Football is officially back. Week zero was fun, and there was plenty to get excited about, but now is the time to get excited with a full slate of week one games in the book. There were plenty of things that transpired in this week's games that went the way we expected, but there were just as many that came off as big-time surprises.
The overarching takeaway from week one is that while it's always good to react to what we saw in these games, it is of the utmost importance to not overreact, especially in week one.
THE QUARTERBACK LANDSCAPE
It wouldn't be realistic to assume all of the big-name players at the quarterback position will ultimately become successful professional players, but right now, the position is loaded at the collegiate level. Alabama's Bryce Young looked like a smooth operator in his debut for the Crimson Tide and built a nice rapport with John Metchie III. Opinions are often split on USC's Kedon Slovis, but he looked much more like the player we saw as a freshman than he did in 2020. Arm strength certainly won't be an issue for Nevada's Carson Strong, who may very well throw the best deep ball in the nation. After a rocky start for the Buckeyes, C.J. Stroud rebounded to throw for nearly 300 yards and four touchdowns despite only completing 13 passes.
Porous offensive lines seemed to hinder both North Carolina's Sam Howell and Clemson's D.J. Uiagalelei. Both players will have plenty of time to rebound and show what they can do. It's far too early to write off either player. Oklahoma was nearly upset by Tulane, and we saw both the good and bad from Spencer Rattler. Many circles have long thought of Uiagalelei as the near-consensus top option for devy quarterbacks, but there will be plenty of competition for that spot moving forward. There is a long season ahead of us.
Two names worth watching moving forward are Liberty's Malik Willis and Boston College's Phil Jurkovec. The devy community is plenty familiar with Willis, and we saw some of his raw athleticism on display in week one, but it will be interesting to see if he can continue to ascend the quarterback ranks. You may see Jurkovec flying a little more under the radar currently, but he flashed in a big way in Boston College's game against Colgate. He completed 16 of 34 passes to the tune of 303 yards and three passing touchdowns and displayed big-time NFL caliber throws with regularity.
A SPOIL OF RICHES AT WIDE RECEIVER
The wide receiver position is littered with players who look to be impact players when they make it to the professional level, making them exciting devy assets in the shorter term. When looking at the wide receivers across the college football landscape, it's easy to get bored of something you've seen done several times by the same player. We're inherently drawn to the new exciting player who's just bursting onto the scene.
There's nothing wrong with that! Who doesn't love getting excited about a shiny, new toy? What we can't lose sight of in the process is casting someone aside in favor of these more unique options simply because we're bored of the previous options.
Take this as a reminder that Purdue's David Bell is an elite option at the wide receiver position. The Boilermakers wide receiver torched Oregon State for 134 yards receiving on eight receptions. He led the team in receptions, receiving yards and nearly in yards per reception. The physicality he plays with flashes both at the catch point and in yards after the catch scenarios. There will certainly be players who test better or are classified as twitchier athletes, but Bell is a wide receiver the NFL is sure to love.
FRESHMAN FOCUS: Will Shipley, Running Back, Clemson
Frankly, it's tough to take much away from Clemson's performance against Georgia. The Bulldogs defense kept the Tigers on their heels all night and could not muster up any semblance of offensive firepower as a result.
Despite the overall lack of success as an offensive unit for the Tigers, Clemson's backfield was one notable takeaway. Aside from Uiagalelei's 14 rushing attempts for -22 rushing yards, freshman Will Shipley tied for the team lead in carries with Kobe Pace. The output was nothing to get excited over, of course, as Lyn-J Dixon was Clemson's leading rusher with a whopping ten yards on the ground, but it is noteworthy that the Tigers seem to already have a fair amount of trust in Shipley.
Look for Clemson to get back on track next week against South Carolina St. and for Shipley to begin cementing himself as one of the most exciting freshman players across the college football landscape.
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