Top Freshmen Making an Early Impact

We all witnessed the welcoming of numerous Notre Dame freshmen to the college world in Atlanta this past Saturday night. But, there were other frosh across the country that were making some statements themselves and have the past two weekends.

Let's begin with No.1 (not in our hearts) Ohio State. Highly-touted running back Chris Wells has all the makings of a superstar. His 8-yard touchdown romp over the NIU defense in his first collegiate game gave the nation a glimpse of his capabilities. However, his two fumbles inside NIU's 5-yard line will leave Buckeye fans remembering Wells is just a freshman. Wells' week two performance against Texas was slightly better since he avoided turning the ball over. However, he only gained 17 yards on five carries. Look for Wells to get more and more carries as OSU's offense puts up big numbers throughout the season.

Texas' new signal-caller is redshirt freshman Colt McCoy. Doesn't that name just scream Texas? I really wish Oklahoma had a stud defensive tackle named Hatfield to really get this feud going, but I digress. McCoy was impressive (12-for-19, 177 yds, 3 TD, 0 Int) in an easy victory over a bad North Texas team. However, he and the rest of the Texas offense were exposed Saturday against a young OSU defense. The glory days of Vince Young bailing out Mack Brown are long gone.

It's not uncommon for teams to go with a tailback-by-committee approach. What's unusual is when three of the backs are freshmen. Such is life in crime-ridden, smoggy (poetic license) Los Angeles as C.J. Gable became the first freshman to start a season opener at tailback in USC's history. He found the end zone once along with two other USC freshmen tailbacks, Emmanuel Moody and Allen Bradford. Gable appears to be the starter for now, but that could change at any time as Southern Cal is stacked at the position.

All those USC rushing touchdowns were scored against the Razorbacks, who eventually resorted to inserting their own freshman phenom, Mitch Mustain, at QB. Fans of the Irish most certainly remember this name. Mustain was put in late in the game and finished 4-of-6 for 47 yards and an interception. He did find the end zone on a 4-yard run. It's not exactly the debut Mustain likely envisioned, but he did get his feet wet and bounced back to manage a solid game (9-for-17, 119 yds, 1 TD, 0 Int) against an undermanned Utah State squad.

Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin saw plenty of action in their first game as Florida Gators. Harvin led the team in rushing with 58 yards on four carries. In addition, he caught three passes for 33 yards. Tebow entered the game at the beginning of the fourth quarter and rushed for a 1-yard touchdown shortly thereafter. The duo saw more action in week two against Central Florida. Harvin led the Gators with 99 yards on four receptions (1 TD) and Tebow saw more action in mop up duty. His 6-for-9, 81-yard, one INT performance should slow down overzealous UF fans calling for the benching of Leak.

When Georgia lost their starting QB early in their shutout of South Carolina, it opened the door for Matthew Stafford to take the reins. With three interceptions and a paltry 8-for-19 passing, it's clear that Stafford has plenty of learning ahead of him.

On a side note, I'd like to send out a few "shout outs."

• Paul Noonan, get well, my friend. We missed you at the Penn State game and we'll most certainly miss you at the Michigan game.
• Walter and Elaine Nicgorski, thank you (as always) for the hospitality in South Bend. I look forward to another outstanding weekend as Notre Dame takes on Michigan.
• Alan, Eileen, and Sean, many thanks for putting up with me in Chicago this week.
• The 12 Man (and all of our 6 man predecessors) for inventing 40's at four. A wonderful tradition that continues.

Finally, my prediction for the week:

Notre Dame 38
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