2014 Who's Hot ... Week 9
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The Ragin’ Cajuns are off the mat and ready to compete with the likes of Georgia Southern and South Alabama for another Sun Belt Conference crown. Louisiana has answered an ugly three-game losing streak with a three-game winning streak, capped by Tuesday’s impressive 55-40 defeat of Arkansas State. The team rushed for 419 yards and eight scores, getting a monster performance out of RB Elijah McGuire.
Marshall RB Devon Johnson
Yeah, QB Rakeem Cato is getting help this season, about 243 pounds of it from his bruising backfield mate. After being lost in the crowd as a sophomore, Johnson has erupted into the ideal power back to complement the precision passing of Cato. No. 47 helped rescue the Herd from a slow start versus Florida Atlantic by motoring for 272 yards and four touchdowns on only 24 carries. Johnson has been held below 100 yards just once in 2014, back on Sept. 13.
Offensive Coordinator of the Week: Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham, TCU
What Cumbie and Meacham continue to do in Fort Worth is nothing short of a miracle. This Horned Frog team averaged 25 points per game in 2013. This year? Double it. TCU is norming 50 points per game after hanging a school-record 82 on Texas Tech this past Saturday. QB Trevone Boykin is flourishing in the new system, tossing 10 touchdown passes over the last two games alone, and injecting himself into Heisman discussions.
Defensive Coordinator of the Week: John Chavis, LSU
Chavis’ legacy as a top-flight SEC defensive coordinator added another chapter in Baton Rouge Saturday night. The coach’s D coupled with an old-school power running game to hand Ole Miss its first loss of 2014. The Tigers held the Rebels to just seven points, blanking them over the final three quarters, and stopped all but 6-of-20 third and fourth-down tries.
Stockpile more shares in … Mississippi State RB Josh Robinson
Yeah, QB Dak Prescott has been the frontman of the Bulldogs’ perfect season and rise to the top of the polls. But do not discount the importance of Robinson, a stocky north-south who really helped bail out his team in Lexington against Kentucky on Saturday. He rushed for two scores and a career-high 198 yards, one more yard than he had against the LSU defense a month ago.
Madden Cover Material: Arizona LB Scooby Wright
Wright is a force of nature on the field, one of those rare defenders with a knack for completely altering the momentum of a game. He was at it again on Saturday night versus Washington State, notching eight tackles, three sacks and three forced fumbles. The sophomore has now forced five fumbles on the season, the most by a Wildcat in over four decades.
Bucking for a promotion: Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables
As most people focus on the struggles of the Tiger offense, the Tiger D is dominating opponents. Over the last four games, Venables’ kids have allowed just three offensive touchdowns and a measly 3.5 yards per play, while making 40 stops for minus yards. On Saturday night, Syracuse managed just 170 yards on Clemson, the Orange’s worst output in six years. Venables is young, accomplished and ready for a bump in responsibility.
Bucking for a promotion: Western Michigan head coach P.J. Fleck
Fleck’s career in Kalamazoo began inauspiciously; his debut season was marked by a single win and a nonsensical video aimed at teaching the student body how to support the team. But Fleck is maturing, and it’s showing up in the results. His Broncos are unlikely 5-3, winners of three straight games for the first time since 2010 behind the prolific running of rookie RB Jarvion Franklin.
He’s how young?! Cincinnati RB Mike Boone
Just what Gunner Kiel needs—more weapons. Boone came off the bench to become the first Bearcat in four years to rush for more than 200 yards in a game, splicing through the South Florida defense in Friday night’s win. The 5-10, 205-pound true freshman from Macclenny, Fla. needed only 19 carries to amass 212 yards and a long touchdown burst.
He’s how young?! Ohio State DE Joey Bosa
On film, Bosa looks like a fifth-year senior, both in terms of his physicality and his ability. In reality, he’s just a little over a year removed from St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) High School. At 6-5 and 278 pounds, he’s the kind of terror who can beat opposing linemen with his technique or his raw power. Bosa leads the Big Ten with 11.5 stops for loss, including a game-ending bull rush sack of Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg Saturday night.
Can I be your agent … Duke Johnson?
Johnson was injured last year when his Miami Hurricanes faced Virginia Tech. The Hokies hope No. 8 is already in the NFL when the teams square off next fall. Johnson shredded the Gobbler D for a career-high 249 rushing yards and a touchdown on 29 carries in Thursday night’s 30-6 blowout in Blacksburg. If there was any doubt whether the junior has shaken off all of the rust following last year’s ankle injury, he’s dismissed it with four straight 100-yard games.
Start designing the Fathead of … Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah
Abdullah is such a likable young man. Unless you’re trying to tackle him. And then he becomes downright nasty. Rutgers was the latest defense to incur the wrath of the senior, who amassed a school-record 341 all-purpose yards, including 225 and three scores on the ground. Abdullah has gone for more than 200 yards on the ground four times this season, fueling a surging Husker team.
It was a rough week off the field in Chapel Hill, as the University became more deeply embroiled in an academic scandal. Apparently, though, the Tar Heels don’t have rabbit ears. They’ve won back-to-back games over Georgia Tech and Virginia to climb to .500, and breathe life into their postseason hopes. Carolina upset the ‘Hoos in Charlottesville Saturday, when backup QB Mitch Trubisky threw the game-winner after starter Marquise Williams was forced to take a play off when his helmet came off.
UCLA on the Road
No, it hasn’t always been pretty, and style points have come at a premium this fall for the Bruins. But they’ve found ways to win away from home, which is never easy at any level. UCLA was tested in Charlottesville, Arlington, Berkeley and Boulder. And it had to travel to Tempe to face an Arizona State team that’s turning out to be pretty potent. Yet, the Bruins have won them all, opening the season 5-0 on the road.
Team of the Week II: Utah
The Utes now own Los Angeles after pairing their Oct. 4 upset of UCLA with Saturday night’s exciting comeback to defeat USC. There’s a mighty tough road ahead in Sack Lake City, including games with Arizona State, Oregon, Stanford and Arizona. But Utah can take solace in the fact that it’s bowl-eligible and finally proving it can compete, week-in and week-out, in the Pac-12.
Team of the Week: LSU
Given up for dead following a 41-7 loss to Auburn on Oct. 4, the Tigers have rallied with consecutive wins over Florida, Kentucky and Ole Miss this past weekend. The defense is playing well again, and the deep, Leonard Fournette-led backfield has been vintage LSU. The Tigers aren’t winning the SEC West, but as they showed in Week 9, they’re more than capable of playing spoiler, especially with Alabama visiting Death Valley in two weeks.
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