CFB Insider: Joe Burrow, Kyle Trask stock rising. Jake Fromm, DBU falling
Each week, Matt Hayes uses his sources around the country to bring you insider knowledge about what’s going on in and around the SEC ahead of this week’s games.
This is what he’s hearing from coaches and NFL scouts in Week 8 …
Trask is the answer
I spoke to 3 Power 5 coaches this week, and all 3 were more impressed by what Florida did in Baton Rouge than what LSU accomplished.
While all 3 said LSU is as good as any team in the country and can win it all this fall, the development of QB Kyle Trask and the Gators’ offense got most of their attention.
“I’ve known for years the type of coach Dan (Mullen) is; he has the perfect temperament for quarterbacks,” a Power 5 coach said. “That was a huge game, with an unbelievable environment and (Trask) didn’t flinch. He did not flinch. He made one poor throw, and it cost them.
“If that game was in The Swamp, Florida wins. I truly believe that. And what does that tell you about Dan’s team 2 years in? They’re playing head-up with 1 of the 2 best teams in the SEC.”
Before replacing injured Feleipe Franks in the second half of the Kentucky, Trask had 27 career attempts. Since then, he has thrown for 1,151 yards and 9 TDs, and completed 68 percent of his passes.
“He looks like he has been the starter for 3 years,” another Power 5 coach said.
Game of the Century
The popular belief is the Nov. 9 LSU-Alabama game in Tuscaloosa will look more like a Big 12 game: all offense, no defense.
The reason isn’t necessarily great passing games vs. poor coverage, it’s the very area on defense where these two programs have made their mark for years: the defensive line.
“Up front dictates everything, and more so for those 2 programs than just about any others,” an NFL scout told me. “LSU likes to call itself ‘DBU,’ well, that DBU isn’t around without the front 4 getting pressure without help from the back 7 all those years.
“Look at LSU’s secondary this season. There are guys running around open all over the place in their games. Same with Alabama. The secondary is (Nick Saban’s) baby; you think he likes that? Until those 2 (teams) figure out how to get pressure up front with 4 only – I’m not sure that can happen this late in the season – there will be issues in the secondary.”
Clemson hasn’t beaten a team with a winning record, and the second half of the schedule doesn’t look much better. Word within the coaching community is the lack of Clemson getting pressed all season – against a team with elite talent, or elite players at specific positions — might become a critical factor in the College Football Playoff.
“You can say we’re holding ourselves to a standard that we have – that’s what everyone says – but it’s a lot different when you’re on the field against a team that has really good players at multiple positions,” a Power 5 coach told me this week. “If you’re playing week after week against offenses that cant throw the ball, what happens when Tua (Tagovailoa) and those receivers come along? What happens when your offense sees some of those exotic blitz packages against defenses with NFL talent? I just don’t know that you can turn it on automatically.”
The UGA passing game
I spoke to 2 NFL scouts about Georgia’s struggles last weekend against South Carolina, and both said they could see it coming all season.
The reason: the receiving corps doesn’t have a No. 1 receiver, and doesn’t have a reliable tight end to expose the middle of the field.
“The 2 young receivers, (George) Pickens and (Dominick) Blaylock, are going to be good players. They’re not now. People expect Georgia to do the same as Alabama with freshmen wide receivers coming in and playing well right away. That doesn’t happen all the time. That’s rare.”
Georgia is 6 games into the season, and Pickens leads the team with just 283 receiving yards.
Fromm threw 54 touchdown passes his first 2 seasons in Athens. He has 9 this fall.
Another scout said receivers don’t work to gain separation, and as important, don’t come back to and find the ball on scramble plays. In the previous 2 seasons, Fromm had quality and reliability at tight end.
“Now they have no one at that spot that can stress the defense,” another scout told me. “Think about the Florida game last year. When Fromm needed completions after Florida pulled close, he went 4 or 5 straight to Isaac Nauta and the defense had no answer.”