The Two Best Players in Week One.

 

 

 

 

Alabama Vs Michigan.

By TOM

I just watched two of the best players in college football play today. Two players who are the best at their position in college football. However, because they both play less valuable positions, they are not on any big-time lists. They were the two best players on the field in the Alabama At Michigan game, and I bet you canít guess their names. If you don't believe me they are replaying the game on 286 ESPNU Sunday at 7:PM. 

The first is of course Barrett Jones from Alabama. I first noticed him when he played OLT for the Tide last season. He was so impressive he won the Outland Trophy last year as the best o-Linemen in college football. What he does better than any linemen I saw last year was when he gets his big mitts on a guy it is done, the movement ends. He defines stalemating an opponent. He doesnít always get good push, and he rarely gets knocked backwards. Plus he has started at two different positions in two BS Championship Games. Last year he started at OLT, and against Texas (two years ago-three years ago) he started at ORG. Now he is the best Center in college football, and I'm saying right now I would take him over either Pouncey Brother. 

What he does is strange and remarkable. Once he engages with an D-Linemen, the movement just stops, itís over. Itís not pretty. Itís not exciting. Itís not normal. ItÖ is what it is. I wish I could explain it better, other then he was probably the most efficient O-Linemen I watched last year. He reminds me of Dwight Stephenson. he might not knock out two guys on every play, but he dominates every one-on-one assignment you give him. 

This year he seemed to be missing. I couldnít find him on the first series on Bama's O-Line. I remember him as the OLT, but he usually is listed as an O-guard. Then I spotted number 75 getting up from the bottom of the pile. He walked back to the huddle and lineup at Center? I thought, okay best player, most important position on the O-line. The got two Tackles, so why not line up the veteran at Center. Then he was better. He played OG, and the OLT last year, and now Center, and he was better.

In back to back plays on the second series of the game (Alabamaís first scoring series) he made the two best blocks of the year. I know, itís only the first week of the season (so what the hell am I talking about;-). The first was 2nd and 5 from the 9. He fired off the snap, and turned the DT like he was a turnstile. The ORG stepped in and grabbed him, but he was done. Jones then slipped off and popped the MLB. He wasnít able to eliminate him from the play like he normally does, but he pushed him past the First Down marker. You can really see his strong hands as he grabs the MLB shirt in an underhand grip and doesnít let go. The part that is hard to explain about him is that you usually donít see his hands inside on the defender. On this play you could.

I donít know how you could watch that last play and not be impressed. When he hit the DT on the inside shoulder, the DT jolted sideways like he just hit the 3rd rail. However, the next play was even more impressive, and I donít say that lightly. First and goal from the five, and I kept looking at the play to see if I was seeing what I was seeing. Michigan lines up a NT right in front of him and a 3-Technique to his right. Jones pops between the two, and drives a shoulder pads into each D-Tackle. He holds off the guy on his left with one hand, and pops a hand into the chest of the guy on his right. The guy on his right falls down, Jones falls down on top of him, and he drags down the NT with one hand as he falls. I swear he single handedly took out the two D-Tackles by him on a run of Lacy up the middle. 

After watching it about ten times it looks like the ORG Chance Womack (who was very impressive as well) might have helped on the 3-Technique, before he slide off to hit the MLB, but it still was one of the most impressive blocks Iíve ever seen by a college Lineman. Could be a BB special pick at pick 32 next year? We have seen how terrible this O-Line with Brain Waters gone. If he plays this year, I donít think you can count on him for next year. Would BB pull the trigger on an O-Guard in the first round who can play any position on the O-Line? I canít remember the last five-tool player on O-Line?

The other guys is D.J Fluker, and he is no fluke. He popped out on film for me last year, when I was looking at Brockers from LSU. Brockers didnít always get up field as much as youíd like, but nobody knocked him backwards. I taped both the LSU-Alabama games (I mean, who didnít;-). Brockers was so big and strong for such a young player that I had to jump on his bandwagon. He jolted guys backwards, and just never got jolted himself. Then I put on the tape of the first Alabama game, and it was a simple running play where the ORG engages the LDT, and the R-Tackle blocks down on him. It happens 5 to 10 times a game in most college games, and is particularly effect when you are facing a disruptive DT. Well, Fluker blocks down on Brockers, and knocks him 5-yards sideways. He hit this man on his shoulder with such force I saw him move in the opposite direction further on that one play then most other against non-Alabama teams all season. He was the hardest hitting O-Linemen in college last year.

Now, for those who donít give a crap about college football until Draft time, he plays ORT. He is not going to be a Left Tackle in the NFL. He is a bit plodding and doesnít always look like he has the best feet. He is however, huge. And the best hitter in college football nobody knows about because he is an O-Linemen, and O-Linemen never get to hit as much as they like.

Then I started watching him against Michigan, and he looked to me like he was moving better. He moved backwards nicely in pass protection. Much smoother than I remembered. He looks like he has finally grown into his size. He had a tough first series, but he really looked good after that. Because he plays ORT, he likely wonít go as early as say, Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M) and Chris Faulk (LSU), two Junior OLTs. However, I think he is a better prospect than both. Would BB take a chance on an ORT, again, in the 1st Round? What if Cannon continues to play like he did in the Preseason rather than last year, and my man Vollmer canít stay healthy again this year? Fluker looks like he is going to make some Left Defensive Ends cry this year.

Also, Alabama CB Dee Milliner is the real deal. He has amazing coverage at the beginning of the route, and a knack for getting his hand on the ball at the end of the route. As good as anyone saw I last season. He showed great recover ability on short patterns in the First Quarter. His question is only speed. Does he have the long speed to stay with NFL WRs. Because he dominated the Flanker against Michigan. He had also had a nice INT as well. He shoved the WR out of bounds and down to the ground with one hand, and then ran the pattern and made the easy INT. 

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