New wave of game-breaking QBs injecting life into teams, sport
Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to a new generation of fleet-footed quarterbacks: Michigan's
Robinson -- a.k.a. "Shoelace" -- has been the undisputed star of the season's first two weeks. His 186-yard rushing day in the Wolverines' opener against Connecticut proved to be a mere appetizer for Saturday's Herculean performance against Notre Dame, in which he accounted for a staggering 502 yards of total offense (258 rushing, 244 passing) and led a game-winning drive to beat the Irish 28-24. He is currently the nation's leading rusher, regardless of position, and is completing nearly 70 percent of his passes.
"I've had some terrific quarterbacks," said Robinson's coach,
Meanwhile, viewers who tuned in to ESPN last Thursday night got their first taste of Newton, Auburn's 6-foot-6, 250-pound dynamo, who put up more modest numbers against Mississippi State (70 rushing yards, 136 passing) than he did the week before against Arkansas State (171 rushing, 186 passing), despite personally outgaining the Bulldogs, 146-125, in the first half before cooling off. Right now Newton looks a little bit like
"We have some designed run [plays] that we feel good about, but the thing you really can't account for is the runs that aren't designed," said Auburn coach
And then there's Martinez, the budding phenom in Lincoln who most of the country has yet to see. In two games against Western Kentucky and Idaho, the redshirt freshman -- a.k.a. T-Magic, a.k.a. T-Mobile, a.k.a.
If White is the default comparison for Robinson, former Nebraska Heisman winner
Crouch, lest we forget, was
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, note that each of these guys is still just two games into his respective tenure as a starter (though Robinson played at times last season), and faces tougher days ahead.
Even with those 502 yards, Michigan went nearly the entire second half without scoring against the Irish. Robinson can't keep running 28 times a game, not just because he might break in half, but because the Wolverines will eventually face faster defenses capable of squeezing his running lanes. Just as White had
Meanwhile, Newton and the Tigers ultimately needed big help from their defense to fend off mediocre Mississippi State. He figures to be a hot-and-cold guy for the time being. Saturday will be the first chance to see whether Martinez can be as effective against a more respectable foe. He's got the help of a capable I-back in
But whether next week or next month, chances are all three will be regular fixtures on
Ready for some more premature hyperbole? This one I'm fairly confident about: South Carolina's
Lattimore's performance Saturday in the Gamecocks' 17-6 win over Georgia was one for the ages. In just his second college game, the 6-foot, 218-pound sensation toted the rock 37 times for 182 yards and two touchdowns. The Bulldogs flat-out couldn't handle him.
"I don't think I've ever had a running back break as many tackles as Marcus Lattimore did yesterday,"
Monitoring Twitter during the game, I noticed some undue surprise that a running back would get so much attention in a Spurrier-coached offense. Yes, the Ball Coach is known for his quarterbacks, but at its core, his passing offense is predicated on the threat of the play-action, which works best with a potent runner. He had quite a few in Gainesville -- from
Much like Peterson at Oklahoma, Lattimore appears beyond his years both physically and mentally. Both were the top-rated running backs in the country coming out of high school, and both were asked to shoulder a heavy load nearly from day one.
"I think Marcus can handle all the attention he's receiving very well," said Spurrier. "He's a very level, grounded young man.
It's become an annual tradition. At least one Saturday each September, the ACC reminds us that it's still not ready for primetime. The league's four ranked teams after Week 1 -- No. 12 Miami (at Ohio State), No. 13 Virginia Tech (vs. James Madison), No. 15 Georgia Tech (at Kansas) and No. 17 Florida State (at Oklahoma) -- all went down in one fell swoop, essentially eliminating any hope of the conference producing its first national champion in 11 years.
Before we go piling on, it's worth commending ACC teams for their willingness to go on the road, outside their region, for challenging nonconference tests. Neither the 'Canes or 'Noles were
At least Miami engendered some semblance of encouragement. While admittedly overmatched at times by the Buckeyes, the 'Canes gave a tougher fight than the 36-24 final score indicated. Many of their wounds were self-inflicted, most notably the miscommunication between quarterback
"Look at the stats, it's equal," said Miami coach
In Shannon's fourth season, the 'Canes have an undisputed bevy of playmakers at the skill positions and a tough defensive line. If they can stay out of their own way, they're the new favorites (for now) in their beleaguered conference.
Each week, I'll update my projected BCS lineup (as necessary) based on the latest week's games.
Remember last week when I was suffering buyer's remorse over Oklahoma? Yeah, not so much anymore after
Meanwhile, don't mistake Florida's sudden inclusion as me having some newfound faith in the Gators' offense. The spin after Saturday's 38-14 win over USF was that the Gators "grew up" in the second half (it was 7-7 at halftime), but it sure seemed more like the defense once again kept the Gators in it long enough for
Help me out here. The Razorbacks finished last season 8-5 and unranked. Two games later -- wins over Tennessee Tech and Louisiana-Monroe -- they're now ranked high enough to qualify for a BCS bowl. What did I miss?
If you're going to jump on the bandwagon of a traditionally second-tier SEC team, why wouldn't it be the Gamecocks, who have started the season by routing a decent mid-major (Southern Miss) and holding Georgia to six points?
• Last Thursday,
• Just how unlikely was it that James Madison would knock off the Hokies? So much so that Virginia Tech coach
• Last week the problem was the defense. This week it was the offense. Playing its home opener against a team picked to finish at or near the ACC cellar, USC converted five third downs and amassed 13 penalties in a 17-14 win over Virginia. Give
• Watch out, because Iowa's got a running game.
• West Virginia avoided its first-ever loss to in-state foe Marshall thanks to an incredibly clutch performance from first-year starting quarterback
• Three years in and
• It appears almost certain at this point that Colorado won't be joining the Pac-10 until 2012, but Cal was sure to give the Buffs a nice, rude welcome basket Saturday in the form of a 52-7 rout. The Bears' defense racked up six sacks and five forced turnovers. After starting with unusually low expectations,
• Of all the coaches believed to be on the "hot seat," my money's on Minnesota's
• Air Force won at least eight games in each of coach
• Houston star
• Where have you gone,
• Purdue endured a devastating blow Saturday: All-Big Ten receiver
Florida Atlantic coach
Sure, FAU's prospects looked bleak when, with just 2:53 remaining, they faced fourth-and-goal at the Spartans' one-yard line, down 30-14. Still, the Owls remained within two scores (two touchdowns and two two-point conversions). A comeback would have been miraculous, but possible. But when FAU got flagged for a false start, moving the ball back to the six, Schnellenberger ... sent out his field-goal team. The Owls kicked the field goal, lost 30-17, and that was that.
"I want to congratulate the Michigan State Spartans for playing an outstanding game and ... there at the end, for not running the score up," he said afterward. "It was obvious we couldn't slow 'em down any more."
Wait. It gets better.
"We get out of this what we've been getting out of playing these kinds of games for all the years we've been doing this. We had a great scrimmage. ... Obviously we get a lot of p.r. out of it, and certainly, the bottom line is, our financial statement is also helped."
Apparently, Schnellenberger takes the "guarantee" part of the phrase "guarantee game" quite literally -- though this was actually an FAU home game (complete with an Owls logo at midfield) that the school voluntarily moved to Michigan State's backyard in hopes of netting more ticket sales. According to the