Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages: welcome back to Studs & Duds, your weekly stop for the best (and worst) the football world has to offer. With GIFs. This week's slate of performers sadly doesn't feature Texas coach Tom Herman (shouts to Mrs. Herman for wearing a savage 'Ok, cool Hook Em!' t-shirt this weekend, though). It also is sorely lacking in one dangerous feeling quarterback, but that's okay...we've found another mustached undersized passer to hold the fort.
Let's get it. Time for some Studs & Duds.
STUD - QB Gardner Minshew, Washington State
Minshew went from Troy to JUCO to East Carolina to an Alabama commitment before flipping to Washington State. Good call, Gardner. Minshew's legend grows week by week, so much so that College Gameday would have you believe half of Pullman is wearing fake mustaches.
Well if they weren't buying Minshew before this weekend's game against Arizona, they're all in now. Minshew threw for 473 yards and 7 touchdowns. Seven. SEVEN.
Find me a mustache, damn it.
Minshew has some flashes of high quality play on tape, too. He's a bit wild and his consistency isn't quite there yet...but then you remember he's a first year player in the program and that he's still leading the nation in passing. Minshew is an intriguing prospect, as he's got a lot of question surrounding his size and his offensive systems. Yet he can sling it.
An all-star event would go a long way in helping his perception as a prospect. My money is on the East-West Shrine, but I'm pulling for a Senior Bowl invite.
DUD - Riverboat Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers
Riverboat Ron picked the wrong weekend to go for the win. Here's the thing: I'm on board with the call to go for two. I think the prospect of getting two yards (with a dual threat/power runner like Cam Newton) to win vs. kicking from 33 to tie and then hope they don't come down and bite you on the other end and win themselves is a logical choice.
But the football gods were cruel to the progressive this weekend. First Matt Canada's Maryland team had the Ohio State Buckeyes on the ropes: a touchdown in overtime before going for the win. Canada drew up a perfect play: Two Buckeyes chased the flat route and left a receiver wide open in the end zone. WIDE OPEN, I SAY.
Tyrrell Pigrome missed the throw. Game over.
Well, Riverboat Ron didn't read the tea leaves. Trailing 20-19, the Panthers ran shotgun and WR Jarius Wright ran a shallow cross before pivoting and working back into the middle of the end zone. LB Christian Jones and DB Quandre Diggs collide, creating space. Newton, fading left away from pressure (that wouldn't have got home anyway), lofts his throw....too high and behind Wright. Game over.
Cue sad trombone. End scene.
STUD - WR Tre'Quan Smith, New Orleans Saints
This space was originally reserved for Drew Brees, but I went against Brees in my big money fantasy league this weekend so screw that guy.
No. Tre'Quan Smith went all "HULK SMASH" on the defending Super Bowl champs, turning Eagles fans' stomaches with the realization that this ain't last year. A ravaged Eagles secondary certainly plays a role, I saw someone on Twitter mention the Eagles at one point in last night's game had zero defensive backs available to play who were on the roster three weeks ago.
Not great, Bob.
But what a night for Tre'Quan. The rookie from UCF had two separate spectacular catches, the highlight including a deep shot thrown over his shoulder that required full extension and fingertips to finish.
Smith has 22 receptions for 371 yards and 4 touchdowns on the season. He went 10 for 157 and 1 last night. He has 13 for 268 and 3 touchdowns between last night's game and a 10/8 contest against the Redskins. Watch out, Dallas (the teams play on Thursday, November 29th).
DUD - QB Alex Smith, Washington Redskins
Speaking of the Redskins. I'm so, so sorry. Seeing what happened to Alex Smith on Sunday is a reminder that this is a violent game at its core. If you missed Smith's injury, do me a favor: don't go looking for it. It's gnarly.
Smith's season is finished. In all likelihood so are the Redskins. With respect to Colt McCoy, Smith has this calming, steady presence about him and that will be sorely missed. The good news? The NFC East sucks. So hey, right now Washington holds a one game lead with six to play.
Time to make it stick and feed Adrian Peterson.
Side note: My condolences to whomever is the starting quarterback of the Redskins in 2051. If there's a game on November 18th (it is a Saturday), call in sick. Smith's gruesome injury comes 33 years to the day from when Joe Theismann snapped his leg on Monday Night Football, ending his playing career.
STUD - Indianapolis Colts Offensive Line
"Can't get hurt if you can't get sacked!" - the Colts offensive line, probably.
Andrew Luck hasn't been sacked on his last 214 drop backs. I'm pretty sure if you listen closely, you can hear the collective sigh of Deshaun Watson, Eli Manning, Baker Mayfield, Derek Carr, Dak Prescott, whatever corpse the Bills have playing quarterback on any given week...you get the point. A lot of teams have really bad line play.
Not the Colts. Indianapolis is surging at 5-5 (with a 4-game win streak) and Andrew Luck is more back than Texas ever was. The Colts have out-scored the opposition 146-59 in this four game burst and still have games left against the Dolphins, Jaguars, Giants and Titans.
With the 6-seed in the AFC sitting at 5-5, let me be the first to welcome the Colts back to the post-season.
Crazy stat of the day: No sacks on 214 drop backs is pretty freaking good. The NFL record? That belongs to Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins' offensive lines of 1988 and 1989 (so the last time Miami was good). 759 pass attempts without a sack.
DUD - Fitzmagic 2.0
Congratulations, Bucs! You played yourself. I, for one, find it particularly stunning that a quarterback on his seventh team in fourteen years can't seem to sustain his play. Ryan Fitzpatrick was benched on Sunday in a loss to the lowly New York Giants (more on them in just a moment).
With seven turnovers in less than three full games, yeah. It's time to pull the plug. But here's where things get weird. You've got the 1st overall pick of 2015, Jameis Winston, who you benched Fitzpatrick in favor of. Are you going to go back to him now? What does this extended stay with Fitzpatrick under center do for the team's long term plans at QB? Is Winston even a part of those plans?
I have no idea. I feel like the Bucs don't either. A bit of unsolicited advice? Brush up on those resumes, boys.
STUD - The Baltimore Ravens Rushing Attack
Entering Week 11 against the Bengals, the Ravens had eclipsed 100 rushing yards just 4 times in 9 games. And then Lamar Jackson happened. With the rookie quarterback at the helm (notice how I said quarterback, haters?) the Ravens exploded on the ground for 265 rushing yards, their highest total as a team since December 4th, 2011 (290 vs. the Browns).
Listen, we're all well aware that running Lamar Jackson 27 times isn't a sustainable model for running the offense. But for this week, ride the wave with Lamar and just enjoy one of the better rushing performances from a quarterback we've seen at the pro level in recent memory.
It sure as hell beats the pants out of watching Joe Flacco try to slide around back there.
DUD - The New York Giants Campaign To Land A QB
Don't look now, but the Giants are on a heater. With winning their last two games, New York has played itself from 1st in the draft order to fifth. The good news? San Francisco, Arizona and the Jets sit in front of them and none of them need a quarterback.
But after watching Jon Gruden and Derek Carr yell at one another on the sidelines, the Raiders are an increasing landmine in the QB landscape. So, too, are the looming Tampa Bay Bucs (7th), who the Giants now own a head-to-head win against and Jacksonville Jaguars (8th).
So, New York. What do you want? Whatever that answer is, that's between your folks in the building. 3 games out of the division with 6 to play is a long shot. But then again so was you winning 3 games when I watched Eli Manning get rag-dolled to open the season against Jacksonville.
But either way, make up your mind...what do you want?