2014 NFL Draft Scouting Notes: 9/28/2013 LSU at Georgia

September 29th, 2013

LSU QB Zach Mettenberger came up short in a battle against former roommate Aaron Murray (Photo: zimbio.com)

DraftBrowns.com Staff Writer: Justin Higdon

Saturday afternoon, two SEC powerhouses squared off for battle in front of over 90,000 spectators and a national TV audience.  The game developed into an epic shootout as senior quarterbacks, and former roommates, Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger traded clutch throws and scoring drives.  The game came down to the wire, with Georgia ultimately defending its home turf with 44-41 victory.  Here’s a look at how Murray, Mettenberger, and several other draft-eligible players fared during the contest.

GEORGIA

#11 QB Aaron Murray

  • Sets up a screen and dumps to the RB for a big gain on second and seven
  • Play fake a quick slant for a first down
  • Lots of time, fires and throws down the seam to the TE for a big gain – good zip on the ball
  • Plants and throws back shoulder from a few yards out for an easy TD on the opening drive
  • Gets a pass batted behind the line of scrimmage – ball hit the leaping DL in the chin
  • Tries to set up the middle screen to the RB and doesn’t see the DL drop back into coverage – ball is intercepted
  • Quick slant to the WR and hits him in stride for a few yards after the catch
  • Excellent read and pass from 25 yards out to the back of the end zone for a TD late in the first quarter
  • Good protection and goes deep from his near own end zone – good spin on the ball and excellent placement but WR can’t haul it in
  • Pump fake, flushed up in the pocket and throws it away at the feet of his TE
  • Fires into the end zone but his WR stumbled and the ball goes just out of reach – really nice throw
  • Gets pressure from the left inside and rolls right – fires on the run complete for a first down on third down – gutsy throw
  • Back shoulder throw down the left sideline for a big gain
  • Rolls right and fires on the run down the right sideline to a wide open WR
  • Pump fake, has time and throws it behind his WR from about 15 yards out
  • Tries a nearly identical pass on the next play and draws interference in the end zone
  • Sneaks it in for a TD right before half
  • Throws to a covered RB at the sideline for a loss of yards
  • Pretty, over the shoulder pass down the left sideline and completes it in tight coverage – good spin on the ball
  • Overthrows his man deep down the right sideline
  • Throws low and the DB got there early but the ball could have been caught
  • Finds the wide open slot WR for a TD on the seam route
  • Rolls out and scrambles for a first down – picks up a big block from his WR
  • Good pass protection again from the left side of the O-line and he hits on a post down the middle of the field – ball just slightly behind the WR
  • Finds the slot man in the middle of the field and connects on a fourth down – got hit in the head right after he let go
  • Dangerous pass between four defenders – throw goes high and is broken up near the goal line
  • Throws high off the fingertips of his slot man on third down
  • Throws a strike to the sideline – very close to having the DB jump in front for an INT
  • Takes a couple of easy throws to the TE as the D plays back
  • Gets outstanding protection and finds a wide open WR down the right sideline for an easy TD with under two minutes to go – excellent drive to take a late lead

Overview: Murray made a number of big time passes on the day, displaying arm strength and a tight spiral, and minimizing his mistakes.  He did get away with a few “brave” (read: risky) throws, and was aided by a major coverage breakdown on the final scoring drive, but he was on target when it mattered the most.  Murray was the beneficiary of some outstanding pass protection, and when he did get moved off of his spots, he was able to deliver the ball on the move.  He is off to a strong start this season and is on his way to convincing doubters that he can be a viable NFL starting quarterback.  He’ll need to continue to build on this early season success.

#72 OT Kenarious Gates

  • Strong, head on block on the opening run play
  • Called for a false start on the second play
  • Strong pass pro on pass down the seam to the TE
  • Good push on a counter run to his side in the red zone
  • Terrific pass protection on the 25-yard TD pass lat in the first quarter
  • Flings his man outside on a run to his inside – solid run blocking all around in the first quarter and a half
  • Picks up a run block to the outside on a toss left
  • Good pass protection – fighting the DE off with his hands and allows the QB time to deliver the post 15 yards or so down the field
  • Nice job teaming with the LG to combat a stunt by the DL and maintain pass protection on a third down play
  • Does well to mirror the pass rusher as he tries to cross the face – doesn’t allow a pressure

Overview: Gates had an admirable showing against Jadeveon Clowney earlier in the season, but fared even better against LSU on Saturday.  While he did rotate in and out, Gates was more than adequate in pass protection, keeping Murray clean for most of the day, and the big left tackle combined with his linemates to open gaping running lanes all game long.  When Gates goes job hunting after the season, this game tape should be listed high on his résumé

#64 G Dallas Lee

  • Strong, head on block on the opening run play
  • Holds his ground at the line of scrimmage on pass down the seam to the TE
  • Gets pushed back into the pocket and his man gets up to bat down the pass
  • Terrific pass protection on the 25-yard TD pass lat in the first quarter
  • Strong pass block but holds his man when the QB is flushed up into the pocket
  • Seals off the inside while the LT steers his man outside to open up a huge running lane
  • Pulls to the left side while the LT blocks down inside and springs another big run
  • Gives up pressure on a pass and the QB is forced to roll to his right but gets the pass off
  • Gets a block head on and helps open a lane on a toss left
  • DT gets leverage over his outside shoulder and sheds him to make a tackle at the line of scrimmage
  • Nice kick out block on a run to the left side
  • Good pass protection on a post about 15 yards down the field
  • Nice job teaming with the LT to combat a stunt by the DL and maintain pass protection on a third down play
  • Pulls right and picks up the LB to seal off the outside of a running lane on a big run to the right late in the game

Overview: Lee combined with Gates to form a brick wall in pass protection on the left side for most of the game, and was outstanding in run blocking as well.  LSU features several talented defensive linemen, but Georgia’s left side was able to dictate the majority of the action.

#68 G Chris Burnette

  • Gets out in front on the screen and throws a huge block
  • Strong block out in front of the RB on a run to his side (right)
  • Pulls to his right and whiffs on the block allowing his target to make the tackle
  • Gets out to the second level and picks up a big block to lead the way on a big run to the right side late in the game

Overview: Burnette wasn’t as strong as his teammates on the left side, but he had his moments.  He was at his best when getting out in front and picking up blocks at the second level.

#88 TE Arthur Lynch

  • Gets open down the seam and hauls in a pass with his hands – takes a hit and fights for a couple of extra yards
  • Locks up his man on a run block in the red zone
  • With the rest of the line blocking down toward the middle of the field he blocks the DE one-on-one on a pass rush – gives the QB time on the deep pass attempt
  • Makes the catch over the middle and hold on tight as the defenders try to rip the ball away
  • Another strong possession catch and covers up the ball as he fights for extra yardage

Overview: Lynch is a strong, if underused receiver, and is a good enough blocker to be left to block defensive ends one-on-one.  NFL teams truly appreciate these types of tight ends.

#31 WR Chris Conley

  • Beats his man deep and hauls in a 25-yard TD in the back of the end zone – did not get both feet down in bounds
  • Good adjustment on the back shoulder throw to make the catch down the left sideline
  • Gets terrific position on his man in tight coverage and makes the over-the-shoulder catch on a deep ball along the left sideline
  • Gets hit early on a low throw but ball could have been caught
  • Picks up a big block down the field on a roll out scramble by the QB that goes for a first down
  • Makes the catch on a post about 15 yards down field – nice adjustment to a ball just slightly behind him

Overview: Conley played a solid game, running a few strong routes and hauling in a couple of difficult catches.  The junior receiver is not afraid to do the dirty work, but he’ll need to work on getting that second foot down in bounds in preparation for the next level.

 

LSU

#8 QB Zach Mettenberger

  • First completion is a check down into the flat to the RB
  • On third and five finds his tight slot receiver on a quick out for a first down
  • Stands in on the blitz and delivers on a skinny post for a long catch and run TD
  • Rolls out and hits the RB leaking out of the backfield for a first down
  • Plenty of time and zips a slant into the WR from a few yards out for an easy TD
  • Lots of time and fires it downfield but short – WR may have fallen down
  • Hits the RB on a slant out of the shotgun for a big catch and run play
  • With time, finds his WR on a hitch for a first down – WR was wide open
  • Dumps it down to the RB on a second down play – had a man open to the other side of the field
  • Connects on a deep post in front of two DBs despite pressure from his blindside
  • Hurries and throws high to the RB on third down – ball is dropped but not great placement
  • Play action and patiently waits for his WR to cross – easy delivery and good placement for a catch and run
  • Overthrows an open WR near the end zone
  • Stands in with pressure coming from the left side and delivers complete on a crossing route – good placement allows for yards after the catch
  • Fires deep middle but the ball comes out too flat and is just overthrown
  • Zips a strike down the middle between three defenders and it turns into an easy TD – coverage breakdown and he took advantage
  • Has time and finds his receiver on the comeback route to the right side
  • Down the sideline on a wheel route but again throws a flat ball and the H-back gets decked and separated from the ball – the pass was on target
  • Gets pressure and steps up in the pocket – flips it side-armed and short – very dangerous late throw that almost gets picked off
  • Fires a brave pass to the deep left-middle of the field between three defenders and completes it – fired the ball in there
  • Poor exchange on the snap and fumbles – the RB recovered
  • Steps into the pocket and fires a rocket downfield on third and 23 for a first down – zipped in between several defenders
  • Hits the WR out of the slot on a crossing patterns for first downs on back to back plays – good rhythm on these throws today
  • Fires another strike down the deep middle part of the field for a big gain
  • Hits his receiver on a cross late for a first down – great velocity on his throws
  • Gets his pass tipped at the line of scrimmage on second down with about a minute left
  • Ball is rifled downfield but behind his receiver and high and the pass is broken up by the DB
  • Backs up under pressure and throws off his back foot – ball sails high and incomplete on fourth down

Overview: Mettenberger is a tall, cannon-armed, drop back passer, and like many of the same ilk, he’ll need to learn the finer points of touch and trajectory.  Several of his longer throws came out flat, and that often makes it difficult for his receivers to get under the ball.  Mettenberger displayed impressive arm strength, and reacted well to pressure for the most part – that is, until that last pass when he failed to step into his throw and lofted it well over the head of his receiver.

#6 S Craig Loston

  • Gets blown by in coverage on the slot receiver near the goal line and gives up an easy TD pass
  • Gets the tackle way down the field to stop a long run
  • Playing way deep on the final Georgia TD drive and gets caught leaning toward the middle of the field – too late getting over to help the CB on the wide open TD pass for the go-ahead score

Overview: Loston was a non-factor in the running game, and victimized in coverage a couple of times.  This is a game the senior would no doubt like to forget.

#80 WR Jarvis Landry

  • Lines up tight in the slot and catches a quick out for a first down on third and five
  • Runs an in cut and gets separation by slapping the CB away – picks up the first down
  • Makes the catch on a short cross and picks up an extra yard or two with a spin move at the end of the play
  • Wide open again on a crossing route to the left side and picks up big yards after the catch – shows good speed turning the corner
  • Takes the slot screen straight ahead and finished the play with power to pick up a tough first down
  • Gets open between three defenders and catches a bullet – runs it in the rest of the way for the easy TD
  • Takes the slot screen for a few yards but gets indecisive and bottled up – runs right into a man who was being blocked low
  • Tremendous catch between three defenders on a ball rifled in there down the field
  • Comes out of the slot to make a catches on a crossing routes for first downs on back to back plays
  • Tries to adjust to a ball down the middle that is high and behind him but the DB breaks up the play

Overview: The junior wide receiver had a big day, making a living off of crossing routes and yards after the catch.  He was effective out of the slot, and made a couple of big catches in the middle part of the field.  Landry set career highs in receptions and yards, and is off to a blazing start this season.  If he continues on this path he could be on his way to the NFL at the end of the year.

#90 DT Anthony Johnson

  • Gets held up at the line of scrimmage and drops back to cover the middle screen – good reaction and concentration to intercept the ball in a short area
  • Gets into the backfield to combine on a tackle for loss in the red zone
  • Sheds the guard – got over the top of the G’s outside shoulder and shoved him away to make the tackle at the line of scrimmage on a run play

Overview: Johnson had the best day of any LSU defensive lineman – perhaps of any LSU defender.  His interception was impressive for a big man, and he was able to get the best of a stout Bulldogs’ line on a couple of other occasions.  But the junior defensive tackle and his teammates were generally neutralized by excellent Georgia offensive line play.

#70 OT La’el Collins

  • Lined up at LT – beat easily around the edge and gets help from the back on a pickup
  • Tries to reach for the blitzing safety and the DE knifes in – both the safety and the DE combine for a monster tackle for loss on the RB
  • Getting beat around the edge with regularity early in this game
  • Searching for someone to block – looks completely lost – meanwhile pressure comes from both inside and outside of him for the sack
  • Gets a solid pass block allowing the QB to connect on a wide open hitch to the left side
  • Gets beat easily around the left side again with a simple speed rush – QB gets rid of the ball
  • Has his man run around him again and lunges/reaches to try and keep him off the QB – he is getting beat repeatedly but most times so far the defender is too wide to get back to the QB
  • Poor job of maintaining a block on a run play up the gut
  • Nice job locking on and driving his man back several yards on a run to his side
  • Gets out to the second level and picks up a block on a short run in the red zone – much better run blocker than pass protector
  • Slides out to pick up a CB blitz allowing the DE to get a free shot and a sack on a first down drop back
  • Stands his ground against the rush on a third and 23 giving the QB time to make a big throw

Overview: While Georgia’s O-line impressed, Collins was a disappointment, routinely being bested by speed rushes, and occasionally looking lost.  The big tackle looked as though someone had tied his shoelaces together when moving laterally, and often required help with his assignments.  Collins is only a junior, so there is time to improve, but he doesn’t look like he has any business lining up on the outside of the line.

#3 WR Odell Beckham Jr.

  • Exciting kick return – picks up big yards before running out of bounds
  • Makes the catch on a quick hitch – wide open, the DB gave him a cushion
  • Gets upfield and runs a post complete for a big first down in front of two DBs
  • Open near the end zone but the pass goes way over his head
  • Takes out the CB with a low block on a slot screen
  • Mishandles the punt and has it deflect off his facemask for a turnover
  • Makes the catch on a comeback route on the right side
  • Turns back and makes the catch on a rocket on third and long and turns upfield – got hit immediately but held onto the ball
  • Runs a deep post and gets open in the middle of the defense to make a catch for a big gain
  • Another big catch in the middle of the field for a first down gain late in the game

Overview: Despite Verne Lundquist’s excited calls, Beckham never came close to breaking a return – he even muffed a punt, in fact – but he had a solid game as a receiver.  Like Landry, Beckham is lighting up the stat sheet through the first five games of the season, and could decide to forgo his senior season if he continues to do so.

#44 FB J.C. Copeland

  • Good job getting out in front and throwing a key block on the sideline to spring the RB on an option run
  • Takes the handoff and slams into the line on a short yardage carry – friendly spot and gets the first down
  • Seals the edge at the goal line on a short TD run
  • Big lead block allows the RB to bounce outside for an easy TD run

Overview: Copeland is a throwback to a different era – a bruising, blocking fullback.  While it is entertaining to watch him bulldoze defenders and open up holes for the running game, he doesn’t offer much as a ball carrier or receiver.  Few NFL teams utilize a player like Copeland, so he will likely be a late round draft choice.  Still, in the right setting, he could have a long career as a role player.

#33 RB Jeremy Hill

  • Stuffed behind the line of scrimmage on his first carry
  • Sizeable hole to the left side – slow to hit it and even some hesitation turns a potential big gain into a routine carry
  • Fakes a blitz pickup on a rollout and leaks out to make a catch and pick up a first down
  • Tries to bounce the red zone carry outside and gets cut down in the backfield
  • Out of the shotgun runs a slant and makes a big catch and run
  • Has a ball go off his hands incomplete on a quick third down pass – ball was high but catchable
  • Takes the option pitch and shows some good burst to pick up big yards on a third and short
  • Power running inside on a number of plays on the opening drive of the second half – not breaking big runs but chipping away
  • Takes the screen and stutter steps to pick up a few extra yards
  • Cut down on an option pitch after a short gain but gets enough for a first down – didn’t get going north and south quickly
  • Follows the lead block of his FB and bounces outside to run in untouched for an easy TD

Overview: Hill had been on fire coming into the game, but faced some tough sledding against the Georgia defense.  He’s a power runner who can get into trouble when he tries to bounce outside.  Hill was surprisingly effective in the passing game – his four receptions for 44 yards were career highs.  It’s a positive development for a runner who had largely been one-dimensional coming into the game.

Miscellanea:

  • Junior receiver Michael Bennett of Georgia scored a pair of touchdowns.  On his first, he made a nice adjustment to make a twisting TD catch on a back shoulder throw to the end zone.  On his second, he ran from the slot on an out and up and got wide open in the end zone for a TD.
  • LSU senior receiver Kadron Boone scored two touchdowns of his own.  He got open on a post when the cornerback fell down.  Boone hauled in the pass and ran it in the rest of the way uncontested for the score.  On his second TD, he lined up in the slot and ran a slant versus man coverage from five yards out.  Later, he just missed making another big play when he got open deep, only to have the ball go off his outstretched fingertips.  The ball was thrown flat by Mettenberger.
  • Junior defensive end Jamauria Rasco of LSU beat the right tackle a couple of times to make tackles on running plays at or behind the line of scrimmage.  Unfortunately, he was also penalized 15 yards for a blow to the head on Murray after he let go of a pass.
  • LSU junior defensive tackle Ego Ferguson was able to drive Lee back into the pocket and bat down a pass in the first half.  He also knifed his way through the line to get in on a run stop after Georgia tried to fool the Tigers’ defense with a quick snap.

Tags: 2014 NFL Draft, Aaron Murray, Arthur Lynch, Georgia, Jarvis Landry, La'el Collins, LSU, NFL Draft, Scouting Notes, Zach Mettenberger

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