Six things to note from the college football weekend and the significance to the pro game, as originally published in this week’s MMQB column.
1. Love this from Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts after he brought the Sooners back from a 28–3 deficit to win 34–31 at Baylor. “I put us in a horrible situation, and we found a way to come back,” Hurts told ABC’s Maria Taylor postgame. “I love it.”
I’ve heard coaches tell their quarterbacks that success has to be ‘we’ and failure has to be ‘me.’ Hurts illustrated that here—and that’s probably why the people at both Oklahoma and Alabama, from where he transferred, hold him in such high regard.
2. I don’t think Hurts is a first-round pick, which would mean Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley’s streak of first-round quarterbacks will be snapped. That said, it sounds like the QB may have played himself into consideration to be a Day 2 pick. One veteran evaluator said that “Dak-ish range” sounds right at this point. (Dak Prescott was an early fourth-rounder.)
3. Take this to the bank: Both the guys coaching in that game will get interest from the majority—if not all—of the teams with openings in January. Both Riley and Matt Rhule are worth a look. And Iowa State’s Matt Campbell, whose team beat Texas Saturday, is a third Big 12 coach who should be in the mix.
4. Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa’s big fourth-quarter sack gave the junior defensive end a flash moment in a huge spot, as the Hawkeyes dealt Minnesota its first loss. That’s nice, because his reputation has been more of a good-not-great player. The comp I’ve heard for Epenesa: Lions DE Trey Flowers.
5. We mentioned Georgia true freshman DE Nolan Smith’s limitless potential here a few weeks back. You can throw his classmate Travon Walker—another defensive lineman—into that category too. The amount of young NFL talent that Kirby Smart has assembled on that roster is pretty impressive. You’ll be hearing plenty about Smith and Walker, in an NFL context, over the next few years.
6. It sure looks like Justin Herbert has hit his stride, putting together another dominant performance late on Saturday night as Oregon trounced Arizona. You can see a lot of what there is to like about Herbert on this throw.
He may have fallen out of the national conversation a little bit, but trust that NFL teams are paying very close attention to how well he’s playing. He’s not perfect—his footwork and pocket presence need improvement—but there’s a lot to work with there.
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