New Mexico Bowl grades: Scooby Wright makes statement in final college game
The 2015 bowl season is officially underway. With the first day of games in the books, let’s review some of the notable performances from the New Mexico Bowl.
— MLB Scooby Wright’s huge grade (+4.7 overall) is equivalent to Samuel L. Jackson receiving a lifetime achievement award; while arguably very little stood out individually, it is the collective body of work that made him a top performer. Wright posted a whopping 12 run stops, but rarely did he have to defeat blocks on his way to the ball carrier. He also racked up seven total pressures (two sacks), but the majority of his effective pass rushing came on blitzes that saw him either unblocked or matched up on the edge against a back. Despite not making a single play worthy of the first-round hype we are hearing (he announced in a post-game interview with ESPN his intention to enter the draft early), as a whole it was an excellent return to the field from injury and fine ending to an outstanding college career.
— OLB Paul Magloire Jr. bounced around the secondary in September, eventually settling down at linebacker. While his productivity has varied, he was outstanding against Arizona State in the final week of the regular season (+5.1 overall), and was equally impactful against New Mexico yesterday (+4.3). He was just as adept as Wright at diagnosing plays in the backfield and beating blockers to the point of attack (+4.9 run defense). With 21 tackles and 12 stops combined during his final two games of the season, he’ll be carrying a lot of momentum in to his senior campaign.
— WR Cayleb Jones was the catalyst for the Wildcat offense, as while his +1.7 receiving grade doesn’t necessarily jump out, his 182 receiving yards and 78 yards after catch certainly do. New Mexico tried to single cover him in the first half and were repeatedly gashed on big plays as they simply lacked the athletes in the secondary to contend with Jones’ size and athleticism. His production tailed off in the fourth quarter as Arizona changed to a run-heavy approach in order to milk the clock, but it was the early huge plays (including a 78 yard TD reception) that allowed Arizona to race out to a big lead.
MLB Scooby Wright +4.7
OLB Paul Magloire Jr. +4.3
SS Anthony Lopez +4.2
DE Jeff Worthy +3.1
OG Jacob Alsadek +2.1
— DE Nik D’Avanzo had a rough afternoon (-2.7 run defense), as he consistently struggled to defeat blockers at the line of scrimmage and became the go-to target of the Arizona rushing attack as the game progressed. Too often he was late engaging his man at the point of attack, and was too easily sealed out of run fits. While he certainly can’t be too happy with his performance yesterday, it was easily his team’s most daunting opponent and he otherwise put together a productive junior season (+13.1 overall).
— While RB Jhurell Pressley certainly didn’t light up Arizona from a yardage standpoint (59 yards on 11 attempts), he was still an effective runner between the tackles against a superior front (+2.5 rushing). He was quick to diagnose and attack open run lanes, and while he did not display impressive elusiveness (two missed tackles forced), his play certainly warranted more than the 11 carries he received.
— New Mexico’s offensive line generally did a solid job against its power-five opponent, with the one exception being left guard Bryan Oldenkamp (-5.4 overall). He had major struggles on both run and pass plays, as his slow get-off and stiff lower body often left him a step behind and unable to recover.
LG Aaron Jenkins +2.5
HB Jhurell Pressley +2.4
DE Cody Baker +2.4
C Eden Mahina +2.1
LT Reno Henderson +1.9