When the Devy Breaks travels the college football landscape, keeping you up-to-date on last week’s results, previewing the big upcoming tilts, and providing updated devy rankings.
The opening weekend of college football went pretty much as planned with the exception of Maryland upsetting Texas for the second consecutive season. Teams ranked in the top five won by an average of 40 points. Notre Dame kept the Shea Patterson-led Michigan offense in check for a majority of the game in a 24-17 win. And it took Penn State an overtime period to put down an upset bid from Appalachian State, 45-38, in the first game of the post-Saquon Barkley era.
With kickoff weekend behind us, we can now settle in to a more traditional schedule starting this weekend. Most top-25 teams face unranked opponents so we can expect some lopsided scores. But a few matchups stand out, including USC/Stanford, Georgia/South Carolina, and Clemson/Texas A&M. There’s plenty of devy appeal in those three games, and a lot more scattered across the rest of the slate.
Stanford WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside exploded last weekend against San Diego State with 226 yards receiving and 3 touchdowns on 6 receptions. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound senior scored in a variety of ways on plays of 80, 38, and 19 yards, exhibiting versatility for a guy who posted a 0.35 Dominator Rating as a junior last season. I don’t expect Bryce Love’s struggles to continue (29 yards on 18 carries) so Arcega-Whiteside’s production will almost certainly come back down to earth. But his size and production are enough to keep him on my radar.
Nevada WR McLane Mannix followed up his excellent freshman season in 2017 with a statistical explosion last Saturday against Portland State. Mannix totaled 132 yards receiving and 3 TDs on just 4 receptions against an over-matched Vikings’ secondary. As with any FBS vs. FCS game, it’s important to keep level of competition in mind. However, Mannix was very productive last season accounting for 22 percent of Nevada’s receiving yards and TDs. His size likely limits his NFL upside, but his athleticism and production make him a potential candidate for a slot-WR role at the next level.
Texas A&M RB Trayveon Williams ripped the Northwestern State defense with 240 yards rushing and 3 TDs. The move to a more pro-style offense seems to suit the 5-foot-9, 200-pound junior who averaged just 4.6 yards per carry in Kevin Sumlin’s air raid offense a season ago. Williams was very impressive as a freshman in 2016, posting a 0.57 first-year Workhorse Score, a fairly predictive metric of future NFL success. Still just 20 years old, Williams is an extremely appealing devy asset, especially if he continues to be the focal point of the Aggies’ offense.
Trayveon Williams made this 73-yard TD look EASY ? pic.twitter.com/Xh9wfnrSuL— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) August 31, 2018
WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK
Kentucky RB Benny Snell Jr. made easy work of Central Michigan’s defense with 120 yards rushing and 2 TDs last week. This week he faces a Florida Gators’ defense that just surrendered 222 yards rushing to FCS Charleston Southern. I expect Florida’s typically tough and talented defense to improve as the season progresses, but this is an excellent opportunity for Snell Jr. to show out in a hostile environment against a well-known conference foe. Snell Jr. posted a solid 0.84 Workhorse Score last year as a 19-year-old sophomore and has legitimate NFL talent.
You're probably not gonna watch Kentucky at all this year, but I strongly recommend seeking out some Benny Snell Jr. highlights pic.twitter.com/LDY9k3EJCe— Ryan McCrystal (@Ryan_McCrystal) September 2, 2018
USC WR Amon-Ra St. Brown is one of the most exciting freshman in the country. The brother of former Notre Dame WR Equanimeous St. Brown and former five-star recruit played well in his debut against UNLV with 98 yards receiving and a TD on seven receptions. The freshman-to-freshman connection between St. Brown and JT Daniels appears legitimate, albeit in an extremely small sample size. St. Brown’s opportunity share is no sure thing given the other talented pass catchers around him, but Saturday’s performance was an encouraging start. Next up is a Stanford defense that allowed under 150 yards passing against San Diego State.
South Carolina WR Bryan Edwards opened the 2018 season against Coastal Carolina with a modest 4/53/1 line as the Gamecocks rolled 49-15. His opponent this week, Georgia, is an exponentially more difficult test. The Bulldogs allowed just 61 passing yards last week against Austin Peay and are loaded with young talent in the secondary. In his first two seasons, Edwards has shown solid production at an early age posting Dominator Ratings of 0.27 and 0.28. He has first or second-round potential in terms of the real-life draft thanks to ideal size and athleticism. His counting stats may be underwhelming but Edwards is an excellent acquisition in all formats.
Solid opening game from Jake Bentley and Bryan Edwards. Yeah, Coastal Carolina, but still a good performance. pic.twitter.com/SDYprVHHwQ— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) September 3, 2018
Check out my updated devy rankings. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter or the message boards to let me know what you think.