Before the season began, I was touting Jevan Snead as my favorite college QB this year. Let's be honest, there were a few people on the bandwagon. It was a trendy pick - Snead's regarded as a solid pocket passer with a big arm. The comparisons to Matt Stafford were inevitable and the feeling was a solid year for a talented Rebels outfit could propel Snead into a potential #1 draft pick next year.
It's only one game, but the comparison appears justified. It's been a particularly inconsistent display from Snead against Memphis in Ole Miss' season opener. He's thrown two picks, made some terrible decisions and forced a lot of throws. At the same time, he has the big arm and is on the money when he gets a receiver in single coverage. Doesn't this just sound like Matt Stafford mark II?
His first pick occurred when he zoned in on Derek McLuster and without seemingly making any read, simply threw it straight to a defensive back. I'm not sure if it was a bad route from McLuster or not, but Snead threw almost without looking and barely in the receivers range. Memphis turned it into six shortly after.
With 12:25 left in the second quarter and Ole Miss at 2nd & 13, he moved out of the pocket and ran towards the line of scrimmage. With a good 5-6 yards of empty space in front of him, he should have taken the handful and moved on to third down. Instead, he noticed he was approaching the LOS, checked his run and then threw what could only be described as a basketball free throw into the direction of a covered receiver. The ball dropped safely to the ground, but it was an unnecessary incomplete throw when there was 4-5 rushing yards on offer.
He threw a second pick with 5:38 left in the half. Snead stepped away from pressure in the pocket before throwing deep into double coverage. He was easily picked off. It was a blatant example of Snead trying to rely on his arm too much and forcing the throw. The deep play was never on, but he didn't make a read. It was the kind of decision making which raised question marks about Matt Stafford last year and it's something Snead needs to control. He can't afford to always rely on his arm and he's shown an inability to manage this game thus far. Why make that play when you're 10-7 up?
His second half performance was a little better in the sense he made up for the picks with a couple of TD's. Both thrown from around the 20 yard line, showing that clinical ability when he latches onto a receiver in single coverage. Both passes were thrown well and he showed good athleticism on the first to avoid pressure.
It's only week one but the feeling I get with Snead is that he does have the tools the pro-teams will salivate over. Like Stafford, he has a big arm and can make all the throws. Like Stafford, he can be erratic and he will throw interceptions. With the national spotlight firmly fixed on his performances this season, it'll be interesting to see how Snead copes and if he can find the form he showed at the end of the 2008 season.
The other top QB's also endured mixed fortunes. Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy coasted to victories in powder puff contests, whilst Sam Bradford suffered an injured shoulder as Oklahoma crashed to BYU. On the other hand, it's been a great weekend for underclassman running backs. After the depth filled 2008 class of RB's and the declaration of Knowshon Moreno this year, it did look like a tough act to follow.
However, Jahvid Best showed off his Heisman potential with a great display against Maryland. Jonathan Dwyer made a good start as did Joe McKnight. I need to see more of all three to determine whether or not they have the kind of potential to be every down backs in the NFL, let alone top draft picks. It's a good start though and Best is the one that intrigues me the most.
Finally, Mel Kiper published some of his 2010 big board during the Ole Miss game today. He has Sam Bradford at #1 (although this doesn't take into account his recent injury). Jevan Snead is at #7. There's a couple of other interesting choices - Gerald McCoy (DT, Oklahoma) at #4 and Dez Bryant (WR, Oklahoma State) as high as #8. Fellow Cowboy Russell Okung only makes it to #15.