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The third week of college football’s 2014 season is officially in the books. On paper, Week 3 was supposed to be boring. After all, there were few matchups featuring top 25 teams. However, Week 3 provided plenty of entertainment, including several night games that went down to the wire.
In case you missed any action, we tried to capture the big moments of Saturday in one article. The viral wrap-up features key plays, interesting quotes/comments in tweets, uniform unveilings and any major injuries.
College Football’s Most Viral Moments from Week 3
BYU Football 9-11 fan card tribute pic.twitter.com/Dbv2U43pIU— Phil Hecken (@PhilHecken) September 12, 2014
North Texas Mean Green new black helmets in action pic.twitter.com/lExedmJkpr— Phil Hecken (@PhilHecken) September 12, 2014
Hacker? Lane Kiffin's Official Alabama bio looks a bit off... pic.twitter.com/BLhxx1K2FF— Pick Six Previews (@PickSixPreviews) September 12, 2014
Ruffin McNeill looked fly when he played for East Carolina in the '70s pic.twitter.com/NhReeKMxlo— Bobby Big Wheel (@BobbyBigWheel) September 13, 2014
What did Holgorsen say to Lambert before game-winning kick? "I haven't talked to Josh Lambert since he got on campus."— Allan Taylor (@AllanTaylorWVU) September 13, 2014
Join the club RT @Mark__Snyder: Devin Funchess is NOT dressed— Fake Bo Pelini (@FauxPelini) September 13, 2014
Spotted: Brady Hoke with a headset on.— Joshua Henschke (@JoshuaHenschke) September 13, 2014
whoops https://t.co/dNak65nsWb— Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) September 13, 2014
5 minutes to kickoff in Miami. Canes vs. Arkansas State. pic.twitter.com/ciJiZZIril— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) September 13, 2014
Wyoming lost to Oregon today, which means Craig Bohl has lost his first game in 700 days.— Zach Barnett (@zach_barnett) September 13, 2014
Here's the missed FG in the UMass/Vandy game. https://t.co/OUToOj80JF— Carrington Harrison (@cdotharrison) September 13, 2014
This game is attracting all types of fans. This guy put tape on and then went to the beach. 90 minutes later: voila pic.twitter.com/9av2AfI7h2— Dan Duggan (@DDuggan21) September 13, 2014
New visiting sideline field banner at FAU Stadium reads 1.8 Miles To The Beach pointing out proximity to the ocean. pic.twitter.com/WJ4bBndS2z— FAU OwlAccess (@FAUOWLACCESS) September 13, 2014
So UCLA wins the toss and elects to defer. And then Texas chooses to kickoff. So UCLA will get it twice.— Bruin Report Online (@BruinReport) September 14, 2014
Charlie Strong is not pleased.— Bruin Report Online (@BruinReport) September 14, 2014
UNREAL pic.twitter.com/rmdwaF5PMb— The SEC Logo (@SEC_Logo) September 14, 2014
Look how high the Rutgers guy got on the blocked field goal. pic.twitter.com/FYYyEs59pc— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) September 14, 2014
After injuring hikens elbow on a scramble, UCLA QB Brett Hundley was pushed down by Jim Mora to cause an injury timeout. http://t.co/CNEFvBDVbG— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) September 14, 2014
Here, have a Will Muschamp vine https://t.co/WbPSHJnZBN— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) September 14, 2014
Steve Spurrier: "I knew we had a good chance to beat them when I heard Finebaum pick them to win by 20 points."— Josh Kendall (@JoshatTheState) September 14, 2014
Jordan Phillips shmoney dance https://t.co/a55fERYrLD— gifdsports (@gifdsports) September 14, 2014
Not what anyone wants to see. Chuckie Keeton on crutches. pic.twitter.com/LTCC7Rhm9k— torinkoos (@torinkoos) September 14, 2014
JerryWorld, indeed pic.twitter.com/AMnVHQjgxw— J.A. Adande (@jadande) September 14, 2014
Franklin said that students greeted the PSU buses by waving ... with one finger. Also said the stadium had a great atmosphere, great energy.— Josh Moyer (@ESPNJoshMoyer) September 14, 2014
A tough Texan and a wounded Jaguar are just some of the wide receiver injuries fantasy owners should be aware of for Week 2. Be sure to read this before setting your starting lineup today.
Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans at Oakland Raiders
Probable – Ankle
Johnson has been nursing a minor ankle injury that’s limited his practice participation. But he is listed as Probable and it’s not like this tough Texan hasn’t played through injury before. Johnson has proven time and again that he can be effective even when he’s not at 100 percent so you can plug him into your starting lineup with confidence.
Cecil Shorts and Marqise Lee, WRs, Jacksonville Jaguars at Washington Redskins
Doubtful – Hamstring; Probable – Knee
Shorts missed last week because of a hamstring injury and it’s not looking good for Week 2 either. The hamstring continues to hamper him and causing him to miss practice, and don’t forget Doubtful is just one step removed from Out. Meanwhile Lee is Probable with a knee injury, so he should be able to play. Even though Lee is probably the safer bet long term, it appears that Allen Hurns, last week’s out-of-nowhere fantasy stud will get another week as a key target for Chad Henne. I don’t have an issue with having either in your lineup; just don’t bank on a repeat of Hurns’ Week 1 success.
Mike Wallace, WR, Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills
Probable – Hamstring
Wallace was limited in practice earlier this week because of a hamstring issue, but he’s expected to be on the field today against the Bills. It’s just one game, but Wallace already appears much more comfortable in the Dolphins’ new offense than he did last season. He caught seven passes for 81 yards and a touchdown against New England last week. Wallace is a fine WR2 option with upside.
Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee Titans vs. Dallas Cowboys
Probable – Knee
Hunter missed practice on Wednesday because of a knee injury. He shows up on the injury report, but he’s listed as Probable and there’s no reason to not expect him to play. A popular breakout candidate entering the season, Hunter could post big numbers against a suspect Cowboys’ secondary. Nothing wrong with plugging Hunter in as a WR2/WR3/flex and seeing what happens.
Several tight ends have already been ruled out for Week 2 because of injuries. Here are the names you need to know before setting your lineup.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots at Minnesota Vikings
Probable – Knee
Gronkowski will probably remain a fixture on the injury report this season. Not only is he coming back from a serious knee injury, but the Patriots have been known to be very liberal, shall we say, when it comes to players’ injury statuses. That said, as long as Gronk is listed as Probable he should play. How much is the question. Last week in limited snaps Gronk still made his presence felt (44 yds., TD), but his owners just need to understand the risk that comes with employing the immensely talented, yet injury-prone tight end.
Jordan Cameron, TE, Cleveland Browns vs. New Orleans Saints
Questionable – Shoulder
Cameron re-aggravated a shoulder injury last week, which held him out of practice this week. It’s a sprained right AC joint, which he initially suffered in August. The good news is that to this point, there doesn’t appear to be any serious concern regarding the injury. Even with the Questionable designation, head coach Mike Pettine said he’s hopeful he’ll have his tight end today. That said, it’s probably safest to go a different route unless you have the time and patience to wait until his status is known before kickoff.
Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers vs. Seattle Seahawks
Probable – Hamstring
A lingering hamstring issue has been enough of a problem to keep Gates out of practice. However, he’s listed as Probable and it could be the team just resting their veteran to make sure he’s fresh for the game. Gates’ fantasy outlook is somewhat cloudy to begin with because of the presence of Ladarius Green. Gates remains the starter, but Green’s definitely lurking, especially if injuries continue to be a problem for the former. That said, Gates is a risky enough option this week because of the matchup with the Seahawks. Consider yourself warned.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. St. Louis Rams
Out – Ankle
The Bucs’ second-round choice has been ruled Out for today’s game because of an ankle injury. Seferian-Jenkins’ NFL debut last week was limited to two targets and one catch for 26 yards, but it will be at least another week until he’s back on the field. The rookie still offers plenty of upside, so for now I would stay the course, find a replacement and hope Seferian-Jenkins’ ankle heals quickly.
Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Out – Hamstring
Reed has already been ruled Out because of a hamstring injury that is expected to sideline him for several weeks. Niles Paul will get the starting nod in Reed’s absence and could be a stealth add for Reed owners or someone not happy with their current TE situation. Paul led the team last week with 86 yards receiving on just four catches.
Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Rams vs. Atlanta Falcons
Out – Dislocated elbow
Eifert dislocated his elbow last week and has been placed on injured reserve with a designation to return. He won’t be eligible to return to the field until Week 10 at the earliest. Jermaine Gresham will take Eifert’s place in the starting lineup and is worth considering if your league starts more than one TE.
The Carolina Panthers will have their starting quarterback for Week 2, but may be without their No. 1 running back. Meanwhile Green Bay’s workhorse should be back on the field after suffering a concussion last week. Here are some other QB and RB injuries you need to know about before setting your starting lineup.
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers vs. Detroit Lions
Probable – Ribs
Newton was held out of the season opener because of bruised ribs, as the Panthers decided to err on the side of the caution. The move paid off as backup Derek Anderson led them to a road victory over the Buccaneers. But Newton is the franchise quarterback for a reason. He got in a good week of practice and head coach Ron Rivera has already said that Newton will start today. He may not run as much as usual, but if Newton’s your guy, you need him to put him in your lineup.
Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers vs. New York Jets
Probable – Concussion
Lacy spent more time on the sideline than on the field last week against Seattle due to a concussion he sustained. Not the first concussion the second-year back has had as a pro, Lacy was a late returnee to practice this week as he went through the league-mandated tests and protocols. The good news for Lacy owners is he’s listed as Probable, which means he has cleared the required tests and is able to play. The matchup against the Jets is better than last week, but it’s still no walk in the park. Also don’t be surprised if James Starks gets a few more carries to take some of the load off of Lacy. Still, Lacy is a must-start RB1 in any league.
Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals at New York Giants
Questionable - Shoulder
Palmer was a somewhat surprise appearance on the injury report, but he’s reportedly dealing with a shoulder issue. He hasn’t thrown much this week due to what head coach Bruce Arians is calling a “nerve issue.” Palmer is listed as Questionable and that along with the curious diagnosis is enough reason to be concerned. Palmer was one of the biggest surprises of Week 1, but those looking to cash in on this Cardinal and the appealing matchup with the Giants better have a Plan B in place.
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills
Probable – Shoulder
Moreno showed up on the injury report earlier this week because of a shoulder issue, which limited him in practice. However, it appears to be a minor issue, as he is listed as Probable for today’s interesting AFC East matchup with Buffalo. Moreno is the NFL’s leading rusher after one week, as he gashed New England for 134 yards. His stock may have been slipping entering the season, but those who took a shot on Moreno have already been rewarded. He’s a solid RB2 play this week.
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Carolina Panthers vs. Detroit Lions
Questionable – Thigh
Williams missed practice both Thursday and Friday because of a thigh injury. He is listed as Questionable to play against the Lions and it’s probably best to find a different option for your lineup. If Williams does miss this game, Jonathan Stewart and MikeTolbert figure to see more work, especially since the Panthers may not let Cam Newton run that much after missing Week 1 because of bruised ribs. Stewart could be a flex option for those looking for help.
Shaun Hill, QB, St. Louis Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Questionable – Quad
Already down one quarterback because of Sam Bradford’s torn ACL, Hill suffered a quad injury last week against Minnesota. He has not been able to practice, is listed as Questionable and head coach Jeff Fisher said Hill will be a “game-time decision.” Hill wasn’t exactly the most appealing fantasy option to begin with, so it’s probably best to stay away from any Ram QB as Austin Davis will make his first career NFL start if Hill can’t go.
No Adrian Peterson in Week 2 and he’s not the only popular fantasy running back option who may not play. Here are some other key ball-carriers to keep an eye on.
Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. St. Louis Rams
Questionable - Knee
A shoulder injury limited Martin to just six games last season. Unfortunately his 2014 season also got off to a disastrous start, as he picked up just nine yards rushing on nine carries and just one catch for seven yards in Week 1. Martin’s leg also got rolled up at one point and the injury has been bad enough that he’s only been able to practice on a limited basis. He’s officially Questionable, but the Bucs are optimistic he will be able to play. The bigger question, however, is what exactly is Martin’s role in coordinator Jeff Tedford’s offense? Ten total touches in Week 1 are not exactly a promising sign for a young player who was a workhorse just two seasons ago. It’s still early, but Martin owners probably need to be prepared to accept the fact Martin is not going to be a reliable RB1 this season.
Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals at New York Giants
Questionable – Foot
Ellington was able to go on Monday night despite the foot injury, which was a good sign. He wasn’t all that productive, but indications are he can’t make the foot injury worse by playing on it. Ellington was in a walking boot earlier this week and has missed practice time, thus the Questionable label. However, there are positive vibes coming from Cardinals camp and the general expectation is that Ellington will be able to play. At least the early kickoff means his owners don’t have to sweat out the decision too long. If Ellington does play, it’s best to view him as a RB2/flex since there’s a chance his workload may be limited some by the injury.
Reggie Bush, RB, Detroit Lions at Carolina Panthers
Probable – Knee
Bush was limited in practice on Wednesday because of a knee injury, but it’s not believed to be anything serious. He is listed as Probable for today and should be out there splitting carries with Joique Bell. Bush and Bell are both somewhat risky options this week because of the matchup against a stingy Panthers defense. Temper your expectations if you plan to start either Lion back.
Toby Gerhart, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars at Washington Redskins
Probable – Ankle
Gerhart rolled his ankle last week against Philadelphia, but he was able to return and finish the game. That’s all you need to know regarding his status for this week. Gerhart is Probable and will get his shot against a Redskins defense that gave up 103 yards rushing to Arian Foster last week. Gerhart can safely be employed as a RB2/flex option.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Oakland Raiders vs. Houston Texans
Questionable – Hand
Jones-Drew injured his hand in his Raiders debut last week and while he has downplayed the severity of the injury, he did undergo some sort of procedure on it earlier this week. As a result, he has practiced very little and despite his Questionable tag, the expectation is he will not play. Then again after rushing for just 11 yards on nine carries, it’s probably very questionable to have him in your lineup in the first place. Not sure I would take a chance on any Oakland back this week not with a matchup against J.J. Watt and a Texans defense that roughed up Robert Griffin III and the Redskins in Week 1.
Ben Tate, RB, Cleveland Browns vs. New Orleans Saints
Out – Knee sprain
Tate has already been ruled out for this week because of the sprained knee he sustained against Pittsburgh in the opener. He could miss up to a month because of the injury, but it’s best to consider him week-to-week for now. Rookies Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell will handle the load while Tate’s out. West will likely see the bulk of the carries, making him an intriguing RB2/flex option, but Crowell also showed last week (2 TDs) what he can do, so don’t count him out.
The Week 2 fate of a pair of Chicago wide receivers could go down to the wire. Those are just a few of the injury stories we are keeping tabs on.
Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall, WRs, Chicago Bears vs. San Francisco 49ers
Questionable – Hamstring; Questionable – Ankle
Last week was not a good one for Chicago, who not only lost at home in overtime to Buffalo, but also saw its top two wide receivers get hurt. Jeffery sustained a hamstring injury that kept him on the sideline for the rest of the game, while Marshall hurt his ankle, but was able to return. Both wideouts missed the majority of practice this week and are listed as Questionable for tonight’s game in San Francisco. Right now, Marshall’s chances of playing appear higher, but given the late kickoff it may be best to leave both on the bench and look elsewhere. Even if either plays, expectations should be tempered due to their health and the matchup with a 49ers defense that’s ready to come after Jay Cutler, who is missing two of his primary protectors up front.
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Atlanta Falcons
Probable – Foot
Green missed some practice time this week because of a foot issue, but he’s Probable and head coach Marvin Lewis said he will play. This is more a team being cautious with their No. 1 wide receiver, who finished his Week 1 effort with an electrifying 77-yard touchdown reception. Green is a bona fide WR1 who only leaves your lineup when he’s on bye.
Kenny Stills, WR, New Orleans Saints at Cleveland Browns
Probable – Quadriceps
Stills missed last week because of a quad injury, which was still limiting him in practice this week. However, he’s been upgraded to Probable, so there’s a chance he will play today. That doesn’t mean he should be plugged into your lineup right away, as rookie Brandin Cooks looked quite comfortable last week and Drew Brees also has Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston and Pierre Thomas to throw to. Stills could provide sneaky production down the road, but he’ll most likely only be valuable in deeper leagues.
Odell Beckham, WR, New York Giants vs. Arizona Cardinals
Out – Hamstring
The wait for the debut of the Giants’ No. 1 pick will continue, as Beckham will miss a second game because of a lingering hamstring issue. Those who have stayed with Beckham this long may as well continue to ride it out, but strong showings from either Rueben Randle or Jerrel Jernigan could push Beckham even further down the pecking order.
Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly suffered a foot injury in the second half against Colorado and did not return to the game.
After suffering the injury, Kelly went to the locker room and later returned to the sidelines using crutches and sporting a walking boot on his foot.
Prior to his injury, Kelly threw for 195 yards and rushed for 70 yards against the Buffaloes.
Kelly was replaced by Mike Bercovici against the Buffaloes, and he was able to gain valuable reps in the second half.
Kelly’s status for the Sept. 25 showdown against UCLA is uncertain. And if Kelly is out for an extended period of time, he could miss the Oct. 4 game against USC and the Oct. 18 versus Stanford.
Last season, Kelly threw for 3,365 yards and 28 touchdowns and rushed for 608 yards and nine scores.
On radio, @doug987FM reports Taylor Kelly near tears, getting hugs from teammates. This appears very bad.— Tyler Lockman (@TylerLockman) September 14, 2014
As expected, it was a rough day for Kent State against Ohio State. The Buckeyes easily handled the Golden Flashes, winning 66-0 to bounce back after a disappointing loss to Virginia Tech in Week 2.
In addition to recording only 126 yards and turning the ball over three times, Kent State quarterback Colin Reardon completed only 14 of 27 passes for 76 yards.
And there was a pass Reardon would like to have back to avoid the highlight reels, as he rolled to his right and attempted to throw downfield. However, instead of the pass taking flight downfield, Reardon’s throw simply landed at his feet.
The biggest fail of Week 3?
UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley suffered an elbow injury during the first half of Saturday’s game against Texas. Hundley’s injury was to his non-throwing elbow and his prognosis is uncertain.
Hundley was replaced by backup Jerry Neuheisel and returned to the locker room during the second quarter for more treatment. According to the broadcast team at FOX, Hundley was having trouble gripping a football and struggled with snaps on the sidelines.
Prior to his injury, Hundley completed all four of his passes for 48 yards and added nine yards on the ground.
UCLA’s offensive line has been a major concern this year, but a long-term injury to Hundley would be devastating for the Bruins. Coming into Saturday night’s game, Neuheisel completed 11 of 13 passes for 124 yards.
After injuring his elbow on a scramble, UCLA QB Brett Hundley was pushed down by Jim Mora to cause an injury timeout. http://t.co/CNEFvBDVbG— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) September 14, 2014
Hundley is headed for locker room #UCLAvsTEX— Ted Miller (@TedMillerRK) September 14, 2014
The ramifications of a South Carolina-Georgia game remain as unpredictable as ever. At least we know the SEC East matchup can still deliver the goods.
South Carolina defeated Georgia 38-35 to keep the Gamecocks in the SEC East race following the Week 1 blowout against Texas A&M.
What does the win mean? The winner of this game doesn’t necessarily win the East, more often than not in recent years, the opposite has been true. And in the new Playoff era, we don’t know yet if this is a game that pushes South Carolina in the conversation or pulls Georgia out of the running.
For sure, though, South Carolina couldn’t afford to fall to 0-2 in the league. The SEC East as a result, literally and figuratively, is separated by the slimmest of margins.
Read and React: South Carolina 38, Georgia 35
The SEC East is as wild as ever
One picture tells it all. As South Carolina ran a quarterback sneak at midfield. One chain link kept South Carolina’s possession and clinched the game. Preseason favorites Georgia and South Carolina now have one league loss apiece while defending division champion Missouri still looms.
UNREAL pic.twitter.com/rmdwaF5PMb— The SEC Logo (@SEC_Logo) September 14, 2014
If you gave up on South Carolina, you shouldn’t have
Texas A&M gouged South Carolina’s defense in the opener, and the Gamecocks needed a long drive in the fourth quarter to put East Carolina away last week. South Carolina looked more like the team we expected against Georgia. No, the defense wasn’t great as Georgia amassed 406 total yards and 6.8 yards per play. But the Gamecocks had an answer for everything Georgia brought on defense. Dylan Thompson flourished early in the passing game, completing 21-of-30 attempts for 271 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. As the rain started to fall, South Carolina rode its offensive line as Brandon Wilds and Mike Davis combined for 159 yards on 31 carries.
Georgia’s coaches staff are going to hear about this one
Georgia has the top running back in the country and perhaps the deepest group of backs, but Mark Richt and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo may have been too cute in using Todd Gurley as a decoy. Fullback runs paid of in a scoring drive in the fourth quarter. Other gambles didn’t. Most egregious was a first-and-goal after a turnover. The call for a pass play resulted in an intentional grounding penalty. A missed field goal meant Georgia went from four yards to a lead in the final five minutes to South Carolina preserving a three-point edge. It's worth worth noting all of Georgia's top three tailbacks averaged at least 6.6 yards per carry.
Kicking is not fun
Maybe kickers deserve more credit. After all, no reasonable person would sign up for this. Georgia’s Marshall Morgan made an SEC record 20 consecutive field goals, including his first two attempts. Morgan missed a 44-yarder in the second quarter and then a 28-yard attempt that would have tied the game on Georgia’s final possession. He may escape scorn because of questionable play calling, but this is an unenviable position nonetheless.
Virginia Tech scored a surprise win over Ohio State in Week 2, but the Hokies fell victim an upset-minded East Carolina team in Week 3.
The Pirates won 28-21, but there were a few highlight plays for Virginia Tech, including receiver Isaiah Ford’s touchdown catch in the second half. Ford's catch was reviewed but the touchdown was upheld.
Check out Ford's nifty one-handed grab:
Whether it’s by air or via the ground, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is one of the nation’s best. And on Saturday against Wyoming, Mariota made a highlight reel play by taking a rushing touchdown for a score.
Mariota didn’t find an open option on his passing reads and chose to take off on the ground. The junior needed some help to score, choosing to take to the air to reach the endzone.
Check out Mariota’s touchdown run:
Atlanta and Cincinnati, two teams riding the high of improbable Week 1 victories, will meet up in Paul Brown Stadium Sunday afternoon on CBS, and the winner will take an important early step toward playoff contention. The Bengals won a division game in a venue — Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium — where quarterback Andy Dalton had never won as a starter, while the Falcons shocked NFC South rivals (and popular Super Bowl picks) Drew Brees and the Saints with an offensive explosion in the Georgia Dome.
Atlanta Falcons at Cincinnati Bengals
Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
TV Channel: CBS
Spread: Cincinnati -5
Three Things to Watch
|Atlanta 2014 Schedule|
|9/7||vs NO||W 37 - 34||Recap|
|9/14||@ CIN||L 10 - 24||Recap|
|9/18||vs TB||W 56 - 14||Recap|
|9/28||@ MIN||L 28 - 41||Recap|
1. Will Matty Ice Stay Red-Hot?
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is merely coming off the best performance of his career in Atlanta's 37–34 overtime win over New Orleans. Ryan completed 31-of-43 passes for a franchise-record 448 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions. But it was some unexpected scrambling that really frustrated a helpless Saints defense that was able to sack the statuesque Ryan only once. Rushing for 15 yards on three carries, Ryan also extended a number of plays with some deft movement in the pocket, including sidestepping the rush on a 39-yard pass to Roddy White that led to an important field goal right before halftime. "He's played a lot of games, made a lot of plays for us," coach Mike Smith said after the game. "But I was really impressed with his ability to extend some plays by moving around in the pocket. And he was very, very accurate. When you have (568 yards) of total offense and 448 through the air, your quarterback is playing well." Now, the question becomes: Can he do it away from the comfort of the Georgia Dome?
2. A.J. Green: The AFC's Best Wideout
As long as Megatron keeps slicing through defenses for Detroit, the title of Best Wideout in the NFL is taken, but Green is staking a strong claim for Best of the Rest. Coming off a season stat line of 98-1,426-11, Green resumed his abuse of hapless defensive backs, burning the Ravens for six catches for 131 yards and a decisive 77-yard touchdown in Cincy's 23–16 win in Baltimore. Quarterback Andy Dalton's comfort level with his prime target is only growing; against the Ravens, Dalton was 6-of-8 for 131 yards and a touchdown when targeting Green. In only three-plus seasons, Green has 12 touchdown catches of 30 yards or longer, and that ability to produce the big play assures that Dalton will continue to look his way. Against a Falcons defense that surrendered 333 passing yards in Week 1, Green could run wild.
|Cincinnati 2014 Schedule|
|9/7||@ BAL||W 23 - 16||Recap|
|9/14||vs ATL||W 24 - 10||Recap|
|9/21||vs TEN||W 33 - 7||Recap|
|10/5||@ NE||L 17 - 43||Recap|
3. Protecting the Jungle
Paul Brown Stadium is suddenly one of the toughest places to play in the NFL. The Bengals have won nine straight regular-season games at home, and the Jungle will present a challenging setting for Atlanta's attempt to chalk up its first two-game winning streak since 2012. The Bengals' propensity for protecting their home turf is an important component of this new golden era for a team that is gunning for its fourth consecutive winning season, which would be a first in the history of a downtrodden franchise. If Cincinnati is to take the next step and win a playoff game, the Bengals need to play that postseason game at home, and protecting home turf during the regular season — especially against ostensibly weaker teams — is critical to reaching that goal. Of course, given the Bengals' surprising home playoff loss to San Diego last season, there are no guarantees.
Both defenses will be under the gun on Sunday. The Bengals allowed 423 yards to the Ravens and needed the cooperation of Joe Flacco & Co. via some well-timed mistakes to come out of Baltimore with a win. The Falcons needed every one of their 568 total yards against the Saints, because the defense was busy surrendering 472 yards and a number of big plays. The Bengals seem to have the edge in physicality, and given the Falcons' 1–7 road record in 2013, home should be very sweet indeed for Cincy on Sunday.
Prediction: Cincinnati 27, Atlanta 21
Adrian Peterson was handed a tasty matchup, which was why he was the easy choice for the top spot in Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Week 2 Running Back Rankings. However, Peterson was deactivated by Minnesota on Friday night after it was announced he had been indicted by a Texas grand jury and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Peterson owners need to go a different direction as unheralded Matt Asiata (No. 27) will likely see the bulk of the carries against New England.
Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.
2014 NFL Week 2 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Backs
|1||LeSean McCoy||PHI||at IND (Mon.)||No TDs, but 27 total touches.|
|2||Jamaal Charles||KC||at DEN||Expect to see him double his 11 touches.|
|3||Marshawn Lynch||SEA||at SD||Beastly (110, 2) in opener against Packers.|
|4||Arian Foster||HOU||at OAK||51 of his 103 yards rushing came after contact.|
|5||Matt Forte||CHI||at SF||Can 49ers' D bottle up Forte?|
|6||Montee Ball||DEN||vs. KC||Scored a TD, but held in check by Colts.|
|7||Le'Veon Bell||PIT||at BAL (Thurs.)||Put up 197 total yards, TD vs. Browns.|
|8||Giovani Bernard||CIN||vs. ATL||Should see about 20 touches per game.|
|9||DeMarco Murray||DAL||at TEN||Put up 118 yards rushing on 49ers last week.|
|10||Alfred Morris||WAS||vs. JAC||Gained 91 yards on the ground on just 14 att.|
|11||Eddie Lacy||GB||vs. NYJ||Concussion concerns already?|
|12||Frank Gore||SF||vs. CHI||Bears' run D still lacks bite.|
|13||Shane Vereen||NE||at MIN||Scored rushing TD, but did little else.|
|14||Chris Johnson||NYJ||at GB||Caught a TD pass in his Jets' debut.|
|15||Toby Gerhart||JAC||at WAS||Redskins gave up 115 yards rushing, but just 3.0 ypc.|
|16||Zac Stacy||STL||at TB||Tough sledding (43 yards rushing) vs. MIN.|
|17||C.J. Spiller||BUF||vs. MIA||Caught a TD, got 18 total touches vs. Bears.|
|18||Andre Ellington||ARI||at NYG||Played, but foot injury a factor vs. SD.|
|19||Rashad Jennings||NYG||vs. ARI||Finished with 96 total yards, TD in Giants' debut.|
|20||Knowshon Moreno||MIA||at BUF||Huge (134 yds., TD) debut for Dolphins.|
|21||Doug Martin||TB||vs. STL||16 yards on 10 touches is not going to cut it.|
|22||Ryan Mathews||SD||vs. SEA|
|23||Joique Bell||DET||at CAR||Needed late TD to salvage his output.|
|24||Reggie Bush||DET||at CAR||More effective as receiver than rusher vs. NYG.|
|25||Terrance West||CLE||vs. NO||Gets start w/ Tate (sprained knee) out.|
|26||Shonn Greene||TEN||vs. DAL||Led Titans in yards (71) and carries (15).|
|27||Matt Asiata||MIN||vs. NE||Surprise starter following Peterson's deactivation.|
|28||Darren Sproles||PHI||at IND (Mon.)||Impact came on ground w/ 49-yard TD.|
|29||Fred Jackson||BUF||vs. MIA||Big 38-yard run set up game-winning FG in OT.|
|30||Steven Jackson||ATL||at CIN|
|31||Chris Ivory||NYJ||at GB||71-yard TD run upstages CJ's Jets debut.|
|32||Justin Forsett||BAL||vs. PIT (Thurs.)||Took over (70 yds., TD) when Pierce faltered.|
|33||Pierre Thomas||NO||at CLE||Saints backfield could be a true timeshare.|
|34||Mark Ingram||NO||at CLE||Only 60 yards, but 2 TDs.|
|35||Lamar Miller||MIA||at BUF||Fewer touches following Moreno's big debut?|
|36||DeAngelo Williams||CAR||vs. DET||Averaged 5.1 ypc (14 att.) vs. Bucs.|
|37||Trent Richardson||IND||vs. PHI (Mon.)||More of same (6 att., 20 yds.) from T-Rich.|
|38||Maurice Jones-Drew||OAK||vs. HOU||Jets held him to 11 yards on 9 carries.|
|39||Bernard Pierce||BAL||vs. PIT (Thurs.)||Can he seize starting job?|
|40||Jeremy Hill||CIN||vs. ATL||Got just 4 carries last week.|
|41||Stevan Ridley||NE||at MIN||Practically non-existent (28 total yds.) vs. MIA.|
|42||Carlos Hyde||SF||vs. CHI||Made his presence felt (50 yds., TD) vs. DAL.|
|43||Isaiah Crowell||CLE||vs. NO||No. 2 behind West w/ Tate out. 2 TDs last week.|
|44||Danny Woodhead||SD||vs. SEA|
|45||Khiry Robinson||NO||at CLE||Took one goal-line look away from Ingram.|
|46||Ahmad Bradshaw||IND||vs. PHI (Mon.)||More effective (85 total yards) than T-Rich.|
|47||Bishop Sankey||TEN||vs. DAL||Not big part (6 att., 25 yds.) of Week 1 game plan.|
|48||James Starks||GB||vs. NYJ||Next in line if Stacy's concussion issues persist.|
Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:
All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points
Need more fantasy help? Visit www.FantasyRundown.com.
Minnesota Vikings’ All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson will not play Sunday against New England following an indictment from a Texas grand jury. Peterson has been indicted by a Montgomery County, Texas, grand jury on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child. A warrant has been issued for his arrest and he has been deactivated by the team, meaning he will not play in Sunday’s game.
While the legal process runs its course, the question becomes, what’s a Peterson owner to do? The No. 1 overall pick in this year’s drafts according to many fantasy experts and analysts, Peterson is widely considered the top running back in the NFL. Now those who drafted Peterson won’t have his services on Sunday, if not longer depending on how this situation turns out.
With that in mind here are some potential replacement options for those Peterson owners who may be scrambling.
Matt Asiata, Minnesota Vikings
When the starter goes down due to injury, it’s only natural to turn to the backup. That could be the wisest course of action here too, as the expectation has to be that Asiata will carry the load in Peterson’s absence. At the end of last season with Peterson and then-backup Toby Gerhart both sidelined, Asiata rushed for 115 yards on 14 carries against Detroit. Hopefully Peterson owners went ahead and used a late-round pick on Asiata, his handcuff, but if not now would be a good time to consider adding him. Rookie Jerick McKinnon can’t be overlooked either, but for now it appears that Asiata will get the first opportunity to try and fill Peterson’s huge shoes.
Terrance West, Cleveland Browns
West, a rookie, is expected to get the bulk of the carries while starter Ben Tate is sidelined by a sprained knee. The Browns’ third-round pick, West was quite impressive in his first game action, rushing for 100 yards on 16 carries against Pittsburgh. Fellow rookie Isaiah Crowell (2 TDs last week) will get some touches too, but West is ahead of him in the pecking order for now. If West is still out there, go get him.
Shonn Greene, Tennessee Titans
Rookie Bishop Sankey got all the attention, but for the time being, it looks like Greene will get the carries. Greene led the team with 71 yards rushing on 15 carries in the win over Kansas City, while Sankey actually got fewer carries (6) than “new” running back Dexter McCluster (9). Greene is a former 1,000-yard rusher so he’s been productive before and if Ken Whisenhunt continues to give him a starter’s workload he could provide reliable production. Especially this week against a Dallas defense that gave up 127 yards rushing against San Francisco in Week 1.
Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
It’s just one game, but the fact the Saints ran the ball 28 times (versus 42 pass attempts) in Week 1 is a good sign. In Ingram’s case, it’s worth pointing out that he got as many carries (13) as Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson combined. If New Orleans stays committed to the run and Ingram continues to be effective around the goal line (2 three-yard TD runs), he may be worth taking a chance on this week, and perhaps longer.
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers
DeAngelo Williams is questionable for Sunday’s game against Detroit with a thigh injury, which could present a golden opportunity for Jonathan Stewart. A talented, but injury-prone back, Stewart picked up 20 yards on nine carries last week while Williams led the way with 72 yards on 14 totes. If Williams can’t go, those carries presumably would go to Stewart, which would increase his fantasy potential. Another factor that could go in Stewart’s favor is that even though Cam Newton will start after missing the opener with bruised ribs, chances are he will not run as often as he usually does as the team will more than likely be careful with its franchise signal-caller. Stewart has always been more potential than promise, but this could be a good week to take a chance and see what happens.
Each week, Geoffrey Miller's "Five Things to Watch" will help you catch up on the biggest stories on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' upcoming race weekend. This week, the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup kicks off — complete with a
hokey shiny new format. Also, Matt Kenseth looks for a Chi-town repeat, Jimmie Johnson begins his quest for a seventh title in earnest and some movement in the Tony Stewart-Kevin Ward Jr. investigation highlight the storylines heading into the MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.
No going back from NASCAR’s new Pandora’s Box
This was the case 10 seasons ago when NASCAR implemented the first edition of what we now call the Chase for the Sprint Cup, and it’s true again Sunday. With the start of the first-ever elimination-style championship system occurring with Sunday’s green flag at Chicagoland Speedway, NASCAR has taken a path it can’t walk back.
A sport that existed and grew for more than 50 years with a championship determination based on how well a driver raced both in February and October has now transitioned to an entirely unlikely but still plausible scenario of winning nine of the final 10 races not being enough to win the sport’s crowning jewel.
It’s not without precedent across the sports world, of course. We’ve watched as undefeated teams have gone down in just one contest several times in recent years — think Wichita State in the 2014 NCAA Basketball Tournament or the New England Patriots in the 2008 Super Bowl — but that unreal possibility of a driver winning every race except the last one, and thus losing the championship, has never existed in motorsports.
More ironic about it all may be that the one problem that the Chase and its numerous iterations since set out to solve still isn’t fixed: NASCAR can still have a champion who hasn’t won a race all year. The new Chase will let winners advance, sure, but the semifinal round of races allows the chance that one driver can make it to Homestead without a win.
But beyond these what-if intricacies, NASCAR has also completely ruined any chance that the sport’s champion can ever be considered in context with title winners of its past. Comparing Johnson’s six titles with those of Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty was already a reach, but now, with a one-race, winner-take-all finale such comparisons are completely delusional.
NASCAR has started a new era. Only time will tell how it goes.
Kenseth looking to start Chase buoyed by Chicago repeat
Matt Kenseth won seven times in 2013 and finished runner-up in the point standings to Jimmie Johnson during his first full season with Joe Gibbs Racing. It was a commanding performance, and one that left him as a strong pick to take the title this year.
That’s still a possibility for Kenseth, but in a manner few expected because he’s yet to score a win in 2014. Does his No. 20 have actually still have a chance for the title?
“I feel like we’ve been getting closer,” Kenseth says. “We’ve been running in the top 5 a lot. The finishes don’t show it because we’ve been caught up in so many accidents.”
One of those accidents was self-inflicted last week at Richmond when Kenseth lost control and struck the Turn 1 wall. But Kenseth could very well make up for it in a big way this weekend by repeating his 2013 win at Chicago.
Kenseth has top-10 finishes at every race contested on 1.5-mile tracks this season and finishes of fourth or better in the last three. At Atlanta two weeks ago, Kenseth narrowly lost to Kasey Kahne on a late restart. He also posted the fifth fastest speed in opening practice in Joliet on Friday.
That has to bode well for Sunday.
Jimmie Johnson has to remain Chase favorite
Winning five straight championships — and later a sixth, of course — has to count for something. For Jimmie Johnson on the eve of the Chase starting anew, it counts as making him a prohibitive championship favorite even after a decidedly un-Jimmie regular season.
Johnson wrapped the 26-race prequel to this championship fight as the fifth-best driver in terms of scoring points, 112 behind teammate Jeff Gordon. When the Chicagoland Speedway race starts, it will have been 103 days since the No. 48 was in victory lane. Still, we can’t count him out.
Johnson endured a disastrous summer stretch with a five-race span that included four finishes 28th, 39th, 42nd and 42nd. Three of those races ended in a crash.
But the ship seemed to list more favorably just before the Chase as Johnson reeled off four straight top-10 finishes. It was a return to consistency that became Johnson’s hallmark during his record-setting championship run.
Johnson has two wins already this season at tracks to come in the Chase and top-10 finishes at three others. And you’ve got to think Texas (Johnson suffered damage from an early incident in the spring race and finished 25th) and New Hampshire (he blew consecutive tires before a crash knocked him out of the event) will go much better on the second go-round.
No, 2014 hasn’t allowed Johnson to treat the Sprint Cup Series as his personal playground. But we’ve all seen this story before, and we’ve seen how it has often ended with Johnson taking pictures with trophies in Homestead. Can you really argue that it won’t happen again?
Resolution to Stewart case coming soon
Just over a month since Kevin Ward Jr. was killed in the crash with Tony Stewart at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in upstate New York, the county sheriff has completed the incident’s investigation. Now, Stewart’s future hangs in the balance of the Ontario County, N.Y., district attorney’s office.
The county D.A. will determine if charges are to be filed in the case — a process expected to be complete late next week, according to a statement.
“The entire thorough investigation, including a forensic video enhancement recently received from the New York State Police Laboratory in Albany, has been submitted to the Office of the Ontario County District Attorney for review,” said a statement released Thursday by the sheriff’s office.
It was unclear if the enhanced video was the one widely shown in the days following the incident, or if the sheriff’s office was referring to a second video it had confirmed receipt of in the initial days after the investigation.
The next seven days are going to be a tedious time for Stewart, his business holdings and NASCAR. Criminal charges in the case would be disastrous to each of those entities — Stewart for obvious reasons, potential fallout for his companies and NASCAR, for its unequivocal backing of Stewart in the process by letting him race and brazenly approving him for a championship waiver should he have won in the final two regular season races of his return.
Stewart didn’t win of course and won’t be racing for the title — saving NASCAR from the embarrassment of one its “nations” not being able to participate in any of this week’s Chase-promoting hoopla. But the damage may become more than embarrassing next week once we know the decision of the district attorney.
Will you take the “The Field” for the Chase?
Sixteen drivers are eligible for this new format of NASCAR’s Chase. But if you’re in Las Vegas, only 14 drivers are routinely available for placing futures bets on who will actually win the Sprint Cup title.
Not on most lists? The Double A’s: AJ Allmendinger and Aric Almirola. They instead have been lumped in the ubiquitous category of “Field.”
As of Friday morning, only Bovada was providing direct odds for all of the Chase entrants. Others, like Sportsbook.ag, were listing the 14 drivers individually and the Allmendinger/Almirola combination in “Field” at +25,000 — meaning a $10 bet would pay $2,500.
Comparatively, Jeff Gordon is Sportsbook’s favorite at +350.
“I understand it, it’s part of it. I relish being an underdog team,” Allmendinger says. “Tad and Jodi (Geschickter, partial owners of JTG-Daugherty Racing) started this team in a barn in ’94 so they’ve always been an underdog.”
Allmendinger is bringing a stronger horse to battle than you might expect, however. Richard Childress Racing, the JTG-D alliance partner, built Allmendinger a new car for Sunday’s race. In a sense, Allmendinger becomes the second RCR car in the Chase, joining Ryan Newman.
We’ll see how that pans out.
Follow Geoffrey Miller on Twitter: @GeoffreyMiller
Photos by Action Sports, Inc.
Arkansas and Texas Tech aren’t ranked in this week’s latest top 25 poll, but the matchup between the Razorbacks and Red Raiders is certainly one of the most intriguing games of Week 3. This contest features an interesting contrast in styles, as Texas Tech will attempt to win this one through the air, while Arkansas plans to use its ground attack to control the clock and dominate the line of scrimmage. Will the Red Raiders’ high-octane style win out? Or will the Razorbacks successfully take the air out of the football and earn a key non-conference victory in Bret Bielema’s second year?
In addition to watching the style of play, this game is a matchup between two old Southwest Conference rivalries. Arkansas and Texas Tech have played 35 previous times, with the Razorbacks owning a 28-7 series edge.
Arkansas at Texas Tech
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET, Saturday
TV Channel: ABC/ESPN2
Spread: Texas Tech -1.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Arkansas’ Rushing Attack Versus TTU's Defense
There’s a good chance this aspect is where Saturday’s game will be decided. Arkansas prefers a methodical approach on offense, averaging 30:26 per game in time of possession last year, while Texas Tech averages 23:42 through two games this year. Tempo is a huge factor in how Saturday’s matchup will be decided. The Razorbacks want to use their ground game to keep the Red Raiders’ passing offense off the field. Arkansas goes three-deep at running back, headlined by sophomore Alex Collins. Jonathan Williams and Korliss Marshall will also see significant time, but Collins (23 carries) is expected to be the workhorse. Texas Tech’s rush defense has been an issue this year, and UTEP recorded 277 yards (5.3 ypc) last week. The Red Raiders’ rush defense hopes to get a boost with the return of defensive tackle Rika Levi (367 pounds) this week. Arkansas has played only two games but is averaging 9.4 yards per carry. If the Razorbacks establish the line of scrimmage and keep Texas Tech’s offense on the sidelines, this plays significantly into Arkansas’ favor.
2. Texas Tech’s Passing Offense
As we mentioned in the section above, this game is all about tempo and controlling the pace of play. Texas Tech wants to go quick, while Arkansas plans to establish the run and own an edge in time of possession. If the Red Raiders jump out to an early lead, it’s a worst-case scenario for the Razorbacks. Texas Tech’s ability to score quick and on big plays (seven of 30 or more yards in 2014) is a tough matchup for Arkansas. Quarterback Davis Webb is off to a fast start (7 TDs, 2 INTs) and is completing 67.5 percent of his throws. He also has plenty of talent at the skill positions, starting with running back Justin Stockton and in the receiving corps with Bradley Marquez and Jakeem Grant. The biggest weakness on Arkansas’ defense is the secondary. The Razorbacks allowed 19 passing plays of 30 or more yards in 2013, but coordinator Robb Smith can counter a questionable secondary with a good pass rush.
3. Turnovers and Special Teams
With a tight game expected, keep an eye on the turnover battle and what transpires on special teams. Arkansas has an inexperienced kicker (John Henson), but punter Sam Irwin-Hill is one of the best in the SEC. The Razorbacks also have options on returns with D.J. Dean and Korliss Marshall. Texas Tech has the edge on field goals with Ryan Bustin (1 of 2 in 2014), while punter Taylor Symmank is in his first year as a starter. In the turnover department, Texas Tech is -3 through two games, while Arkansas sports an even margin (0). A mistake on special teams or a turnover could be the deciding factor on Saturday.
Think of this game like a basketball matchup. Which style and tempo will control the pace of play? Will Texas Tech’s Air Raid offense win out? Or will Arkansas’ ground-and-pound style dominate the clock and keep the Red Raiders’ offense on the sidelines? The guess here is both sides will land some punches. The Razorbacks will churn out a big day on the ground, but Texas Tech also lands big plays in the passing game against a suspect secondary. However, in the fourth quarter, Arkansas leans on running backs Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams to melt the clock away, giving Bret Bielema a key non-conference win in his second year in Fayetteville.
Prediction: Arkansas 38, Texas Tech 34
This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for September 12:
• Plenty of weak matchups in college football this weekend, but the cheerleader matchups are pretty good.
• There were an alarming number of purple No. 27 jerseys on display in Baltimore last night. Perhaps the news cycle is a little behind up there.
• Scary moment last night: Giancarlo Stanton got carted off in an ambulance after being beaned in the face. The beaner, Mike Fiers, offered a heartfelt apology via Twitter.
• First-pitch follies: Joakim Noah botched his first try, but got a mulligan and threw a strike.
--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]
UCLA and Texas meet in Arlington, Texas for a neutral site matchup that is one of the marquee games on college football’s Week 3 slate. While this game is big on name value, the actual on-field matchup has lost some of its luster. Texas is 1-1, but its depth chart has changed drastically due to suspensions and injuries since spring practice. While UCLA is off to a 2-0 start, the Bruins have not impressed. After a close call against Virginia in Week 1, Jim Mora’s team won by seven points in a home date against Memphis. Both teams have plenty to prove heading into this matchup, but it’s unlikely either program will be able to answer of all its question marks with a win in Arlington.
These two teams have met six times, and the overall series is tied at three wins apiece.
UCLA vs. Texas (Arlington)
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET, Saturday
TV Channel: FOX
Spread: UCLA -7.5
Three Things to Watch
1. UCLA’s OL Against Texas’ DL
The biggest weakness of UCLA’s offense meets the strength of Texas’ defense. The Bruins have allowed 21 tackles for loss and eight sacks through two games. UCLA has played two solid defenses (Memphis and Virginia), but this unit needs to show progress if the Bruins want to win the Pac-12 title. Center Jake Brendel missed the opener due to a knee injury and returned last Saturday against Memphis. With Brendel back in the mix, UCLA should improve up front over the course of the season. Texas is allowing just 3.2 yards per carry and has registered 10 sacks in two games. End Cedric Reed and tackles Malcom Brown and Desmond Jackson are all-conference candidates and present a tough matchup for the Bruins. Can UCLA’s offensive line protect quarterback Brett Hundley?
2. Texas QB Tyrone Swoopes
In Swoopes’ first career start (BYU), he completed 20 of 31 passes for 176 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for seven yards on seven attempts. While Swoopes’ numbers certainly won’t match those of Oregon’s Marcus Mariota or Florida State’s Jameis Winston, there were positives for coordinator Shawn Watson to build on in Week 3. One potential problem for Swoopes is a lack of proven options at receiver. The Longhorns may not have Jaxon Shipley due to a head injury, leaving Marcus Johnson and John Harris as the team’s most experienced options. UCLA’s secondary should be one of the best in the Pac-12 this year, and the Bruins have allowed only three passing touchdowns through their first two matchups. How much will Swoopes improve in his second start? Could the sophomore make a few more plays with his legs this week?
3. Supporting Cast
With UCLA’s offensive line struggling, and Swoopes making his second start for Texas, which team’s supporting cast steps up this Saturday? Can the Bruins get consistent production from running back Paul Perkins? Or will linebacker/running back Myles Jack play a bigger role on offense this week? Will Jordan Payton or Thomas Duarte provide opportunities for big plays from Hundley? On the Texas side, the Longhorns need running backs Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown to find running room against a Bruins’ defense allowing just 3.6 yards per carry. If Shipley sits out, will Harris or Johnson provide a consistent threat at receiver?
Expect a low-scoring game on Saturday night. With UCLA’s struggles on the line, the Longhorns should be able to create pressure on quarterback Brett Hundley. But Hundley’s ability to make plays with his legs could be a valuable asset against a solid front seven. Thanks to its defense, expect Texas to hang around in this game. However, the Bruins eventually pull away in the second half and move to 3-0 before a key Pac-12 matchup against Arizona State.
Prediction: UCLA 27, Texas 13
It’s only Week 3, but the race to win the SEC's East Division heats up on Saturday, as Georgia visits South Carolina in a key conference game. The Bulldogs impressed in their Week 1 victory over Clemson, while the Gamecocks lost 52-28 in their opener to Texas A&M. South Carolina was able to regain some of its momentum by defeating East Carolina 33-23 in Week 2, but this team still has several question marks entering this Saturday’s matchup. Georgia was off last Saturday, and the Bulldogs are 16-4 under Mark Richt after a bye week.
It’s too early to call any game an elimination contest, but the Gamecocks simply can’t afford to go 0-2 in the SEC. For Georgia, this is an opportunity to beat another top-25 team and wrestle (early) control of the East Division.
Georgia at South Carolina
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET, Saturday
TV Channel: CBS
Spread: Georgia -6
Three Things to Watch
1. South Carolina’s Pass Defense
The secondary has been especially problematic for the Gamecocks in 2014. South Carolina is allowing 416 passing yards per game, and opposing quarterbacks are completing 71.7 percent of their throws. The Gamecocks’ pass defense catches a small break on Saturday, as Georgia isn’t likely to throw the ball as much as East Carolina (46) and Texas A&M (60) did in their matchups. However, the Bulldogs – even without Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley – have options at receiver. Chris Conley and Michael Bennett are expected to see the majority of targets at receiver, and tight end Jay Rome is another player to watch in the passing game. Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason is making just his second start on the road. Can the Gamecocks tighten up some of their struggles in the secondary? Or will Mason and the Bulldogs’ receivers torch the pass defense for another huge performance?
2. Todd Gurley and Georgia’s Running Backs
Considering South Carolina’s struggles against the pass, Georgia could open up the offense and allow Mason to throw more than he did in the opener (26 attempts). Even if coordinator Mike Bobo does allow Mason to approach 30-35 passes, the bread and butter of the Bulldogs’ offense remains on the ground. Running back Todd Gurley recorded 293 all-purpose yards in the opener and is a tough matchup for a Gamecocks’ defense allowing 5.0 yards per carry (150.5 ypg). Gurley is the nation’s top running back, but he isn’t the only option for Richt. Keith Marshall and freshmen Nick Chubb and Sony Michel will each see opportunities on Saturday afternoon. Georgia’s offense is more traditional (pro-style) than the spread attacks South Carolina has played so far. Will that help the struggling Gamecocks’ defense?
3. Dylan Thompson Versus Georgia’s Secondary
Coming into 2014, Georgia’s biggest concern on defense was its secondary. The coaching staff rotated several players into the lineup during offseason practices, and while this unit allowed only 203 passing yards to Clemson, the Tigers recorded three passing plays of 30 yards or more. Big plays have been South Carolina’s specialty in the passing game this year. Quarterback Dylan Thompson is averaging 14.0 yards per completion, while receiver Nick Jones (15.7) and Pharoh Cooper (12.9) are the preferred targets through the air. To protect their secondary, expect the Bulldogs to be active with their front seven. New coordinator Jeremy Pruitt will send different blitzes at Thompson, and the Bulldogs were able to sack Clemson quarterbacks five times in the opener. If Thompson has time to throw, he could find Cooper and Jones for big plays. But if Georgia’s front seven controls the pace of the game, Thompson and the passing game will be neutralized.
Despite Georgia’s impressive showing in Week 1 and South Carolina’s sluggish start to the season, this has the makings of a close game. The last two meetings in this series were decided by more than 10 points. But from 2004-08, four out of the five matchups were decided by a touchdown or less.
After struggling to stop spread offenses in the first two games, South Carolina’s defense will have its hands full once again on Saturday. Gurley recorded 132 yards and one touchdown against the Gamecocks last season and a similar effort could be in store in Week 3. But even if the Gamecocks contain Gurley, can they stop Mason and the Bulldogs’ passing offense?
A healthy Mike Davis at running back should help South Carolina’s offense, and Thompson will have chances for big plays in the passing game. Keeping Thompson upright and away from Georgia rushers is a huge task for the Gamecocks’ offensive line.
Expect a close game into the fourth quarter, but Mason, Gurley and the Bulldogs’ front seven will be enough for Georgia to win for the first time since 2008 in Columbia.
Prediction: Georgia 31, South Carolina 24
College football’s Week 3 slate is light on good matchups, but there’s some name value in the meeting between Tennessee and Oklahoma. Both programs won national championships during the BCS era, and there’s some extra appeal in this game due to Bob Stoops’ comments about the SEC last season. Even though the Oklahoma and Tennessee brands are good enough to catch television eyeballs on Saturday night, the actual matchup may leave something to be desired. The Sooners are a threat to win the national title in 2014, while the Volunteers are rebuilding in coach Butch Jones’ second year.
This will be only the third meeting between Oklahoma and Tennessee. The Volunteers defeated the Sooners in the 1939 Orange Bowl, while Oklahoma won the second meeting 26-24.
Tennessee at Oklahoma
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET, Saturday
TV Channel: ABC
Spread: Oklahoma -20.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Tennessee’s Offensive Line
The Volunteers had to replace all five starters on the line this preseason, and through two games, it’s clear this unit is a work in progress. Tennessee has allowed four sacks on 78 pass attempts and rushers are recording 3.3 yards per carry. Those numbers won’t get it done on Saturday, as Oklahoma’s defense is one of the best in the nation. The Sooners have yet to allow a rushing touchdown and opponents are averaging just 2.4 yards per carry. Will this group give quarterback Justin Worley time to throw and open up rushing lanes for the Tennessee running backs?
2. Oklahoma QB Trevor Knight
Knight’s development as Oklahoma’s quarterback was one of the biggest question marks in 2014. Sure, Knight had a huge performance against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. But could he carry that into a full season? So far, so good. Knight’s competition hasn’t been elite, but the sophomore has thrown for 552 yards, three touchdowns and completed 58.8 percent of his passes. Knight has also rushed for 52 yards on nine attempts. Tennessee has talent in the secondary, headlined by sophomore cornerback Cameron Sutton. But while there is talent, the Volunteers are also very young in the defensive backfield. Considering Tennessee’s youth, Knight should build off a strong start to the season and will connect with Sterling Shepard, Durron Neal and K.J. Young for build plays on Saturday.
3. Oklahoma’s Defense
Although Tennessee is in rebuild mode, second-year coach Butch Jones has talent to work with on offense. Running backs Jalen Hurd and Marlin Lane combined for 207 yards through two games, and receiver Marquez North is one of the best in the SEC. Despite the talent at the skill positions, the Volunteers’ success on Saturday will be up to quarterback Justin Worley. The senior has thrown for 520 yards and five scores in two games, but the matchup with Oklahoma is clearly the toughest of the season. The Sooners have recorded two sacks in two games and all three touchdown passes allowed came after the score was not in doubt. The defense also received good news this week with the health status of cornerback Zack Sanchez. The sophomore was injured against Tulsa but is expected to play on Saturday. The Sooners are deep, athletic and one of the best defenses in the nation. Can Tennessee counter that with quick passes to protect an inexperienced offensive line? And if the Volunteers can’t get any push on the ground, can they throw enough to stay in this game? Against a defense like Oklahoma, no rushing attack and a shaky offensive line is not a good recipe for success.
Tennessee is making strides, but Oklahoma is simply the better team. With a collection of good talent at the skill positions – running backs Jalen Hurd and Marlin Lane and receiver Marquez North – the Volunteers could have some success moving the ball early in the first half. However, the Sooners’ defense eventually wrestles control of the game, and Knight turns in another huge performance to boost Oklahoma to 3-0.
Prediction: Oklahoma 41, Tennessee 17
It’s hard to call Penn State and Rutgers a true rivalry since these two teams have not played since 1995. However, there’s some renewed interest in this series, as Rutgers has joined the Big Ten, and new Penn State coach James Franklin has stated his desire to dominate the region in recruiting. And Rutgers coach Kyle Flood did his best to ignite the rivalry, calling Penn State the “team from Pennsylvania.”
While the focus for both teams is on Saturday night, Penn State and Rutgers had significant off-field announcements this week. The NCAA announced the Nittany Lions’ bowl ban has been lifted, and the program can have 85 scholarship players in 2015. For the Scarlet Knights, coach Kyle Flood signed a contract extension on Thursday, extending his deal for two more years. Flood is just 17-11 in two seasons with the Scarlet Knights, but he is guiding the program through an important transition into the Big Ten.
Penn State owns a 22-2 series edge over Rutgers, with the Scarlet Knights’ last victory coming in 1988.
Penn State at Rutgers
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
TV Channel: Big Ten Network
Spread: Penn State - 3
Three Things to Watch
1. Quarterback Play
Penn State sophomore Christian Hackenberg could be the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Hackenberg will thrive under coach James Franklin and coordinator John Donovan’s watch, and he has thrown for 773 yards and four scores in two games. The sophomore has room to improve after tossing four picks this year, but Penn State’s receiving corps is in transition with the departure of Allen Robinson. If Hackenberg’s line provides protection, he could pick apart Rutgers’ secondary. The Scarlet Knights ranked as one of the worst in the nation against the pass last year and have allowed five touchdown passes and 700 passing yards so far in 2014. On the other side, Gary Nova is off to a good start for Rutgers. Nova has benefitted from the arrival of Ralph Friedgen as coordinator, completing 67.4 percent of his passes and six touchdowns through two games. Which quarterback will play with more consistency and avoid the big mistake on Saturday night?
2. Penn State’s Offensive Line
The biggest concern for Penn State this preseason was its offensive line. And through two games, this unit still has question marks to answer. The Nittany Lions have allowed three sacks, and rushers are managing only 2.8 yards per carry. Rutgers possesses an underrated front seven, headlined by tackle Darius Hamilton and linebacker Steve Longa. And the Scarlet Knights’ front has been active with eight sacks this year. Can Penn State’s line give Hackenberg time to throw and open holes on the ground for its backs? Talent certainly isn’t an issue at running back for the Nittany Lions, but running room has been limited against Akron and UCF.
3. Penn State’s Defense Against Paul James
Quietly, Rutgers running back Paul James has rushed for 216 yards (5.1 ypc) this season. James has provided needed balance for the Scarlet Knight offense and reduced some of the pressure on quarterback Gary Nova. But while James has been one of the Big Ten’s top running backs through two weeks, he faces a Penn State defense allowing just 1.7 yards per carry. The Nittany Lions have also allowed just three touchdowns and no rusher has managed a run of more than 20 yards in 2014. Can Rutgers establish James and keep Penn State’s defense off balance? It’s not an easy assignment with the Nittany Lions’ talent in the front seven, headlined by linebacker Mike Hull and junior tackle Anthony Zettel.
Momentum is on Rutgers’ sideline. The Scarlet Knights are at home, playing their first Big Ten game, and there’s motivation to knock off Penn State to establish some momentum in recruiting as a program against one of its Northeast rivals. Rutgers’ defensive line will give the Nittany Lions problems early, but Hackenberg is the difference in the game. Expect a close one, with Penn State pulling out a three-point victory in the fourth quarter.
Prediction: Penn State 27, Rutgers 24
I was feeling pretty good about my picks with about 19 minutes left in the Oregon game and about 19 seconds left in the Stanford game.
Then Marcus Mariota and Stanford’s red zone offense happened and I finished 2-3. Although, I did go 9-5 against the number in Top 25 games (see below), so I got that going for me.
It has not been a strong start for me, but I am feeling confident about rebounding in a very modest Week 3 slate.
Last Week: 2-3
UTSA (pk) at Oklahoma St
According to Covers.com, two of their five sports books are offering this game as a pick-em while the other three are listing Oklahoma State as a 13-point favorite. If you can get in on this game as a straight-up pick-em, then this becomes my lock of the week. Prediction: Oklahoma State (pk)
Listen to the Week 3 preview podcast:
Pitt (-25.5) at FIU
The Panthers have been one of the more impressive teams in the nation thus far and FIU has been the complete opposite. The Panthers are 2-0 against the number and I expect a huge day from the No. 5-ranked rushing team in the nation (355.5 ypg). Prediction: Pitt -25.5
Arkansas (+2) at Texas Tech
The Razorbacks are one of the most physical and powerful running games in the nation and Texas Tech is having issues all over the field. The Red Raiders can sling it around and will score points as well but most like the Hogs to win outright so take the points. Prediction: Arkansas +2
USC (-17) at Boston College
The Eagles allowed 302 yards rushing to Pitt last weekend so USC tailback Buck Allen (143.5 yards per game) should have a field day. And this speaks nothing of the elite passing game Cody Kessler and Coach Sarkisian have on offense as well. Prediction: USC -17
Indiana (-7) at Bowling Green
This was an upset special in the summer but now that Bowling Green quarterback Matt Johnson is out, the Falcons have looked like a different team. One of the Big Ten’s best offenses should be able to score at will against a BG defense that has allowed 445.0 yards passing per game in two contests. Prediction: Indiana -7
Kansas (+14.5) at Duke
The Jayhawks needed to hold off Southeast Missouri State for a narrow six-point win last week at home. Duke has scored 86 points in two games and is poised for another big offensive showing at home. The coaching differential is astounding in this one. Take the Blue Devils big. Prediction: Duke -14.5
Rice (+31.5) at Texas A&M
This pick breaks one of my rules of gambling and that is never to touch a spread of 30 or more points. But Texas A&M is just too good on offense and Rice was torched by Notre Dame in its only game (48-17). If you are okay with the big number, take the Aggies to win BIG in College Station. Prediction: Texas A&M -31.5
Top 25 Picks ATS:
|Top 25||Braden Gall||Mitch Light||David Fox||Steven Lassan|
|Wyoming (+43) at Oregon|
|S. Miss (+48) at Alabama|
|Tennessee (+20.5) at Oklahoma|
|Georgia (-6.5) at S. Carolina|
|Rice (+31.5) at Texas A&M|
|Baylor (-35) at Buffalo|
|USC (-17) at B. College|
|ULM (+31) at LSU|
|Purdue (+28.5) at Notre Dame|
|UCLA (-8) vs. Texas|
|ULL (+27.5) at Ole Miss|
|Army (+28.5) at Stanford|
|Arizona St (-15.5) at Colorado|
|E. Carolina (+11) at Va Tech|
|UCF (+10) at Missouri|
|Louisville (-6.5) at Virginia|
|Kent St (+32) at Ohio St|
The top of the American Athletic Conference coaches brings two coaches who reached the pinnacle of the college game 26 years apart.
One is in the twilight of a 35-year career that has included titles in the NBA and college. The other is just getting started.
Oddly enough, Larry Brown and Kevin Ollie also coach at two programs that couldn’t differ more in status, though Brown is coaching the upstart while Ollie is at the established power.
Brown and Ollie aren't the name coaches to watch in the ever-changing AAC. Mick Cronin, Josh Pastern and Fran Dunphy have all led successful programs while Frank Haith and Kelvin Sampson are veteran newcomers to the league.
As usual, a handful of factors go into ranking the coaches — career accomplishments, career momentum, gameday acumen, player development, recruiting, conference records and postseason success.
Want to tell us how wrong we are? Tweet us at @AthlonSports or talk to us on Facebook.
1. Larry Brown, SMU
Record at SMU: 42-27 (.609)
NCAA Tournament: 19-6, three Final Fours, one championship
Number to note: The Mustangs missed the NCAA Tournament but went 2-0 against eventual national champion Connecticut.
Why he’s ranked here: After only two seasons, the 73-year-old Brown has done what no SMU coach has done since Doc Hayes — make the Mustangs relevant.
2. Kevin Ollie, UConn
Record at UConn: 52-18 (.743)
NCAA Tournament: 6-0, one Final Four, one championship
Number to note: Ollie won a national title only four years into coaching career — two seasons as an assistant and two seasons as a head coach.
Why he’s ranked here: The future is limitless for a 42-year-old who took over for a legendary coach (Jim Calhoun) and recovered from NCAA sanctions a year earlier to win a title.
3. Mick Cronin, Cincinnati
Record at Cincinnati: 162-107 (.602)
NCAA Tournament: 3-6
Number to note: Cincinnati has ranked in the top 25 in adjusted defense on KenPom in each of the last four seasons.
Why he’s ranked here: With 101 wins and four NCAA Tournament appearances in the last four seasons, Cronin brought Cincinnati back from hitting the reset button 10 years ago.
4. Kelvin Sampson, Houston
Record at Houston: First season
NCAA Tournament: 12-14, one Final Four
Number to note: Sampson’s teams have reached the NCAA Tournament in 14 of his last 15 seasons in college coaching at Washington State, Oklahoma and Indiana.
Why he’s ranked here: He may be a risk to ignore NCAA rules, but he’s proven he can thrive in adverse situations at OU and Wazzu.
5. Fran Dunphy, Temple
Record at Temple: 167-97 (.633)
NCAA Tournament: 3-15
Number to note: Before the bottom fell out in Temple’s first season (9-22) in the AAC, the Owls averaged 24.3 overall wins and 12.3 wins in the Atlantic 10 the previous six seasons.
Why he’s ranked here: Only Temple predecessor John Chaney (516) has more wins in Philadelphia Big 5 history than Dunphy at Temple and Penn (477).
6. Josh Pastner, Memphis
Record at Memphis: 130-44 (.747)
NCAA Tournament: 2-4
Number to note: Pastner ended a 12-game losing streak against ranked teams last season by going 5-5 against top 25 teams after an Oklahoma State loss in November.
Why he’s ranked here: Pastner’s not John Calipari, but he’s come into his own as a head coach the last two seasons.
7. Frank Haith, Tulsa
Record at Tulsa: First season
NCAA Tournament: 1-3
Number to note: Since winning the Big 12 Tournament in 2012, Missouri under Haith lost to a No. 15 seed and a No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament before missing the Big Dance altogether.
Why he’s ranked here: Haith escaped Missouri ahead of the hot seat talk to start fresh at Tulsa.
8. Ed Conroy, Tulane
Record at Tulane: 65-65 (.500)
NCAA Tournament: None
Number to note: Progress has been incremental at a tough job: Conroy went 3-13 in Conference USA his first two years, followed by 6-10 then 8-8.
Why he’s ranked here: Conroy also supervised major improvement at The Citadel, but his Tulane program has been dinged by transfers (Josh Davis to San Diego State, Ricky Tarrant to Alabama).
9. Orlando Antigua, USF
Record at USF: First season
NCAA Tournament: None
Number to note: A top recruiter for Kentucky the last six seasons where no class ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 in the 247Sports Composite.
Why he’s ranked here: Though he’ll be associated with Kentucky and Calipari, Antigua helped Jamie Dixon establish his program at Pittsburgh with a five-year stint with the Panthers.
10. Jeff Lebo, East Carolina
Record at East Carolina: 73-61 (.545)
NCAA Tournament: None
Number to note: Lebo brought East Carolina its first 20-win season in school history at 23-12 in 2012-13.
Why he’s ranked here: At four stops (Tennessee Tech, Chattanooga, Auburn and East Carolina), Lebo has coached 501 games without an NCAA Tournament appearance.
11. Donnie Jones, UCF
Record at UCF: 76-52 (.594)
NCAA Tournament: None
Number to note: NCAA sanctions hit Jones with a show cause and stalled momentum for the program. UCF won 20 games in three consecutive seasons before falling to 13-18.
Why he’s ranked here: The former Florida assistant has never finished higher than fourth in the conference in his seven years at UCF and Marshall.
If Virginia Tech gets back to the ACC Championship Game, the Hokies should thank Clemson.
More specifically, the Hokies will need to thank Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris for tipping them off to his high school quarterback.
Virginia Tech went into 2014 knowing it needed a quarterback to replace the departed Logan Thomas. The Hokies were going to enter the season with a veteran backup, a sophomore who hadn’t attempted a pass and three freshmen on an inexperienced offense.
A meeting between associate head coach Shane Beamer and Morris at the Senior Bowl provided the answer.
Morris noted that his former quarterback at Austin (Texas) Lake Travis, where Morris coached two state champions in two years, had just received his release from Texas Tech.
The quarterback had run nothing but no-huddle spread since high school and never lived outside of the state of Texas, but he was a quick study, Morris said. Beamer and quarterback coach Scot Loeffler called the QB, Michael Brewer, visited him Austin and brought him to Blacksburg, Va., for an official visit.
By March, Michael Brewer signed with Virginia Tech. By September, he gave the Hokies a signature win to establish the Hokies’ ACC title credentials.
Brewer completed 23-of-36 passes for 199 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in Columbus, giving Brewer the kind of moment he’d been seeking for three years.
“The whole time I’ve been in college football I’ve been waiting for that one chance,” Brewer said. “It was one of those deals where I’ve waited for so long for one chance, I wasn’t about to let anyone take it away from me.”
Brewer signed with Texas Tech and coach Tommy Tuberville in 2011, redshirting his first season and seeing minimal playing time his second year behind veteran Seth Doege. Tuberville then left for Cincinnati, but Brewer seemed appeared ready to take the starting job under new coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Brewer, though, suffered a fractured vertebra in his lower back that derailed his season. By the time he was healthy, Baker Mayfield and then Davis Webb eventually supplanted him as Texas Tech’s quarterback. Mayfield also transferred.
With a degree in hand, though, Brewer was eligible to play immediately upon his transfer, but Texas Tech blocked him from going to his first-choice destinations of Texas or TCU.
Virginia Tech, with help from Morris, eventually stepped up — and with little time to spare for the Hokies. Six weeks after Brewer announced his transfer to Virginia Tech, Clemson dismissed quarterback Chad Kelly, freeing up a roster spot that could have been claimed by Brewer.
“The numbers weren’t there for them at the time,” Brewer said. “We joke about that, that I could have ended up there, but he’s really happy that I’m here.”
Ending up at Virginia Tech and in an offense not steeped in the spread may be a positive for Brewer as well.
Instead, Brewer joins Loeffler, who had moved from a pro-style offense at Michigan to the spread at Florida and Auburn.
“I think this is good for Michael’s development, just like when I had the opportunity to go to Florida with coach (Urban) Meyer,” Loeffler said. “It was completely different from what I did at Michigan. It was the best experience I had in coaching. It was out of my comfort zone.”
That’s not to say it’s easy.
Brewer had only June and July to prepare in the offense before training camp, during that time NCAA restrictions limited him to an hour or two of film study with coaches during the week.
In other words, not a ton of time for a quarterback to unlearn a style of offense that Brewer has run since high school.
“We use a lot of pro terminology, pro protections and pro concepts,” Loeffler said. “We asked all the questions if he can handle it, and (Chad Morris) said he can learn.”
This has been a two-way street, though, as Virginia Tech has adopted elements of the spread to use in the shotgun so the offense isn’t completely foreign.
“They did a good job of bringing it along easy for me and doing things that I’m comfortable with in the shotgun and making things similar to what I was used to do,” Brewer said. “That’s a credit to them.”
At the same time, the offense isn’t a finished product. Brewer threw the two interceptions against Ohio State, not the best sign for a team whose last starting quarterback had 39 career picks. Brewer averaged a pedestrian 5.5 yards per play, and the offense averaged 4.2 yards per snap.
The numbers weren’t overwhelming, but he did enough for the upset in Columbus.
“His escapability was really good I thought,” Meyer said. “We had him bottled up a couple of times, and he got out of there and extended drives. He’s an accurate thrower, but the best thing he did was escape pressure.”
The bright side is that Virginia Tech’s offense is full of new faces — two freshman tailbacks, a freshman starting receiver and a highly touted tight end, Ryan Malleck, who didn’t play last season due to a shoulder injury.
The presence of a veteran quarterback with experience running no-huddle spread and an Air Raid combined with the possibilities of personnel groupings could lead to an interesting season for the Virginia Tech offense, as noted by SB Nation’s Ian Boyd in a breakdown of Loeffler’s no-huddle spread attack with pro personnel.
Virginia Tech had a feeling Brewer would be ready to tackle such a task in a short period of time. The question was if he could lead and take a hit.
The Hokies learned about both against Ohio State as Brewer was knocked around several times against the Buckeyes only to get back up.
“You learned everything you needed to learn in that Ohio State game,” Loeffler said. “Those quarterbacks take a beating in that game, and he took a beating. He came back and never flinched and never put his eyes on the rush. He learned a lot.
“Any time you’ve got a good person who’s smart and tough you’ve got a chance.”