In a week of crazy games, it would be hard to say any game had the flash of the thriller between Tennessee and Georgia. This SEC East thriller featured 2 (TWO) Hail Marys in the last minute between the two teams, giving Tennessee the win to stay undefeated. However, they would not have gotten to that point of contention in the game if it was not from some stellar play from their edge defender, Derek Barnett.
Barnett was crushing the Georgia offensive line all game, picking up two sacks and staying disruptive the entire game, creating pressure and making key tackles in the run game. Barnett has been somewhat overshadowed despite being a high profile recruit and productive player. After all, the Vols are just starting to live up to the hype this season and there are tons of other star defenders on historically better teams that have stolen headlines from Barnett. However, as Tennessee continues to win, Barnett will continue to get the recognition he deserves as a defensive prospect.
At 6-3, 265, Barnett is well built with a stout frame and strong lower body. His best asset are his long arms and motor. When the ball is snapped, Barnett relentless gets after blocks and due to his combination of length and strength, he is able to be successful more often than not. His level of physicality also makes him a plus run defender. He is not the same level of athlete as many of the top edge rushers in the country, but he does a good job compensating with his technique and physicality. Barnett should not be a top ten pick, by any means, but a mid first round pick for what would likely be a productive edge defender makes a lot of sense.
This was Barnett's second game in a row with two sacks after beginning the season without any, so maybe Barnett is just getting started.
Other Performances to note...
JuJu Smith Schuster, WR, USC: The long awaited breakout is over. After singing Smith Schuster's praises all summer, the third year wide receiver had a slow start to the season due to ineptness at the quarterback position. With a new quarterback at the helm, Smith Schuster broke 100 yards receiving for the first time this season, notching three touchdowns in the process. He looks like the player who kicked ass in the Pac 12 all of last season, so here's hoping this quarterback change does him good for the rest of the year.
Jamaal Williams, RB, BYU: Jamaal Williams lost part of his 2014 season and all of his 2015 season to a severe knee injury, but by all evidence he is back in the saddle. The six foot, 215 runner looked incredibly elusive against Toledo as he ran for over 200 yards and picked up FIVE touchdowns. Williams has it all as a runner and as long as he can stay healthy, he should end up being a nice player in the NFL.
Greg Ward, QB, Houston: It is going to be tough come draft time to hear that the NFL will want Greg Ward to play a different position in the NFL. Frankly, I loathe that reality. However, the senior passer has been excellent this season AS A PASSER. He has been incredibly decisive and accurate all season, looking absolutely outstanding against UConn. After rushing for over a thousand yards last season, Ward is doing most of his damage from the pocket this year. Maybe the NFL could give the undersized signal caller a chance at his natural position.
Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida: One of my favorite players in the country is Florida's 6-2, 230 pound linebacker. While he may be a bit undersized, he is a great athlete who plays like his hair is on fire. Davis was all over the place against Vanderbilt, making plays against the run, in coverage and as a pass rusher. Davis is a versatile defender with the speed to make an impact all over the field. He looks like he is more consistent this year, which would be a huge boost to his NFL draft stock.