Winner of the Main Event: Derek Barnett
Alabama did everything they needed to do to beat, a better word might be destroy, the Tennessee Volunteers Saturday afternoon in Knoxville.
When Tennessee had the ball they were not able to keep QB Josh Dobbs protected nor could the WRs get any consistent separation from Alabama’s press coverage. The run game was out of the question all game and it became even less of an option with every Alabama score. Tennessee was able to limit the production of Alabama freshmen QB Jalen Hurts in the passing game. The primary reason, perhaps, for Alabama not having big passing stats is that they had no interest in doing so. Hurts did gash Tennessee for 132 yards on the ground to go along with his 3 rushing touchdowns. Alabama got the yards they needed to move the chains and also got the big plays on the ground to break the game open. Alabama’s offense scored, their defense scored, and their SPT scored. It was no contest.
While Derek Barnett lined up at RE directly over LT Cam Robinson for the majority of his snaps, the two rarely butted horns. The game-plan for the Tide seemed to be to run to the right, away from Barnett. Robinson would pull to the right and often did a good job picking a block to help pave the way for Alabama’s backs. If Barnett took a play off it was lost on me watching the game. A lot of star pass-rushers could have gotten disinterested real fast and Barnett showed off his high-motor all game.
When running to the left or up the middle Cam and Derek both competed in their one on one battles. Robinson is so strong and stout in the run game and did his part keeping his ball carrier’s jersey clean against Barnett. Barnett separates himself from some of the other pass rushers in this class because he does play a solid all around game. He wasn’t a match for Cam in the run game, however, who is just a mauler. Advantage Cam.
The more I watch Cam Robinson, the more apparent it is that he is a better RT prospect than at LT. Barnett wasn’t the first pass rusher that has had success using quickness to go around the outside of Robinson to hurry the QB. Barnett did everything he could to keep the Vols in the game for as long as possible. He forced the issue by beating Cam around the edge and violently sacking Hurts which forced a fumble. The Vols scored their only touchdown just a couple of plays later. Derek later showed his athleticism picking off a tipped ball ending what looked like another scoring drive in the first half for Alabama.
Both players will likely be day-1 first round picks. Barnett won the battle today as he is a more complete player than Robinson is at this stage of their young careers. One thing going for Cam is that there doesn’t seem to be too much competition in this draft class at the top of the OT position. He will have an even more difficult task ahead of him against the #1 overall prospect Myles Garrett next week.
While you are enjoying college football this weekend join NFL scouts by putting your grade on these marquee individual match-ups with draft implications. We will revisit the “Main Event” early next week to see who came out on top of their battle.
#74 Cam Robinson, Alabama, LT
#9 Derek Barnett, Tennessee, DE
#18 Anthony Walker, Northwestern, LB
# 9 Riley Bullough, Michigan ST, LB
#47 Vince Biegel, Wisconsin, LB
#5 Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State, LB