2014 Who's Hot ... Week 3
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Summa Cum Laude
UTEP RB Aaron Jones
Jones can’t remain a well-kept secret in El Paso much longer. He’s just too explosive. The sophomore has yet to be held below 140 yards on the ground this season, and leads the country in total yards rushing. He’s also averaging 7.8 yards a carry to go along with seven touchdowns. Jones is a Big 12 talent facing a Conference USA schedule.
Offensive Coordinator of the Week: Jim Chaney, Arkansas
Why get too cute when you’ve got Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams in the backfield? Chaney saw the weakness in his opponent, Texas Tech, and then exposed it … over and over again. The Razorbacks rushed for 438 yards and seven touchdowns for a 49-28 rout and a high-point of the Bret Bielema era. This staff isn’t afraid to subordinate its own egos to turn things around in Fayetteville.
Defensive Coordinator of the Week: Jon Tenuta, Virginia
Tenuta’s kids have been lights out during the first quarter of the 2014 season. So good, in fact, that they’re going to save the job of Tenuta and his boss, Mike London, if they keep it up. The Cavaliers have so far held UCLA to one offensive touchdown, generated eight turnovers on Richmond and held Louisville to just 282 yards in this past Saturday’s big upset.
Stockpile more shares in … West Virginia QB Clint Trickett
It took a year for Trickett and the rest of the Mountaineers to fully absorb Dana Holgorsen’s system. But now that the senior quarterback is comfortable, he’s summarily shredding opponents. Trickett guided West Virginia above the .500 mark by throwing for 511 yards and four touchdowns at Maryland. He’s now thrown for at least 348 yards in all three games, while forming a dangerous tandem with WR Kevin White.
Stockpile more shares in … Louisiana Tech
Skip Holtz has something brewing in Ruston. The Bulldogs have rebounded from their opening day loss to Oklahoma with back-to-back routs of Louisiana and North Texas … as a road underdog. Iowa transfer QB Cody Sokol has been brilliantly efficient, tossing five scoring strikes on Thursday, and new coordinator Manny Diaz is transforming the D. This is a completely different team than the one that went 4-8 in 2013.
Mizzou QB Maty Mauk
Some quarterbacks make NFL scouts swoon. Others just fit a system to a tee. Mauk is the latter in Columbia. The scrambling quarterback has evolved into quite an efficient passer, tossing a dozen touchdowns over the first three games. Facing a terrific UCF secondary on Saturday, Mauk needed just 14 completions to notch four scoring strikes in a 38-10 win.
The LSU D
Okay, so Sam Houston State and Louisiana-Monroe won’t remind anyone of Texas A&M, but a shutout is a shutout. And the Tigers blanked both over the last two weekends. In fact, since midway through the third quarter of the Wisconsin opener, LSU has scored a remarkable 108 unanswered points. Credit coordinator John Chavis with coaching up this young D on the fly.
Madden Cover Material: Arizona State RB D.J. Foster
Foster is instant offense whenever the ball is in his hands. One of the nation’s most versatile all-around weapons from the line of scrimmage, he’s a threat to go the distance as a runner and a receiver. The big-play Sun Devil is averaging more than nine yards a carry, and he’s tallied more than 200 all-purpose yards in back-to-back games.
Bucking for a promotion: Boston College coach Steve Addazio
While Addazio isn’t the best X’s and O’s guy in the game, few coaches are better motivators. His Eagles didn’t have the raw talent to match up with visiting USC, but he willed them to a stunning victory behind an old-school rushing attack. Boston College—and QB Tyler Murphy—sucker-punched the No. 9 Trojans for 452 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
Bucking for a promotion II: East Carolina coach Ruffin McNeill
A year ago, McNeill led the Pirates to victories over North Carolina and NC State. This season’s first ACC victim was Virginia Tech. ECU went into Blacksburg, the week after the Hokies stunned Ohio State, and walked out with an impressive 28-21 win. McNeill, with help from up-and-coming offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, is quietly doing dynamite work in Greenville.
The Baylor Offense
Yeah, yeah, the competition. But the Bears’ offensive numbers are downright sick. They’ve already produced 178 points through three games, and not everyone has been healthy. QB Bryce Petty sat out Week 2, and starting receivers Antwan Goodley and Corey Coleman have yet to play. Meanwhile, KD Cannon, Jay Lee Davion Hall and Lynx Hawthorne have used the opportunity to become Baylor’s next wave of statistical stars.
Can I be your agent … Shane Ray?
Another week, another Mizzou defensive lineman to celebrate. Last week, Markus Golden schooled the Toledo O-line off the edge. This week, it was Ray’s turn to shine. Unblockable from the opening drive, the junior end notched four stops behind the line and two sacks against UCF, and now leads the country with 7.5 tackles for loss.
Start designing the Fathead of … Florida WR Demarcus Robinson
As long as Robinson is staying out of trouble, he’s going to cause major headaches for SEC defensive backs this season. The sophomore, with the checkered off-field history, has quickly become Jeff Driskel’s favorite target in the new offense. The 6-2, 200-pound Robinson has caught 21 balls in just two games, including a school-record 15 for 216 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday’s overtime escape of Kentucky.
The Big 12
The gap between the Big Ten and the Big 12, who were hypothetically pitted against one another throughout the offseason, couldn’t be much wider than it is today. The Big 12’s two signature programs, Oklahoma and Baylor, are playing well; the Sooners rocked Tennessee, and QB Bryce Petty returned for the Bears. Oh, and the league swept three games with the Big Ten in Week 3 (Iowa State over Iowa, West Virginia over Maryland and TCU over Minnesota).
He’s how young?! Cincinnati QB Gunner Kiel
Kiel had never taken a college snap prior to Friday night. Not one. Yet, the Notre Dame transfer’s opening stat line reads 25-of-37 for 418 yards and a school-record six touchdown passes. Kiel repeatedly filleted Toledo by flipping scoring strikes to six different receivers. And with the first-game jitters now out of the way, there’s no telling how good he can be this season.
He’s how young?! Ohio State LB Raekwon McMillan
In the most extensive action of his short career, McMillan showed flashes why he was considered one of the country’s top defensive recruits of 2014. In the blowout of Kent State, he led the Buckeyes with seven tackles, including three stops behind the line and a pair of sacks. McMillan’s range and instincts will be tough to keep off the field as the season unfolds.
Team of the Week: South Carolina
Given up for dead after being walloped by Texas A&M on the first Thursday of the season, the Gamecocks have bounced back impressively the last two weekends. South Carolina held off a very good East Carolina team a week ago, and then upset Georgia Saturday in a key SEC East matchup. The Aggie loss is not forgotten, but the Gamecocks have positioned themselves to still have plenty to play for in November.
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