What we learned from Week 2 of college football season

Here's a look at what NFL.com analysts learned about prospects in Week 2 of the college football season.

  1. Alabama TE O.J. Howard made some money today vs. Western Kentucky. His stat line (2 catches for 29 yards) won't jump off the page, but one of his catches was phenomenal. I saw him make about three really good blocks. He's a much better blocker after adding about 15 pounds to his upper body in the offseason. -- Gil Brandt
  1. Clay Helton and the USC coaching staff made the decision to have Adoree' Jackson focus primarily on defense and special teams this season. The offense has definitely missed him through the first two games. Even though USC put up 45 points today vs. Utah State, the Trojans weren't very dynamic. However, Jackson has been playing great on defense and he showed off his speed with a long punt return for a TD today. I'm interested to see if USC decides to get him a little more involved on the offense against Stanford next week. His offensive prowess wasn't needed today but it will be next week. -- Daniel Jeremiah
  1. You rarely hear any criticism of Leonard Fournette as a player, but there has been some concern about his heavy workload at LSU. With that in mind, I like the fact that he sat out today's contest against Jacksonville State. He's nursing an ankle injury and he doesn't need to take any hits against an inferior opponent. Last year, he carried the ball 26 times against both Eastern Michigan and Western Kentucky. Those were inferior opponents that LSU handled easily. I'd like to see LSU do a better job of managing his workload this fall. This was a good decision. -- Daniel Jeremiah
  1. Between the run blocking of Pittsburgh OLs Dorian Johnson and Adam Bisnowaty (vs. Penn State) and the passing of Central Michigan QB Cooper Rush (vs. Oklahoma State), a few prospects showed on Saturday that they are better than I thought they were. -- Gil Brandt
  1. With QB Wilton Speight feeling his way around the Michigan offense in live action over the past couple of weeks, it's clear he views TE Jake Butt as his safety valve. The lean tight end is a reliable receiver, a smooth runner with the footwork to run any possible route in the tree. UCF defenders couldn't match up with this combination of size and speed on Saturday. -- Chad Reuter
  1. Kenny Hill is quickly restoring his NFL prospects with his strong early season play at TCU. Against Arkansas, Hill posted nearly 500 yards of total offense (377 pass yards; 93 rush yards) and three touchdowns as the director of the Horned Frogs' spread offense. Hill, a Texas A&M transfer, flashes outstanding arm talent and athleticism as a dual-threat quarterback, but it's his poise, confidence and big-play ability that will intrigue scouts at the next level. He repeatedly delivered key plays in big moments in the Horned Frogs' wild overtime loss, exhibiting the kind of clutch magic that scouts covet in a franchise quarterback. However, he did hurt his team by drawing a penalty for making a throat-slash gesture late in the game. If he can build on his stellar performance this weekend, he could force evaluators to take a closer look at his game down the road. -- Bucky Brooks
  1. UNC RB Elijah Hood has been touted as a potential top prospect at his position, but the junior's stock could tumble a bit due to a slow start this season. After rushing for 1,463 yards as a sophomore, Hood has yet to crack the 100-yard mark in a game this season. He mustered just 88 yards on 15 carries against Illinois on Saturday, with 62 yards coming on a late touchdown when UNC already had a comfortable lead. Although he continues to exhibit a hard-nosed running style that will make him a great fit in a power-based scheme, he is a straight-line runner without the wiggle to make multiple defenders miss in the hole. If he fails to show more elusiveness and "make-you-miss" ability in the Tar Heels' big games, he could have a tough time convincing scouts that he is a transcendent player capable of fitting into any system. -- Bucky Brooks
  1. Washington WR John Ross is off to a fast start this season. That makes sense, given that Ross is one of the fastest players in college football. The track star produced three touchdowns last week (2 receiving, 1 returning) and followed up with two more today vs. Idaho (both receiving). He's starting to generate a lot of buzz in the scouting community. Washington is a serious challenger to Stanford this season and its team speed is beginning to approach Oregon status. -- Daniel Jeremiah
  1. Despite facing an NFL-quality secondary in Alabama, Western Kentucky WR Taywan Taylor made plays, showing NFL scouts that he's a legitimately draftable prospect. He has the long speed to beat corners deep, and the quickness with the ball in his hands to avoid Alabama defenders. Taylor does need to get stronger, as Tide cornerback Marlon Humphrey ripped the ball from his hands fairly easily downfield after a big catch, but Taylor's hustle to recover the ball kept the Hilltoppers in business. Taylor's quickness off the line challenged Humphrey and others, though, making him an intriguing mid-round prospect. -- Chad Reuter
  1. Last year while studying WR Roger Lewis from Bowling Green, I kept noticing WR Gehrig Dieter. He was almost unstoppable with contested catches and jump balls. As a graduate, he was eligible to transfer for his senior season and he did to Alabama. I'm excited to see how he fits in with Alabama's offense, but I wasn't blown away by his play against Western Kentucky. Dieter had one good downfield catch on a crossing route, but he also dropped a sure-fire touchdown pass in the third quarter. Dieter looked a little slow in his releases off the line of scrimmage and into his routes. I thought he needed to do a better job of matching physicality when defensive backs bodied him up during his routes. I'm still very intrigued by him, but Dieter needs to step his game up. -- Lance Zierlein
  1. Vanderbilt's Zach Cunningham is one of my favorite inside linebackers to watch. Whether he is playing Alabama or Middle Tennessee State, he plays with the same urgency on every snap. I know Cunningham isn't as big as some inside 'backers, but he's been flashing those trademark instincts, which help him get to the play quicker than most. MTSU also found out that Cunningham is a chest-up finisher as a tackler. -- Lance Zierlein
  1. There's no two ways about it, Pitt DE Ejuan Price (listed at 6-foot) is not going to measure up to scouts' height expectations. But his ability to get off the ball and turn the corner should not be overlooked. His low center of gravity allows him to get leverage on the tackle; in fact, coaches use him on the kick-block team to move the pile forward so others can jump behind him. Price will move to linebacker in the NFL, however, as he gets engulfed by better tackles on the edge. He should have no problems with that transition, though. -- Chad Reuter
  1. With Michigan CB Jourdan Lewis out for the second straight week, CB Jeremy Clark got another chance to show his wares as a starter. Early in the game, he used his length and physicality in coverage to prevent a completion, fighting for the ball while he and the receiver were on the ground until it came out. Clark also showed willingness to stick his nose into run plays when needed. -- Chad Reuter

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