With college football in full swing, we’ll be bringing you a review each and every week. These recaps will feature sections for “Premier Conference Performer,” “Rising Players,” “Falling Players” and a special Freshman spotlight. These weekly reviews will keep you up-to-date on all the happenings in devy leagues and allow you to keep tabs on future dynasty league assets. By the time the NFL Draft rolls around, you won’t see too many strangers.
Premier Conference Performer
Cody Kessler, QB USC (Senior)
19-of-26 passes for 236 yards and four touchdowns
Kessler was able to pick apart the Arkansas State defense on his way to completing 19-of-26 passes for 236 yards and four touchdowns. The biggest drawback was being sacked five times in the process. Kessler completed each touchdown to a different receiver, showing he can get the ball to multiple options. It seems as though he is continuing his success over the last two seasons. As a sophomore, he threw for 2,968 yards and 20 touchdowns with seven interceptions. Last season, Kessler had 3,826 yards passing with 39 touchdowns and only five interceptions.
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Jared Goff, QB CAL (Senior)
24-for-32 for 309 yards with three scores and an interception
Goff showed no signs of rust from the off-season as he took apart the Grambling State defense. He was on target with 24-of-32 passes for 309 yards and three touchdowns. He did toss an interception, but that was his only negative on the day. All three of his scores went to Kenny Lawler. Goff didn’t come out to the field after halftime, but I expect that to change when Cal faces San Diego State next week. Goff rifled all three touchdowns – his last two hit Lawler in the window on perfect trajectory passes.
Royce Freeman, RB Oregon (Sophomore)
180 yards on 21 carries and three touchdowns
Freeman comes into this season being part of a high-powered offense (that’s nothing new if you watch Oregon). Freeman led the Pac-12 as a freshman with 1,365 yards and 18 touchdowns. He opened this season where he left off 2014. He finished with a career-best 180 yards and three touchdowns. He also caught two passes for 18 yards against Eastern Michigan. Next week will prove to be a much harder matchup as the Oregon Ducks will face off against the Spartans of Michigan State, who only gave up 18 yards rushing to Western Michigan. Freeman is a big back with some heavy moves and can break tackles. He dove in with his 230-pound frame for a one-yard touchdown. He sets up his blockers well and has the patience to explode through the hole.
Johnny Jackson, WR Arizona (Senior)
Eight receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown
Jackson was relatively unknown prior to the game against UTSA Roadrunners. Jackson is a senior who switched from defensive back to wide receiver and finished with eight receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown. Rich Rodriguez stated, “He was buried on the depth chart and not going to play. But he was a starter at wideout at one point and made an instant impact the day we moved him and he did this game, too. He’s a competitive guy and had a great game.” Jackson’s touchdown came on a pass from quarterback Anu Solomon. The quarterback was buried by pressure but broke several tackles to get the pass off to Jackson, who caught the ball at the line of scrimmage and took it up the field for the score.
Sefo Liufau, QB Colorado (Junior)
23-for-40 for 158 yards and no touchdowns
Liufau is now in his junior season and looking to improve on his 3,200 yards passing with 28 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He is making steps forward with being behind center and is seeing the field better as well. He has good size 6-4, 235 pounds, but it came up short against Hawaii. Liufau only completed 23 passes on 40 attempts for 158 yards and no touchdowns. He did throw one interception. Colorado will face UMass next week, so look for him to turn it around.
Devontae Booker, RB Utah (Senior)
69 yards on 22 attempts one touchdown; seven receptions for 55 yards
Booker is coming off a very strong junior year, in which he finished with 292 attempts for 1512 yards (5.2 yards per carry) and ten touchdowns. He also finished averaging 116.3 yards per game. Booker is versatile as he has good hands coming out the backfield. He caught 43 balls for 306 yards and two touchdowns. Things didn’t go quite as planned against Michigan. He carried the ball 22 times for just 69 yards and had one score. The touchdown came on a one-yard plunge into the end zone. Booker did well in the passing game, however, as he caught seven passes for 55 yards.
Cayleb Jones, WR Arizona (Junior)
Three receptions 49 yards one touchdown
A transfer from Texas to Arizona, Jones had a strong 2014 season. He caught 73 receptions for 1,019 yards and nine touchdowns. He is considered by many to be a top 25 wide receiver and is on the 2015 Biletnikoff Award watch list. He has Anu Solomon back and a solid run game in Nick Wilson to keep the pressure off, but after week one that may all get flushed. First, he was outshined by teammate Johnny Jackson and second he only caught three passes for 49 yards and scored one touchdown. These are not necessarily bad numbers, but when your team puts up 42 points, there are higher expectations.
Kevin Hogan, QB Stanford (Senior)
20-of-35 for 155 yards, no touchdowns and one interception
Regarded as one of the top quarterbacks in the nation Northwestern made 21st ranked Stanford look horrible. Kevin Hogan had 35 attempts and only completed 20 for 155 yards and one interception and sacked five times. The Wildcats were 10-point underdogs and beat Stanford for the first time since 1958. It also didn’t help Hogan that several wide receivers dropped passes and the run game couldn’t get going. The Cardinals will face the Central Florida Knights in hopes of righting the ship.
Josh Rosen, QB UCLA
28-of-35 for 351 yards and three touchdowns
Rosen had a huge spotlight on him, considering he is a true freshman who won the starting job over Jerry Neuheisel. Rosen showed why he was the top pro-style quarterback recruited. He put his skills on display against Virginia as he went 28-of-35 for 351 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-16 win over Virginia. Rosen showed that the speed of the game, as well as his mental and physical toughness, was hard to beat. He was also cool, collected and had great pocket awareness. He never let anything get to him, even when a beautiful deep pass was laid right into the receivers hands who then dropped it. Rosen quickly shrugged it off and finished the quarter with 7-of-9 passing.
Premier Nation Performer
Nick Stevens, QB Colorado State (Sophomore)
20-of-28 passing for 289 yards and five touchdowns
Any time a player records five touchdowns it’s a splash. Stevens did exactly that against Savannah State in his first career start. The first four touchdowns came in the first half, and after his fifth early in the third quarter he was pulled for backup Coleman Key. Stevens finished the game with 20-of-28 passing with 289 yards and a 144.1 quarterback rating.
Malik Zaire, QB Notre Dame (Junior)
19-of-22 for 313 yards passing and three touchdowns
Zaire not only displayed his quickness as a runner but his ability to break down a defense passing the ball as well. He finished the game with three touchdowns and 313 yards passing in his first home start. His accuracy was on display as he finished the game completing 19-of-22 passes that resulted in a 86.6% completion rate- second best in that storied school’s history. Head coach Brian Kelly talked about Zaire’s performance, “Obviously we felt like he was more than just a runner,” Kelly said. He added: “It looks like you’re stealing at times when you call play-action with him.” His leadership also has been highlighted. Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said of Zaire, “That’s a difference. He’s the one calling the team together when there’s an issue and telling them to re-focus. The quarterback at this place, you have to have a little bit of that.” Zaire did attempt nine rushes that amounted to only 16 yards, but throwing zero interceptions and only being sacked once shows he can escape the pressure.
Ray Lawry, RB Old Dominion (Sophomore)
223 yards on 28 attempts and four touchdowns
Sophomore Ray Lawry took off from where he left as a freshman last season when he rushed for 947 yards and 16 touchdowns. He was named the Freshman of the Year for Conference USA. He posted 115 yards or more rushing in five of the final seven games. This week against Eastern Michigan he rushed for 223 yards on 28 carries and four touchdowns on just 28 carries. His first touchdown was up the gut for 45 yards as the offensive line blew up some large holes for him to run through. His second was an end around to the left side as he took it in for five yards. Lawry’s third touchdown was a handoff from the three in the I-formation, and he could have walked it in. His fourth was his biggest as he ran 54 yards, again up the middle of the field, where no defenders laid a hand on him.
Kevin Lucas, WR Tulsa (Senior)
Ten receptions for 193 yards and two touchdowns
Kevin Lucas is the primary beneficiary of Dane Evans. Lucas was able to haul-in ten receptions for 193 yards and two touchdowns. Lucas is coming off his sophomore season where he caught 101 passes for 1219 yards and 11 touchdowns. At this point, he is one of the top receivers in the nation. He has the body type that fits the slot position as he stands at 5’10 and weighs just 198 pounds. Lucas should continue to see passes come his way next week against New Mexico.
Travis Greene, RB Bowling Green (Senior)
34 yards on nine attempts
Greene just couldn’t get the motor running against the 25th ranked Tennessee Volunteers. Green carried the ball nine times for just 34 yards. What’s worse is he had a long of 18 yards, translating into eight carries for 16 yards, a 2.0 yards per carry average. He did catch two passes for three yards. The Redshirt Senior rushed for 949 yards and 12 touchdowns last season and was hoping to capitalize on last years stats. Bowling Green faces Maryland next week, and it might not get any easier.
Brandon Doughty, QB Western Kentucky (Senior)
19-of-30 passing for 209 yards and one touchdown
After coming off a horrible year in 2013, Doughty led Western Kentucky as one of best passers in college football. After 14 touchdowns and 14 interceptions as a third-year player in 2013, Doughty’s 4,830-yard, 49-touchdown 2014. This season, many were hoping to see even more progression. Instead, he put just 209 yards on 19-of-30 passing and one touchdown. I’m looking for him to rebound has he has talented rushers and receivers around him, but he best not wait too long.
Teldrick Morgan, WR New Mexico State (Junior)
Three receptions for 38 yards and one touchdown
Morgan is coming off a strong first season. He had 75 receptions, 903 yards,and seven touchdowns last year, showing high upside with six games with at least eight catches and four with at least 100 yards, including 202 yards against UTEP. Coming into 2015, however, things didn’t start off quite as planned. He only caught three passes for 38 yards, but he did score a touchdown. The Aggies will feature him this season as they lost several seniors at the end of last season. Also, he will be growing with junior quarterback Tyler Rogers and his second year as a starter.
Tanner Mangum, QB BYU
7-of-11 for 111 yards and one touchdown
This spotlight shines on BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum. This freshman had to come on the field for the injured when starting signal caller Taysom Hill went down with an injury to his foot that will keep him out for the season. Mangum came on the field as he had been the starter all season long and was exceptional against the Nebraska defense. He finished with 7-of-11 passing against the Huskers and 111 yards passing. The biggest moment was a Hail Mary pass with no time remaining to knock defeat Nebraska 33-28. It will be interesting to see what Magnum has for an encore as it’s his job now.