One of the top cornerback prospects in the Southeastern Conference, Vanderbilt's Andre Hal, put an impressive performance on tape for NFL scouts Thursday night in a head-to-head matchup with Ole Miss star receiver Donte Moncrief.
Hal, a senior, broke up three passes on the night and did a nice job of limiting one of the nation's most talented receivers to five catches for just 56 yards. And he did it despite a serious size discrepancy: Moncrief is 6-3, 226 pounds, while Hal lists at just 6-0, 186. Hal didn't defend Moncrief on every down, but certainly drew the assignment on most of them.
A few key notes on the matchup:
» Moncrief made his first catch not on Hal, but on Vandy's other cornerback, Steven Clarke.
» Hal frustrated Moncrief on a first-quarter incompletion with some downfield contact, but no call was made.
» On his second catch, a screen pass to the right, Moncrief was stuffed by Hal for no gain.
» On Moncrief's only explosive play of the night, a deep pass for a 39-yard reception early in the third quarter, Hal had short zone responsibility and released Moncrief to safety Kenny Ladler, who was late in picking up Moncrief downfield.
» Late in the third quarter, Moncrief ran a deep post route and drew a pass-interference call on Hal, who broke up the pass with limited contact. ESPN's Matt Millen criticized the call and labeled the play good defense on Hal's part.
» A few plays later, Hal broke up another pass intended for Moncrief in the end zone that was underthrown by Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace.
» Early in the fourth quarter, Wallace threw to Moncrief on back-to-back plays, with Hal stopping him for a 4-yard gain on a hitch pass, then breaking up a back-shoulder throw on the sideline.
» On Moncrief's final reception, Hal was screen-blocked by a slot receiver for a short gain.
Moncrief, a junior who has mentioned the possibility of turning pro early, caught 66 passes for 979 yards and 10 touchdowns as a sophomore last year. Based on that track record, he might not be held under 60 yards again the rest of the season.
Wallace found heralded freshman receiver Laquon Treadwell a much easier target (nine catches, 82 yards). Quarterbacks opposing Vandy, however, may find it easier to throw away from Hal's side all season.