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Thread: NFL DRAFT: Quarterback Watch 2015 Edition

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    NFL DRAFT: Quarterback Watch 2015 Edition

    With Bradford done for the year with a second ACL tear, and many Rams fans believing it's time to move on with a new quarterback, I thought it might be good to have a centralized location to focus our quarterback discussion as it relates to the 2015 QB class. If you have any news or thoughts on the prospects for the upcoming class, share them here!

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    Re: NFL DRAFT: Quarterback Watch 2015 Edition



    Connor Cook leads the Spartans to a 45-7 victory over Jacksonville State

    By Robert Bondy | Published 10 hours ago

    Head Coach Mark Dantonio considered Friday’s season opening contest against Jacksonville State a statement game.

    Coming off a magical year in 2013, Dantonio has been harping the motto of sustaining success, and Friday served as the first opportunity to prove that.

    And it only took No. 8 MSU one quarter to make a statement and show the college football world that Sparty is perhaps here to stick around.

    Junior quarterback Connor Cook led the way on Friday as MSU made quick work of Jacksonville State and cruised to 45-7 victory at Spartan Stadium.

    “We came out and made a statement, that’s what we wanted to do,” Dantonio said. “We wanted to make sure we’re not flat coming out and I don’t think that we were. I thought we came out and played extremely well.”

    The green-and-white took the life out of the Gamecocks early and were able to impose its will through long scoring drives and stout defense. MSU jumped to a 38-0 lead in the first half, showing no signs of any struggle to move the ball against the Gamecocks.

    All seven of MSU’s first half drives reached Jacksonville State territory, with only one not resulting in points as a result of sophomore kicker Michael Geiger missing a 41-yard field goal attempt.

    Jacksonville State finally broke through for a touchdown early in the third quarter to make the score 38-7, but the Gamecocks never got any closer than that. MSU would respond with a 81-yard scoring drive capped off by a sophomore quarterback Tyler O’Connor three-yard touchdown run.

    MSU racked up 562 total yards offensively and held Jacksonville State’s no-huddle potent offense to only 244 yards, including a minimal 89 in the first half.

    Cook had a near-perfect outing, posting an impressive 12-13 for 285 yards and three touchdowns in only two quarters of play. Cook connected with senior wide receiver Tony Lippett for 64- and 71-yard touchdowns as the first two scores only 4:36 into the game.

    Cook would again find the endzone before the first quarter ended, this time to junior wide receiver A.J. Troup for a 17-yard score.

    One play in the second quarter could have summed up Cook’s night where he was all but taken down for a sack, but somehow got away to flip a pass to an open sophomore tight end Jamal Lyles for a gain of 10 yards.

    While Cook started off the game 9-for-9, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. On the opening 64-yard touchdown pass to Lippett, Jacksonville State junior safety Folo Johnson hit Cook late in his left knee forcing the medical staff to come out for assistance. Cook was able to shake off the gruesome hit and followed it up the next drive with Lippett’s other long score.

    Following the game, Cook said he wasn’t worried about the seriousness of the injury but did admit it was “frightening.”

    Cook ultimately led MSU on six scoring drives of 80, 73, 56, 70, 90 and 16 yards. Senior running back Nick Hill capped off two of the drives with touchdown runs, while Geiger kicked a 35 yard field goal to finish the first half.

    Cook was pleased with himself and the offense’s efforts against Jacksonville State, but knows the unit will have to continue to improve from week-to-week.

    “We have progressively gotten better from the end of the year to spring ball to fall camp,” Cook said. “We all are very happy for how we played tonight, but we’re not going to celebrate, we want to obviously strive for greatness, strive for more.”

    Lippett was Cook’s No. 1 target on Friday, racking up a career-high 167 yards and two touchdowns. Lippett’s two touchdown’s matched his season total from a year ago.

    Lippett said Cook and himself have practiced enough to build a strong chemistry, leading to the big number production in the season opener.

    “We’ve been putting in a lot of work, we put in work no matter what the time was, no matter what day it was, we just come out here and work with each other,” Lippett said. “(Cook) knows where I like the ball at, I know where he likes to throw the ball at. … Just trying to build the chemistry as the season goes on.”

    The ground game experienced similar success out of senior running back Jeremy Langford and Hill. Langford led the duo with 57 yards on 13 carries, while Hill had 42 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns. One of the night’s highlights came from Hill’s 17-yard touchdown scamper where he made multiple Gamecock defenders miss through spins and jukes.

    Langford got banged up multiples times in the first half, needing medical assistance at one point but was able to jog off on his own power. After the game, Langford said he’s fine and will be 100 percent ready to go next week.

    On the other side of the ball MSU saw standout efforts from multiple guys including senior safety Kurtis Drummond and junior linebacker Ed Davis. Drummond recorded four tackles and one interception on Friday, while Davis was a force on the pass rush to finish with four tackles including 1.5 sacks and two tackles for a loss.

    The unit, which broke in six new starters on Friday, was able to hold sophomore quarterback Eli Jenkins to 5-of-13 for 82 yards, two interceptions and only seven yards on the ground. Jacksonville State’s other big name offensive threat and Walter Payton Award Watch List candidate senior running back DeMarcus James was held to only 17 yards on three carries.

    Defensive Coordinator Pat Narduzzi said he was most pleased about getting a number of younger guys into the game for live game reps on Friday.

    “I’m happy because we got a lot of guys playing defensively,” Narduzzi said. “We haven’t had that for two or three years in that season opener, it’s a tight game so probably happiest thing is that we got guys in that you don’t know about and an opportunity at corner and linebacker.”

    MSU football will return to the field next week when the Spartans travel to No. 3 Oregon. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m EST and can be seen on Fox Sports One.
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    Re: NFL DRAFT: Quarterback Watch 2015 Edition



    Jameis Winston, Seminoles hold off upstart Oklahoma State in opener
    Associated Press

    ARLINGTON, Texas -- Jameis Winston and No. 1 Florida State might have to play better for a return trip to the stadium where the next national title will be decided.

    At least the reigning champion Seminoles didn't leave the $1.2 billion home of the Dallas Cowboys with a season-opening loss.

    Three plays ended up having the biggest impact on Florida State's win over Oklahoma State, and they were all created by mistakes, writes Jared Shanker. Story

    Winston threw for 370 yards and scored on a sparkling 28-yard run to smooth over some rough spots, and Florida State tied a school record with its 17th straight victory by holding off Oklahoma State 37-31 on Saturday night.

    "We've got to get better," Winston said. "I told our guys ... we've got to go higher."

    The sophomore quarterback wasn't nearly as efficient as he was in the college debut that jump-started his Heisman Trophy season a year ago. But he made plays when it mattered to help the Seminoles hang on after almost squandering a 17-0 lead.

    The unranked and rebuilding Cowboys were 19-point underdogs but stayed close when J.W. Walsh matched Winston's scoring run with a 24-yard sprint and dive across the goal line to get within 27-24 early in the fourth quarter.

    "You don't ever know what to expect with so many young players on the field," said Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, whose offense only has two players with at least 10 career starts. "But we never saw any fear in any of their eyes."

    Winston's only passing touchdown was a 50-yarder to Rashad Greene, who had 203 yards receiving.

    The scoring pass, which gave Florida State a 37-24 lead, was set up when P.J. Williams sent Walsh cart-wheeling to the turf on a hit that forced a fumble. Williams recovered the loose ball.

    "We all preached it, but I do think they felt the pressure of being No. 1. I do," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. "Now I think we can relax and go play football."

    Walsh, who had 203 yards passing and led his team with 51 yards rushing, got the unranked and rebuilding Cowboys within six in the final 2 minutes on his second TD run, but they couldn't get the ball back.

    The Seminoles were up three in the third quarter when Winston broke loose for the longest run of his career. He hurdled offensive lineman Cameron Erving at the 10 and sidestepped a defender at the 5 before diving across the goal line as the ball was falling out of his arms.

    The score was reviewed, and Oklahoma State players celebrated on the sideline when the giant video board showed the ball coming out near the goal line.

    Seconds later referee Land Clark of the Pac-12 announced that the touchdown was upheld, drawing loud reactions from both sides of a crowd split pretty evenly between Florida State's dark red and Oklahoma State's bright orange.

    "We just needed a play," Winston said. "Everybody contributed on that play. A 300-pound lineman, when he cuts a linebacker all the way down the field, which was amazing, I had no choice but to put the ball in the end zone."

    Winston was 25 of 40 with two interceptions and several other misfires a year after throwing just two incompletions to beat Pitt in his debut. Cowboys defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah gave Winston the most trouble, getting two sacks and breaking up two passes.

    "We're still a work in progress," Fisher said. "We all know that. "We have some good players but we still have to play good. It's not about being great; it's about playing great."

    Speedy Oklahoma State newcomer Tyreek Hill 106 combined yards rushing and receiving. He was a perfect decoy on a 55-yard scoring pass to David Glidden, who was uncovered and ran untouched after catching the ball at the 30 to make it 20-17.

    "We know he's fast," Gundy said. "We confirmed that. Because those guys who were chasing him are fast."

    Hill recovered from a botched kickoff return that stranded the Cowboys at their 3-yard line and led to Nate Andrews' 9-yard interception return for the game's first touchdown.

    Oklahoma State also had trouble on punts, with a bad snap leading to the drive that ended in Winston's scoring run. Another poor snap in the fourth quarter gave Florida State good field position, and Robert Aguayo's third field goal put the Seminoles up by six.
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    Re: NFL DRAFT: Quarterback Watch 2015 Edition



    Brett Hundley, UCLA offense underwhelming in 2014 debut

    By Chip Patterson | College Football/Basketball Writer
    August 30, 2014 3:59 pm ET

    UCLA entered the 2014 season with a Top 10 preseason ranking, a Heisman Trophy hopeful at quarterback and plans to compete in the College Football Playoff. Now that the Bruins are 1-0, it is time to reasses some of those expectations.

    UCLA did not look like a playoff team in its 28-20 win at Virginia. Credit Virginia for a well-executed game plan and strong play in the front seven from guys like Eli Harold, Max Valles and Henry Coley. There were breakdowns in UCLA's protection all day, and the result was another game of Brett Hundley running scrambling to avoid sacks (except for those five times the 'Hoos got to him).

    Hundley finished with a respectable performance on the stat sheet, but the offense failed to score for nearly three quarters. If you tuned in looking to see a Heisman Trophy hopeful lead a dynamic offense, you left Saturday afternoon feeling underwhelmed. The blame does not fall squarely on Hundley's shoulders; running backs Jordon James and Paul Perkins were slow to get rolling and the short/screen pass game was ineffective. Adding to UCLA's issues were 12 penalties, many of which were false starts and other offensive infractions.

    The good news for UCLA fans is there is time to correct these issues and still accomplish the team's goals for 2014. The toughest defenses on the Bruins Pac-12 schedule (Washington, USC and Stanford) are all in November, but a non-conference meeting with Texas and a trip to Arizona State are coming up fast.

    The offensive woes are overshadowing a strong performance by the Bruins defense, which contributed three of the team's four touchdowns on Saturday. Eric Kendricks and Ishmael Adams each added scores to their impressive afternoons, and Myles Jack capped a 13-tackle day with a pass break up on Virginia's final fourth down attempt to seal the outcome.

    But if UCLA is a College Football Playoff-bound team, the defense can't be counted on to handle the scoring.
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    Re: NFL DRAFT: Quarterback Watch 2015 Edition

    Mariota leads Oregon past South Dakota 62-13
    By ANNE M. PETERSON
    AP Sports Writer
    Aug. 31, 2014

    EUGENE, Ore. (AP) Marcus Mariota wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the word ''Success.'' It was a fitting wardrobe choice after this victory.

    Mariota accounted for four touchdowns in the first half of No. 3 Oregon's season-opening 62-13 win against South Dakota on Saturday night.

    Mariota threw for 267 yards and three touchdowns, and then ran for one more before sitting out the final two quarters.

    His 62-yard pass to Dwayne Stanford on Oregon's first series of the game gave him the Ducks' career record for touchdowns with 79 (64 pass, 14 rush and one reception), surpassing Joey Harrington.

    ''Marcus did what Marcus does,'' said running back Byron Marshall, who was Oregon's top receiver with eight catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns.

    Freshman Royce Freeman, a five-star recruit out of Imperial, California, ran for 75 yards and two more scores for the Ducks, who won their 10th straight home opener.

    Trevor Bouma ran for a 3-yard TD and Miles Bergner kicked a pair of field goals for the Missouri Valley's Coyotes, who went 4-8 last season. Kevin Earl completed 13 of 26 passes for 136 yards, but left in the third quarter with what coach Joe Glenn said was likely a fractured thumb.

    Mariota, who opted to return to Oregon after flirting with an early departure for the NFL, threw for 3,665 yards and 31 touchdowns last season with just four interceptions. Considered among the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country, he also rushed for 715 yards and nine scores.

    With his third touchdown pass on Saturday night, he tied Darron Thomas for career passing touchdowns at Oregon with 66. He completed 14 of 20 passes.

    ''We scored on our first three possessions, which is always good,'' Mariota said. ''We've had our moments, including last year, when we've started out slow. For us to come out and start fast and do what we were able to do, it sets a good foundation for the rest of the season.''

    The Ducks finished 11-2 last season, capped by a victory over Texas in the Alamo Bowl. Oregon's two late-season losses, to Stanford and Arizona, came after Mariota injured his left knee, effectively taking the Ducks out of the Pac-12 championship race and a bid for a national title.

    Following Mariota's opening TD strike to Stanford, South Dakota drove into Oregon territory on its opening series and scored on Bergner's 47-yard field goal.

    Mariota hit Marshall with a 41-yard touchdown pass and Freeman scored on a 1-yard dive to give Oregon a 21-3 lead.

    South Dakota then drove as close as the Oregon 3 but settled for Bergner's 25-yard field goal.

    Midway through the second quarter, Marshall's 54-yard dash for the end zone ended with a fumble on the 1-yard line for a touchback. But the Coyotes fumbled after getting the ball, and Mariota hit Marshall with an 11-yard touchdown pass.

    ''Huge mental mistake,'' Marshall said about the touchback. ''I've never made a dumber play in my life. ... It happens, no one's perfect. But a mistake like that could be costly in a different game and I've got to be better than that.''

    Bouma, who led the Coyotes with 781 yards rushing as a redshirt freshman last season, ran for a 3-yard touchdown with 1:36 left in the first half. Mariota answered with 1-yard keeper to make it 41-13 lead at the break.

    ''They're really special with Mariota at the wheel. He's who I thought he was,'' Glenn said. ''He's special and time will bear that out.''

    Oregon senior cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, who like Mariota decided to return for a final season at Oregon, left in the first half with what appeared to be a non-contact injury to his left foot or ankle.

    Afterward, Ekpre-Olomu said he had been battling an ankle injury and left the game as a precaution.

    Oregon rested many of its starters in the second half. Freshman Charles Nelson scored on a 50-yard punt return to give the Ducks a 48-13 lead in the third quarter.

    The game gave Oregon some things to work on before hosting No. 8 Michigan State next weekend. The defending Big Ten champions routed Jacksonville State 45-7 on Friday night.
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    Re: NFL DRAFT: Quarterback Watch 2015 Edition

    No. 11 Stanford routs UC Davis 45-0 in opener
    By ANTONIO GONZALEZ
    AP Sports Writer
    Aug. 30, 2014

    STANFORD, Calif. (AP) Ty Montgomery answered any questions about his health on his first touch, and Stanford's reconstructed defense looked just as rejuvenated in the season opener.

    Next week will really give a glimpse of how far the Cardinal can go this year.

    Montgomery returned his first career punt for a touchdown and caught five passes for 77 yards and another score, and No. 11 Stanford tuned up for a date with No. 15 Southern California by routing UC Davis 45-0 on Saturday.

    ''Our opponents are nameless and faceless. It doesn't matter who we play. We have to play to our standard,'' Montgomery said, reciting the team motto.

    The All-American kick returner, who was cleared by doctors to play earlier this week after offseason surgery on his right shoulder, set the tone. The Cardinal's do-it-all playmaker ran the first punt back 60 yards for a TD and lined up all over the field, including once as a wildcat quarterback.

    Stanford led 38-0 at the half against the overmatched Aggies and rested most of its starters the final two quarters.

    ''I'm proud the way the guys started the game,'' Cardinal coach David Shaw said. ''I thought we were physical. I thought we paid attention to detail. It was not perfect early on.''

    Kevin Hogan threw for 204 yards and three touchdowns to guide the two-time defending Pac-12 champions through a mostly smooth opener. He completed 12 of 16 passes and had one interception.

    Stanford put together quick-strike TD drives of 6 seconds, 9 seconds, 53 seconds, 2:58 and 6:55.

    The retooled defense held the Aggies to 115 total yards, forced three turnovers and sacked London Lacy four times to overwhelm the lower-tier Football Championship Subdivision team. UC Davis didn't crossed midfield until the final play of the game.

    ''I think it's good for our program, I think it's good for our kids,'' UC Davis coach Ron Gould said. ''It sets the tone for where we want to go and what we want to build.''

    The Cardinal's first shutout since beating Colorado 48-0 on Nov. 3, 2012, showed just how far they've come since losing 20-17 to UC Davis in 2005. And with South Carolina's loss to Texas A&M on Thursday, Stanford now owns the nation's longest active home winning streak at 17 games.

    But Stanford still has plenty to clean up before the Trojans visit The Farm.

    The Cardinal's overhauled offensive line - which features four new starters - had its share of struggles, including a false start, holding and clipping penalties in the first half. Hogan also was sacked once.

    Barry Sanders ran for 43 yards on seven carries, and starter Kelsey Young had 37 yards on seven carries as Stanford tries to replace 1,700-yard rusher Tyler Gaffney this season. The Cardinal finished with 149 yards rushing.

    ''I feel great with where we're at,'' Hogan said. ''Coach Shaw talked to us about the game we have coming up. It's not the Super Bowl, as some people might think. It's the next game on our schedule.''

    With road games at Oregon, UCLA and Arizona State, though, next week's matchup could have a major impact on Stanford's season.

    Stanford's starters kept mistakes to a minimum in the opener, but UC Davis simply lacked the talent to contain the Cardinal or sustain drives. Lacy completed 12 of 22 passes for 54 yards and two interceptions, and the Aggies' top two running backs sat out with injuries.

    Even still, Montgomery gave them the most trouble.

    After Stanford stopped the Aggies on the game's opening possession, Montgomery fielded a punt near the middle of the field. He sliced right, cut back up field and shook off a tackle from punter Colby Wadman to complete the 60-yard score.

    Montgomery also caught an inside screen from Hogan and raced 44 yards for another touchdown late in the first half. He added one rush for 8 yards out of the wildcat formation.

    ''Ty Montgomery showed everybody what kind of shape he's in,'' Shaw said.

    Hogan had TD passes of 40 yards to Michael Rector and 52 yards to freshman Christian McCaffrey - the son of former NFL receiver Ed McCaffrey - and scrambled for a 1-yard score. McCaffrey also returned three punts for 60 yards and had three tackles on special teams in his debut.

    Jordan Williamson, who made 1 of 2 field goals, became Stanford's career scoring leader. He broke Eric Abrams' record of 289 points from 1992 to 1995.

    Devon Cajuste, the Cardinal's No. 2 wide receiver, was suspended for the game for a violation of team rules. He is expected to play against USC.
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    Re: NFL DRAFT: Quarterback Watch 2015 Edition

    Mariota is No. 1 prospect for 2015
    Breaking down where Oregon's QB needs to show improvement against MSU
    Originally Published: September 3, 2014
    By Todd McShay | ESPN Insider

    We ranked Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota the No. 1 prospect for the 2015 NFL draft after studying tape of him and the rest of the top prospects this offseason. His upside is huge, given his mix of physical talent, mental makeup and intangibles, but there are also aspects of his game that NFL decision-makers will want to see him improve this season. He gets an early opportunity to show off his improvement Saturday against a Michigan State defense that in many ways resembles the unit from Stanford that has been his and the No. 3 Ducks' kryptonite the past couple of seasons.

    Let's take a look at what makes Mariota so good and the areas of improvement I'll be looking for.

    Mariota might be best-known by fans for his ability as a runner, and he'll remind people of ***** quarterback Colin Kaepernick when he's in the open because of his long stride and deceptive top-end speed -- defenders regularly take poor pursuit angles against him, and the next thing they know he's gone. He also has the ability to escape pressure in the pocket and above-average elusiveness. He puts a ton of stress on the defense with his legs.

    But Mariota shouldn't be confused for a guy who is "just" a runner playing QB; he has the arm talent you look for in a top-level NFL quarterback prospect.

    His release is quick and compact, he has a smooth stroke and his arm strength is more than good enough to make every NFL throw -- with a unique ability to deliver accurately while on the run or from an unbalanced platform. He also rates very well as a decision-maker, as he has posted a 63-to-10 career TD-to-INT ratio despite occasionally gambling with a throw into coverage when he shouldn't, and he showed the improved ability last season to get to his third and sometimes fourth option.

    The other aspect of Mariota's prospect profile that can't be overlooked is his mental makeup. He rarely looks rattled and he has the mental toughness to overcome adversity. This is backed up in everything that coaches and scouts say about him, as his intangibles are considered a major strength. He has a great work ethic and is a strong leader by example.

    The areas of Mariota's game that have been flaws in the past are what I'll be particularly interested in watching as he faces No. 7 Michigan State.

    Accuracy: This was the biggest area of improvement in Mariota's game from his 2012 to 2013 seasons, as he showed better mechanics and overall balance as a passer. But what I want to see against the Spartans is whether he can be accurate with pressure in his face, especially when he has to reset his feet. The Ducks' uptempo spread attack is designed to make reads easier and create bigger passing lanes for QBs, so NFL teams will be watching just how accurate Mariota is as a thrower. It's clear that he's capable of putting the ball on a spot; he flashes excellent ball placement at times. What NFL teams will be wanting to see is the improved consistency to do it every time.

    Durability: This is a slight area of concern for Mariota, as he was limited last season after suffering a sprained knee, which was particularly noticeable in the 26-20 loss to Stanford (six carries for minus-16 yards when accounting for sack yardage) in early November. He's also someone who is going to take more hits than the average quarterback just by virtue of his mobility. That doesn't mean he should be tentative -- after all, part of what makes him special is his ability to evade the rush and make plays once the initial call breaks down -- but part of surviving as a mobile QB is about knowing when to slide or step out of bounds. If the Spartans get hits on him, it'll be interesting to see how he bounces back and whether it has an effect on his overall performance the way it did against Stanford.

    Getting the ball out quickly: Mariota improved his anticipation last season, but he has room to get better. This could be on display against the Spartans, and I want to see whether he can consistently get the ball out on time. If he can avoid taking any negative plays as a result of hanging onto the ball too long, that will be a big win for the Ducks' offense.

    Oregon-Michigan State is the marquee matchup in college football this week, a showdown between two top-10 teams, and a lot of attention will be paid to how good of a job the Michigan State defense does at slowing Mariota and the high-powered Oregon offense. How he does in the three areas mentioned above could help determine how successful the Ducks are, in addition to providing NFL teams an early look at how much better he has gotten since the end of the 2013 season.

    The matchups on the perimeter are worth watching as well, however. The Ducks are replacing Josh Huff and Bralon Addison at wide receiver, while the Spartans are adjusting to life without first-round cornerback Darqueze Dennard. I think the biggest question for Oregon heading into this game might be who the Ducks' perimeter playmakers are going to be, and no matter how good Mariota is, they'll need one or more guys to step up by gaining separation in their matchups with the Spartans' defensive backs and making plays.
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    Re: NFL DRAFT: Quarterback Watch 2015 Edition

    Cook could be the one to carve up Ducks
    September, 4, 2014
    By Brian Bennett | ESPN.com

    Saturday's highly anticipated showdown between No. 3 Oregon and No. 7 Michigan State will feature a junior quarterback who's putting up impressive numbers, has a penchant for winning big games and should be considered a top Heisman Trophy candidate.

    Marcus Mariota is pretty good, too.

    No offense to the Ducks' Mariota, who's a great player and top Heisman contender in his own right. But one of the main reasons to believe that Michigan State can actually go into Autzen Stadium and pull out a victory is the calm, confident presence of the other quarterback in green, Connor Cook.

    Think about the roll that Cook is enjoying right now. Not only has he won 11 straight games, he's also seemingly improving by the week. In the Spartans' opening win over Jacksonville State, Cook went 12-of-13 for 285 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. According to ESPN Stats & Info, his raw QBR score of 99.98 was the highest of any player with at least 15 action plays in the past 10 seasons.

    OK, so that performance came against an FCS defense. But Cook also finished last season by earning MVP honors in both the Big Ten championship game win over Ohio State and the Rose Bowl victory over Stanford. In his past three games, he has thrown for 921 yards and eight touchdowns.

    Cook wasn't even sure he was "the man" for Michigan State until early October last year. Now he's completely commanding the offense.

    "I'm a lot more comfortable and confident now," he told ESPN.com this week. "It's a different overall level of comfort, knowing the offense and having that chemistry with the wideouts. It just makes everything a little bit easier."

    You could see that in the Jacksonville State game. On the team's first possession, he threw a 64-yard touchdown pass to Tony Lippett, who was Cook's second read on the play. Cook's scramble allowed Lippett to break free, and he withstood a vicious hit in the process. On the Spartans' next drive, he noticed that the defense had left Lippett alone at the line of scrimmage because of a coverage mix-up, and he fired a quick strike to the wideout for a 71-yard score.

    "Through his experience, he was able to see that coming," offensive coordinator Dave Warner said. "He's far ahead of where he was last year, and he's continuing to grow. He gets better every practice."

    Most people will focus on the confrontation between Oregon's quick-strike offense and Michigan State's stingy defense, and that is a feast for football nerds. But the mirror-image matchup looms as just as important, and Cook's job will involve putting points on the board and keeping Mariota & Co. on the sideline.

    Not surprisingly, the Spartans have studied Stanford's recent success against Oregon as a possible blueprint. The Cardinal controlled the clock by running the ball effectively, and that is Michigan State's goal as well.

    "That's going to be a big-time part of this game, time of possession," Cook said. "We as an offense have got to take charge of that and really establish our run game. I think a lot of the pressure is on us."

    Warner said the Spartans came into last year's Big Ten title game against Ohio State with a similar mindset, wanting to play keep-away from the Buckeyes' offense. It's no coincidence that they opened the game with a six-and-a-half-minute drive that produced a field goal. Michigan State won the possession battle in that one but also scored quickly on some big plays, something it won't shy away from in Eugene.

    "We're going to take our shots because we've got some skill on the outside," Warner said. "Regardless of how things go early on, we're going to continue to try and use the clock and our running game. But at the same time, we're going to spread it around a little bit, too."

    Cook showed last year that he rises to the occasion under pressure, never more so than when he led a two-minute drill at the end of the first half against Stanford after tossing a potentially crippling pick-six. Even as a first-year starter last season, he never got rattled or shrank from the moment. That could come in handy in this game, as Oregon is likely to throw a haymaker or two.

    "When things go bad, he's able to keep his composure and still keep playing," Warner said. "I think that's part of who he is, and that's what leads to the big-game situations. He doesn't let the distractions or things going on around him affect him."

    Cook said the key to preparing for a big game is "to get focused, clear your mind and cut out all the outside sources, like your phone, Twitter, Instagram and social media." He admits to feeling nervous before every game but says he calms down once the ball is kicked.

    This week's assignment is as difficult as it gets. But Michigan State fans should feel confident in the guy who will lead the charge.
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    Re: NFL DRAFT: Quarterback Watch 2015 Edition



    2015 NFL Draft: Mariota outlasts Cook, answers critics by beating Spartans
    By Rob Rang | The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com
    September 6, 2014 10:43 pm ET

    The knock on projected No. 1 overall pick Marcus Mariota and his Oregon Ducks had been that they couldn't handle physicality or a traditional pro-style defense.

    With a 46-27 win over No. 7 Michigan State, Mariota and the Ducks answered critics and made a strong statement to Heisman and playoff voters along the way.

    Mariota showed off the intoxicating blend of athleticism and arm talent that has earned him the top spot on NFLDraftScout.com's board, completing 17 of 28 passes for 317 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for another 46 yards in the big win.

    It wasn't just physical talent that will have NFL scouts attending this game taking notice. Mariota and the Ducks showed composure and resiliency against the Spartans, coming back to score 28 unanswered points in the second half after facing a 24-18 halftime deficit. Mariota played his best as the game tightened, completing passes requiring velocity, touch and accuracy and frequently buying time with his legs.

    The performance was all the more impressive considering the competition. Boasting the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in rusher Shilique Calhoun and a terrific secondary, Michigan State was expected to be a formidable test for Mariota and the Ducks' spread scheme. At times the rush got to Mariota and he seemed more hesitant than normal to run. He kept his eyes downfield throughout most of the game, however, and capitalized on a few mistakes in coverage to find wide open receivers for six passes covering 20+ yards, including scores from 70, 24 and 37 yards out.

    At times, it was the Spartans' Connor Cook who looked like the more polished NFL prospect. Michigan State's junior quarterback completed 28 of 46 passes for 334 yards and two touchdowns. Cook also threw two interceptions, however, which proved critical in the loss.

    Battling Mariota pass for pass in the first half, Cook threw just two poor passes over the first 30 minutes of action. Each of them came as a result of well-timed zone-blitzes by Oregon that dropped defensive tackles into the middle of the field. The first resulted in an overthrow that was picked off by defensive back Erick Dargan and the second was also sailed over the top of Cook's intended target. His second interception bounced off the hands of a Michigan State receiver and was picked off in dramatic and athletic fashion by Oregon's All-American cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, a projected first round pick.

    The interceptions derailed what otherwise was another strong performance by Cook. For much of the first half it appeared that Cook would out-perform a highly regarded Pac-12 passer in primetime showing -- as he did against Stanford to help the Spartans win the Rose Bowl. Cook showed good timing on slants and quick-outs, excellent touch to drop passes over the shoulder of receivers down the sideline and, perhaps most impressively, composure to step up when the pocket collapsed while keeping his eyes downfield.

    FOX analyst Charles Davis did a nice job of highlighting Cook's eye discipline after the MSU quarterback's touchdown toss to Josiah Price in the closing seconds of the first half. Cook immediately looked to his left upon taking the snap and then turned to peek right, before finally firing a strike down the middle to the well-covered Dargan.

    Cook's poise stood in stark contrast to recent performances from Hogan and UCLA's Brett Hundley, the only two quarterbacks other than Mariota and Florida State's Jameis Winston currently ranked ahead of him on NFLDraftScout.com's QB rankings.
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    Re: NFL DRAFT: Quarterback Watch 2015 Edition

    Walter Camp Football Foundation honors Oregonís Mariota and Virginia Techís Clarke
    Posted by Kevin McGuire on September 7, 2014, 9:38 AM EDT

    Two of the biggest wins of Week two went to Oregon and Virginia Tech against Big Ten teams. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and Virginia Tech linebacker Deon Clarke were recognized for their efforts in those wins by the Walter Camp Football Foundation by being named the Walter Camp National FBS Players of the Week.

    Mariota passed for 318 yards and three touchdowns as Oregon strung together 28 straight points at home against Big Ten defensive juggernaut Michigan State. Mariota completed 17 of 28 passes in the win and connected for touchdowns on plays of 70, 24 ad 37 yards. He also rushed for 42 yards in the winning effort for the Pac-12 and College Football Playoff contenders. In the win, Mariota also became the all-time leader in career offensive yards in Oregon history. He has plenty of time to build on that new record mark as well.

    In Virginia Techís big win at Ohio State, Clarke was everywhere for the Hokies. Clarke recorded 10 tackles, including five solo tackles and two for a loss. He also recorded one sack as Virginia Techís defense brought constant pressure on young Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett. Clarke and the Virginia Tech defense forced Barrett to make mistakes down the stretch as the Buckeyes looked to keep their home winning streak and perfect record in the regular season under head coach Urban Meyer alive. With the win, Virginia Tech looked to be the top contender in the ACC Coastal Division this fall.
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    Re: NFL DRAFT: Quarterback Watch 2015 Edition

    Marcus Mariota, how different is he from Case Keenum, Alex Smith, Joey Harrington, Graham Harrell, Gino Smith, Zac Robinson and all those U of Florida QBs under Spurrier? Shane Matthews, Wuerffel, Grossman and even Tebow under Meyer?
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    Re: NFL DRAFT: Quarterback Watch 2015 Edition

    Florida State suspends Jameis Winston for Clemson game
    Dan Wolken, USA TODAY Sports
    12:27 a.m. EDT September 20, 2014

    Citing results of a "continuing investigation" into an incident Tuesday, Florida State has suspended quarterback Jameis Winston for Saturday's entire game against Clemson, the school announced late Friday night.

    The one-sentence statement, which was e-mailed at 11:07 p.m. Eastern time, was signed by interim president Garnett Stokes and athletics director Stan Wilcox. Football coach Jimbo Fisher's name was nowhere to be found.

    Originally, Florida State decided to suspend Winston, last year's Heisman Trophy winner, only for the first half Saturday following reports that he had stood on a table Tuesday and shouted a vulgar phrase at the student union, mimicking an Internet meme making the rounds on college campuses. Deadspin was the first to report the incident, citing several Tweets from witnesses.

    This was merely the latest in a string of incidents involving Winston, who was accused of sexual assault last year. Winston, who led Florida State to the national title, was never charged with a crime, but the stain on his reputation greatly increased the scrutiny on his off-field behavior.

    Florida State, which is under investigation by the Federal government over whether it violated Title IX in its handling of the sexual assault allegations, also is investigating whether Winston violated the school's code of conduct.

    In April, Winston was accused of stealing $32.72 worth of crab legs from a local grocery store and was given a civil citation. Winston performed community service in lieu of criminal charges and was suspended by the baseball team for three games.

    There was no indication Friday night that the increased suspension was related to anything other than Tuesday's incident on Florida State's campus.

    Florida State backup Sean Maguire, a redshirt sophomore who has thrown 26 passes in his career, will start for the No. 1-ranked Seminoles in Winston's place. This development obviously changes the dynamic for No. 24 Clemson, which began the week as a three-touchdown underdog according to Las Vegas oddsmakers, and potentially Florida State's chances of making the first College Football Playoff.
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    Re: NFL DRAFT: Quarterback Watch 2015 Edition

    CBS Sports' Rob Rang talking a bit more about Michigan State's Connor Cook and UCLA's Brett Hundley...

    NFL: NFL Draft: NFL Mock Draft: First-Round Bubble QBs - Video - CBSSports.com
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    Re: NFL DRAFT: Quarterback Watch 2015 Edition

    Rachel Nichols @Rachel__Nichols ∑ 4hSource tells me Jameis Winston originally downplayed his public use of a vulgar phrase to FSU officials, denying he jumped on a table.


    Rachel Nichols @Rachel__Nichols ∑ 4h
    Source tells me Winston admitted full story after school came back w/witness accounts. Athletic Director made call on increasing suspension.
    Winston has a lot of maturing to do before I would feel comfortable spending a high first round pick on him.
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    Re: NFL DRAFT: Quarterback Watch 2015 Edition

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    Winston has a lot of maturing to do before I would feel comfortable spending a high first round pick on him.
    I would even go so far as to say he has a ton and a half of maturing yet to go... And I would still question drafting this character! It is a recurring event for him to be in trouble, I know Fish sometimes gravitates to these kinda guys but I hope he leaves off on this one. Lots of other choices in this upcoming draft at the QB position to choose from don't need to reach for a guy who might be in jail or suspended before he hits the draft! (er, ahh, oh yeah he is already suspended sorry for got! Ack!) Hey they left off Ricky Neuheisl's kid Jerry he was rocking the comeback victory last week! After Hundley went down! Very happy for Jerry I think he is not a senior though. Funny I was just chatting to a friend about Hundley not being injury prone before the game and my friend even said don't jinx him... roops it's all on me So so Sorry Brett.
    Last edited by Randart; 1 Week Ago at 12:41 PM.

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