For Geno Smith and West Virginia, the real test begins now. I'm not chalking up Smith's incredible start to bad competition alone, but I've had him ranked among my top QB prospects in his class for a couple of years, so I'm not shocked he's been able to tear apart the teams he has so far in 2012. But what he faces now is what matters. The Big 12 doesn't have a defensive juggernaut, but every one of the next eight teams Smith will face has a better defense than any team he's seen so far (sorry, Baylor). There is no question Smith is for real, and given his smarts, accuracy and willingness to prepare, he should do well as the competition gets better. But he's also due for a real test.
Below, the scouting perspective will remain similar week to week, but I'll note performance and matchup highlights. As well, here are my junior prospect rankings and my senior prospect rankings. Juniors and draft-eligible sophomores are noted with an asterisk.
Jarvis Jones *
A good game against Tennessee, not a great one. Jones is an explosive, relentless edge rusher, he profiles as a 3-4 OLB. He has a quick first step and violent hands, tackles well and closes fast. Solid against the run and can really cover. LAST WEEK: 1 | PLAYER CARD
Faces a big challenge on Thursday at Utah, with his line a concern. Barkley has limitations with physical skills, but he's very good across the board: ball placement, timing, use of his eyes, poise, leadership skills and has experience. Great leader.
LAST WEEK: 2 | PLAYER CARD
Barkevious Mingo *
The spotlight is on now as the schedule gets tough. Mingo came to the game late, so he can appear raw at times, but talent is clear. Uses length and a great first step to turn the corner. His pass-rush skills are pretty good but could be diversified. Still learning concepts but reads the game well given his lack of experience.
LAST WEEK: 3 | PLAYER CARD
Ready to get after USC and Barkley. Brings consistent, relentless effort. Demands double-teams, and clogs up the middle of the field. A great sense for disrupting the run game, with power to bull rush. Quick off the ball, with great upper-body strength. Coaches rave.
LAST WEEK: 5 | PLAYER CARD
Sam Montgomery *
Not up to full potential thus far in 2012. Added size and could be considered a fit in almost any system; his frame can handle it if he adds more. Athleticism and pass-rush skills are there, and he really holds up against the run. Max-effort player, natural athlete, instinctive rusher.
LAST WEEK: 4 | PLAYER CARD