last season, the rushing offense for the Sooners was one of the best in the nation and the best in the Big 12, with an average of 261.2 rush yards per game. The running back responsible for such a great attack is none other than Samaje Perine. Perine is heading into his sophomore year and rushed for over 1,500 yards last season with 21 rushing touchdowns in his freshman season. He also set a NCAA record last season against Kansas with 427 rushing yards in a single game. The Sooners are very deep at the RB position with a strong junior, Alex Ross. Once again, the Sooners should have one of the top ground games in the nation. The passing game for the Sooners was a little disappointing this season but things are looking up. The new offensive coordinator, Lincoln Riley, will be introducing his Air Raid offense he had at ECU, which was fantastic. There is some competition at the QB position between Trevor Knight and Baker Mayfield. Both have worn a Sooner uniform and helped win games. So far, in the preseason, it is looking like Mayfield will be the week one starter but it is not set in stone. The offensive line took a hit during the offseason by losing three starters. They will hope to use their two returning seniors to help establish a great rush attack and pass protecting game.
Defense:
The rushing defense for the Sooners was outstanding last season. They were ranked eighth in the nation, and they allowed on average only 3.2 yards per carry. This year, they are bringing back a very experienced front seven, which will be led by senior LB Eric Striker and junior Dominique Alexander. The pass rush does need some help seeing as no linemen had more than four sacks last season. In a pass heavy conference like the Big 12, a consistent and dominant pass rush is needed. The pass defense for the Sooners was hideous last season. They gave up, on average, 276.2 passing yards per game, which ranked in the Bottom 10 in the NCAA. The biggest issue the secondary has is guys who take too many risks, which end up biting them in the rear. The corners are very talented; they just need to stop committing so many errors. The last line of defense for the Sooners is somewhat inexperienced, but they will hope to rebound from a poor 2014 Season.
2015 Season Outlook:
Strength of Schedule: 3 out of 10
Looking at Oklahoma’s schedule, they don’t have a very difficult game until week ten when they face Iowa State. I gave them a three due to an easy home and road schedule for the most part. Their hardest road game will be at Baylor this year, whose defense will be very hard to beat. Their toughest game of the season will be week twelve when they face off against the TCU Horned Frogs. The Frogs are one of the toughest teams in the NCAA and will be a tough game for the Sooners. Thankfully, Oklahoma will have the home turf advantage against TCU. I expect the Sooners to have a great season with possibly ten or eleven wins. They have a great team this year and should be a force to be reckoned with. Expect Oklahoma to finish the season in the Top 15.
2016 NFL Draft Prospects:
#3 WR, Sterling Shepard, Senior—5’10”, 195 lbs
#19 OLB, Eric Striker, Senior—6’0”, 221 lbs
#1 ILB, Dominique Alexander—6’2”, 216 lbs
Austin Morris is the creator of The Scouting Lab. He is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached at amorris3585@scc.stanly.edu