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New quarterbacks were under the spotlight in the first week of the 2015 college football season. UCLA’s Josh Rosen stole the spotlight with 351 yards against Virginia, as the true freshman garnered one of the top performances by a quarterback in Week 1. But the success of new signal-callers wasn’t limited to true freshman, as transfers Vernon Adams (Oregon), Everett Golson (Florida State) and Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) shined in their debut with new teams.
With the influx of new starters across the nation, Athlon set out to rank the debuts for the quarterbacks. An important note: We only considered freshmen in their first game, transfers or quarterbacks that had only one start at their current school for this ranking. Quarterbacks like Jeremy Johnson, Skyler Howard, Patrick Mahomes, Mike Bercovici and Deshaun Watson had too many starts to be considered for this list.
College Football's Top 15 New QB Debuts from Week 1
1. Josh Rosen, UCLA
It’s not often the performance matches the hype when it comes to freshman quarterbacks in their first start. However, Rosen met and exceeded a lot of expectations on Saturday. In a 34-16 win over Virginia, the true freshman completed 28 of 35 passes for 351 yards and three scores.
2. Malik Zaire, Notre Dame
Zaire entered the 2015 season with one start under his belt (Music City Bowl) and high expectations. After edging Everett Golson for the starting job in the spring, Zaire continued his breakout season with a sharp performance in the opener against Texas. He completed 19 of 22 throws for 313 yards and three scores and rushed for 16 yards. Additionally, five of Zaire’s completions went at least 20 yards or more.
3. Seth Russell, Baylor
New quarterback, same story on offense for Baylor. The Bears scored 56 points against SMU, set a school record with 10.5 yards per play average and recorded seven plays of 40 yards or more. Russell completed 15 of 30 passes for 376 yards and five scores and added 59 yards and one touchdown on the ground.
Related: 10 Amazing Stats to Know from Week 1
4. Vernon Adams, Oregon
Against his former team (Eastern Washington), Adams showed why he’s one of the impact transfers for 2015. The senior completed 19 of 25 passes for 246 yards and two scores and ranked second on the team with 94 rushing yards. Adams aced his first test. But the hard part comes up on Saturday, as the Ducks travel to East Lansing to take on Michigan State.
5. Everett Golson, Florida State
Golson’s first game at Florida State started with a weather delay, followed by a slow start in the first half. The Notre Dame transfer was eased into the offense by coach Jimbo Fisher and completed 7 of 9 passes for 74 yards through the first two quarters. But Golson finished strong, throwing for 302 yards and four touchdowns on 19 completions. Golson also connected on five passing plays of 20 yards or more and two of 30 yards or more.
6. Jeff Driskel, Louisiana Tech
Driskel was a big-time recruit but never managed to have consistent success at Florida. With one year of eligibility left, Driskel transferred for an opportunity to start at Louisiana Tech and the early reviews are positive. The senior passed for 274 yards and four scores in an efficient 12 of 15 performance against Southern. He also added one rushing score and 15 yards on three attempts.
7. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Oklahoma’s offense started slow in the first half against Akron, but Mayfield and new coordinator Lincoln Riley eventually got on track. Mayfield – a Texas Tech transfer – completed 23 of 33 passes for 388 yards and three scores. The junior was sharp in his opener, but the going gets tougher on Saturday against Tennessee.
8. Clayton Thorson, Northwestern
Thorson’s numbers aren’t quite as impressive as some of the other names on this list, but the redshirt freshman was going against a stingy Stanford defense and delivered a solid all-around performance. Thorson completed 12 of 24 passes for 105 yards and rushed for 68 on eight attempts, including a 42-yard score in the first half that gave Northwestern the lead for good against the Cardinal.
9. Lamar Jackson, Louisville
Electric. That’s the easiest way to describe Jackson after his impressive debut against Auburn. The true freshman completed 9 of 20 passes for 100 yards and added 106 rushing yards and a score on 16 carries. Jackson’s mobility is a huge asset with Louisville revamping its offensive line, and the true freshman has already supplanted Reggie Bonnafon as the team’s starter for Week 2.
10. Jake Coker, Alabama
Alabama’s quarterback battle took a few twists and turns, but the post-spring favorite – Coker – eventually took the first snap against Wisconsin. The defense and rushing attack is always going to lead the way for the Crimson Tide, so Coker doesn’t have to carry the offense. However, Coker was steady in his first start for Alabama, completing 15 of 21 passes for 213 yards and one score.
11. Chad Kelly, Ole Miss
Kelly is the x-factor for Ole Miss if it wants to contend in the SEC West this season. The junior college product (and former Clemson passer) started his career in Oxford on a high note in Week 1, throwing for 211 yards and two scores on nine completions. Also, two of Kelly’s completions went for 50 yards or more.
12. Max Wittek, Hawaii
Wittek completed only 19 of 38 passes in the opener, but he threw for three scores and was a key cog in Hawaii’s 28-20 upset over Colorado. The USC transfer should give the Rainbow Warriors a good shot to get bowl eligible in 2015.
13. Thomas Sirk, Duke
Duke coach David Cutcliffe is known as one of the best quarterback gurus in college football, and his next pupil (Sirk) was solid in his debut against Tulane. The junior completed 27 of 40 passes for 289 yards and two scores and added 68 rushing yards on 15 carries. Sirk is primed for a breakout year for the Blue Devils.
14. Tanner Mangum, BYU
Mangum’s numbers weren’t as impressive as some of the other quarterbacks on this list, but the Idaho native delivered in the clutch for the Cougars. With BYU trailing 28-27, Mangum connected with Mitch Mathews for a 42-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass to upset the Cornhuskers in Lincoln. With Taysom Hill out for the rest of the year, Mangum – a four-star recruit – should be a solid fill-in for BYU.
15. Nick Stevens, Colorado State
The competition – Savannah State – wasn’t overly difficult, but Stevens was sharp in Saturday’s 65-13 win. In coach Mike Bobo’s first game with the Rams, Stevens completed 20 of 28 passes for 289 yards and five scores. He will face a tougher test in Week 2 with Minnesota visiting Fort Collins on Saturday.
Other Debuts Considered: C.J. Beathard, Iowa; Ahmad Bradshaw, Army West Point; Brent Stockstill, MTSU; Greyson Lambert, Georgia; Will Grier, Florida; Garrett Smith, ULM; Tyler Stewart, Nevada; Kyler Murray, Texas A&M; Quinton Flowers, USF; Jake Rudock, Michigan; Eric Dungey, Syracuse; Bryant Shirreffs, UConn; Blake Bogenschutz, UTSA; Drew Lock, Missouri; Cody Clements, South Alabama; Brooks Haack, ULL; Cameron Coffman, Wyoming; Seth Collins, Oregon State, Jake Browning, Washington, Ryan Finley, Boise State; Nate Romine, AFA, Kenny Potter, SJSU; Darius Wade, Boston College; Laviano/Rettig, Rutgers; Michael Birdsong, Marshall; Joe Hubener, Kansas State; Shuler Bentley, ODU
The first week of every college football season always generates overreaction on both sides of the talking point. If a team lost by a bigger margin than expected or struggled, it’s easy to say that team is worse than anticipated. But if a team wins in an upset or is more impressive than the preseason projections expected, the reaction is this team should be better than we thought.
There could be some truth in both arguments. However, the real truth rests somewhere in the middle. No team is as good (or bad) as they play in Week 1. After all, it’s just the first game of the season.
With overreaction in mind, here are five schools that quietly impressed in Week 1. What does it mean for the rest of the year? We’ll find out.
5 CFB Teams That Quietly Impressed in Week 1
David Cutcliffe has transformed Duke into a consistent bowl team, and the Blue Devils are coming off their best two-year stretch (19 wins) in school history. But despite the recent success and 12 returning starters, Duke was picked (by some) near the bottom of the ACC Coastal for 2015. However, if Thursday night’s win over Tulane is any indication of what to expect from this team this fall, Duke should be in the mix for a finish in the top half of the Coastal. The Blue Devils dominated the Green Wave, winning 37-7 thanks to strong performances on both sides of the ball. New quarterback Thomas Sirk completed 27 of 40 passes for 289 yards and two scores and added 68 yards on the ground. The junior also guided the Duke offense to an average of 5.7 yards per play. The defense limited Tulane to just 4.2 yards per play, 25 rushing yards and forced four sacks. The Green Wave did not score until the fourth quarter and managed only two drives longer than 50 yards. Duke still has its share of question marks to answer on the defensive side when it takes on better offenses. However, Thursday night’s showing was a good sign for the Blue Devils.
We don’t want to overreact to Week 1 with any of the teams on this list, but Iowa has a good shot to be 4-0 headed into its Oct. 3 game against Wisconsin. The Hawkeyes easily dispatched Illinois State – last year’s FCS title runner-up and an upset pick by some in Week 1 – 31-14 on Saturday. C.J. Beathard was picked over Jake Rudock at quarterback to generate more big plays for an offense that ranked seventh in the conference in scoring last season. So far, so good. Beathard led Iowa’s offense to an average of 6.2 yards per play and passed for 221 yards on 15 completions. The Hawkeyes held the Redbirds to just 231 total yards, 14 first downs and generated 10 tackles for a loss.
The Wolfpack ended 2014 by winning four out of their last five games, and coach Dave Doeren’s team picked up where they left off in the opener. NC State handled Troy 49-21 on Saturday with an impressive showing by both sides of the ball. The Wolfpack defense gave up a few big plays, but held the Trojans to 13 first downs, 1 of 9 on third-down attempts and forced two turnovers. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett was almost perfect, completing 21 of 23 throws for 196 yards and two scores. Additionally, Matt Dayes, Reggie Gallaspy and Jaylen Samuels picked up the ground attack with Shadrach Thornton suspended. NC State generated 251 rushing yards and scored five scores on the ground.
As expected, Ole Miss had zero trouble in its opener, dominating UT Martin in a 76-3 rout on Saturday afternoon. The quarterback position was under the spotlight throughout the offseason, and all three quarterbacks vying for the job in fall camp performed well. Chad Kelly took the first snap over DeVante Kincade and Ryan Buchanan and finished with 211 passing yards and two scores on just nine completions. Kelly also added a touchdown run in the third quarter. The former Clemson and junior college quarterback has solidified his place at the top of the depth chart since spring ball, and the Rebels also showcased some punch on the ground in Week 1. Four players rushed for at least 50 yards, with the offense averaging 9.4 yards per rush against the Skyhawks. Yes, the quality of opponent has to be considered, but there were some positive signs for the Ole Miss offense in Week 1.
One of the weekend’s most overlooked performances has to be West Virginia’s 44-0 victory over Georgia Southern. While beating a team from the Sun Belt may not seem like a big deal, the Eagles are one of the preseason favorites in the league and nearly defeated NC State and Georgia Tech in 2014. The Mountaineers dominated from the start, never allowing Georgia Southern’s offense to get on track. West Virginia’s defense limited the Eagles to 74 yards in the first half, forced five turnovers and limited their rushing attack to just 3.4 yards per carry. In addition to a dominant showing on defense, the Mountaineers had zero trouble moving the ball on Georgia Southern. Dana Holgorsen’s group averaged 8.2 yards per play, which was the first time West Virginia eclipsed over eight yards a play since 2012. Quarterback Skyler Howard completed 16 of 25 passes for 359 yards, while receivers Shelton Gibson (3 for 130 yards, 1 TD) and Jovon Durante (3 for 121 yards, 1 TD) impressed as pass catchers.
Six Teams from the Group of 5 Ranks
The Mountaineers picked up where they left off last season, and as expected, easily handled Howard (49-0). The Week 2 test against Clemson will be an interesting game to watch.
Is this Norm Chow’s best team since taking over as head coach? Possibly. USC transfer quarterback Max Wittek guided the Rainbow Warriors to a 28-20 upset over Colorado in Week 1.
Mississippi Valley State isn’t the best judge of where New Mexico is, but the Lobos have enough pieces to push for a bowl this season.
We will have a better idea of where USF stands in Week 2 against Florida State, but the Bulls’ new offense averaged 7.7 yards per play, while the defense held Florida A&M to 182 total yards (2.5 ypp).
One of the weekend’s most overlooked games might have been Northern Illinois’ 38-30 win over UNLV. Again, it’s the opener so we have to be cautious with observations, but the Rebels – projected to be one of the worst teams in the nation – nearly knocked off last year’s MAC champion. That’s a good start for new coach Tony Sanchez.
Yes, the Roadrunners lost to Arizona, but for a team returning just three starters, UTSA gave the Wildcats all it could handle in a 42-32 defeat.
Its great to have football that matters back on our television, but let's be honest — Week 1 of the 2015 college football season didn't really show us anything we didn't already know.
TCU is supposed to be a national title contender. Minnesota is supposed to be one of the Big Ten's most formidable teams. Both looked the part, with TCU's Trevone Boykin showing flashes of what he is capable of against a defense we knew would be tough and might be the catalyst that propels Minnesota to the top of the Big Ten West. The end result was a tough, respectable road win for the Horned Frogs and a "good loss" for the Gophers.
We figured Michigan would look a little better — and the Wolverines did. That said, we also knew they had huge question marks at quarterback. Three interceptions later, those questions still remain. Utah is a tough out for most teams on most days, forget that it was under the lights at home for the Utes. This one went as planned, and we know nothing more about either team than we did a week ago.
We thought Notre Dame might be good and Texas might be bad. What we don't know is whether or not the outcome in South Bend on Saturday was because Notre Dame is really good or Texas is really bad. Perhaps both?
Surprise! Everett Golson still knows how to play quarterback at a high level. Not shocking, considering Golson is one of only two quarterbacks on a current FBS roster to start in a national championship game. He's proven winner and Florida State will probably be just fine once again in the ACC.
Alabama is still good enough to stop one-dimensional teams, especially with a full offseason to prepare for the game. Wisconsin is replacing a coach, last season's Heisman Trophy runner-up at running back and a handful of linemen. It’s tough to gauge the reality of their situation against Nick Saban's bunch.
UCLA is really good and so is their freshman quarterback — just like we thought they'd be. Yawn. Bring on the Pac-12 schedule already.
Nebraska might have looked better — I guess. We can't really tell, largely because we think BYU is pretty good. Or maybe they aren't. Were the Huskers able to stay in the game because of Taysom Hill's injury? Who knows? And then this thing ends on a Hail Mary. Perfect.
We knew Lane Stadium at night was tough. We knew Ohio State was really good but were without some of their best players. We knew Virginia Tech was loaded on defense. We knew it might be a close game early on. But we already knew that Ohio State was the top team in the country. The Buckeyes only reaffirmed this in a hostile environment. We did learn that Cardale Jones would be the starter, but for how long? Will Urban Meyer reverse the roles of Jones and J.T. Barrett from week to week, depending on the opponent?
Everyone else played close games or cupcakes. Most of the close games were expected to be close. Some teams took care of the cupcakes with ease. Some took a little longer to pull away. Some didn't pull away.
It was a lot to take in... or was it? I'm just not sure. It was one week, but you are going to read endless pieces between now and kickoff of the second week of games — most of which are going to talk about everything we learned.
And yet we learned nothing.
The NFL is back, and the competition off the field is nearly as heated as the competition on game day.
The Athlon Sports Pro Football Experts Club presented by New Era gives you the chance to compete with your friends and our experts each week.
Here are this week’s picks from Athlon Sports senior editor John Gworek:
Pittsburgh at New England
The last time these teams met, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger both threw for 400 yards. When Brady was still suspended, I picked Pittsburgh. Now that he’s playing, though …
Gworek’s Pick: New England, 38-30.
Miami at Washington
The Redskins turn to Kirk Cousins at quarterback, and odds are he will see a lot of Miami’s free agent prize, DT Ndamukong Suh, among other Dolphins.
Gworek’s Pick: Miami, 27-13.
Carolina at Jacksonville
Two already offensively challenged clubs were hit my injuries to their biggest weapons (Kelvin Benjamin for Carolina, Julius Thomas for Jacksonville). Don’t expect many fireworks.
Gworek’s Pick: Carolina, 16-10.
Seattle at St. Louis
The Rams beat Seattle at home last season, but the running game will be without top draft pick Todd Gurley and perhaps backup Tre Mason. Stick with the Seahawks.
Gworek’s Pick: Seattle, 23-20.
Kansas City at Houston
Brian Hoyer takes over at quarterback for the Texans, but top back Arian Foster is injured again. Kansas City hopes Jeremy Maclin can add some explosiveness to its passing game.
Gworek’s Pick: Kansas City, 26-21.
Indianapolis at Buffalo
Andrew Luck will test Rex Ryan’s defense in his debut as Bills’ head coach, but the Indianapolis defense is a good matchup for Buffalo’s ground-and-pound running game.
Gworek’s Pick: Buffalo, 24-23.
Cleveland at N.Y. Jets
Josh McCown vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn’t exactly make for must-see TV. The Browns offensive line is a strength, but the Jets defensive line can be dominant.
Gworek’s Pick: N.Y. Jets, 17-13.
Green Bay at Chicago
The Packers will miss Jordy Nelson, but Randall Cobb may return from injury in time for this one. Either way, Aaron Rodgers and Eddie Lacy should be enough to win in Chicago.
Gworek’s Pick: Green Bay, 30-17.
New Orleans at Arizona
The Cardinals are 13-2 in Carson Palmer’s last 15 starts, so keeping him healthy is all-important. The Saints made all kinds of changes around Drew Brees, who could miss departed Jimmy Graham.
Gworek’s Pick: Arizona, 27-20.
Detroit at San Diego
After losing big pieces on defense, the Lions need Calvin Johnson to stay healthy more than ever. San Diego hopes rookie Melvin Gordon can upgrade the running game.
Gworek’s Pick: San Diego, 24-20.
Baltimore at Denver
Will this season be Peyton Manning’s last stand? Look for Denver to try to keep him healthy by running the ball more. The Ravens drew a tough road trip to start and must go back out to Oakland for Week 2.
Gworek’s Pick: Broncos, 27-23.
Tennessee at Tampa Bay
Either top pick Jameis Winston and No. 2 selection Marcus Mariota will begin his career 1-0. Tampa Bay RB Doug Martin looked like his old self in preseason but needs to prove he can stay healthy.
Gworek’s Pick: Tampa Bay, 20-17.
Cincinnati at Oakland
This may look like the easiest game on the Bengals’ schedule, but traveling to the West Coast for an opener is dangerous. This will be closer than many think.
Gworek’s Pick: Cincinnati, 23-21.
N.Y. Giants at Dallas
DeMarco Murray is gone, but the Dallas offense should be just fine. Likewise, the Giants expect to be able to score with Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. together again. Can either team stop anyone?
Gworek’s Pick: Dallas, 31-27.
Philadelphia at Atlanta
Despite many new faces, Chip Kelly’s Eagles offense was rolling again in preseason. That’s bad news for a Falcons defense that has nowhere to go but up after last season.
Gworek’s Pick: Philadelphia, 30-24.
Minnesota at San Francisco
Adrian Peterson returns, joining Teddy Bridgewater on a Minnesota offense that could be sneaky good. San Francisco needs Colin Kaepernick to bounce back in a big way after the defense was gutted.
Gworek’s Pick: Minnesota, 24-16.
College football is back, and the competition off the field is nearly as heated as the competition on game day.
The Athlon Sports College Football Experts Club presented by Nexium & Advil gives you the chance to compete with your friends and our experts each week.
Here are this week’s top picks from Athlon Sports senior writer David Fox:
USF at Florida State
USF won six total games in 2013-14 by a combined margin of 26 points. The Bulls beat Florida A&M in their opener by 48. They’re better, but not good enough to challenge Florida State.
Fox’s pick: Florida State 42–14
Oregon State at Michigan
The loss to Utah revealed Michigan still has a host of problems on offense. Oregon State is in even deeper trouble than Michigan.
Fox’s pick: Michigan 28-14
Buffalo at Penn State
Penn State’s offensive line can’t get much worse than last week’s 10-sack effort against Temple. Then again, we said that about the offensive line last season. Buffalo has a solid veteran quarterback who will make this closer than it should be.
Fox’s pick: Penn State 21–17
Wake Forest at Syracuse
Syracuse quarterback Terrell Hunt is out for the season with a torn Achilles. He’ll be replaced by a freshman. In a matchup of the two worst teams in the ACC, that’s huge.
Fox’s pick: Wake Forest 24–17
Notre Dame at Virginia
The start of Virginia’s schedule may be tougher than the Cavaliers anticipated as UCLA’s Josh Rosen and Notre Dame’s Malik Zaire quickly take charger of their respective quarterback positions. The Cavs will look to shut down Notre Dame’s weakened run game, but the Irish defense could be dominant.
Fox’s pick: Notre Dame 31–13
Hawaii at Ohio State
The Buckeyes get Joey Bosa, Jalin Mashall, Corey Smith and Dontre Wilson back from suspension. Good luck, Hawaii.
Fox’s pick: Ohio State 49–10
Tulane at Georgia Tech
Don’t overthink it: Georgia Tech won its opener 69–6. Tulane lost its opener 37–7.
Fox’s pick: Georgia Tech 41–14
Georgia at Vanderbilt
Georgia lost in its last road trip to Vanderbilt 31–27, a game that seems like it was eons ago. Derek Mason’s involvement on defense may have improved that side of the ball, but the offense can’t get out of its own way.
Fox’s pick: Georgia 31–10
Fresno State at Ole Miss
This isn’t a vintage Fresno State team, but the Bulldogs are still much better than the team Ole Miss beat by 73 last week. Fresno presents a tougher test for Rebels quarterback Chad Kelly, but one he should pass.
Fox’s pick: Ole Miss 42–7
Middle Tennessee at Alabama
Alabama demolished Wisconsin on both sides of the ball in the run game and the quarterback play was efficient. Oh no, says the rest of the SEC.
Fox’s pick: Alabama 42–10
Iowa at Iowa State
The rivalry game actually carries some weight for the respective futures of coaches Kirk Ferentz and Paul Rhoads. Iowa has a big-time defensive difference maker in Drew Ott and the makings of a competent offense. Edge: Hawkeyes.
Fox’s pick: Iowa 34–21
San Diego State at Cal
Rocky Long’s defense is always tricky for opposing quarterbacks — the Aztecs had five interceptions against San Diego in the opener. It’s an interesting matchup between the Aztecs’ D and quarterback Jared Goff, but Cal should come out on top.
Fox’s pick: Cal 41–24
Oklahoma at Tennessee
Tennessee’s looking to make a big-time statement, but the Volunteers might not have the depth in the secondary to pull it off. Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield was that impressive in Week 1.
Fox’s pick: Oklahoma 38–28
East Carolina at Florida
The Gators will face the Pirates for the second time in three games, winning the first matchup 28–20 in the Birmingham Bowl. This time around, Florida has a coach who hasn’t been fired and East Carolina doesn’t have Shane Carden or Justin Hardy.
Fox’s pick: Florida 38–14
Arizona at Nevada
Arizona’s defense was lost once Scooby Wright went down last week against UTSA. The Wildcats will need to learn to live without him for the next few weeks.
Fox’s pick: Arizona 35–24
Kentucky at South Carolina
The South Carolina defense would like to replicate last week’s key stats — three interceptions, four sacks — against Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles. The Wildcats, though, have the balanced attack that could give South Carolina trouble.
Fox’s pick: South Carolina 31–27
Oregon at Michigan State
Both defenses gave their fans reason to worry in matchups with directional schools — Oregon against Eastern Washington and Michigan State against Western Michigan. Michigan State over time has shown more reason for us to believe in the Spartans. New Ducks QB Vernon Adams had a nice debut, but Connor Cook is playing the part of a trusty veteran who has been in the system for four years.
Fox’s pick: Michigan State 31–21
LSU at Mississippi State
Dak Prescott dominated in this game a year ago and will need to do so again, given Mississippi State’s personnel losses on offense since last season. LSU’s opener was cut short and canceled. Is that an edge for Mississippi State or LSU? We say Mississippi State.
Fox’s pick: Mississippi State 24–17
Boise State at BYU
BYU moves on with Tanner Mangum at quarterback. Boise State may be the more complete team, but the Broncos can’t afford their offense to stall in the second half like it did last week.
Fox’s pick: Boise State 24–17
UCLA at UNLV
UCLA’s quarterback was in high school this time last year. So was UNLV’s head coach. Other than that, the two teams don’t have a ton of similarities.
Fox’s pick: UCLA 42–20
Last week: 15–5
Season to date: 15–5
When life throws you lemons, you're told to make lemonade. But what happens when life throws you something far worse, like say, the loss of an eye?
For one Alabama fan, the decision on what to do was quite easy.
Mary Bama Farr lost her left eye as a result of a plane crash in the 1970s. And although she's worn an ocular prosthesis ever since, she recently decided to add a bit of flair to the medical device.
Farr recently debuted a crimson-and-white ocular prosthesis that she plans to wear all season. Farr, whose middle name is Bama, is a graduate of the university.
— Written by Elton Hayes, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. A Washington, D.C.-based sports writer, Hayes is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and he also has been an invited guest on “The Paul Finebaum Show.” Follow him on Twitter @EHDC12.
Athlon has teamed up with college fantasy veterans CollegeFootballGeek.com to help you dominate in 2015! Over the course of the season, CFG will be providing insight into their weekly value plays, as well as helping you identify the top waiver wire candidates to bolster your lineups.
Whether you play daily or season-long college fantasy football, CollegeFootballGeek.com (@CFFGeek) prepares you to win with the best advice, tools and customer service in the industry — they've been doing it since 2008. Click here to learn how you can subscribe to CFG for FREE.
Below, you will find AthlonSports.com contributor and CFG writer Mike Bainbridge's five best waiver wire pickups for Week 2. To see the full in-depth article of over 50+ players, make sure to check out CollegeFootballGeek.com.
Matt Davis (QB, SMU)
Despite losing to Baylor by five touchdowns, the SMU offense displayed a ton of potential against a top-5 team. Junior quarterback Matt Davis still has room to grow as a passer but showed off his dynamic ability to get out of the pocket and scramble (115 rushing yards). And you know how we feel about dual-threat quarterbacks... fantasy gold. The surrounding group of talent for Davis has also improved from a year ago, with promising freshman Courtland Sutton and Xavier Jones making waves in their first collegiate action. Once SMU gets into AAC play where teams don’t play a lick of defense, Davis’ numbers will take off.
Kenny Golladay (WR, Northern Illinois)
Golladay’s performance was certainly aided by the injury suffered by fellow receiver Tommylee Lewis, but the former North Dakota transfer is a huge (6-4) target and was getting consistently open in the win over UNLV. Golladay finished with nine receptions for over 200 yards with three catches going for 41 yards or more. If Lewis is out for any amount of time, Golladay’s stock rises considerably moving forward.
C.J. Prosise (RB, Notre Dame)
With Tarean Folston now out for the year, Prosise immediately shoots up the depth chart to the No. 1 spot. After spending much of last year in the slot receiver role, Prosise made a seamless transition to running back during the offseason and was looked upon by many as breakout candidate in college football in 2015. Against a formidable Texas run defense, Prosise looked as if he had been playing running back his entire career, rushing for 98 yards on 20 carries. With two inexperienced freshmen behind him, that puts the onus even more on Prosise to carry the rushing load for the Irish.
Nick Kurtz (WR, BYU)
Meet Mitch Mathews 2.0. All throughout fall camp, there was not one BYU practice report where Kurtz’ name did not show up. That preseason hype proved true against Nebraska, as Kurtz finished with 123 yards receiving and a pair of acrobatic catches that displayed the big-play potential. At 6-foot-5 Kurtz was a highly sought after JUCO transfer in 2014 with offers from the likes of Oregon, LSU and a host of other Power 5 schools, but was unable to contribute due to a lingering foot injury. Now fully healthy, Kurtz will line up across from Mitch Mathews on a consistent basis, giving BYU two high-level talents on the outside.
Marcus Marshall (BB, Georgia Tech)
Patrick Skov will be the primary B-Back in the Georgia Tech offense, but as we saw last year with combination of Synjyn Days and Zach Laskey (328 combined carries in 2014), the Yellow Jackets will frequently rotate two rushers at the position. Marshall, a true freshman, led the team in rushing in the opener with 184 yards and two touchdowns on just eight carries, and now leads the country — albeit after just one game against Alcorn State — with a whopping 23 yards per carry average. Those numbers will come down to earth with stiffer competition on the horizon, but what a start for Marshall in his first collegiate game.
— Written by Mike Bainbridge, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bainbridge is a graduate of Northern Illinois University and current writer for CollegeFootballGeek.com. Make sure to follow him on Twitter @MikeBainbridge2.
What did we learn in Week 1?
Braden Gall and David Fox recap all of the action from Week 1 and try to tell us what it all means? Should fans in the Big Ten or Pac-12 react to mediocre first weekends? How about Texas?
Which of the big injuries will hurt the most? How awesome really is Ohio State? What did we get dead wrong in Week 1 and who is in our very early Playoff Top 4.
Ohio State began the 2015 season in sterling fashion in Blacksburg, Va., defeating the Virginia Tech Hokies 42-24. The game was hyped by Ohio State fans as a revenge game, as Virginia Tech was the lone team to defeat the Buckeyes in 2014. The game also was noteworthy as four key Ohio State players (Joey Bosa, Dontre Wilson, Jalin Marshall, Corey Smith) were suspended for the season opener, leading the college football world to wonder what type of effect the suspensions would have upon the Buckeyes.
Below are five thoughts that crossed my mind as I watched Ohio State defeat Virginia Tech...
1. Braxton Miller Is Just Getting Started
The dazzling highlights Miller produced against the Hokies are reminiscent of some of the plays he was able to create during the 2012 and '13 seasons. Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer will do whatever possible to get Miller the ball in space, as his agility and speed can be used in a variety of ways in this offensive attack.
2. Ohio State's Defensive Line Will Be Better
The suspension of Joey Bosa impacted Ohio State's defensive line, as both Sam Hubbard and Jalyn Holmes had opportunities to play in Bosa's absence. With Bosa returning, this should open up opportunities for other players to emerge, as Bosa will be demanding double teams from the opposition.
3. Cardale Jones May Offer More Risk At Quarterback
It was somewhat surprising that Jones was named the starter at quarterback. Jones' superior arm strength may open up the offense more in the vertical passing game, but it will bear watching as the season progresses how he develops, as J.T. Barrett will continue to get playing time this season.
4. Ohio State Needs To Take Care Of Turnover Issues
Against Virginia Tech, Ohio State suffered three turnovers (a Jones interception, a fumbled punt by Ezekiel Elliott, and a Bri'onte Jones fumble). This pattern of turnovers also was on display last season versus Alabama and Oregon. So far, the turnovers have not resulted in Ohio State losing a game, but it must be concerning to Meyer that his team has not been able to take better care of the football.
5. Ohio State Showed It Can Take A Punch
Falling behind at the half, Ohio State did not panic or go into a tailspin. Being able to focus, and rally on the road against a quality Virginia Tech team, was a positive sign for the fans as the 2015 season began.
— Written by Chip Minnich, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a diehard Ohio State fan. Minnich also writes and podcasts for menofthescarletandgray.com, a site dedicated to Ohio sports with a special emphasis on the Buckeyes. Follow him on Twitter @ChipMinnich.
Week 2 of the 2015 college football season kicks off on Thursday night with WKU hosting Louisiana Tech in a potential preview of the Conference USA Championship in December. The slate continues on Friday with Utah hosting Utah State and Miami traveling to FAU. On Saturday, Michigan State-Oregon, Oklahoma-Tennessee and LSU-Mississippi State round out the key games for Week 2.
Conference Predictions for Week 2
College Football Week 2 Predictions
La. Tech at
Utah State at
Oregon State at
Indiana State at
Jacksonville State at
Western Illinois at
Kansas State at
Miami, Ohio at
Appalachian State at
Wake Forest at
Sacramento State at
Wash. State at
Notre Dame at
Fresno State at
Step. F. Austin at
Austin Peay at
Murray State at
E. Illinois at
NC Central at
North Carolina A&T at
Delaware State at
East Carolina at
Ball State at
Norfolk State at
Nicholls State at
Prairie View A&M at
C. Southern at
North Texas at
NW State at
Central Arkansas at
S. Alabama at
Georgia State at
Boise State at
Cal Poly at
It’s a season of change in Tallahassee and the new-look Seminoles were unveiled on Saturday night. There was some sputtering at times early on, but Florida State was never challenged by Texas State and cruised to a 59-16 win.
Despite the fact that they were playing Texas State, there were some things that really stood out with respect to the Seminoles. Here are five things we learned on Saturday night.
1. Everett Golson is the Quarterback
Head coach Jimbo Fisher said as much last week and he was true to his word. Sean Maguire did not enter the game until deep into the fourth quarter when the score was 49-16. It will be the same story going forward as Golson was very sharp, going 19-of-25 for 302 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. That is the Golson that Florida State fans were hoping to see.
2. There Was No Rust On Dalvin Cook
It didn’t matter that the sophomore from Miami was not eligible to practice until the middle of camp. Cook was in midseason form right away. He showed his patented burst, getting through holes and by defenders in a hurry, finishing with 156 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries (8.2 ypc). That’s a nice day.
3. Run Blocking of the Offensive Line
Golson did get sacked a couple of times, but the young offensive line had a good night. Cook had some big openings as did Mario Pender, who had 92 yards rushing of his own. In total the Seminoles ran for 286 yards and three scores.
4. The Defensive Front Was Active, But...
They still didn’t get to the quarterback. It wasn’t like Texas State QBs Tyler Jones and later Connor White were ever really comfortable in the pocket and Florida State did create several negative plays. The Seminoles also were able to really stuff the Bobcats' running backs, especially star Robert Lowe, who only had 13 yards on eight carries. But a defense that finished No. 108 in the nation in sacks last year had just one even though Texas State threw the ball 42 times.
5. Punt Returns
In the first half, Texas State successfully ran a fake punt that set up a field goal. On the next Texas State punt, Marquez White fumbled and the Bobcats recovered. Three plays later, the score was 14-10. Later in the quarter, Travis Rudolph fumbled a punt that was recovered by Pender. Fisher was visibly upset when interviewed at halftime and the crowd let out a mock cheer when Jesus Wilson fair caught a punt in the third quarter. This is an area that will be cleaned up and if it was going to happen in any game, this is the right one.
— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.
Taysom Hill suffered a season-ending Lisfranc injury that is cutting his season short for the third time in four years.
True freshman Tanner Mangum stepped in for Hill in a hostile environment engulfed in the loud Sea of Red, but Mangum displayed poise and confidence beyond his years, granted, those years are a tad bit higher than a typical true freshman as Mangum turns 22 on Tuesday.
Mangum stepped in for Hill after he went out early in the first half, and in his first few plays as a Cougar, made a nice throw and as the kids these days say, was low key shifty on the run. Hill then came back in and we all thought Mangum wouldn’t be seen from again, unless it was mop-up duty in a blowout game later in the schedule. Then of course, Hill went down again early in the fourth with the Cougars down by four.
To think of what Mangum pulled off is remarkable, and to do it in one of college football’s most storied venues makes it a fairy tale opening, and has Cougar fans chomping at the bit to see what’s next.
Most programs would have no hope for success after losing a star like Hill. But after what we saw in one game from Mangum, the Cougars still have an opportunity to put together a season that ends with more than eight wins, the total they’ve had the past three years.
Mangum is now in charge of leading this BYU team, and will look to build on the positive momentum coming out of the improbable victory in Lincoln. But one question many folks around the country are probably now asking is, who is this Tanner Mangum kid? Well, time to get familiar.
Mangum hails from the same state as Hill, the Gem State, Idaho. Mangum was a heralded recruit, considered the third-ranked quarterback in the country in the class of 2012 per Rivals. To understand how lofty Mangum’s recruiting status was, he was the co-MVP of the Elite 11 in the 2012 class with a guy you might remember, former Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston. Not bad company to be associated with I’d say.
With those impressive accolades, folks that follow BYU football closely have always been excited about the future prospects of the program with Mangum lining up as the Cougars’ signal-caller, they just didn’t want or expect this era to take center stage so soon. But now that it is here, folks are buzzing about the potential this guy has.
Hill was known as a dual-threat quarterback. He made significant strides as a passer, but where he made a name for himself was his elite running ability. Mangum doesn’t have many similarities when you compare him side-by-side to Hill. To describe Mangum’s style of play, think of BYU quarterbacks from yesteryear during the Air Edwards era. Or if you want a more recent comparison, look at Max Hall. These were all classic drop-back quarterbacks that can throw the football with precision and accuracy, and if needed, can pick up a first down on the ground with their legs in a pinch. That’s Mangum.
Mangum is nowhere near Hill’s level in terms of athleticism, and he would even tell you that. During a “SportsCenter” appearance on Sunday, Mangum said, “I don’t run a 4.4 40, but I’ll work hard, and I feel like I’m a student of the game.” That type of attitude from Mangum is one of the reasons head coach Bronco Mendenhall had such high praise for Tanner during fall camp last month. In fact, it wasn’t just praise, it was love. “Love, love, love, love, continued loves, Tanner Mangum.” That was the exact quote from Mendenhall after seeing Mangum through two practices in camp.
What makes this Hail Mary and story even more remarkable, is that less than 100 days ago, Mangum was serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the country of Chile. On LDS missions, players don’t train or use the time to mature physically. These missionaries only have 30 minutes to exercise in the mornings, that’s pretty much it when it comes to physical conditioning. Everything else done out on the mission field revolves around your commitments as an LDS missionary. Mangum himself said, he only threw a football a few times during his mission with some of the locals in Chile, but no conditioning or training like most high-level FBS athletes are engaged in during the offseason.
It’s difficult for returning missionaries that are also student-athletes to come back to perform at a high level right away, but Mangum has worked his tail off since he came home on June 3. Knowing that he had a great opportunity to take over as the second-string quarterback behind a starter who had suffered two season-ending injuries in the past, Mangum was preparing like he was atop the depth chart by studying relentlessly in the film room and preparing himself physically for when his number would be called.
Now that his number his been called, Mangum has already been elevated to star status in Provo. So how will he follow this up?
The Cougars will face Mangum’s hometown team, Boise State this Saturday in Provo, then a pair of road games with UCLA and Michigan. That was expected to be a tough stretch for a seasoned senior in Hill, so for a true freshman like Mangum, the odds of BYU coming out on the winning end of those games is probably not in its favor at this point. But hey, the odds weren’t in BYU’s favor when there was just one second left in regulation in Lincoln either.
It’ll be interesting to see where offensive coordinator Robert Anae steers this offense under Mangum. Do the Cougars go back to an Air Raid-style of offense, similar to Texas Tech from the Mike Leach days? Anae was an offensive line coach at Tech under Leach, and incorporated the pass-heavy attack at BYU in 2005 for the first month of the season. It’s an offense that might need to be considered because BYU’s running backs without Jamaal Williams after week one are nothing to write home about at the moment.
BYU will need to win games with Mangum’s arm. Luckily for the new starting quarterback, he has a talented receiving group to throw to that goes eight deep, and boasts a trio of wideouts that stand 6-foot-5 or taller in Mathews, Nick Kurtz, and Terenn Houk.
We will have a great idea of how this offense will look after Saturday night’s showdown with Boise State, but regardless of how the offense is executed the Cougars still have a bright future with this polished and poised man that has been training his whole life to become BYU’s next great quarterback.
— Written by Mitch Harper, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Harper is the BYU reporter and insider for 1320 KFAN and co-host of "The Cougar Center" podcast. Follow him on Twitter @Mitch_Harper.
LOS ANGELES – In the same tunnel leading from the locker rooms to the Coliseum playing turf, Cam Smith strolls out in a fresh pair of Air Jordan XI. His black-and-red shoes walk on the same path where, four hours earlier, he carried onto the field the legacy of Trojans before him.
Smith's old-school Jordans, first released in 1995, weren't the only piece of throwback fashion he donned Saturday, the night of his USC debut. The freshman took the field in the No. 35, a jersey passed among especially tenacious linebackers from the late 1970s into the '90s.
Saturday marked a major milestone in the history of No. 35, with Smith starting at inside linebacker. He's the first Trojan freshman to do so since Riki Ellison (then Riki Gray), the man who started the 35 tradition in 1978.
“Cam is a natural playmaker at that position,” said head coach Steve Sarkisian, who hand-picked Smith to bring back the No. 35 tradition and gave him the historic starting nod Saturday. “He's a heady guy, got a good feel for the game, a solid tackler and he's probably a better athlete than people think.”
Smith demonstrated just such qualities with seven tackles, which tied for the team lead, and a pass breakup. It was a good, old-fashioned, all-around outing like previous 35s Ellison, Scott Ross or Jeff Kopp may have had.
Smith also was a more-than-capable replacement for Hayes Pullard, the Trojans' starter at inside linebacker the previous four seasons. Pullard was a stalwart of the USC defense, but even he had to grow into manning the middle of the corps. He started as a Will linebacker in 2011, his redshirt freshman campaign.
For Smith to start in the middle as a true freshman was truly a special accomplishment — and a milestone he learned of in a way none of his forerunners could.
“I saw a tweet about that,” he said.
OK, so not everything about Smith is a throwback. His exploits get immediate love his predecessors didn't thanks to Twitter, and Smith's handle @CamSC35 is sure to blow up with mentions as he continues to make plays.
The only one he might like to have back is his batted-down pass. After snagging several interceptions in offseason scrimmages, he had an opportunity to record his first official pick as a Trojan, and possibly walk into the end zone.
“He's not going to hear the end of it from my mouth,” teammate Su'a Cravens said with a sly grin. The preseason All-American Cravens made his own interception Saturday.
“He told me he was going to get a pick. He had his chance, and he dropped it,” Cravens added. “Can't drop those.”
Smith agreed. “I wish I would have had it back for my own sake," he said. "It's tough, but at least I got my hands on it and it was incomplete.
“But yeah, I'm definitely going to hear about it.”
Requisite teasing aside, Cravens has been one of Smith's most vocal supporters since the offseason. Cravens singled him out as the most impressive defensive freshman during the spring.
Smith's decision to graduate a semester early from Granite Bay (Calif.) High School, helped smooth the linebacker's transition from 4-star prospect to Week 1 starter.
“Coming in early was the right move,” he said, mentioning academics as well as football. “Having a semester under my belt feels good. I feel like I'm a step ahead.”
Smith's one step ahead was his first down the Coliseum tunnel. He'll take several more noteworthy steps in his USC career, and do so with old-school panache.
It was only one game.
For only the sixth time since 1962, the Nebraska Cornhusker football program debuted a new coach on its sidelines Saturday. It was a game very much anticipated by the fans and supporters of one of college football's most historically prestigious programs. They wanted to see the changes. They wanted to see the new-look, Mike Riley-coached version of the Huskers. And like in every home opener in the last 29 tries, they wanted to see a win.
When the game ended, both sides of Husker Nation were disappointed. Yes — both sides.
The Husker fan base is at war with itself — something I've rarely seen in college sports. On one side, you have the Kool-Aid-drinking eternal optimists, confident that every hurdle the program encounters is just part of the journey back to the top of the college football mountain. They believe in the program because they want to believe. It's the textbook definition of faith.
On the other side, you have a strange mix of something else. Some call them realists, while others call them "Bo-lievers" — a nickname given to the Bo Pelini supporters who did not want him fired and maintain to this day that he should not have been fired. They felt that the seven consecutive 9-win seasons he posted were good enough in today's college football world — a world much different than the one where Nebraska was competing for and winning national championships a decade and a half ago.
Neither side is willing to budge, with loud, outspoken ideologues on both sides leading the charge, shouting down the opposition the best they can, usually — and thankfully — with keyboards.
As the Hail Mary pass fell into the hands of BYU wide receiver Mitch Mathews to end the game, I calmly pulled up Twitter and Facebook on my phone and laptop and waited for the war of words to begin. And it did.
The Bo-lievers fired first, questioning the timeouts called by Riley and his staff right before the play. They followed it up with questions about the pass-rush (or lack thereof). They pointed out missed field goals. They pointed out the broken NCAA record home-opener winning streak and the fact that Pelini kept it alive.
The optimists fired back, citing injuries and uncalled or incorrectly called penalties. They pointed out Tommy Armstrong’s progress from last season. They pointed out that Pelini’s teams would have folded at halftime. They tried to stay positive.
Over in the fan groups and message boards, admins launched threats and acted on them. In one group, an admin threatened to ban anyone who bad-mouthed the coaching staff or administration — including those who posted any positive pictures or memes of Bo Pelini and negative ones of Riley.
In the football-crazed state of Nebraska, the Huskers are everything. The morale of the state runs parallel to what’s going on with the football team in the fall and early winter. Normally, the team is something for everyone in the state to rally around and be proud of. Nowadays, football Saturdays in Nebraska are filled with angst and some anger at your fellow man — simply because he has a different opinion about the program.
Many around the country envy the passion of the Nebraska fan base, but there is little doubt that it — along with high expectations — may also be having a detrimental impact on the program’s quest to get back to relevancy. Bo Pelini found that out the hard way, as he coached against both the teams on his schedule as well as the ghosts of coaches who came before him — both good and bad.
As I watched Mike Riley’s postgame press conference, I saw all of the weight that comes with coaching the Nebraska football program hit him. I watched him keep his poker face, doing his best to answer with class the same questions that caused his predecessor to openly and consistently fume. He’s never coached anywhere like Nebraska before, and the strain of holding back what he really wanted to say was showing through that almost military-like bearing.
The Nebraska-BYU game did little to unite a broken fan base. All it did was strengthen both sides of a divided house. One side’s argument against firing a winning coach got stronger from their point of view, while the other side’s support for Riley likely grew based on how the game ended — turning Riley into a somewhat sympathetic figure.
From the outside looking in, it may be difficult to understand the what’s and why’s of what is happening within the state of Nebraska and its football team’s fan base. But here in the heart of it, with a vantage point that can see and understand both sides of the argument, I find it all both incredibly fascinating yet sad. It will likely only get worse before it gets better.
And it was only one game.
I know this may not seem to be the most necessary post since the NFL season nor fantasy football has yet to officially begin. However there have actually been enough moves with trades and injuries to make the waiver wire something to be utilized already.
Perhaps you lost Jordy Nelson or Kelvin Benjamin for the season. Or maybe you assumed Robert Turbin was the backup for Marshawn Lynch prior to being put on the PUP list along with the Fred Jackson trade. Either way, a dominant draft is the first step in winning your fantasy football league, but dominating the waiver wire is equally as important each and every week.
I will be here to guide you each and every week with some players who are owned in less than 40 percent of ESPN.com leagues and could have an impact on your squad for the particular week, or rest of season.
Remember, many leagues were won last season with waiver wire additions of Odell Beckham Jr. and Justin Forsett. It may not happen that way this year, but each season there is always someone who comes out of nowhere to bring owners to fantasy glory!
I also should mention that I tend to utilize my bench spots for upside players, and a handcuff or two rather than filling it with solid but not start-worthy players. I would rather own Matt Jones than a Shane Vereen for example. You don’t have to employ the same strategy, but that is just how I do it. That being said we will jump right in to it, and I wish you all the best of luck this week and entire season.
1. David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals (38.4 percent owned per ESPN.com)
Johnson really should be owned everywhere. He had a fantastic training camp, and he is the backup to a well-known injury risk in Andre Ellington. If for some reason you own Ellington, or the owner who does did not add him I would put in a claim right away. Johnson is the definition of upside and just needing an opportunity to be an impact fantasy player.
2. Cameron Artis-Payne, RB, Carolina (14.6 percent owned)
Payne like Johnson above had a nice training camp and is playing behind the equally injury-prone Jonathan Stewart. Payne should already be owned by all Stewart owners, but if they slipped up? Pounce on Payne like a cat with a catnip toy.
3. Danny Amendola, WR, New England (8.2 percent owned)
Amendola was a big part of the Patriots’ postseason run and with Brandon LaFell being placed on the PUP list (will miss at least the first six games), he should be a key cog in the offense. Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski will remain Tom Brady’s top targets, but Amendola can be another weapon.
4. Brandon Coleman, WR, New Orleans (13.6 percent owned)
Coleman is projected to be the No. 3 target in the Saints’ offense. Drew Brees spreads the ball around as well as anyone and with tight end Jimmy Graham gone the wide receivers should be plenty busy. Coleman looked great in the offseason and should provide some big weeks alongside Brandin Cooks and Marques Colston. Once again, this is an upside bench stash.
5. Ty Montgomery, WR, Green Bay (16.1 percent owned)
Montgomery isn’t getting the attention or Twitter love Jeff Janis (13.3 percent owned) is this offseason. Janis has had a solid camp, but he is still fourth on the Packers’ depth chart. Montgomery is No. 3 meaning he WILL be a regular piece of Green Bay’s potent offense that will be without Jordy Nelson. Let folks fawn and jump on Janis while you take Montgomery and hope for the best.
DST Streamer of the Week
I am a part of the streaming DST movement. I don’t typically waste a draft pick, unless I need to, in my drafts and instead cut someone and add a DST. Clearly the top defenses will be owned and not available, but streaming is always an option when it comes to DSTs. So each week I will be providing a DST that is owned in less than 30 percent of ESPN.com leagues and can be useful.
Tennessee Titans at Tampa Bay (1.1 percent owned per ESPN)
The Buccaneers have plenty of weapons on offense, but they also have a rookie quarterback who is likely to be making a few mistakes. When it comes a DST that is what you are hoping for. Sacks, fumbles and interceptions are the key, and although nothing is guaranteed the Titans make an appealing play this week.
(David Johnson photo courtesy of www.azcardinals.com)
— Written by Chris Meyers, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the FSWA. Meyers' work appears on many other sites, including socalledfantasyexperts.com. Follow him on Twitter @FantsyChillpony.
Guess the Jake Coker hand-wringing by Alabama fans can stop now.
After he wasn't able to beat out Blake Sims last August and then wasn't able to convincingly win the starting quarterback job this August, many Alabama followers were starting to wonder if the much-hyped Florida State transfer was just destined to be a career college clipboard holder.
Maybe this would be a season for Cooper Bateman or Alec Morris to just keep the quarterback seat warm for super freshman Blake Barnett, likely in line to redshirt this year, to slide into next fall. Then came Saturday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
With the spotlight shining intently on Alabama's QB position, Coker didn't just start under center for the Crimson Tide, he coolly handled the immense pressure and put together a near-flawless performance, helping lead No. 3 Alabama to a 35-17 win over No. 20 Wisconsin.
Coker played so well, in fact, that head coach Nick Saban and his staff didn't trot Bateman, a sophomore signal-caller, out onto the field until very late in the third quarter.
"Jake was playing pretty well, so we stayed with (him)," Saban said after the game.
Most expected Bateman to enter Saturday night's season opener much sooner than he did. Thing is, Alabama simply didn't need a spark at the QB spot. Not with the way Coker was playing. In three quarters of play, the 6-foot-5, 232-pound senior finished 15-of-21 (71 percent completion rate) for 213 yards, one touchdown and, perhaps most importantly, zero interceptions.
How did Coker's performance stack up against other recent Alabama quarterbacks making their first start in a marquee season-opener against a high-profile opponent at a neutral site? Very well. In 2009, Greg McElroy completed 50 percent of his passes in Alabama's win over Virginia Tech in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, and last season Sims completed 73 percent of his passes in Alabama's win over West Virginia on the same field. And Coker avoided what McElroy and Sims were not able to in their first starts – throwing a pick.
Not surprisingly, after the game, Saban said he was pleased with Coker's performance and ticked off a laundry list of all the positive things the Mobile, Ala., native did in the contest.
"He moved the team, he executed the offense, he threw the ball where he was supposed to throw it, he threw accurately, he didn't make a lot of mental errors, he didn't have a lot of communication problems," Saban said of his highly scrutinized quarterback.
Seven different guys caught passes from Coker, but spreading the ball around like that wasn't necessarily by design. It was just Coker, in each instance, picking out the right guy to throw the ball to.
"He made the right reads based on the call that was made and based on what Wisconsin was playing," Saban explained.
Coker's teammates were impressed with the way he played too.
"Jacob Coker did a great job and had great poise in leading the offense," said running back Derrick Henry, who ran for 147 yards and three touchdowns in the victory.
Added center Ryan Kelly: "(Coker) did great. He's just a real poised leader."
McElroy and Sims both went on to lead the Crimson Tide to a championship in their first season as Alabama’s starting quarterback. McElroy guided the Tide to both an SEC and national championship in '09, while Sims steered Bama to an SEC title last year. Will Coker follow suit?
Only time will tell. But after the way Coker played in his first start Saturday night, it might be hard now to bet against him.
— Written by Erik Stinnett, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Stinnett is an experienced college football beat writer who has been covering Alabama since 2009.
Fall camp 2015 was a time to start over for Nebraska linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey, a brand-new era. He was injured during last year’s August prep work and was shelved for the season.
Unfortunately, he put himself a step behind where he should probably be presently.
Rose-Ivey was one of five Cornhuskers suspended for the season opener against BYU. As a result, all he could do was watch as a Hail Mary pass sent the Cougars home victors.
The cameras even got a sideline shot of disbelief complete with No. 15’s mouth agape as an assistant dropped to his knees in front of him.
He’s the type of athlete that could impact a game. I’m not going to play “would’ve, could’ve, should've,” but defensive coordinator Mark Banker can take more chances in the future with Rose-Ivey on the field with Josh Banderas and Dedrick Young.
Now that he’s healthy and out of the penalty box, he’s ready to strip someone of their black.
What Husker fans should be most enthused by is that while not an elected captain, Rose-Ivey does recognize that he is a leader on the field. What’s more, he conducts himself as one publicly.
Got to sleep in the bed you make... Live and learn and know you'll be better off at the end of the day— Michael Rose-Ivey (@Rose_IveyNB15) September 4, 2015
It’s been made no secret that Nebraska's new coaches have sat down and talked one-on-one with these young men about every major topic. After having watched and listened to head coach Mike Riley since December, I can hear his conversation with Rose-Ivey in my head. Firm, but honest and to the point.
Now that he's paid his debt, he gets his opportunity back.
A hungry Rose-Ivey is exactly what Nebraska’s defense needs. Not only is he a natural talent, but also seeing a zero in the win column following the first week of Husker football for the first time since 1985 can only motivate a guy with that passion even more.
I’m not in his head, but every team from here on out may wear just a little blue and white. Their helmets might have just a bit of a “Y” on the side.
As a junior, Michael Rose-Ivey never had a shot to help Nebraska beat the BYU Cougars.
I don’t fear for those standing between him and a Blackshirt. They’re kin. A challenge, but family.
Those not wearing his colors on game day, those are the ones I don’t envy.
Broken bone in the neck. It sounds very scary. It is very scary. And that is what Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams is now dealing with after colliding with the goal post on a touchdown catch Saturday against Wofford.
Williams will be okay and fortunately his football career will resume. However, when he will return to action is up in the air. Head coach Dabo Swinney said that Williams will be re-evaluated in six weeks and a decision will be made at that time as to whether the junior will suit up again this season.
If Williams is done in 2015, the Tigers will be losing a 6-foot-4, 210-pound big-play threat. They’re losing a receiver that caught 57 balls for 1,030 yards and six touchdowns in 2014. How does Clemson replace the Vance, S.C., native?
In one sense, the offense won’t, at least not with one guy. However, Clemson does have some talented options to help keep its passing game clicking.
It is hard to imagine Artavis Scott being able to do more than he did last year. The sophomore had a big first year in the upstate and picked up right where he left off in the season opener with 136 total yards. Scott also is a player that works the underneath routes and gets yards after the catch while Williams is more of the downfield threat.
Charone Peake and Germone Hopper are two veterans that will be given a greater role in the offense with Williams out. Peake is a senior that has battled injuries and Hopper is a junior that was fourth on the team in receptions last year. They both can be solid replacements but there are players with higher ceilings at this point.
Those players are Ray-Ray McCloud and Deon Cain. The freshmen were extremely impressive in camp and both were going to play regardless of the Williams injury. McCloud burst on the scene in a big way Saturday, as the Tampa product caught eight passes for 80 yards. He seemed to be running patterns similar to Scott, but he also showed an ability to stretch the field a bit. Cain also got into the game early on and will be someone that can grow in this offense.
By the way, Clemson has this guy Deshaun Watson that can really throw the ball and this guy Wayne Gallman who can really run the ball. Those two, along with Scott, give Clemson three premier playmakers on offense.
But Williams is a special player and, assuming that he is out for the season, he will be missed. And Clemson has already suffered several unforeseen personnel losses since the end of last season. Fortunately, Swinney and his staff have recruited very well, especially at the receiver position. It is also one of the spots on the field where a player can contribute early and the Tigers seem to have two exciting freshmen to fill the void.
The situation is not ideal for Clemson, that’s for sure. But don’t fret Tiger fans, your team will still score a lot of points this year.
— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.
Saturday was nearly perfect for the Notre Dame football team. From beginning to end, the Irish throttled the Texas offense and their offense scored at will in a 38-3 victory. It was a night for Notre Dame fans to celebrate.
Except that running back Tarean Folston went down with a knee injury six minutes in to the contest and will be lost for the season.
Notre Dame now becomes exceptionally thin in the backfield. C.J. Prosise, who switched over to running back from receiver in the spring, moves into the starting role. The senior from Petersburg, Va., had 126 yards rushing in 2014 but most of those were on jet sweeps from the slot position.
Saturday night was his first real action as a tailback and he played very well with 98 yards on 20 carries. The most surprising aspect of Prosise’s performance was his ability to run between the tackles, something that he was never asked to do as a receiver. Prosise saw the hole, made the proper cut, and ran through it without a whole lot of wasted movement.
It was just one game and how Prosise handles the wear and tear of an entire season is still a mystery. But it was a good start. It also was a good start for his two primary reserves.
Freshmen Josh Adams and Dexter Williams looked capable of being able to carry the football. Adams ran 14 yards for a score the first time he touched the ball. He also scored on a 25-yard run later in the game and finished with 49 yards on five carries. Williams came in late and was able to grind out some tough yards when Notre Dame needed to burn the clock.
The good piece of news for Irish fans is that running back is a position where a freshman can come in and make an immediate impact. What Adams and Williams will have to get up to speed on quickly are the things that running backs are asked to do besides carrying the football. Most importantly, blitz pick up. Also, as a converted receiver, Prosise will be an asset catching the ball out of the backfield. But he's also the lead ball carrier so it would be nice if one of the two freshmen could develop into a receiving threat that could spell Prosise at times in passing situations.
Needless to say, Notre Dame cannot afford an injury to any of those three running backs. New scholarship recipient Adams played in mop-up time, but he is not someone the coaching staff wants playing pressure-packed minutes. Justin Brent, like Prosise a converted receiver, did not play at all.
Notre Dame does have a quarterback that can run. But head coach Brian Kelly stated prior to the game that he will limit how many times Malik Zaire carries the ball and that is unlikely to change despite the Folston injury.
It is true that Notre Dame was very effective running the ball against Texas. They got fine efforts out of Prosise, Adams and Williams. The offensive line looks like it could be one of the best units in the country, which will help in both the rushing attack and in pass protection. And if Zaire continues to throw the ball like he did against the Horns, it will take a considerable amount of pressure off the ground game.
But Folston has been a very good player that looked ready to take the step to the next level. Notre Dame can survive the blow but it will take more than just one man to fill his shoes. Everyone on the offense will have to raise his game. That is the only way the Irish can go forward without missing a beat.
— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.
Auburn opened its season with a 31-24 win against Louisville in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The Tigers looked like the national contender many expected in preseason.
New coordinator Will Muschamp's defense set the tone early. Tray Matthews returned an interception 35 yards on Louisville's opening possession, which led to Auburn's first touchdown of 2015. The Tigers' second score came on an 82-yard fumble return by Justin Garrett several drives later.
Yes, the Tigers lived up to the lofty preseason hype during their Week 1 victory. Well, almost everyone.
Jeremy Johnson struggled in his debut as Auburn's starting quarterback. The junior threw for just 137 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions on 11-of-21 passing, while also rushing for a score.
It was a far cry from the preseason expectations many had for Johnson. Following Nick Marshall's departure, the junior spent the offseason downplaying Heisman talk and Cam Newton comparisons, putting his focus on helping Auburn win football games.
Related: Analyzing Auburn Quarterback Jeremy Johnson's Heisman Trophy Candidacy
He did that on Saturday against a Louisville defense that ranked No. 1 in FBS in interceptions in 2014. And while Johnson accounted for multiple touchdowns, the three picks were the biggest takeaway of his performance.
Sure he struggled, but that's expected for a new quarterback facing a talented defense in his debut. Though he did his Heisman stock no favors, Johnson's two touchdowns were the deciding factor in the Tigers' win against a quality opponent. While many SEC rivals enjoyed blowout wins against Group of 5 or FCS programs, Auburn defeated a team that finished with a 9-4 (5-3) record and a No. 24 overall ranking.
In Week 1, the purpose is to "shake off the rust" of the offseason and make adjustments before Week 2. Johnson told Al.com that he's "ready to atone" for his interceptions and will make the necessary adjustments before Saturday's game.
"I was trying to take the big plays too early in the game," Johnson said. "Trying to take the big shot, trying to make the big play too early in the game instead of hitting my check downs."
It's still early for Johnson who should see better numbers as Auburn hosts Jacksonville State on Saturday. The junior will regain his confidence by facing a far less talented secondary and should add to his stats before entering conference play.
His Heisman candidacy is far from ruined as his performances against SEC teams will be the most heavily weighed. If Johnson leads Auburn to a national championship he will remain a contender for the award.
The junior's stats will be among the nation's best quarterbacks in Gus Malzahn's offense. He's a 6-foot-5, 250-pound dual-threat quarterback playing within a scheme that best suits his skill set and is surrounded by a plethora of talent.
Johnson will bounce back from a lackluster debut and make Auburn fans forget about Week 1. The Tigers' team success is most important and the junior quarterback will be the decisive factor in the team winning in 2015.
— Written by Jason Hall, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and works for Fox Sports Florida. Follow him on Twitter @jasonhallFSN.
It is always difficult to get a true sense of a team after just one game. It’s even more difficult to gauge when the one game is against a vastly inferior opponent. Such is the case with Clemson after the 49-10 victory over Wofford.
However, Tigers fans had their eyes on certain areas and an injury to a star player is a cause for concern. Here are five things to be gleaned after Clemson’s opening win.
1. Deshaun Watson Looked Good
Without a doubt, the health of the star quarterback was the most important factor in determining Clemson’s success in 2015. After week one, all signs are pointing upward. Watson did not have to run very often and he was given a lot of time to throw by the offensive line. However, Watson definitely passed the eye test, not only on his two scrambles but also by the way he shifted in the pocket. He finished the game 18-of-22 passing for 194 yards with two scores and no interceptions. Greater challenges obviously lie ahead. But week one was a success.
2. The Mike Williams Injury
It was a scary scene early in the game when star wide receiver Williams was carted off the field after colliding head first with the goal post on Clemson’s first touchdown of the season. Williams broke a small bone in his neck. The good news is that it will not end his career. The bad news is that he will be out for an extended period of time. Freshman Ray-Ray McCloud had a big game in Williams’s absence, catching 10 passes for 80 yards.
3. The Offensive Line
With a plethora of talented receivers and backs to go along with Watson, the offensive line was the greatest offensive concern coming into the 2015 season. They weren’t exactly playing Alabama this week, but the big guys up front did a great job in both run and pass blocking. They paved the way for 222 yards rushing and head coach Dabo Swinney pinned the only sack on backup quarterback Nick Schuessler. Center Ryan Norton left the game with an injury, but he is expected to be ready to go next week against Appalachian State.
4. Red Zone Offense
Clemson finished 2014 No. 113 in the nation in both red zone efficiency (73 percent) and in red zone touchdown efficiency (48 percent). Saturday the Tigers converted five of their six red zone opportunities into touchdowns. The only slip-up was a Schuessler fumble in the first quarter.
5. Athleticism on the Defensive Front
They may be young and may not have started many games, but Clemson’s front seven is very athletic. Wofford did not have a first down until there were nearly two minutes remaining in the first half and the main reason is that the Terriers’ offensive line could not contain the first wave of the Clemson defense. Scott Pagano did not fill up the stat sheet but his play at nose tackle was stellar and Shaq Lawson, B.J. Goodson and the rest of the crew made life miserable for Wofford’s offense.
Nobody expected UT-Martin to pose a threat to Ole Miss in Saturday’s season opener in Oxford, and the Rebels won convincingly 76-3. Few also expected an early season blowout victory over an FCS opponent to make a defensive player a factor in the Heisman Trophy race. But, Robert Nkemdiche may have done exactly that.
No primarily defensive player has won the Heisman Trophy since Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson in 1997. Of course, Woodson upped his chances by contributing on offense and starring on special teams. Who knew Nkemdiche would check both of those boxes against the Skyhawks?
A part-time running back in high school, the 6-foot-4, 296-pound Nkemdiche has been used on offense a few times in Oxford, most notably when he gained 21 yards on four carries (including an 18-yarder) against rival Mississippi State as a true freshman in 2013. Saturday, head coach Hugh Freeze slipped his All-American defensive tackle into the backfield and called for a play-action pass. Wide open in the flat, Nkemdiche caught the short toss from quarterback Ryan Buchanan and raced untouched to the end zone for a 31-yard touchdown.
While many were probably tempted to celebrate a #FatGuyTouchdown on Twitter, Nkemdiche looks more like a tight end than most nearly 300-pound lineman. He’s fast. And not fat.
Then, later in the second quarter, with the Landshark defense trying to keep UT-Martin off the scoreboard before halftime, Nkemdiche slipped through and blocked a 23-yard field goal attempt. That’s a second big, non-defensive play in the first 30 minutes of the season that could capture the attention of Heisman voters.
Because he plays defensive tackle, much of Nkemdiche’s impact flies under the radar. It’s hard for anyone to rack up tackles and quarterback sacks when they are constantly the focus of double and triple teams from opposing offenses. Last season, Nkemdiche had 35 tackles and two sacks and he tallied three stops Saturday. However, all that extra attention from offensive coordinators and blockers frees up the other Rebels to make big plays.
Looking ahead, defensive coordinator Dave Wommack is sure to move his best player all over the defensive line — especially in more important games, like the Sept. 19 trip to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama — to create matchup advantages, which should help Nkemdiche pick up a few of the sexier statistics he would need to make a Heisman push. Still, Nkemdiche will need to put up big numbers — like double-digit sacks — to even earn a trip to the award ceremony in New York.
Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh may be the best comparison to Nkemdiche. A defensive tackle for the Cornhuskers, Suh had an incredible 85 tackles and 12 sacks and added an interception in 2009, which earned him the fourth most voted in Heisman voting.
In 2012, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o finished second in the Heisman voting behind Johnny Manziel in a season in which he recorded more than 100 tackles, 1.5 sacks and intercepted seven passes. South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney finished sixth that same season after recording 13 sacks.
Nkemdiche’s biggest competition for the Heisman among defenders is Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright, who finished ninth in the voting last season after amassing 153 total tackles, 14 sacks, four forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. However, Wright suffered a knee injury in the season opener Thursday against UTSA. Wright is expected to miss at least two weeks of playing time. Nkemdiche spent some time in the Ole Miss locker room himself in the second half Saturday with a minor knee injury, but isn’t expected to miss any more action.
It was just one game, and it occurred far from the bright lights of a nationally televised primetime matchup between SEC heavyweights. But, if Nkemdiche continues to prove himself as one of the best defensive players in America — and scores a few touchdowns and makes a few big special teams plays along the way — he just might make some noise in the Heisman race this season.
— Written by Nicholas Ian Allen, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Allen's work on college football can also be found on SaturdayBlitz.com and FanSided.com. Follow him on Twitter @NicholasIAllen.
Virginia Tech running back J.C. Coleman made quite a fashion statement during Monday night’s game against Ohio State.
Normally, jerseys or helmets are the choice for making a fashion statement, but Coleman wore a gold watch – yes a gold watch – while playing the Buckeyes.
The image was captured on Twitter by a couple of users:
All of Cardale Jones' advances may have just paid off.
Ronda Rousey just gave her advice to Urban Meyer on who Ohio State's starting quarterback should be. Between Jones and J.T. Barrett, Rousey gives her pick.
It was probably a tough choice for her too.
The expectations for the Irish coming in were extremely high. Now they are even loftier. Notre Dame dominated both offensively and defensively and head into week two with tons of positive momentum.
Picking just five things to takeaway after the Irish blow out is a bit difficult. But here we go.
1. Malik Zaire’s Accuracy
Since the quarterback from Kettering, Ohio, arrived at Notre Dame, the big question about his game was the accuracy of his throws. Zaire was a wishbone quarterback in high school and needed to develop as a thrower in college. Saturday night, Zaire looked like a polished product in the pocket. Completing 19 of 22 passes with one of the misses a flat-out drop by freshman tight end Alize Jones is a clear indication that the lefty was on target. If Zaire plays like this going forward, the Irish offense will be especially explosive.
2. The Running Backs Must Stay Healthy
With Greg Bryant leaving the program following his academic suspension and now the season-ending MCL injury to Tarean Folston, Notre Dame has become perilously thin at running back. C.J. Prosise will carry the load as the starter going forward and two freshmen, Josh Adams and Dexter Williams, will be the primary reserves. The Irish will need all three this fall and all of them must remain on the field.
3. The Offensive Line
No matter who is carrying the ball, running behind this offensive line should be fun. Yes, there were a few hiccups with illegal motion penalties. But Ronnie Stanley, Quentin Nelson, Nick Martin, Steve Elmer and Mike McGlinchey kept Zaire very clean and opened up huge holes in the running game. Many around the team thought that this could be one of the best Notre Dame offensive lines in quite some time. This unit certainly looked the part on Saturday night.
4. Defensive Speed
Throughout the years, Notre Dame detractors have noted the team’s lack of speed on defense as an Achilles heel. Not this season. Max Redfield is fast. KeiVarae Russell and Cole Luke are fast. Sheldon Day is tough to contain because of how quick he gets off the ball. And Jaylon Smith is really, really fast for a linebacker. Texas is not a very good offensive team. However, they always recruit dynamic athletes and Notre Dame’s defense appeared to be flying everywhere, making the Longhorns seem slow. Texas being unsure on offense was part of the reason; Notre Dame’s team speed also was a huge factor.
5. Notre Dame’s Multiple Defensive Looks
Defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder is known for sending one blitz package after another. The Texas game consisted of a little different approach. The Irish did send a lot of pressure at times, but the defense also dropped back in coverage on others. Defensive end Isaac Rochell lined up on the nose in a 3-4 set several times and was inside as a defensive tackle in the standard 4-3 as well. The variety of looks gives future opponents’ offensive coordinators a lot to think about.