Apparently it happened more than once. Cal cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson would line up against his opponent and read him before the ball was snapped. Not his move. His lips. "Last year, I would kind of listen to the receivers and they'd say, 'He's little,' " Thompson said Saturday, shortly after helping Cal to a 35-21 win at Minnesota. "It was like they were saying it to themselves. I could read their lips."
It's hard to imagine a time when it was possible to underestimate Thompson, now three games into his senior season. Especially after Saturday. For starters, he led the Bears with eight tackles. Not bad for a cornerback. But his contribution was as qualitative as it was quantitative. The official play-by-play credited Thompson with four tackles on run plays. It seemed like a dozen. They all played out the same way — Minnesota sending a mountainous lineman to clear a path for a back, Thompson streaking toward the line like a guy with self-destructive tendencies, Thompson blowing up the lead blocker and taking down the ball carrier as well. "I like being aggressive and getting into the offensive backfield," he said with a smile.
It's a top-shelf tactical maneuver, assuming you're OK with a little physical discomfort. But whatever practical gains Thompson's reckless crusades achieve, they are at least equaled by their inspirational impact. See, those receivers had it half right.