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Week 1: Booms and Busts

Sunday, September 2, 2018


Week 1 Booms


Hawaii QB Cole McDonald -- 428 passing yards and 6 touchdowns -- vs. Navy: Nobody in college football has shined -- and surprised -- more than Cole McDonald has thus far. Coming into the season, McDonald had only thrown nine passes and was in danger of losing the starting gig to true freshman Chevan Cordeiro. But it’s fair to say the quarterback battle is over. After throwing for 418 yards and three touchdowns in his Week 0 game, the sophomore quarterback threw for six touchdowns on the way to a 59-41 win over Navy. A historically good offense for quarterback production, Hawaii looks like they are ready to put huge offensive numbers under head coach Nick Rolovich.


Memphis QB Brady White -- 358 passing yards and 5 touchdowns -- vs. Mercer: Even though this production was against Mercer, Brady White had to make the list because he didn’t even have a single pass attempt in the second half. That’s 179 yards and 2.5 touchdowns per quarter folks! The redshirt junior gave his best Oprah impression, as he threw a touchdown pass to five different receivers. You get a touchdown! You get a touchdown! You get a touchdown! With a much tougher Navy football team up next, let’s see if White can repeat his performance.


West Virginia QB Will Grier -- 429 passing yards and 5 touchdowns -- vs. Tennessee: Coming off a 3,490 yard and 34 touchdown junior campaign, Will Grier was doing Will Grier things to start the 2018 season. In a close road game, Grier was able to throw four touchdowns in the second half to end any hopes of a Volunteer upset. As usual, David Sills V and Greg Jennings Jr. were Grier’s primary targets, as they combined for 253 yards and 3 scores. The Heisman hopeful will be fun to watch next week against Youngstown State.


Texas A&M RB Trayveon Williams -- 240 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns -- vs. NMST: The best rushing performance came on Thursday night with Williams turning everything he touched into gold. On his first carry of the game, Williams ran up the middle for a 73-yard touchdown, but the offense didn’t stop there. Behind Williams’ 12 yards per carry on 20 attempts, Texas A&M totaled 758 yards of total offense, which was second most in school history. The shifty back will have to bring his A-game next week against Clemson, who is debatably the best defense in the country.


Ohio State RB Mike Weber -- 186 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns -- vs. Oregon State: With J.K. Dobbins getting all of the hype this offseason, junior Mike Weber has flown under the radar. But that shouldn’t be the case anymore. After being listed as a co-starter, Weber out-touched, out-yarded, and out-scored the Heisman hopeful in the season opener, as he scored from both 49 yards out and multiple times inside the five. Moving forward, the Buckeye backfield will be more split than most expected it to be now that Mike Weber is healthy -- something he wasn’t when he averaged 6.2 yards per carry a year ago. Ohio State plays Rutgers next at home, and both Weber and Dobbins should have big games.


Oregon State RB Artavis Pierce -- 168 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns -- vs. Ohio State: Pierce was able to average an insane 15.3 yards per carry against a defense that gave up just 2.9 yards per carry last season. The junior back broke off 78 and 80 yard touchdown runs in the third quarter, which should give Oregon State fans a glimmer of hope that the offense will be better than a season ago. The starting running back clearly has some skills -- let’s not forget he added 41 receiving yards in this one too -- and will look to showcase them at home against Southern Utah next Saturday.


Stanford WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside -- 226 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns -- vs. San Diego State: With the defense focusing on running back Bryce Love, Arcega-Whiteside was able tear apart the San Diego State secondary. Standing at 6-foot-3, 225-pounds with enough speed, Stanford’s No. 1 receiving option was able to convert a red zone target for a touchdown, but also scored from 38 and 80 yards out. The senior wideout will try to find the end zone for NFL scouts next week against the Trojans.


Hawaii WR Cedric Byrd -- 90 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns -- vs. Navy: The Hawaii offense is back, and the entire country is better because of it. We already knew quarterback Cole McDonald would have a dangerous weapon with John Ursua -- he already has four touchdowns this season -- but Byrd has emerged as another. The junior JUCO transfer was the “the talk of spring ball” and has shown why in his first two games. Byrd caught 11 balls for 181 yards against Colorado State, and then turned 90 yards into two scores against Navy. With the ability to beat defenses short and over-the-top, Byrd is a threat to score every time he has the ball. That won’t change against Rice next week.


Purdue weapon Rondale Moore -- 109 receiving yards and one touchdown -- vs. Northwestern: Moore is listed as a wide receiver, but that isn’t fair to him because his impact comes in three phases -- as a returner, as a runner, and yes, as a receiver. The biggest recruit Purdue signed in 2018 was clearly the best player on the team against Northwestern. Not only did he catch 11 passes for 109 yards and a score, but he was able to set up Purdue -- who wasn’t able to do much with it -- in good field position with his shifty kick returns. But wait! There’s more! The true freshman took an end around handoff for 76-yard touchdown where he broke some arm tackles and showed his speed just for good measure. This Purdue offense needs to feature Rondale Moore next week against Eastern Michigan.


Week 1 Busts


Ohio QB Nathan Rourke -- 44 passing yards and zero touchdowns -- vs. Howard: After just eight passes, Rourke was benched against Howard. It was shocking that Rourke was pulled that quickly because he hadn’t even thrown an interception. Perhaps we shouldn’t have assumed Rourke was the unquestioned starter for Ohio, but he threw for over 2,203 yards as a sophomore, so there was definitely reason to be optimistic. Quinton Maxwell came in for Rourke and was able to lead the Bobcats to victory. With a bye week next, the Bobcats will look to figure out who their starting quarterback is moving forward. A road matchup against Virginia is awaiting on the 15th.


Cal QB Ross Bowers -- 56 passing yards and zero touchdowns -- vs. North Carolina: Bowers was supposed to shred up a suspended-filled North Carolina team like he did last year when he threw for 363 yards and four touchdowns on the road. But Bowers had the second most disappointing start of any quarterback behind Nathan Rourke. Ultimately getting benched, Bowers completed less than 50 percent of his passes with a dreadful 12.4 QBR. There is a chance that Bowers lost his starting job in this one, but if he does start next week, it will come against BYU on the road.


Arizona QB Khalil Tate -- 197 passing yards and two total touchdowns -- vs. BYU: For 99 percent of college quarterbacks, this wouldn’t be so bad. But Khalil Tate is not like 99 percent of college quarterbacks. In his breakout campaign, Tate combined for 26 touchdowns while averaging an electric 9.2 yards per carry. But BYU was able to shut that down last night largely in part by not allowing Tate to break out of the pocket with his legs -- Tate only managed 14 yards on eight carries. For Arizona fans, this was a disappointing start to what should be an exciting season. The Wildcats play Ed Oliver and the Houston Cougars next Saturday morning.


Stanford RB Bryce Love -- 29 rushing yards and zero touchdowns -- vs. San Diego State: The Heisman runner-up had a night to forget to start the 2018 season. With San Diego State clearly doing everything they could to make someone other than Love beat them, the senior running back managed just 1.6 yards per carry -- and that includes a 14-yard carry. Coming off a 2,118 yard and 19 touchdown junior season, Love will surely figure things out eventually. That could come as soon as next week against USC at home.


Middle Tennessee WR Ty Lee -- 25 receiving yards and zero touchdowns -- vs. Vanderbilt: The popular breakout candidate was held in check by Vandy to start the season. As a sophomore, Lee nearly eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards, but there were reports that Lee was also having a great offseason camp. In college fantasy drafts, Lee flew off the board with the first three-or-so rounds, so this performance did not meet expectations even against a tough opponent for Middle Tennessee. Expect a bounceback performance by Lee next Saturday against Tennessee Martin.


Oklahoma TE Grant Calcaterra -- 3 receiving yards and zero touchdowns -- vs. FAU: With the Oklahoma offense clicking to a tune of 63 points, it was somewhat disappointing not to see Calcaterra get involved. The sophomore tight end is set up to take over Mark Andrews’ 62 receptions, 958 yards, and eight touchdowns from last year. But it’s important to remember that tight ends in college football are rarely big time producers like Andrews was a season ago. However, with Lincoln Riley and Kyler Murray, there will be plenty of opportunity for Calcaterra to have some big games as a youngster.




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