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Baylor vs. Oklahoma: Score and Twitter Reaction

What was billed as a pivotal showdown in the Big 12 turned out to be a one-sided slaughter for the road team. The 12th-ranked Baylor Bears withstood an early onslaught from the Oklahoma Sooners before kicking things into gear. 

The Sooners grabbed a 14-3 lead in the first quarter. It seemed like the game was going to get out of hand early, but that was as good as things would get for Bob Stoops' team. Everything went downhill in the second quarter and just kept snowballing. Baylor scored 45 unanswered points to end the game.

Baylor's performance on Saturday also erased a lot of bad history for the program. According to ESPN Radio producer Jon Madani, the Bears ended two long streaks with one victory:

Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman was the clear standout in the game, though there are a lot of game balls to go around. As Chris B. Brown of SmartFootball.com noted on Twitter, the Sooners had no answer for Coleman:

It's important to note that Coleman had those numbers before the end of the third quarter. He finished the game with 15 catches, 224 yards and two total touchdowns.

Oklahoma's problem was defending the pass, as Coleman's huge game illustrates. David Ubben of Fox Sports Southwest noted how the coverage schemes for the Sooners were baffling in how bland and predictable they were:

Bryce Petty was masterful for Baylor, easily his most impressive performance of the season, going 32-for-42 with 387 yards and one touchdown. He made history in the process, breaking Robert Griffin III's school record for 300-yard passing games, per Baylor Football's official Twitter:

Even though Petty finished the game with just one touchdown pass, it was his work through the air that set up most of the easy rushing touchdowns Baylor had. Head coach Art Briles talked about his quarterback's focus all week to The Associated Press, via The Dallas Morning News:

“He’s focused and ready, and he’s in a no-nonsense attitude, which I appreciate whole-heartedly, and that’s the way our whole football team needs to be,” Briles said. “We’ll play around in January. Right now it’s business.”

Petty needed a great game in a big spot to quiet any doubts about how his season was going. 

Despite Petty's three touchdown passes in a blowout win over Kansas last week, his completion percentage over the previous two games was 49.2 and West Virginia humiliated him on October 18. Getting back on track in a nationally televised rivalry game can do wonders for his confidence moving forward. 

Speaking of national television, Dane Brugler of CBS Sports pointed out during the game how the early start time may end up benefiting Baylor in the eyes of the College Football Playoff selection committee:

On the other side, this was one of those games where the rain came pouring down on Oklahoma early and never let up. The Sooners played the entire game without Sterling Shepard, who is battling a groin injury suffered last week. 

By the time the game ended, quarterback Trevor Knight was taken off the field on a cart due to an injury following a fourth quarter sack on a fourth down play, via SportsCenter:

Knight didn't haven't a good game before getting hurt. He looked out of sorts most of the day, He threw a bad interception over the middle in the second quarter that set up a one-yard touchdown to give Baylor the lead. He badly under-threw an open receiver on what should have been a touchdown. 

Nothing worked right for the Sooners after that first quarter. Their seven drives after taking a 14-3 lead ended in an interception, missed field goal, punt, punt, turnover on downs, punt and turnover on downs. 

Oklahoma's national title hopes effectively ended with that loss to Kansas State on October 18. Now, its shot at a Big 12 championship are slim with three conference losses. Baylor kept its Playoff hopes alive with this huge win and a showdown with Kansas State waiting at the end of the season. 

 

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Watch Georgia Freshman Isaiah McKenzie Take Two Returns to the House

Two is better than one. That was the case for Georgia Bulldogs freshman Isaiah McKenzie, as he returned the opening kickoff and a punt return to the house in Georgia's 63-31 dismantling of the Kentucky Wildcats. 

Was this the best special teams performance of the season?

Check out the video and let us know!

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Georgia vs. Kentucky: Game Grades, Analysis for Bulldogs and Wildcats

The Georgia Bulldogs got back on track on Saturday with a convincing 63-31 road win over the Kentucky Wildcats.  

A 21-0 lead was never squandered, as Georgia's offense looked altogether unstoppable, and the Bulldog defense buckled down to allow just seven second-half points.

With the win, the Dawgs remain in SEC East contention.  Meanwhile, the loss puts pressure on Kentucky, a team that opened the season 5-1, to win one of its final two games and reach bowl eligibility.

Here are first- and second-half game grades and analysis for both teams.

 

Georgia Bulldogs Grade Analysis

Passing Offense

Hutson Mason was brilliant in the first half, completing 10 of 12 passes for 141 yards and three touchdowns.  He distributed the ball to five different targets, threw the ball with zip and placed several deep balls perfectly.  In the second half, he picked up where he left off, and backup Brice Ramsey was equally impressive in his late-game appearance.

 

Rushing Offense

Georgia continued to run the ball well in the first half thanks primarily to a 116-yard showing by Nick Chubb (on just seven carries).  Fellow freshmen Sony Michel and Isaiah McKenzie also added sparks on the ground.  The second half yielded more of the same, as Chubb and Michel continually found running lanes.

 

Pass Defense

Georgia's pass defense looked strong in the game's first two quarters.  On the day, the defense held Kentucky to just 139 yards on 30 pass attempts, which is downright stellar.

 

Run Defense

For the second consecutive game, Georgia was torched on the ground in the first half.  Kentucky ran the ball well up the middle, to the outside and even with its quarterback.  The Wildcats scored three times on the ground in the first half.  Fortunately, Georgia looked more stout against the run in the second half and as a result, the Kentucky offense stalled out time and time again.

 

Special Teams

Georgia's special teams play opened in terrific fashion thanks to McKenzie's touchdown return on the game's opening kick, but things fell apart thereafter, as the Bulldogs lost a muffed kick and struggled to reel in pooch kicks repeatedly.  In the second half, McKenzie got free for another score (this time on a punt return), and the sloppy play was cleaned up.

 

Coaching

The clear confusion on special teams returns was a blatant lack of coaching, as the same mistake was made more than once in more than one way.  Additionally, it seemed like Georgia could have used a little more clock on some drives to give the defense more rest in the first half.  Overall, however, it's hard to knock a lopsided win on the road in the SEC.

 

Kentucky Wildcats Grade Analysis

Passing Offense

Patrick Towles didn't have much time to throw the ball unless he was on the run in the first half.  As a result, the passing game never gained consistent traction.  That story remained very much intact in the second half, as Kentucky's offense remained run-heavy.

 

Rushing Offense

Kentucky ran the ball very well in the first half—both on early downs and in short-yardage situations.  The scores on the ground kept the Wildcats in the game.  In the second half, the yardage was harder to come by, and ultimately, that's why the Wildcats fell so far behind.

 

Pass Defense

Kentucky had no answer for Hutson Mason and the passing game.  Multiple receivers were open downfield in the first half and Mason took full advantage.  In the second half, the Kentucky defense remained unimpressive against the pass, as Mason and Ramsey both found success.

 

Run Defense

Kentucky couldn't stop the Bulldogs ground attack either, as the Dawgs racked up 172 rushing yards over the game's first two quarters.  By comparison, the second half looked better statistically, but Georgia still ran the ball at will en route to more than 300 rushing yards on the day.

 

Special Teams

After giving up a long kick return for a score on the game's first play, Kentucky adjusted its philosophy.  That was a good move, but Georgia's inability to execute made it a great move.  In the second half, however, punt coverage deficiencies led to another Georgia special teams score.

 

Coaching

Falling behind 21-0 at home is not reflective of a program on the rise, which is what Kentucky wants to be, and an inability to keep things respectable late hurt the team's momentum.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all stats courtesy of NCAA.com

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Baylor vs. Oklahoma: How Bears' Win Will Shake Up Week 12 Rankings

By virtue of an impressive 48-14 victory over Big 12 rival Oklahoma Saturday afternoon, the Baylor Bears kept their College Football Playoff hopes alive.

The Bears were bolstered by strong defensive play as well as 387 passing yards from quarterback Bryce Petty, who made some history in the process as well, according to ESPN Stats & Info:

Baylor entered the week as the No. 12 team in the nation with a record of 7-1, while OU was just a few spots behind at No. 15. The Bears made a big statement by cruising at Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma, while the Sooners' season has reached its low point now that they have suffered their third defeat.

Oklahoma already needed a miracle in order to be considered for a CFP spot, but the hope is gone at this point. As for Baylor, this victory means that an 11-1 campaign is still possible. The Bears will be favored to beat Oklahoma State and Texas Tech in its next two games before a clash against No. 7 Kansas State to close the season.

Based on Saturday's result, Oklahoma will inevitably drop several spots in the standings. Baylor may move up a few places, but much of that depends upon how the teams above it fare. As pointed out by NFL.com's Chase Goodbread, the leap could be sizable if the results play into Baylor's hands:

From a long-term perspective, this is a huge win for the Bears. Anywhere from two to four one-loss teams will qualify for the CFP, and Baylor still falls under that category.

The Bears already have a win over No. 6 TCU under their belt, which means they will likely be pulling for Kansas State to beat the Horned Frogs Saturday night. In that scenario, Baylor would surpass TCU and then have a chance to beat out the Wildcats as well by winning their head-to-head matchup in about a month.

According to Josh Slagter of MLive.com, the winner of that game would have a very strong case to be included in the CFP's field of four:

Baylor ultimately did what it needed to on Saturday, and it did so in convincing fashion to boot. While the Sooners clearly aren't as good as most anticipated entering the season, the Bears made them look like an FCS team for all intents and purposes.

There is no telling how much of an impact Baylor's emphatic victory will have on the CFP selection committee's decision, but the Bears helped their cause regardless.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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Trevor Knight Injury: Updates on Oklahoma QB's Status and Return

The Oklahoma Sooners couldn't keep pace with a high-powered Baylor Bears offense on Saturday, and their own attack took a potentially devastating blow toward the end of the game.

Sooners quarterback Trevor Knight left the game midway through the fourth quarter on a cart after taking a vicious sack from linebacker Grant Campbell. 

The Oklahoman's Jason Kersey first reported the news:

John E. Hoover of the Tulsa World noted that Knight was alert and gave the fans a hopeful sign before leaving the field:

Guerin Emig of the Tulsa World provides comments from Knight's teammate Zack Sanchez:

Sam Gannon and Scott Noland of KOKH Fox 25 provide Bob Stoops' comments on the injury: 

Knight's dual-threat ability has been key to the Sooners' overall success this season, although he's still developing as a passer. Coming into the Baylor game, the sophomore signal-caller had thrown 12 touchdowns against eight interceptions while averaging 5.6 yards per carry and notching five rushing touchdowns.

His injury didn't affect the outcome of Saturday's contest, a 48-14 Baylor victory. However, it could hinder Oklahoma's chances in finishing the season strong. 

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LSU Fan Paints Great Dane to Look Like Tiger Ahead of SEC Clash with Alabama

With the No. 16 LSU Tigers set for a clash with the SEC-rival No. 5 Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday, fans are justifiably taking the matchup seriously.

How seriously you ask?

How about a great-dane-painted-like-a-tiger seriously.

LSU fans painted their Great Dane named Elmer to look like a tiger. pic.twitter.com/Rp0br2i1Xe

— Laken Litman (@LakenLitman) November 8, 2014

Update: Another Tiger-dog has been spotted.

Painted her dog as a tiger. Dogs name is Bear...only at LSU #TOWVIP14pic.twitter.com/toKdUFWSBq

— Shane Hinckley (@Shane_Hinckley) November 8, 2014

[Twitter, h/t Busted Coverage via The Score]

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Tennessee-Martin vs. Mississippi State: Live Score and Highlights

Mississippi State 7, Tennessee-Martin 0 — 1st Quarter

Top-ranked Mississippi State has a short breather from its SEC gauntlet and is looking to add to its sparkling undefeated record in a homecoming affair against Tennessee-Martin.

Wins continue to add up for the Bulldogs, who are now 8-0 after a close win at home over Arkansas last weekend. The test of all tests looms next weekend with a trip to face No. 5 Alabama.

But up first is this meeting with the Skyhawks, a 5-5 squad from the Ohio Valley Conference with four straight victories. Despite the recent success, UT-Martin is a paltry 1-17 against FBS opponents and was blown out 59-14 at Kentucky to open the season.

The action has already begun, so tune into SEC Network or take a glimpse below for live updates.

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Cold Hard Fact for Saturday, November 8, 2014

Fact: Baylor QB Bryce Petty now has 14 career 300-yard passing games, breaking a tie with Robert Griffin III for the school record.

Bleacher Report will be bringing sports fans the most interesting and engaging Cold Hard Fact of the day, presented by Coors Light.

 

Source: ESPN Stats & Info

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Rashard Robinson Reportedly Suspended by LSU, Will Miss Game vs. Alabama

It was already assumed that the LSU Tigers would have their hands full against Alabama's explosive offense Saturday night, but the task has gotten even tougher due to the reported suspension of cornerback Rashard Robinson.

According to Ross Dellenger of The Advocate, the sophomore cornerback is unlikely to suit up when the No. 16 Tigers host the No. 5 Crimson Tide at Tiger Stadium:

Per Robert Stewart of TigerRag.com, details regarding the reasoning for the suspension have not been released:

LSU is flying high after upsetting Ole Miss at home two weeks ago, and it is looking to double down with a victory against its greatest rival.

The Alabama offense has been particularly potent through the air this season due to the play of quarterback Blake Sims and Heisman Trophy-contending wide receiver Amari Cooper.

Keeping Cooper in check will take a group effort from the LSU secondary, but there is no question that the defensive backfield will be much weaker without Robinson's services.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin know how to exploit weaknesses, which means reserve corners Jalen Collins and Russell Gage could be in for a long night.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter

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Notre Dame vs. Arizona State: Live Score and Highlights

Arizona State 24, Notre Dame 3—Early 2nd Quarter

In what could amount to a College Football Playoff elimination game, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame head out west to take on the Pac-12 South Division-leading Sun Devils from Arizona State.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Texas A&M vs. Auburn: Live Score and Highlights

Texas A&M 14, Auburn 14 -- Late 1st Quarter

The Texas A&M Aggies look to get back to their winning ways in SEC play on Saturday afternoon when they travel southeast to take on the No. 3 Auburn Tigers. 

The contest will begin at 3:30 p.m. ET. It can be seen on CBS.

Odds Shark has Auburn as a 23.5-point favorite. A full box score can be found here, courtesy of NCAA.com.

 

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Michigan vs. Northwestern: Live Score and Highlights

Michigan 0, Northwestern 0 (Early 2nd Quarter)

Michigan and Northwestern are going at it in Chicagoland. 

Keep your browser locked to this live blog for analysis, commentary, stats and gems from the web as the Wolverines (4-5, 2-3 Big Ten) and Wildcats (3-5, 2-3) tangle at Ryan Field in Evanston, Illinois. 

 

Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

 

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Minnesota TE Maxx Williams Makes Impressive Toe-Dragging Catches Versus Iowa

Keeping your feet inbounds is one of the more difficult tasks for receivers at any level.

Minnesota's Maxx Williams does it with ease.

In a Big Ten matchup with Iowa, Williams made two incredible toe-dragging catches.

The first was a jaw-dropping sideline grab.

The second went for a touchdown that put the Golden Gophers ahead, 35-7:

[Vine]

 

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West Virginia vs. Texas: Live Score and Highlights

Texas 7, West Virginia 3—Early 2nd Quarter

The West Virginia Mountaineers and Texas Longhorns have kicked off inside Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, as each team looks for a quality conference win.

At 4-5, Texas is vying for bowl eligibility, as things haven’t gone so smoothly in year one under head coach Charlie Strong.

West Virginia is looking to get back in the win column after a tough loss last week versus TCU.

You can watch the game on Fox Sports 1, but stay right here for live updates and analysis.

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Lee Corso Picks Michigan State over Ohio State, Screams 'This Is Sparta!'

In 1996, Lee Corso made his first ever headgear pick on College GameDay by donning Brutus Buckeye's noggin.

On Saturday, Corso had his chance to go with Brutus once again. Instead, he emphatically chose Michigan State.

In full Spartan gear, he screamed, "This is Sparta!"

Classic Corso.

[YouTube, College Spun]

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Oklahoma QB Trevor Knight Hurdles Baylor Defender

Trevor Knight, get you some!

In the first quarter of the Oklahoma Sooners and Baylor Bears Big 12 matchup, Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight hurdled Baylor defensive back Terrell Burt.

 Nowadays, hurdles are a dime a dozen, but rarely do you see a quarterback with this kind of hops.

Was this the best quarterback run of the season?

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Sterling Shepard Injury: Updates on Oklahoma Star's Groin and Return

Oklahoma's critical showdown with Baylor will see the Sooners without wide receiver Sterling Shepard due to a groin injury. 

According to Kris Budden of Fox Sports, via Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated, Shepard will not play for the Sooners today:

According to John Shinn of The Norman Transcript, Shepard didn't practice much during the week after injuring his groin against Iowa State on November 1. Head coach Bob Stoops tried to take things easy on his star wideout:

“I haven’t seen much yet,” Stoops said. “We’ve just been bringing him along slowly.”

Shepard is averaging 19.1 yards per reception for the Sooners and has been their go-to guy in the red zone. His absence isn't what Oklahoma needed against a potent Baylor offense. 

 

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

NFL Draft Watch: Why Marcus Peters Is an Elite On-Field Talent

For a vast majority of the top collegiate football talent, the season is just hitting the most difficult stretch of games. With teams deep into conference play, there are championship berths and a potential playoff seed on the line for team achievement, and individual glory in the long term.

One player that will be unable to help his team anymore is Marcus Peters, who was a star cornerback for the Washington Huskies until this week. He was dismissed from the Huskies squad for getting into another argument with the coaching staff, according to Kevin Gemmell of ESPN.com.

Now without team responsibilities, Peters has a jump-start on his journey to the NFL draft. The junior was already considered a lock to enter the draft before this latest bump in the road, per Tony Pauline of Draft Insider.

We won’t get into the incident because there simply isn’t enough information to make an educated guess on who is in the right or wrong. But what is evident is the talent that Peters displayed throughout his time at Washington.

To see how well Peters projects to the NFL, I watched every single snap of the Huskies until Week 10, when Peters participated against the Colorado Buffaloes. Gathering so much data and charting his play could make a stronger statement about Peters’ talents.

With scarce quality cornerback play in the NFL, there is no better time to enter the league as a defensive back prospect than now. Teams must consider taking an elite talent as high as the top five because a potential lockdown cornerback is only truncated in value by quarterback and pass-rusher, maybe left tackle.

Let’s dive into why Marcus Peters could be the best overall prospect in the 2015 NFL draft, should he officially declare.


Physical Gifts

Listed at 6’0”, 190 pounds, Peters has an ideal size for any scheme. His arm length should measure impressively, as he was often asked to jam receivers in press coverage off the line of scrimmage. He excelled in this assignment, even against bigger, longer receivers.

Arm length for a cornerback is crucial for success. Not only does length allow cornerbacks to make an impact as the ball is snapped, but also helps corners challenge receivers at the catch point. A well-timed leap or full extension of the arm can be the difference between a touchdown and an interception.

More importantly than what Peters looks like in shorts is how well he uses his size. Peters often lines up on the boundary, meaning he’s on the short side of the field (if the ball is on the left hash mark, Peters is covering the receiver closest to the sideline). This puts immense pressure on Peters to disrupt the receiver quickly, or else a quick-hitting route with yards-after-the-catch potential is easy to complete.

Peters is excellent in this regard, often pushing his receiver out of bounds with his impressive strength and length. By using his arms at full extension, he’s able to recover if the receiver breaks free of his contact, or gets five yards down the field.

To complement his length, Peters shows very good vertical leap ability. His timing on when he leaves his feet certainly helps, but when he does the standing vertical jump test at the NFL combine, expect one of the highest marks of the entire class. His powerful drive is from his legs and staying balanced throughout coverage.

Physically, the most valuable gift a defensive back can have is hip fluidity and ankle flexion. Being able to turn and run with a faster receiver is a must for outside cornerbacks in the NFL because competition levels are insanely high.

Peters demonstrates his hip fluidity routinely when he breaks on short routes such as slants, or when he’s running downfield in man coverage. He doesn’t lose any ground on receivers when he transitions, a clear indicator that he’s a fluid mover. His matchup against Stanford wide receiver Ty Montgomery epitomized this, as Montgomery is one of the fastest straight-line runners in the country.

Although Peters doesn’t have sub-4.4 speed by the eye test, he should run quite well for his size. At the 3:16 mark in the video below, we can see Peters chasing down Montgomery from behind on a kick return, proving he has more than enough speed to be a quality NFL cornerback.

Changing directions quickly is also vital for successful coverage. That’s where ankle flexion comes in. Not only do the hips need to sink so the corner can explode back to the ball, the ankles have to be able to handle such a violent motion and support the acceleration. A sequence of backpedal to planting to exploding toward the ball is lightning quick, and athletes who have elite traits are best equipped to consistently execute.


Ball Awareness

Some cornerbacks are great in coverage, but aren’t the type of player who offenses purposely avoid because they don’t make the offense pay for targeting them. To be a playmaker, it takes special ball awareness. It’s innate, and must come naturally.

Confidence and understanding of the defense can help a cornerback stay focused on the receiver and the ball at the same time, but the anticipation of when the ball is arriving and where the trajectory ends takes special mental prowess.

With Peters, it does not take long to notice his elite ball awareness. He’s notched 11 career interceptions and 35 defensed passes in his career, which is incredible for a cornerback that has played only 34 games. On the film, it’s eye-opening to see him break toward the ball even before the pass has left the quarterback’s hand.

To see a play like the one above just once in a film session is noteworthy, but this happened three times in eight games in 2014. Peters reads a quarterback's eyes simultaneously with his assigned man, which allows him to instinctively break on the ball and force incompletions.

The term “ball skills” is a little different than ball awareness, but it is still referring to how well a player acts on the arriving pass. Peters again excels in this area, looking like a receiver as he high-points passes.

He uses his physical gifts and strength to box receivers out and play the ball, taking it like it is his own. Sometimes this leads to penalties (he had four defensive pass interference calls this season), but that is the risk of forcing a turnover. His ability to rip passes out of the air is reminiscent of the most dominant NFL receivers, let alone a cornerback.


Coverage

Without the ability to stay close to the receiver in coverage, a cornerback is worth very little. If ball skills and awareness are advanced skills for cornerbacks, coverage ability should be basic. But not all cornerbacks are able to sustain such a high level of coverage as Peters does.

To see how a player performs in coverage, I had to develop a measure more effective than what is currently available in traditional box scores. Looking at the opposing players’ statistics do not tell the entire truth, as the quarterback could’ve thrown a bad pass, or the receiver may have finished the play by making an otherworldly action on the ball.

By creating a measure called “burn percentage,” we are able to see how many times a cornerback is actually beaten in coverage, regardless of whether they are targeted or the pass in complete. You can read more about how it is scored on my original blog post.

Below, we can see the benchmarks created for burn percentage based on studying the 2013 and 2014 cornerback draft classes.

Only three cornerbacks lost on less than 20 percent of qualifying snaps in the last three years, and they are Desmond Trufant, Kyle Fuller and Bradley Roby. Each were first-round picks and playing quite well in the NFL.

By staying within one yard of the receiver at the point of release or as the ball arrives, the cornerback has effectively challenged the pass enough to earn a “win.” This is subjective, but meant to be graded the same no matter the player or situation.

In the chart below, look at how Peters performed in 2014.

In 71 qualifying snaps where Peters could’ve been targeted in the play, he earned a win on 38 snaps, and lost just nine times. The remaining snaps that were not graded mean that he was in position to make a play on the ball, but was not targeted. In essence, he was not penalized for the quarterback refusing to throw the ball into good coverage.

This equals out to a 12.6 burn percentage, which is five percentage points better than the previous best for this study by Kyle Fuller in 2013. That’s a tremendous accomplishment, especially when the quality of opponents is factored in.

The most talented individual Peters faced was Arizona State receiver Jaelen Strong. Strong was targeted six times while Peters was in coverage, and won just three times. He recorded the only touchdown allowed directly by Peters this season.

Peters did well that game, however, limiting Strong to just 36 yards, per my own charting. Their matchup was a major indicator that his style of play will translate to Sundays, where he will be facing similar players every week.

Peters also played extremely well against Colorado standout receiver Nelson Spruce. Although he has 90 receptions and 999 yards on the season, Peters limited Spruce to two catches and 28 yards, via my own charting. The Buffaloes receiver wins with excellent route running and quickness, but Peters swallowed his routes with ease.

 

Versatility

Washington often employed Cover 3 schemes to emphasize their pass rush and limit big plays from its opponents. Peters fits into this, but it is not his optimal scheme. He’s excellent in press, as mentioned above, due to his technique when landing his punch on receivers.

Using his strong frame and length, he is able to control the receiver at the line, placing his hands inside the chest and driving the opponent. Sure, his hands will at times be swatted down, but even forcing that can disrupt the offense for the split second needed to finish a sack or create pressure.

Peters has the physical traits and profile of a standout, press corner in Cover 1 or 3, where everyone is playing man and the cornerback has little help on their island. Cover 3 assigns a deep zone to be responsible for, and limits the cornerback to just defending the sideline. Again, Peters was stuck in Cover 3 often because of the other talent in the secondary, which is young and subpar, but not for a lack of physical gifts or talent.

He did not log a single snap in the slot this season, instead seeing a majority of snaps at the left cornerback spot, which is the strong side of the offense. As a good run defender, he was trusted to be on the short side of the field and take on running backs quite often. He rarely backed down and always gave great effort.

His scheme versatility means that any team could easily justify taking him. Like many other areas, this is where ball awareness can only help his argument to play for any NFL team. Even in a scheme that downplays cornerbacks like a Tampa 2, having those ball skills and anticipation ability will be valuable.

 

Technique

Many players are great athletes, but technique shows dedication to the craft and the want to be the best player on the field.

The area that really shows technique as a cornerback is when defending comeback routes and quick slants. To change direction suddenly and keep proper balance is incredibly difficult, but Peters does this with great consistency. He keeps his feet squared with his shoulders, which means his movement is under control and his body isn’t flailing all over.

Reducing the amount of moving parts is key, as it saves energy and valuable time in pursuit. Foot speed and placement are the main ingredients for doing such; lead feet will allow receivers to have a field day on double moves and quick-cutting routes.

Peters displays great control of his body for games at a time. Like any player, he had a few moments where he was not properly balanced in his stance, but those are few and far between, meaning those moments do not define his talents and technique refinement.

Since he plays so much on the outside and in Cover 3, he has to be able to pin receivers to the sideline to minimize the landing zone if the receiver does bring in the ball. Peters is tremendous at quickly getting the receiver glued to the sideline, which gives the quarterback even less room for error to test Peters’ coverage downfield.

This also goes back into his ability to box out receivers and play the ball like an offensive player. He gains inside positioning and the only way to steal the ball away is to go up and over his frame. As you may see, it’s very hard to beat a big, physical corner with great technique and ball skills.

 

Weaknesses

It’s difficult to find many weaknesses in Peters’ game because he’s such a standout athlete with great technique in key areas.

His on-field persona is certainly easy to see when watching his games. He’s similar to Dez Bryant, in that he clearly loves to play and is extremely passionate. Sometimes, like against Eastern Washington, he gets too emotional. He was benched after drawing a penalty for taunting a receiver.

His competitiveness is somewhat of a positive and negative, but he needs more awareness as to when to scale it back and not hurt his team. This isn’t a major negative, as many players are immature in college and will develop as young adults in the NFL.

There are brief moments where Peters locks onto the quarterback’s eyes too long and doesn't pay attention to the receivers’ routes. This happened three times against Hawaii, and also when he allowed Strong to score a touchdown.

Of course, when playing the ball as much as Peters tends to do, this will happen. Forcing a turnover is extremely valuable for a defense, so the risk/reward should be considered worth it.

He’s prone to drawing defensive pass interference calls with his style of play. Although some of the penalties he’s drawn should be considered borderline, he will give pause to a referee’s mind, even if he’s playing the ball and not just desperately hitting the receiver.

 

Overview

Evaluating Marcus Peters from an on-field-talent standpoint was an absolute treat for someone who extensively covered the defensive back class for Bleacher Report last year, as I did. He’s a rare player entering the NFL with his combination of size, speed, technique and ball skills.

Why he was dismissed from the program will be something NFL teams will have to dig in to, but from a football standpoint, Peters is one of the few elite cornerback prospects in the last decade. He’s a potential Pro Bowl-type talent who can force an offense to change their game plan just for his ability to force turnovers.

He compares favorably to NFL cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and former Husky Desmond Trufant because of his ability to play in any scheme and cover any route variation. His value for his play could prove to be worthy of a top-five selection in May.

If a team is willing to invest in developing Marcus Peters the person, don’t be surprised if they’re rewarded with an elite cornerback talent in short time.

 

All stats used are from Sports-Reference.com.


Ian Wharton is a Miami Dolphins Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, contributor for Optimum Scouting, and analyst for FinDepth. 

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NFL Draft Watch: Why Marcus Peters Is an Elite On-Field Talent

For a vast majority of the top collegiate football talent, the season is just hitting the most difficult stretch of games...

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Best Signs from ESPN's College GameDay Week 11

ESPN's College GameDay traveled to East Lansing, Michigan for the Big Ten clash between No. 14 Ohio State and No. 8 Michigan State, with a playoff berth on the line. 

But when ESPN's College GameDay involves Ohio State's Urban Meyer, you know the fans are going to have some fun. So let's get it on. 

These Michigan State fans won't forget the dejected Urban Meyer eating pizza after last year's B1G championship game:

Urban Meyer is so basic:

More fun Urban Meyer signs:

Softer than Drake. Nailed it:

Indiana DID beat Mizzou, so they make a point:

 

 

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