NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Loyko
The past two weeks I have been assigned to scout and study LSU in big nationally televised games. It’s amazing to me how much talent this LSU team has on the field, especially on the defensive side.
Even more amazing is they are all under-classmen, so we can expect LSU to challenge for another National Championship next season as well. This breakdown will focus on both players who will be draft eligible in 2012 as well as 2013.
#7 CB Tyrann Mathieu- All that I can say about Mathieu is WOW! Out of all the players I have watched this year he is probably my favorite to watch. He impacts the game in so many ways it’s remarkable. Kirk Herbstriet compared him to Ed Reed on the broadcast and he plays in a similar fashion.
- Incredible football IQ, understands the game, the coverages, and knows the situations
- Probably the best special teamer in the country. Routinely made ST tackles on kickoff, punt coverage and also returns some kicks.
- Was able to beat a punt downfield catch it and down it on the 1 yard line
- Plays the game with an intensity and “swagger” that can’t be taught
- The most impressive play of the game was when Mathieu came on a corner blitz, realizing he was going to be late he peeled off, retreated two steps, jumped and tipped the ball. He caught it and returned it to the 1, setting up a game changing touchdown.
- Makes big play after big play. Re-watching the tape you notice all the little things he does, like chipping a back out of the backfield, switching on coverage’s, he is always in the right spot.
- Was able to strip a WV WR who was trying to push the pile, he ripped the ball out, which changed the early momentum.
- Mathieu is on the small side listed at only 5’9”, however this kid is special. He has those intangibles you just can’t teach. Football smarts are out of this world (ala Ed Reed) who made similar plays while at Miami.
- Only a SOPHMORE, so he isn’t eligible for the draft, however there is no way I can see this kid slipping out of the top 20 next year, he’s just too complete.
#17 CB Morris Claiborne- If Mathieu is an Ed Reed clone than Claiborne is a Patrick Peterson clone. Claiborne is probably the better natural CB as his size and athleticism will allow him to do more at the next level.
-Ball hawking corner, is able to make huge plays on the ball
- 2 INT vs. Miss St, high points the ball
- Very fluid, has quick hips which is what I watch closest on a CB
- Explodes out of his breaks which allows him to make a play on the ball, even when he isn’t able to get to the ball he is on the WR quickly
- In the WVU game, he missed a few tackles against the smaller quicker WR’s due to being over aggressive and poor technique. One missed tackle lead to a touchdown
- Also was benched for a series on defense, because he wasn’t playing the coverage and instead playing man on his own call it appeared
- Electric punt returner, made the biggest play of the game returning a punt for a TD after WV had just scored to make it a game.
- He is a junior and draft eligible. If he declares he could challenge to be one of the first CB taken.
#2 WR Rueben Randle- Randle is the next in the long line of supremely talented LSU WRs who under produce due to the QB situation. I fell that Randle is probably the most gifted, and will be a better pro than collegian.
- Huge target standing 6’4” with long arms that provide a huge catching radius
- He is pretty fluid for his size
- Not asked to run a large variety of routes, so his route running will definitely have to be improved.
- Shields the defender with his body and uses his hands to catch the ball out in front of his body
- Dropped a couple easy balls including one in the endzone when he was wide open
- Probably faster than he looks on tape, has a very good NFL career ahead of him
- As long as he continues to grow and perform like he has this year, my feeling is he will leave school and be a borderline 1st round candidate
#10 WR Russell Shepard- This was Shepard’s first game of the season while I would have seen him make a little bit more of an impact I like Shepard’s potential going forward.
- Former QB who now plays WR
- Elite athlete, elite speed.
- LSU needs to find ways to get him the ball, looks very explosive running routes, just don’t get him the ball enough
- If he played in a better offense he would be talked about a lot more. Comparisons to Percy Harvin may not be that far off
- Though he is draft eligible I find it unlikely he will/should enter the draft this year.
#12 QB Geno Smith- Smith is an emerging QB prospect. I think he is a bit raw right now and has a lot to learn, I could see him as a legit prospect by the time he enters the draft.
- Doesn’t always step into his throws, when faced with pressure , he opens up too much and throws it with all arm
- Really good arm strength, makes quick decisions,
- Seemed a bit inexperienced and nervous at times
- When he misses he misses high, likely to do with poor mechanics
- Not good throwing on the run. I had him at 0-4 at a point when he was rolled out and those throws weren’t close
- Evades pressure nicely in the pocket, able to step up and keep eyes down the field
- Overall I thought he played pretty well against one of the best defenses in the country
#1 WR Tavon Austin- Small but electric, his athleticism jumps off the screen. He is one of the most exciting players in college football.
- Projects as a slot player at the next level, but could also be utilized as an all purpose threat as a PR-KR-Wildcat RB
- Struggled a little bit with drops but apparently had screws put in his hand
- Very quick in and out of his breaks
- Stays low to the ground and center of gravity low to the ground
- Although he is small he is well built, is able to take contact and get YAC
#11 DE Bruce Irvin- Irvin is the player I was most disappointed in this week. I expected him to show up and make some big plays however, I didn’t see it.
- Lean, long athletic frame
- Plays too high, will get pushed around and sealed off too easily
- Don’t see him as more than a pass rush specialist in the NFL
- Chases down runners on the backside, but struggles when run at