One of the best things about college football is that even in a bad game there are almost always great things that can draw in even the most casual fan. Tonight was one of those instances as the Hawaii Bowl itself was rather lacking in excitement, if a competitive game is what you were looking for.
First the game. It was almost total domination by head coach June Jones and his SMU Mustangs over the Fresno State Bulldogs. Jones has brought in his system and some really nice players and turned that program around in a hurry. They introduced quarterback Derek Carr and the Fresno State Bulldogs to the back of the woodshed to the tune of a 43-10 drubbing.
Now, I could talk to you about the SMU offense and their ability to run the football behind former Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert and running back Zach Line and how this is so counter to what Jones likes to do in his run and shoot offense. We could even talk about how the SMU defense returned 2 more interceptions for touchdowns which is remarkable in itself.
But no, everyone wants to talk about the Mythical Margus, defensive end Margus Hunt. I’m sure that for most college football fans coming into the season had little or no idea who Hunt was. Most pundits like myself knew him, but their opinions of him varied greatly. What we can all agree on is Hunt is a physical marvel. 6-8 and 285lbs with physical gifts that rival any in the NFL.
His background is also fascinating as he’s also a celebrated track and field athlete who actually came to SMU from his native country of Estonia for this pursuit. He wanted to work with legendary track coach David Wollman in his chosen event the discus where he’s still a record holder. This was back in 2007 and up until this point he’d never played football at all. So fast forward to today and to see how far he’s come in just a few short seasons is really remarkable. In football circles his claim to fame that most know him for is to block kicks. With his length and wingspan he’s a matchup nightmare, and in his first year he blocked 7 kicks.
What Margus did to the Bulldogs offense was nothing short of remarkable. He forced 2 fumbles and caused a safety, and on nearly every play was somewhere near the football. In the second half the Fresno State coaches chose to TRIPLE team him at the line and he was still able to harass and sack Carr.By far his best game of his career and on his biggest stage.
My take-I will do a full scouting report on Hunt at the end of the season, but in a nutshell Hunt is raw but incredibly physically gifted. His physical tools are matched by his intensity and energy which is a huge plus. He operates with almost no technique but you can see that he’s very coachable. A friend of mine and draft pundit, Bill Carroll @elevenbravo138 referred to Hunt on Twitter as a “feral manbear”. I always thought of Hunt as the offspring of a mortal woman and some sort of Scandinavian Frost Giant, but I’m good with either comparison.
But in all seriousness Hunt is going to blow up after this. His off-season is going to be tremendous and it’ll get teams going back to his film. The question will be are his 30ish tackled and 6 sacks going to grade out? I’d say taking a shot on Hunt in the late 2nd, early 3rd round is a smart pick, especially if you play a 3-4 defense. I can see Hunt as a 3-4 end on the ability level somewhere in between the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel and the San Francisco 49ers defensive end Justin Smith.
In other draft notes, Bulldogs quarterback Carr who many consider a first round pick in the 2014 NFL draft was terrible. Granted Hunt hounded him the entire game, but that’s not the last film you want out there to end your junior campaign. Also, Bulldogs running back Robbie Rouse who many consider a top 100 pick in 2013 was put into witness protection for the entire game, and no one saw him at all. Both have some work to do at this point. For Fresno State mele kalikimaka means “fear the Margus”.
But again, even in a bad game there is so much great about college football. @nfldraftboard