College Football Week 1 Over Reactions

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UNC QB Drake Maye will be special; he flashed in Week 0 with 5 TDs against FAMU. However, putting together another super impressive performance against Appalachian State, WITHOUT his best receiver in Josh Downs, cemented that week’s performance. I was admittedly far too low on him going into the season due to a perceived QB battle, so he moves from QB29 to QB9 in my rankings.
Utah @ Florida was an incredible game, primarily due to the performances of both starting QBs. Florida QB Anthony Richardson was astounding on the ground and should not be able to move like that at his size. He was already my QB5 in Devy and QB3 in the upcoming draft, but I expect NFL scouts to see the light after that performance. On the other side, Utah QB Cameron Rising faced a difficult test leading his team in The Swamp and, up until the final throw, showed impressive poise and savvy that will add him to the growing list of QBs to look out for near the top of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Sticking with Utah, TE Brant Kuithe has been considered an NFL prospect for years but chose not to make the jump last year. His performance as the Utes’ lead receiver leaves me scratching my head as to why he’s still in college, but it also makes me even more excited for his professional prospects in the future.
Nebraska RB Anthony Grant was one of the top JUCO prospects this year, and I had my eye on him. But two consecutive weeks of impressive performances means I’m VERY interested. He cracks my rankings at RB43 for now, but if he can keep the job once sophomore RB Gabe Ervin is fully healthy, he’ll climb even higher.
Last year’s top JUCO RB recruit, Tiyon Evans, also had an impressive performance in his first game for Louisville after transferring from Tennessee. He ran for 89 yards and a TD on just 13 attempts and was the unquestioned leader of the RB room. Louisville also saw a solid performance from another transfer, WR Tyler Hudson, who joined the team from Central Arkansas this offseason. I expect both these guys to have the attention of scouts as we head towards the draft.
Arkansas RB Raheim Sanders is a guy I had a lot of pauses about early in the offseason cycle but eventually moved up my rankings. He’s cemented himself even further with a strong performance against Cincinnati, and he’ll jump from RB11 to RB9.
New Pittsburgh OC Frank Cignetti Jr is proving to be a massive downgrade from former OC Mark Whipple, as is Kedon Slovis from Kenny Pickett. I liked RB Israel Abanikanda, WR Konata Mumpfield, and TE Gavin Bartholomew heading into the season, but it’ll be tough sledding for all three if the game-planning doesn’t improve. The performance that worried me the most was from Abanikanda, as he was significantly out-touched by fellow back Rodney Hammond Jr and was highly inefficient. He’ll drop from RB20 to RB26 for now but could slide even further.
Notre Dame QB Tyler Buchner looked fantastic early on but struggled once the pressure ramped up from Jim Knowles’ OSU defense. I have high hopes for the player he can become, but he’ll need some WRs and RBs to step up and help him move the ball.
The Ole Miss passing attack did not look the part of what many expected, as former USC QB Jaxson Dart averaged just 4.8 air yards per attempt. I’m not worried about TE Michael Trigg, but my hopes for WR Jaylon Robinson seem to have taken a hit. On the other hand, both valuable Devy RBs in this offense (Junior Zach Evans and true Freshman (tFR) Quinshon Judkins) played exceptionally well. I have big expectations for both, and Judkins could climb higher amongst his class of 2025 compatriots if he continues to make such a significant impact as a tFR in the SEC.
Another player that was just a bit of a disappointment in Week 1 and could continue to be is Fresno State WR Jalen Cropper. He seems to no longer be the unquestioned WR1 in this offense as Cal transfer Nikko Remigio was impressive and out-produced Cropper in his first game for the Bulldogs. In addition, the offense seems to have taken a hit with the loss of HC Kalen DeBoer. QB Jake Haener is still a baller, but expect Fresno to put up fewer points than last year.
Iowa State QB Hunter Dekkers could be that dude. He went 25/31 for 293 yards, 4 TDs, and 1 INT against a poor opponent, but he looked the part on film, dropping some dimes and flashing his mobility. The beneficiaries of Dekkers’ performances this season are 5th-year WR Xavier Hutchinson, a big-bodied, contested-catch guy who could find himself going off the board in the late rounds of next spring’s draft, as well as true Sophomore WR Jaylin Noel. Noel is the polar opposite of Hutchinson at just 5’10” 190, but he showed superb quickness from the slot and return-game ability last season. He started the season with six catches and will look to continue that into the rest of the year.
Luther Burden was the top WR in this recruiting class for a reason, and he showed why in Week 1 against Louisiana Tech with two TDs. The Missouri offense will lean heavily on him this year, but QB Brady Cook will have to be better for Burden to continue to dominate against SEC defenses later in the year. However, Eliah Drinkwitz’s approach to getting Burden the ball in any way possible should help.
Penn State – tFR RB Nicholas Singleton immediately (barely) led the team in carries. He’s a great player and will likely be one of the best backs in college football by 2024/2025. Former WKU WR Mitchell Tinsley was fantastic in the air raid last season, but I was unsure what his role would be alongside Parker Washington and Keandre LambertSmith. However, he was the most productive of the three in a tough test against Purdue in Week 1, and he’ll see a bump up in the rankings while Washington slides a tad. tFR QB Drew Allar also got a single drive during the middle of the contest and immediately showed confidence, stepping up in the pocket and delivering three excellent passes on four attempts before his drive got stalled out by a poor drop from one of his receivers.
Jacob Cowing jumped from G5 to P5 by moving to Arizona this off-season. He immediately connected with former Washington State QB Jayden de Laura and ended the night with an 8/152/3 stat line. At Arizona, he has a huge opportunity to impress scouts this season and make the league next year.
Texas A&M was not as advertised in their tune-up game in Week 1. The defense will likely be tough to play against, but the rushing attack and QB play left much to be desired. Speedy RB Devon Achane averaged a paltry 2.3 yards per attempt against Sam Houston State, and QB Haynes King had trouble throwing an accurate deep ball. However, one impressive player was tFR WR Evan Stewart, who had the second most receptions on the team in his first game and also played the majority of snaps. Good stuff for a guy who was playing his first ever college football game.
One other SEC WR in his first ever game who flashed a great skillset was Kentucky WR Barion Brown. Brown was among the Week 1 starters and had three catches for 45 yards. However, he put his speed on display as the primary kick returner, taking one to the house while breaking the 21 mph mark and sustaining that speed for a large stretch of the open field.
Vandy QB Mike Wright has been highly productive in the ground game over the last two weeks, and his athleticism could make him a future professional. He’s someone I’m going to continue to monitor, but I want to see him perform against some tougher competition before he cracks my rankings.
UCONN RB Nathan Carter was a guy I targeted heavily late in C2C drafts for his CFF production, but he’s been even more dominant than I expected. He’ll barely crack my rankings at RB54 for now, but the next three weeks (vs. Syracuse, @Michigan, and @NC State) could massively catapult him up the ranks if he continues to show his skills against a higher level of competition.
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