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Week 4 Scouting Notes, Tennessee Vs. Florida

Tennessee vs Florida

There were some big games on the week four slate, but the SEC east match up between the Volunteers and Gators seemed to be the best on paper, and it certainly didn’t disappoint, with Tennessee hanging on in the end to beat Florida 38-33. I’d seen the Gators already this season in their loss to Kentucky in week 2, but this was my first proper look at the Volunteers, and it’s clear both teams have plenty of draftable players amongst them.

We’ll start the round-up with the victorious Vols…


The Tennessee offense has come a long way in the 17 games Quarterback Hendon Hooker has been in control of it. Hooker was the games MVP, passing for 349 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 112 and another score. The stats are impressive but it’s the poise and decision making that really stand out with him, he seems to be in total control and understands this offense perfectly.

There were plenty of busted coverages which led to some big chunk easy throws, but the most impressive throw was a deep sideline pass just before half-time, putting it in a place only his receiver could make the catch, showing nice arm strength and accuracy. Hooker has always been talented; he just spent three years at Virginia Tech in an offense that never let him display his passing ability. Now his skills are on full show for everyone to see, and with a wide open QB3 race, why can’t Hooker be that guy, and ultimately a first round pick?

Star wide receiver Cedric Tillman was out with an injury so Tennessee needed others to step up, and three receivers did, each showing a different skill set. Whilst Jalin Hyatt and Ramel Keyton both proved reliable targets, it was receiver Bru McCoy who stood out.

McCoy has had quite a journey so far in his college career, going back and forth between USC and Texas before ending up in Tennessee for the start of this season. McCoy was ranked as a five star, number 9 overall player in the 2019 recruiting class, but he only saw 210 snaps in his USC career due to a variety of reasons.

Flashforward to now, through four games as a Volunteer he has played 244 snaps and has found a role as a complimentary weapon in this high powered offense. He had a couple of clutch big plays against Florida, showing nice hands and power after the catch, and the talent is very clear to see. He will be draft eligible, but with Tillman off to the NFL after the season, it might be wiser to stay and build on this promising break-out year. 

Defensively the Vols played well against a dynamic quarterback, with the front seven really standing out. The cream of the crop for me was defensive tackle Omari Thomas.

He is very easy to spot in the middle as he’s so big (6’4 320lbs) but he moves so much better than someone of that size. Thomas has a powerful get off and was causing disruption all night, especially against the run. He’s not a stat filler, and his role doesn’t really allow him to produce, but he can force plays off design and change running game plans, and that is still a very valuable commodity to have in the NFL.

Late in the game, he made a big play, possibly the game clinching play, when he forced a fumble on an Anthony Richardson run deep in Tennessee territory, preserving their 10 point lead.

Thomas was a high end four star recruit (ranked 91 overall by 247 sports), but hasn’t really lived up to that billing yet, so let’s hope this is the start of some more dominant performances and he can get his name back on the NFL radar.

Edge Byron Young is on the smaller side for the position (6’3 245) but he has great speed and dip to scare the best college offensive tackles. He had two quarterback hits and five hurries in this game, so always around the action just never getting in on a sack. Young impressed me last year, which was his first season at Tennessee after spending time in the JUCO ranks, and he has carried it on so far this year too. Size and age (he is aged 24 already) will make him less appealing to the NFL, but that pass rush win rate is too impressive, especially in the SEC, to ignore completely. 


Quarterback Anthony Richardson needed a bounce back game after two bad performances against Kentucky and South Florida, and he provided it here. This is what we wanted to see from him, poised, dynamic and with plenty of big plays thrown in too. Yes, he had the costly, aforementioned fumble, but he was the reason Florida stayed in the game until the end.

Richardson put up 453 yards and two touchdowns through the air, and an extra 62 yards on the ground and two more scores. Big numbers indeed, and the stats didn’t lie here. He looked every part a high draft pick, but he’ll need to keep this level of play up and not revert to the horrible inconsistencies that plagued him in the previous two games.

He is someone that in all honesty should probably go back next year and get more experience, but that size and arm strength will have NFL teams licking their lips, and the lure may be too great to leave. A lot can happen over the next ten weeks or so, but it was good to see Richardson play at such a high level again.

Wide receiver Justin Shorter was the main beneficiary of his quarterbacks big day, reeling in seven catches for 155 yards. Shorter is a big target at 6’4 223lbs, and he uses his body well to protect the catch zone. He helped his quarterback out when he was in trouble, consistently finding space in zones to provide a target for him. He is someone that has flattered to deceive for me in the past, but if Richardson keeps up his level of play, then Shorter will have more opportunities like this to show off the skills that made him a five star recruit coming out of High School.

Florida’s defense struggled to contain Tennessee, particularly as the game wore on. I thought linebacker Ventrell Miller and safety Rashad Torrence did well, but I’ll highlight a couple of highly rated guys who disappointed here.

EDGE Brenton Cox seems to have been around forever and is someone I’ve seen plenty of times, and generally I’m a fan of, but he does have the odd negative game like this. He couldn’t muster much of a pass rush against either Tennessee offensive tackle and wasn’t a factor against the run either. He can be somewhat one dimensional as a pass rusher and there didn’t seem to be a plan B for him, which considering the amount of experience he has is slightly worrying. He has been held sackless after four games so far this season, so he needs to get back on track soon or they’ll be production questions to answer come draft time.

Right now there is a lot of hype for defensive tackle Gervon Dexter, but I’m remaining slightly more cautious than most about him. I wrote about him last season after he blew up against Alabama, but what followed was inconsistent play for the rest of the season when I saw him. Well, the same is happening again this season, as he dominated against Kentucky in week two, but was downright average here against the Vols. Dexter can be such a frustrating watch as he has all the size and traits you want, it just appears that the light isn’t always on when he plays. He reminds me physically, and style wise, of Javon Kinlaw, who suffered the same inconsistencies in college, but he ended up going 14th overall in the 2020 draft. Dexter could easily go that high if he comes out, but Kinlaw is a great example of someone who still, after three seasons in the league, still hasn’t put it all together, and wasn’t worth the lofty selection.

We can’t end on a negative, so I’ll quickly mention redshirt freshman EDGE Justus Boone, who is someone with a very bright future. He absolutely looks the part at 6’4 260, and really flashed against the run in his limited role. He handled the Offensive Tackles much better than the previously mentioned Cox, and was winning with strength and effort, which is a good sign for a youngster. He was active in the game I saw earlier against Kentucky too, so this is someone I’m tucking away ready to explore in more depth next year, when he’ll be draft eligible. 

By Keith Lucken – Follow Keith on Twitter @lordlucken

Find the rest of Keith’s scouting notes HERE

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2022 CFB: Will Rogers – Is the Hype, just Hype?

Has Will Rogers reached his peak or is there more to come?

Prior to this weekend’s schedule, there was a fair amountl of buzz about Will Rogers at Mississippi State. He had started the season well and was making things happen, with a 78% pass completion, 752 yards and 9 passing touchdowns.

My general interest has been the ACC quarterbacks in these first few weeks, however Will Rogers is someone who has also turned my head.

Are we looking at a quarterback who has come out of nowhere to be a real force in the SEC? Or was the hype just that, and he was going to come crashing back down to Earth?

Unfortunately for all viewers, apart from LSU of course, Rogers hit a bit of a brick wall at the weekend. It was his least effective performance of the season, and he just struggled to get going.

So, what was the cause? And how was he so effective in the first two games of the season? 

Walking Over Memphis

Week 1 saw a standout performance from Will Rogers. He threw five touchdown passes for 452 yards in a convincing win over Memphis, with a pass completion of 77%, he was locked on and was dominating the game.

Everything that Rogers did against Memphis was simple, yet effective. He received the ball from the snap and was quickly releasing the ball to the nearest open receiver. He looked comfortable targeting the running back coming out of the backfield but was equally effective looking at receivers further down field. His longest reception was just 35 yards, but he was quick with everything he did and didn’t hang around in the pocket for too long.

The slight hiccup he had against Memphis was his interception. Although this was minor in a game that he dominated, the way he turned the ball over was slightly disappointing – He was quick from the snap, but the slight misread on the pass allowed the ball to get picked off by the defender for an easy interception. It didn’t make too much of a difference to the score, or the way he played, but something that would need to be highlighted due to the nature of his game. 

As simple as it sounds, Rogers targeted the nearest opening receiver and built-up significant yardage by having receivers that are willing to create space for themselves and make good yardage after the catch. The game plan worked perfectly for Mississippi State and they ran out comfortable winners.

Dominant in Arizona

Despite falling behind to Arizona in Week 2, Mississippi State showed determination and grit to turn the deficit around before going ahead and dominating the game.

After a slow start from Rogers, he started to turn it on towards the end of the first quarter, sticking to the game plan of Week 1 and finding the nearest open receiver and releasing the ball quickly; it was all quick game. His first touchdown pass of the day to Caleb Ducking was quick, effective and showed remarkable accuracy to put it perfectly over the defender’s head and into the arms of the receiver.

Despite being 6 for 7 heading into the second quarter, an uncharacteristic hesitation saw Rogers throw his only interception of the game. His lack of open options saw him hesitate with his throw before being slightly inaccurate and throwing to the defender – This was a similar problem to Week 1 and his interception against Memphis. Although it was his only mistake, there were similar characteristics to his interception the week before.

Another thing that stood out from Week 1 to Week 2 was his conversion within the 10 yard line of the endzone. He made five thrown attempts across two weeks, all with similar outcomes. They were mainly batted away by the defenders, but none of them really looked like making an impact on the score.

He was effective, however, in turning the game in the favour of Mississippi State. He threw 302 yards, 4 passing touchdowns and had a pass completion of 79%. Rogers dominated more in the second half of the game, throwing three touchdowns and allowing Mississippi State to run away with the game. His effectiveness in the short passing game, and quickly moving the ball allowed for this to happen, and Arizona struggled where they looked so effective in the first half. 

Bayou Hangover

With the domination of Memphis and Arizona in the first two weeks of the season, alongside some good stat numbers for Rogers, there seemed to be a bit of hype over what he could achieve in Tiger Stadium, Louisiana. LSU had looked shaky against Florida State in Week 1, before a big win in Week 2, so anything could have happened in their Week 3 contest.

All eyes were on an intriguing battle between Rogers and Jayden Daniels. Daniels had started off the season well, picking up 114 rushing yards in Week 1, as well as 209 passing yards and a decent 73% pass completion. He followed this up with three passing touchdowns, in a 10 of 11, 137 yard dominating performance against Southern University. 

These two quarterbacks couldn’t be any more different. Daniels is an agile, mobile quarterback who could easily pick up 100 rushing yards in a game, whilst Rogers is more of a pocket quarterback who will target quick passes and work his way down the field 8 10 yards at a time.

LSU’s game plan was evident from the beginning – Limit Rogers’ options in the short pass game and try to make him look longer.

This was clear on a few occasions, especially in short yardage situations. There was a line of defenders around the down marker so limited space for the Bulldogs’ offense to work which caused Rogers to look deeper into the backfield for a play or rely on a virtually non-existent running game. 

The Tiger’s tactics led to four sacks and the quick passing game wasn’t allowed to get going. That time spent in the pocket limited the options and the Mississippi offense looked far less threatening when this was the case. 

The latter stages of the game had a different feel about it. Rogers was allowed a bit more space to make his quick passes, however the accuracy on passes dramatically decreased. A couple of easy passes in their first drive were missed after LSU went a touchdown up in the fourth and to top off a miserable time in Death Valley, an interception when looking further down the field summed up his evening perfectly.

This was a tough performance against an LSU defense that was expecting the way he played.

So was the hype, just hype?

This is a difficult one to determine. The first opposition he had that adjusted their gameplan to stop him from doing what he does best, he struggled to really make a real impact on the game. However, he was hugely impressive in the first couple of weeks of the season and that can’t go unnoticed.

A game at home to Bowling Green is exactly what he needs after this performance and there is an opportunity to go back to what he does best but may also help him adapt as a quarterback to work both the short passing game and the longer passing game. If he can do this as the season progresses, then he will become a much bigger threat in tough games. He isn’t the most agile, as shown by his rushing stats, so he will rely on his offensive line to provide protection when he’s in the pocket, but he has shown his ability to get out of tight spaces and still make decent plays.

Will Rogers may not be a standout quarterback compared to others that I have covered, but there’s a level of potential there that’s intriguing.

The Bowling Green game will be a nice way to bounce back after that LSU defeat, but tough games against Texas A&M, Arkansas, Kentucky and Alabama to follow will really test his ability as a quarterback.

We could see remarkably improved performances in those games but my gut feeling is that he will struggle to build on the momentum gained in the first two weeks of the season.

By Jake Tweedie – Follow Jake on Twitter @AccukAnalysis1

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SEC Preseason All-Conference Team

With the college football season around the corner, it’s time for us to lay a marker down as a team and give you guys an idea of who the very best players in each conference are, and we are going to do that by dropping our all-conference selections for each of the Power-5 conferences.

Since these are quite short and easily digestible, they will be dropping rapid-fire with a couple each day and then we’ll hit you with the second half of our pre-season questions as well.

Here is our SEC All-Conference selection from our guy Will Lane;

Read Will’s Analysis:

A lot of these positions felt like it came down to a coin flip, there are a lot of players to love this season which can make it hard to choose at times.

That is true for most, but definitely not the quarterback position, clearly Bryce Young is the best quarterback in the SEC. Doesn’t feel like much of a debate as the Alabama quarterback is coming off of a Heisman campaign in 2021, there are plenty of talented QBs in the SEC but none of them are like Bryce.

Now at running back it was hard not to pick somebody who goes by the name of Tank Bigsby, that just screams SEC all over it. Just missing this list was Kentucky running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. Next up at wide receiver we have LSU’s Kayshon Boutte and Tennessee’s Cedrick Tillman. Boutte was no debate, and neither was Tillman in all honesty, these two really stand out in 2022. At the flex we have receiver Jermaine Burton, the transfer from Georgia is entering an Alabama system where he will be looking to be their number one guy, he also has the benefit of playing with one of the game’s best in Bryce Young.

Thanks for reading, let us know what you think of this one! Next up will be our Big Ten selection later today.