Each and every Friday I will answer questions you may have about college football or anything else you happen to throw my way. On the first Friday of every month during college football season I will take questions exclusively from FanCred, so make sure you are signed up for an account and following me so I can get your questions. Because I am terrible with keeping to my own outlined schedule, this mailbag post missed the Friday deadline and is now being answered days later. But hey, it’s the start of the season. Things got a little busy. Anyway, here we go with the first mailbag of the college football season.
We know all about the usual suspects, but which lesser know player(s) should we be on the lookout for in week 1? – Landon Howell
Right out of the gate I must apologize for not getting to this question sooner. So allow me to address some of the big performances you may have missed in the opening weekend. For instance, how about Old Dominion running back Ray Lawry, a sophomore, turning in the best rushing performance of the opening week? Lawry rushed for 233 yards and four touchdowns in Old Dominion’s 38-34 victory over Eastern Michigan. Not quite flying under the radar as much is Bowling Green quarterback Matt Johnson. Johnson threw for 424 yards and a pair of touchdowns without being intercepted in Bowling Green’s loss on the road at Tennessee. It was also encouraging to see Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld back at it for the Hoosiers. Sudfeld passed for 349 yards and a touchdown in his 2015 debut. Kenny Golladay of Northern Illinois ended the first week of the season leading the nation in receiving yards with 213 yards on nine catches.
The story this offseason has been coaches of many major programs taking their starting quarterback situation down the wire. How big of deal is it? Will there be a noticeable difference from the number one guys having to split reps so deep into fall camp? – Corey Koogler
In an ideal world I think every coach would admit to wanting to have the quarterback situation taken care of as early as possible. Knowing who will be running the offense on the field as early as possible allows for more preparation time and dedicated snaps in practices with the first team offense, allowing everyone to get in the same rhythm. If there is a lingering quarterback battle, that can sometimes lead to timing taking a little longer to nail down, so there is some importance to figuring it out earlier compared to later. That said, we may tend to overblow the situation from time to time. Take Alabama for instance.
Since Nick Saban arrived at Alabama he has had to figure out a quarterback situation a small handful of times, and it always seems to work out just fine for the Crimson Tide. Saban was tasked with replacing Greg McElroy in 2011 (who himself was seen by many to be a question mark at the position upon Saban’s arrival in Tuscaloosa), with AJ McCarron and Philip Sims expected to do battle. McCarron ended up winning that job early on and the Tide went on to win the BCS National championship that season (and the next). How could Saban possibly replace McCarron? We were faced with another round of quarterback instability at Alabama and another lingering question heading into the start of the season; Blake Sims or Jacob Coker? Coker seemed like a popular favorite for a while, but Sims ultimately won the job and led Alabama to an SEC title and a spot in the College Football Playoff. Now this season Saban had to address the position once more, Coker or Cooper Bateman? Coker took the job in Week 1 and completed 15 of 21 passes for 213 yards and a touchdown in Alabama’s big win over Wisconsin. I think Alabama will be just fine.
Of course, not every program is fortunate enough to have a stockpile of talent to work with the way Saban does at Alabama, so the importance of naming a starting quarterback early on may be more significant in most other places (other than Ohio State, of course).
Heisman contender. I think the SEC sends at least one running back to the Heisman Trophy ceremony at the end of the season, and it will come down to either Chubb or LSU’s Leonard Fournette. Both are among the top running backs in the nation, and I feel Chubb has an excellent chance to pile up some good numbers this season in the Georgia offense. In Week 1 Chubb rushed for 120 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 16 carries. Georgia did not need much from him in their opener, but those are the kinds of numbers we should expect to see from him on a regular basis this season. If he can help power Georgia to a couple of big wins along the way, he will remain in the Heisman conversation.
My preseason Heisman Trophy pick was TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin. I expect him to be joined in New York by one SEC running back and one Ohio State Buckeye. I initially was picking Ezekiel Elliott, but after one week I would like to swap out Elliott for quarterback-turned-wide receiver Braxton Miller please.
Thanks for the questions this past week. This week’s mailbag will field questions from Twitter, so be sure to be following @No2MinWarning to submit your questions! I may even answer them on time!