There's nothing like a full slate of college football games to make football fans feel human again.
College football hit the ground running this weekend. While Oklahoma State took Savannah State to the woodshed, some teams scheduled real opponents and actually played football. It was fun, too.
Most importantly, those who obsess over the NFL Draft got their first chance to see the players everyone will be talking about come April. There is plenty of time between now and the 2013 NFL Draft, but scouts have undoubtedly begun forming their opinions on the nation's best players. And so have we.
After the jump, I'll empty my notebook from this weekend's viewing. Feel free to drop your notes below in the comments, especially if there's a game I didn't get to.
Games Watched: South Carolina at Vanderbilt, Washington State at BYU, Notre Dame vs. Navy, Ohio at Penn State, Southern Mississippi at Nebraska, Clemson vs. Auburn, Michigan vs. Alabama
- Vanderbilt senior defensive tackle Rob Lohr looks like a quality prospect. He was around the ball often, getting excellent penetration inside. He is deceptively quick, has a constant motor and holds the point of attack well. He's one to watch for the rest of the season.
- Vandy's Junior wide receiver Jordan Matthews turned in an impressive performance, running a variety routes well and making big plays for the Commodores. Matthews did have some trouble with drops in this game, but he showed solid speed and physicality.
- Junior linebacker Archibald Barnes was as advertised for Vanderbilt. He has impressive range due to his athleticism and is a heavy hitter. He knocked Marcus Lattimore's helmet off on one particularly big tackle.
- Senior running back Zac Stacy didn't get much running room against South Carolina's impressive front seven. He showed his agility and decent power at times but was fighting injury for most of the game.
South Carolina Observations
- Marcus Lattimore still has his impressive speed and power coming off a torn ACL. It took a little while for Lattimore to get into rhythm and he didn't receive great blocking, but the junior ran for a hundred yards and two scores against a tough front seven.
- Senior safety D.J. Swearinger was flawless in coverage on Thursday night. He is a plus athlete who can take away the deep part of the field but also has the technique to stay with defenders and make plays on the football. Very good outing from him.
- Tight end Justice Cunningham put in a solid night of work. He is a force in the middle of the field with reliable hands.
- Devin Taylor is a unique prospect coming off the end. If he continues to fill out his frame, he is going to make life difficult on offensive lineman for a long time. He was in the Vanderbilt backfield all night long on Thursday.
Washington State Observations
- What a disappointing night for Mike Leach and the entire Washington State offense. Jeff Tuel was particularly unimpressive. Any late-round aspirations he has took a hit on Thursday night. We'll see if Leach can get these guys on the same page.
- Marquess Wilson couldn't get things going for the Couars on Thursday. He still lacks the type of bulk and physicality that will be required to make plays over the middle in the NFL. Wilson is really fast, can leap with the best of them and has excellent body control. But he doesn't fight for the ball and runs sloppy routes at times. One particularly sloppy route led to an interception. He also got visibly frustrated at the end of the game and showed poor body language.
- Defensive end/outside linebacker Travis Long is the only functioning component of the Washington State defense. He had a nice sack for the Cougars.
- Nothing to write home about when it comes to BYU in terms of the NFL Draft. They beat up on Washington State, though.
Notre Dame vs. Navy Notes
- This wasn't a great game for the sake of evaluation, because Notre Dame dominated Navy. Tyler Eifert was the best player on the field on Saturday. His body control and sure hands will make him highly sought after in April if he declares.
Southern Mississippi at Nebraska
- The big note from this game is that Rex Burkhead hurt his knee. He was turning in a solid game before that, too. He's now going to have to compete for carries after Ameer Abdullah impressed in relief.
Clemson vs. Auburn
I was flipping back and forth between this game and Alabama Michigan, so I will have more complete thoughts on specific players when I got back and re-watch those games. Here are some quick thoughts.
- Clemson running back Andre Ellington was an absolute beast on Saturday night. In addition to the speed, vision and quickness I saw last year when watching Ellington, he showed an added element of power to his game. He was very tough to bring down and should have a monster senior season.
- Clemson junior wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins stood out with Sammy Watkins suspended. Hopkins has sure hands, runs smooth routes and showed body control on a number of occasions. He also made the game winning catch.
Alabama vs. Michigan Observations
I was flipping back and forth between this game and Clemson Auburn, so I will have more complete thoughts on specific players when I got back and re-watch those games. Here are some quick thoughts.
- Michigan junior offensive tackle Taylor Lewan didn't exactly rise to the occasion. He was in a bit over his head with Alabama's mammoth defensive line and left the game with an injury, the severity of which is unknown.
- Alabama's defense was everywhere on Saturday night. Cornerback Dee Milliner was nearly flawless. He is technically sound, athletic and even showed a bit of physicality on Saturday. He stood out to me most for the Tide defense.
- Alabama running back Eddie Lacy was as bruising as expected, but freshman T.J. Yeldon looked great as well, which could create a committee situation. Also, Bama's offensive line is everything they are hyped up to be. The interior offensive line was getting a massive push all night long.
Once again, be sure to drop your thoughts on the games below. I will be re-watching some games and looking at specific players, particularly in the bigger games. Let me know who I missed.