Shifting focus back to Petty, I was equally frustrated by his ball placement skills and his inability to move off of primary reads. Having watched Petty play extensively both in evaluations last year and his body of work this year, it was no surprise. I actually included both as my major knocks on him for the mid-season evaluation that I wrote up for the game. It was again on full display, as throws further down the field were subsequently further off target. As he pushes the football down the field, he loses the ability to control. It looked as though throughout the course of Baylor's missed deep shots that his ball trajectory was a bit flat; he has no problem spinning that for distance but he's not quite dialed in on his loft of those 'bucket throws'. Petty does have great athleticism for a player of his size, he pulled a number of zone read plays and was able to pick up solid yardage against a defensive front seven who put the squeeze on Petty inside the pocket. Petty's eyes lock onto a down field read excessively, to the point where he has no feel for traffic in front of him or the status of the pocket. There were plays where he stood against a firestorm of defenders and ate sacks and others where he had a well established pocket but flushed out of it anyway. He does throw with HEAT when he wants to, he can put balls any where on the field, it's just a question of how does he amend the accuracy issues (if he can). I haven't been able to pinpoint mechanical flaws that have had a negative impact as he's throwing the ball down the field, so the question begs to be asked "is this just who he is." I'm trending towards yes.
As poorly as Petty flashed, I can't honestly say I was disappointed because at this point I knew what he was. I was, however, notably disappointed in the performance of Levi Norwood. Norwood flashed at me a number of times in 2013 (notably the Oklahoma and Texas Tech), but didn't look like anywhere near the same caliber of player. He was smooth but nonexplosive moving around the field. He struggled to separate. He dropped an easy pass target. I know Norwood is still working his way back from a fractured wrist, but this was his 3rd game and 3rd week back in the lineup. No reason for the conditioning not to be on par, so I'm again a bit at a loss as to what is going on with the player. I am going to need to go look back at some 2013 cuts to see if his success was more scheme/spacing based than it was on account of his individual talents.
While I can understand the appeal to many of a player like DE Shawn Oakman, I personally don't see a top selection in waiting. Oakman spent a large majority of the day on Saturday running himself too deep into the backfield and out of the play or bumping chests with offensive linemen. Oakman struggles mightily as is with disengaging from blocks on the line of scrimmage. He has made nice strides in getting his hands involved in the contact, but he still gives no consistency pressing and using his massive length to his advantage. Oakman's struggles with backfield depth were multiplied due to how gradual his change of direction skills are. He's an extremely powerful player, but he's not quick twitch or explosive. Oakman looked very much like I had noted over the course of watching him before, linear. He gets a head of steam built up and from there, he just makes plays with how long his wingspan/strides are to cover a massive area. I see Oakman as a player who is going to continue to need development. He showed absolutely nothing on Saturday to suggest otherwise.
Antwan Goodley is someone who I have mixed feelings about as a player. His ability to create in space and his size make him an attractive option. But his hands are never anything better than "inconsistent" (he likes to trap balls when he's squared up to the throw but CAN catch away from his body when he needs to) and the Baylor system is doing him zero favors for the upcoming transition into a NFL offense. Goodley ate and ate often on Saturday but minus his long 63 yard catch and run touchdown, Goodley's work came against off man coverage. CB Daryl Worley did a very nice job of limiting opportunities for Goodley when on the field. Goodley's route experience is essentially flys, posts, slants and come backs. He doesn't show a lot of crisp technique in breaks and doesn't have to sit down suddenly for breaks coming out of a stem. He has the ability to develop these skills because when you watch him move you see just how natural of an athlete he is. He has explosive qualities and gets up to top speed in space very quickly. I liked what I saw Saturday; but think that the extent of his impact early in his career with be tempered due to what he's asked to do in Coach Art Briles' system.
The real standout for Baylor was sophomore DT Andrew Billings. Compact, agile, low center of gravity, disruptive...Billings was constantly flashing in the back field and creating penetration/chaos. Listed at 300 pounds, Billings was nimble, fluid and quick off the snap. Billings was a Baylor commit in February of 2013, electing to play in Waco over offers from University of Texas, Texas Christian University and others (also notable to mention he was listed as the #18 recruit in the state of Texas that year). He looked every bit the part of a pro prospect against the Mountaineers and is someone I'm going to be keeping a particular eye out for in the coming months/seasons until his time for a complete evaluation comes.