Once it was officially announced that Auburn and Florida State would square off in the BCS title game, I put both schools at the top of my tape-to-watch list. After studying both teams, I feel strongly that Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston will be the best player on the field when these two teams play for the championship. However, in my opinion, the second-best player in this game doesn't play for the Seminoles, and his name isn't Tre Mason. It's Auburn's redshirt sophomore left tackle, Greg Robinson.
I didn't know much about Robinson before popping on the tape. I knew he was listed at 6-foot-5 and 305 pounds, but other than that, I'd only heard some whispers that he was well-regarded within the SEC. It didn't take more than a few plays to realize this is a special player.
Robinson is a smooth, easy mover and he dominates in both the run and passing game. As a run blocker, he has very quick feet, strong hands and a powerful base. He can move defenders at the point of attack, and he's very fluid to adjust at the second level. He is equally impressive on the backside (when they run the ball to the right) because of his ability to reach/cut-off defenders. I also love his tenacity to finish to, and occasionally through, the whistle.
In pass protection, he has the quickness to cut off speed rushers, the strength to anchor down versus the bull rush and the agility to redirect against counter moves. He has a powerful punch to keep defenders off of his chest. He does need to work on keeping his hands inside the shoulders of the defender, but he showed improvement in this area as the season progressed.
After finishing up the tape, I looked back through my notes. These words kept showing up on my notebook: smooth, effortless, dominant. Those are three ideal traits for a left tackle.
Here are a few other nuggets after studying these two teams:
Auburn RB Tre Mason: He is a very patient runner. He lacks ideal explosiveness, but he does a nice job of picking/sliding his way through traffic. He is a very aggressive pass protector.
Auburn DE Dee Ford: He has an explosive first step as a pass rusher and his inside counter move is very effective. He is much better as a backside run defender than as a point-of-attack player. He plays high, and he gets uprooted too often.
Florida State WR Kelvin Benjamin: He has rare size/strength and his build-up speed is impressive. He overpowers cornerbacks at the line of scrimmage and when the ball is in the air. I love that he plays both outside and in the slot. He's not a polished route runner but flashed the ability to drop his weight and accelerate out of his break.
Florida State WR Rashad Greene: He's explosive off the line of scrimmage, and he can find another gear when the ball is in the air. He is very crisp as a route runner, and he's elusive after the catch.
Florida State OT Cam Erving: He has ideal size and foot quickness, but he's still very raw at the position. He has the power to clear space in the run game, but he needs to improve as a pass protector. He has a bad habit of ducking his head, and he's also had issues redirecting versus counter moves. He has all of the physical tools, and he should quickly improve with more experience at the position.