It’s alright. You can exhale now. With just Virginia Tech and Florida State left to play in Week 1 of the college football slate, the dust has pretty much settled on college football’s resurrection. And oh, what a glorious return it was. We’ll cover plenty from Week 1 of the season on this week’s Studs & Duds column, I assure you of that.
There are more stud performances than I could possibly whittle down onto a reasonable list. We’ll make sure we acknowledge as many as possible.
Let’s dig in.
Stud – Texas Tech WR T.J Vasher
Mister Vasher, you magnificent beast. I mean that in the most complimentary way possible, of course. But how could I possibly refer to anyone physically capable of this as anything BUT a beast?
T.J. Vasher, this is absurd. pic.twitter.com/9KmKgTWEHq
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) September 1, 2018
…how in the world? (Editor’s note: Go ahead and watch it again. We’ll wait. Please resume when you’re ready to move on.)
This is just unbelievable ball skills. And concentration. And athletic ability. As our college scout Brad Kelly noted in Vasher’s summer assessment, concentration and ball skills are a regular feature of Vasher’s game.
It’s a busy group of wide receiver prospects across the country, so consider it a win that Vasher landed an early season blow to keep himself in the forefront of people’s minds throughout the early impressions of the season.
This is the kind of football we can watch over and over again, which is much more than we can say for our first ‘Dud”.
Dud – Michigan QB Shea Patterson and Coach Jim Harbaugh
Go ahead and consider me guilty as charged. I genuinely thought this was going to be a romp for the Wolverines. Bringing in an athletic, downfield passer seemed like a match made in heaven for Michigan. The passing attack in 2017 was so meek that none of the three passers to take snaps as a starter failed to reach 1,000 yards passing.
But as it turns out, Harbaugh’s ground and pound offense didn’t play all that well regardless of who was under center. At least not against the Irish.
Several absent minded plays by defensive backs gifted the Irish 14 points early in the contest. From there, Michigan proceeded to shoot themselves in the foot, reload and promptly unload another self inflicted wound into the other leg.
Patterson never really got things going minus a brief stretch late in the 4th quarter, looking lost under center and overwhelmed with everything he was asked to look at on the field.
In the Big Ten Top 5 Quarterback rankings, it was noted that Patterson, who was rated 3rd in the conference, needed to “read his keys” to improve this season. Not a great start.
Stud – LSU RB Nick Brossette
Brossette hammered the Hurricanes on Sunday night. Entering his senior season, Brossette had 306 career rushing yards. But against the 8th ranked Hurricanes, the new Tigers RB ripped off 125 yards and 2 touchdowns on 22 carries.
Brossette looked like the latest gifted back to pass through the Tigers’ program, following the footsteps of Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice as a big (220+ pounds), bursty back.
— Stadium (@WatchStadium) September 3, 2018
No, Brossette didn’t have to pick his way through a tight crease here, courtesy of some poor linebacker flow from the Canes. But check out how he still manages to break pursuit angles in the secondary once he’s hit the open field.
For a 220 pound back, that’s all you want to see from a big play perspective. Brossette had limited film this summer but a few more games like this should get him on the radar pretty quickly.
Dud – Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders
Yes, in case you’re wondering. I’m getting as tired of talking about Gruden as you are hearing about him. But this is just an egregious misuse of talent and capital.
Where do we start? Since taking over the Raiders earlier this year, Gruden has:
- Traded for WR Ryan Switzer before trading him away several months later for a late round selection
- Acquired WR Martavis Bryant by trade, sending a 2018 3rd-round pick to Pittsburgh in return, only to cut Bryant this past weekend and come up empty handed all together
- Traded a 2019 5th-round pick for Buffalo 3rd string quarterback A.J. McCarron, who has been lost in his quest to gain the starting job with the Bills this summer
- Shipped out star defensive end Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears for two 1st-round picks and a 6th-round pick. The problem? Mack brought a 2020 2nd-round pick and a 5th round pick with him to Chicago, greatly diminishing the long term value of the acquired assets
To make matters worse, when pressed by the media on Sunday about the deal, Gruden promptly threw lame duck GM Reggie McKenzie under the bus.
Jon Gruden said he was not involved in including the second-round pick that went back to the Bears in the Khalil Mack trade.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 3, 2018
Gruden basically defended giving up a 3rd round pick for Martavis Bryant by saying they just cut a bunch of Reggie’s second-rounders
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) September 3, 2018
Well then. Raiders fans have every right to be apprehensive about the direction their franchise is headed under the guidance of Coach Gruden. And in year one of a ten year contract, there’s a long, winding road ahead.
Stud – Chicago’s 2019 NFL Draft class
Kyle, the Bears don’t have a first or second round pick next year, how can you possibly think this is a stud?
Hear me out.
Chicago Bears 2019 Draft Picks
1st round – DE Khalil Mack, Buffalo Bulls/Oakland Raiders
2nd round – WR Anthony Miller, Memphis Tigers
3rd round – TBA
4th round – Who cares?
5th round – Doesn’t matter.
6th round – Meh.
7th round – ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
You see, this is the underrated part of trading draft selections. In the case of a mega-deal such as this one, Chicago got known All-Pro production out of a 1st round pick in year one. And year two. And year three.
Someone who deserves a ton of praise? Bears GM Ryan Pace. Pace’s Bears will have 19 different starters in 2018 when comparing the Bears’ roster to opening day of 2015 (H/T to Aaron Leming). I’d challenge anyone to present an argument that Chicago isn’t much better across the board, to boot.
Stud – Maryland WR Jeshaun Jones
The 6-foot-2, 190 pound receiver doesn’t have a profile page here at The Draft Network, because he’s actually a true freshman. A true freshman that logged a passing, rushing AND receiving touchdown in his first career game. On his first three career touches. #FearTheTurtle, indeed.
Jeshaun brought some excitement in space, getting the vaunted Texas secondary crossed up on a switch concept in coverage and breaking a big run after catch score to help Maryland jump on top of Texas early in the game.
Jeshaun Jones has 2 TDs in his first 2 touches for Maryland and the Longhorns are looking… shaky pic.twitter.com/66iu2cet7H
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) September 1, 2018
Finding someone to keep big plays in Maryland’s offense and help fill the void left by D.J. Moore’s NFL departure will be key to a successful campaign.
Consider the blueprint set. Just ask Texas.
Dud – The Texas QB Battle
Speaking of Texas. You get the feeling at this point the Longhorns are about ready to just erase Maryland off every map of the US and pretend the last two years didn’t happen. The good news for Texas? Maryland is off the schedule in 2019. Starting the season against Louisiana Tech should have the Longhorns at 1-0 for the first time in a few years before a date with LSU in Week 2.
But that’s not what we’re here for today. Coach Tom Herman has opted to roll with Sam Ehlinger as his quarterback. I admire Ehlinger’s passion for the Longhorns program, his toughness and his mobility for a big kid.
But as a passer, Ehlinger has a long way to go. Against the Terrapins, Ehlinger missed numerous routine throws, the kind that would have kept Texas out of second and third down with long yardage to achieve. This team, for all of their size at receiver, isn’t built to operate that way. Ehlinger has seven starts to his name as a member of the Texas program and has a 13:9 touchdown/interception ratio with a 57% completion percentage to show for it.
Meanwhile, Shane Buechele is sitting on the bench. The freshman performances I saw from Buechele in Charlie Strong’s swan song with the Longhorns are hard for me to shake. I’ve seen Buechele pull zone-read looks last season against TCU and Baylor and hit 20+ yard gains on the ground. He’s more accurate as a passer.
So why are we steadfast that Ehlinger is the guy? Because he was a Herman recruit?
Listen, I am not around the Longhorn program, nor am I a Texas insider. But I don’t have to be to see that Buechele can ball and could open up the passing game.
CFB Studs Expansion Pack
As I mentioned in the open, there were more stud performances than I know what to do with. So during the college season, Studs & Duds will have a list of studly showings to ensure America’s youth gets the love they deserve.
Stud – QB Will Grier, WVU: 429 passing yards and 5 touchdowns. Good to know at least one of the Heisman front runners got the memo that the season started last weekend.
Stud – RB Mike Weber, Ohio State: Rumble, young man, rumble. Listen, I know Weber wasn’t touched on a number of runs and gouged a softer than baby food Oregon State squad. But 186 yards on the ground and 4 total touchdowns is a nice way to start your season.
Stud – WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford: Do you like more receiving yardage than you can shake a stick at? Arcega-Whiteside is for you. He stuffed San Diego State’s secondary into a locker to the tune of 6 receptions for 226 yards and 3 touchdowns. Somewhere, Ben Solak is still swooning.
Stud – RB Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M: Any time you blow up for 240 rushing yards and average 12 yards a carry, it deserves a shout. I don’t care if it was Northwestern, Northwestern State (it actually was), or a northwestern Texas middle school JV squad.
Stud – QB Eric Dungey, Syracuse: Dungey was 7 of 17 passing for 184 yards and 2 touchdowns en route to a 55-42 win over Western Michigan. Pretty pedestrian numb– oh God, he had 200 yards rushing. TWO HUNDRED.
Threads of the Week
*Climbs to the roof*
YOU HAVE TO LOOK GOOD TO PLAY GOOD.
It’s not just some hollow baloney, you know. Scientific research has found the brain releases chemicals upon seeing oneself in fire uniforms that increases adrenaline and allows players to work harder for longer.
(Scientific research has also found that I just made that up, but that’s neither here nor there.)
Step right on up, Ole Miss. Come get your Week 1 award:
Today was fun! Let's do it again next Saturday at Vaught–Hemingway
Check out the highlights, photos and recap from today's 47-27 win. #HottyToddy 🔵🔴
— Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) September 2, 2018
A glorious wrap to Studs & Duds fittingly includes WR1 (D.K. Metcalf scored a touchdown in like, three seconds on Saturday) in a fire set of threads.