Bowl Season News & Notes
- Notre Dame's Wide Receiver Group:
Ian Book has elected to return to the Dome, sending a shockwave down the depth chart by causing highly-touted successor Phil Jurkovec to transfer in hopes of starting elsewhere in 2020. The departure of WR1 Chase Claypool, along with fellow seniors Javon McKinley and Chris Finke, leaves a production void for the Irish to fill in 2020. Sophomores Braden Lenzy and Lawrence Keys III are the leading returning receivers with Lenzy possessing more explosiveness with 11 receptions for 254 yards and an impressive 23.1 YPC to go with two touchdowns. Keys III was served more of a possession role catching 13 passes for 134 yards and a 10.3 YPC on the year. I'm leaning towards the 6'0"/180 former four-star recruit Lenzy leading the way in 2020, however there is one other player who should be considered for the WR1 role. 2020 five-star signee Jordan Johnson is a 6-foot-2, 180 lb. wide receiver who is ranked as the third best wide receiver recruit in the nation and 25th best prospect overall by Rivals.com. He signed back in April of 2019 so he has plenty of time to enroll and make an impact in spring practices, potentially paving the way to earn immediate playing time in the fall. I am very curious to see how Lenzy and Johnson perform in the spring game, as veteran QB Ian Book will be dishing out plenty of touchdown passes in 2020.
- Tennessee's Starting Running Back:
Ty Chandler entered 2019 as Tennessee's incumbent starting running back who rushed 115 times for 630 yards, a 5.5 YPC and four touchdowns in 11 games the precious season. He only rushed over 100 yards once, in a 24-0 rout of hapless UTEP, but finished 2018 strong by tallying 37 carries for 259 yards and a 7.0 to go with three touchdowns over his final three games. Enter highly-touted freshman sensation Eric Gray, who arrived in Knoxville in 2019 with significant hype and a four-star pedigree. He spent the majority of the season behind Chandler as he got acclimated to the college game only topping 8 carries in a game once, in week two when he carried 17 times for 77 yards in a 29-26 loss to BYU. However when Chandler missed Tennessee's final game of the regular season against Vanderbilt, Gray was called upon to carry the rushing load for the Vols which he responded to in Lou Gherig/Wally Pipp-esque fashion, rushing 25 times for 246 yards, a 9.8 YPC and three touchdowns in a 28-10 victory over the Commodores. He set the Tennessee all-time single-game rushing record by a freshman and the outing ranks as the fifth highest rushing performance in school history. Gray then went on to out-perform Chandler in their 23-22 bowl game victory over Indiana, rushing 14 times for 86 yards and a touchdown while also catching two passes for 34 yards. Chandler only managed to record 35 yards on 12 carries while catching three passes for 24 yards in the game. Chandler enters his senior season with a rising-star in Gray pushing him for playing time. Tennessee may finally be on the rise as they currently ride a six-game winning-streak and appear poised to make noise in the SEC East next season. Savvy CFF owners will fade Chandler in 2020 drafts and instead invest in the more talented four-star prospect Gray that is ready to take over the starting running back job next season.
Alabama's Next Starting Quarterback:
Legendary Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has elected to move on to be a high NFL Draft selection, begging the question - who will be the next Alabama starting quarterback? Mac Jones acquitted himself well in starts against Auburn, where he completed 67 percent of his passes for 335 yards and a 4/2 ratio, and a convincing bowl victory over Michigan completing 64 percent of his passes for 327 yards and a 3/0 ratio. Tua's little brother is also in consideration to take over signal caller duties for the Crimson Tide, but he is clearly behind Jones in the current pecking order. The most likely challenger to Jones is from a player that's not even on Alabama's current roster, as the Crimson Tide flipped the commitment of 2020 five-star QB Bryce Young from USC back in September to add another name to the starting mix. The Mater Dei High School product Young is rated as the number-two ranked dual-threat quarterback in his class and the 32nd overall prospect in the country according to 247Sports. He is said to have a live arm and can throw equally well outside the pocket as he does inside of it. He is said to have elite escapability and prefers to make a play with his arm as opposed to tucking the ball and running. Young has all the tools to excel in a modern spread offense and should be viewed as a potential Kyler Murray-type player given his size (5'11/183), mobility and arm strength. HC Saban missed the playoff this season after losing to Auburn in the Iron Bowl. If Young gives Bama the best chance to win games, you can rest assured that Saban will play him in spite of Mac Jones' seniority. He is at the very top of 2020 CFF Dynasty league wish lists.
- Nevada quarterback Carson Strong threw for 402 yards and a touchdown in the Wolfpack's 30-21 loss in the Idaho Potato Bowl, with 14 receptions for 197 yards and a touchdown going to WR Elijah Cooks. The junior wideout was simply electric in making up for Romeo Doubs' absence, and led Nevada with 76 receptions, 926 yards and eight touchdowns on the year. The Strong/Cooks combination returns next year and should improve upon Nevada's 21.3 PPG average to form a potent duo for CFF purposes in 2020.
- Louisville HC Scott Satterfield deserves a congressional medal for his resurrection of the Louisville football program in the wake of Bobby Petrino's outright insubordination in 2018. Their winning season and impressive bowl victory over SEC East school Mississippi State proved that there was more talent in that locker room than was utilized the previous year. Sophomore QB Micale Cunningham threw for 279 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 81 yards on the ground in the win, while talented freshman RB Javian Hawkins posted 105 yards rushing and a touchdown. Any conversation about Louisville's offense must mention their ACC-leading sophomore WR Tutu Atwell, who caught 9 passes for 147 yards while tossing a 33-yard touchdown pass to TE Marshawn Ford in the bowl. All three impact underclassmen return to Louisville in 2020 and will flourish under talented HC Satterfield.