The best defensive player I saw this weekend was defensive lineman Cameron Heyward of Ohio State. He was absolutely dominant against Penn State. He was in on 11 tackles. He had 3 tackles-for-loss (2 of them were sacks). Heyward is an interesting player. He's 6-6 and 287 pounds. They play him at both defensive end and defensive tackle. If Heyward's name is sorta familiar that's because his father is Craig "Ironhead" Heyward, the former dominant power runner. Cam could play inside or outside in the NFL. He has good burst off the ball. He is a strong guy that can just overpower blockers when he wants to. He knows how to use his hands. He mixes in inside moves. Cam is also agile and athletic. He has a good motor.
He's only a junior. While Cam looked great on Saturday, he doesn't always play up to his talent. That's a definite concern. A guy with his size and ability should regularly dominate. The failures of some recent Ohio State front seven players will surely scare teams. Stars like Vern Gholston, A.J. Hawk, and Bobby Carpenter have all underachieved. Cam has 3 more games in which to play at a high level. If he plays well, I'd advise him to come out early.
The best offensive player I saw was running back C.J. Spiller of Clemson. He ran 22 times for 165 yards and a touchdown, caught 3 passes for 67 yards, and had 80 return yards. Spiller had a long run of 45 yards and a long pass play of 58 yards. That's a busy night.
Spiller also gets style points. One of my concerns with C.J. has been his toughness and durability. I never thought he was soft, but running back is a weird position. Durability is a critical factor there because of the pounding you take. There's no point to owning a Ferrari if it is always in the shop. Spiller impressed me on Saturday night. He was having problems with his foot or knee, but stuck in the game and gritted it out. That showed me something. On a play late in the game he took the handoff and headed to his left. He pressed the hole, drew the defense in, and then bounced the play wide. He had enough burst to get by the defense and secure the 1st down. Great stuff. The long touchdown catch came on a wheel route where Spiller got open downfield and made the grab for an easy score. He isn't just a guy who can catch. Spiller is a weapon in the passing game. He could probably play wide receiver if he wanted to.
Running back Jahvid Best of Cal had a scary day. He dove into the end zone and landed very awkwardly. His head and neck hit the ground. I saw his arms stiffen and that's a sure sign that something was seriously wrong. He was taken off the field on a stretcher. Luckily no damage was done to his neck. He did suffer a concussion. He had a mild concussion the previous game so Best will likely miss some action.
Anyone who gets a chance should check out an Idaho game. Coach Robb Akey has turned that program around big time this year. They have 7 wins and are fun to watch. I've seen a couple of comeback wins from the Vandals. Their best player is left guard Mike Lupati. He's 6-6 and 330 pounds. Mike isn't just big. He's talented and he's mean as well, great traits in an offensive lineman. Mike likes to block guys and really dominate smaller defenders. I caught part of Idaho's game Saturday night and saw Mike clear a huge hole for 69-yard run in early 3rd quarter. He just moved a defender completely out of the play and gave the running back an interstate to run through. Mike is one of the best guard prospects for the upcoming NFL Draft.
Alabama cornerback Javier Arenas leads all defensive backs with 9.5 tackles-for-loss this year. He's only got one interception, but Arenas is an outstanding tackler and 'Bama uses him to attack from out wide or the slot position. He had 7 tackles and 2 tackles-for-loss on Saturday. He also has good cover skills and is a talented kick returner.
I watched part of the Texas game. Colt McCoy had big numbers (33-42-470, 2 TDs), but I wasn't blown away. He was hesitant on some throws. He made a couple of questionable decisions. He just didn't have the usual pocket presence I expect from him. Wide receiver Jordan Shipley had a great game. He caught 11 passes for 273 yards and a touchdown. The score came on an 88-yard catch and run. McCoy hit him downfield and Shipley just outran the defense.