Spotlight #1: Alabama OLB Courtney Upshaw
Spotlight #2: Alabama C William Vlachos
5:56: Vlachos misses a 2nd level block and lets a guy into the backfield on 3rd and 1, but he can’t bring down Richardson by himself.
4:37: Vlachos having a bit of trouble early with LSU’s physical interior line.
0:38: Robert Lester with a pick.
2:32: Upshaw sheds a block and gets in on a tackle for loss or no gain. He’s been quiet tonight.
1:36: Dre Kirkpatrick puts a big hit on the ball carrier along the sideline.
0:42: Upshaw on a pressure.
0:15: Upshaw forces the quarterback to throw the ball away on the goal line under pressure.
0:01: Hightower with a huge tackle for no gain on the goal line, forcing LSU to go for a field goal.
11:56: Upshaw should have been credited with a sack. He had the quarterback in his grasp for a long time, but the refs did not rule him down.
11:11: Upshaw in on a sack this time. He’s been getting consistent pressure when LSU has dropped back to pass tonight.
9:49: Mark Barron with a pick. Courtney Upshaw got some pressure on the play as well.
4:45: Upshaw in on a tackle for a short gain.
3:24: Upshaw gets into the backfield, but rolled away from. Still a good motor in chase, but not going to be able to make up that ground.
1:07: Morris Claiborne with a pick now.
11:24: Trent Richardson just had another highlight reel run.
1:37: Mark Barron and Courtney Upshaw in on a tackle for loss.
0:00: Courtney Upshaw really stood out as a pass rusher in this game, beating both the left and right tackle, whoever he was matched up with, on a consistent basis. He had a sack as well as several key pressures. He didn’t stand out quite as much as a run stopper. He had 6 tackles on the night, but took a few bad routes to the ball. Overall, this game helps his stock I think. He stands out on a consistent basis and makes a ton of splash plays. He’s also versatile and that could make him the top linebacker off the board for either a 3-4 or a 4-3 team. He could go as high as top 15.
Another Alabama linebacker, Dont’a Hightower, also had a huge game. He’s fully healthy now and shows consistent first round talent at 6-4 260, but his injury history could keep him in the 2nd round at the end of the day. He had 7 tackles and several key pressures. He would fit best in a 3-4 as either an inside or any outside linebacker.
The two safeties for Alabama, Mark Barron and Robert Lester, each had a pick. Barron once again had a huge game and made several splash plays. He is cementing his status as the top safety in this class and a potential first round pick. Lester came into the year as a potential first round pick, but he has struggled leading some to believe that he would return for his senior year in an attempt to eventually go in the first round. Tonight, he had a good game. His pick was just his 2nd of the year after 8 last year, but he now has 2 in the last 3 games and he is playing better overall. He looked much better in coverage tonight than he did earlier in the season. He’s still probably a day 2 pick if he comes out.
On the offensive side for Alabama, Alabama left tackle Barrett Jones did a very good job, especially as a run blocking, which is very impressive considering the defense he was playing. He left for a bit with an injury, but played very well before it and displayed his toughness by returning and playing through the injury, though he was not quite as effective post-injury. Hopefully it’s nothing major as he is moving up boards right now and could sneak into the first round the way James Carpenter did last year.
Jones paved the way for Trent Richardson, who didn’t have his best statistical day, rushing for 89 yards on 22 carries, but LSU has one of the best run stopping defenses in the league. He also had 80 receiving yards, displaying his ability to be a 3 down back at the next level. He looks like a top 15 pick in April. Richardson also wasn’t helped out much by Alabama’s William Vlachos. Vlachos, the consensus #3 center in this draft class coming in, could be slipping now and could eventually end up a day 3 pick. He really had trouble with LSU’s interior line, allowing several pressures and struggling with his specialty, run blocking.
To the LSU, Morris Claiborne had a pick and overall outplayed his counterpart Dre Kirkpatrick. Dre Kirkpatrick had another good game and looks like a top 15 pick at either cornerback or safety, but Claiborne had a huge game, in addition to the pick. He had a couple pass breakups and didn’t allow a catch all night. He’s outplayed Kirkpatrick this season and looks like a top 10 pick.
Another draft prospect in LSU’s secondary is safety Brandon Taylor. Taylor, I think, is somehow very underrated. The former cornerback is very fast and makes a bunch of plays. He’s undersized at 6-1 195, but he’s held up against the run when I’ve seen him and he’s a great technique tackle. He had at least one memorable tackle for loss tonight and figures to be a late day 2, early day 3 prospect.
LSU’s Reuben Randle was held to 2 catches, but that’s to be expected. Dre Kirkpatrick was on him all night and unlike against most other cornerbacks, Randle doesn’t have the size advantage against Kirkpatrick. The 6-4 Randle struggled all night, but the good news for him is that there aren’t a lot of 6-3 cornerbacks out there. Randle could still end up a day 2 pick. Despite LSU’s inconsistencies at quarterback, Randle has 35 catches for 657 yards and 7 touchdowns. He’s a big, physical receiver, a great run blocker and end zone threat with good, natural hands.