Don’t get me wrong, it’s been fun talking about the Rainbow Warriors of Hawaii and K.J. Carta-Samuels of Colorado State. That’s the only game I’ve watched during week zero of the college football season. However, we’re now officially a night into week one of the season, and I couldn’t be more excited.
I’m not going to tell you how to spend your Thursday nights, but if you weren’t flipping between some of the college football games that were on television, what are you doing with your life? Northwestern and Purdue squared off in Big Ten action to start the season. Utah got off to a slow start against Weber State. Minnesota started a true freshman walk-on. We haven’t even gotten into Saturday, but I’m already intrigued with what’s happened so far.
So what has happened so far? A lot, and we’re just getting started. Sam Hartman looked pretty good in his first career start for Wake Forest — until he made a boneheaded mistake and tried to do too much when avoiding a sack. This led to a crucial interception in the fourth quarter, and Tulane capitalized with a field goal to tie the game. What about players that are eligible for the 2019 NFL Draft? Here are three things we learned about guys who are bound to play on Sundays:
Paddy Fisher Looked Rusty
Don’t take this out of context because I’ll be honest, I’m a fan of Paddy Fisher of Northwestern. For much of the summer, he’s been considered one of the top linebackers in college football. Against Purdue, though, he didn’t play like one. That hurts to read, I know, but it’s the truth.
Paddy Fisher had a tremendous season in 2017 pic.twitter.com/kv5WfgThj5
— PFF College (@PFF_College) June 16, 2018
There were times against Purdue that Fisher looked lost in space. A lot of this has to do with his athletic ability, which is a weakness. I won’t compare him to LB T.J. Edwards from Wisconsin because he’s not that slow, but Fisher looked stiff and wasn’t triggering the way he did during parts of last season.
There won’t be questions regarding his 6’4″, 245-pound frame and for the most part, his tape is consistent. One key area he’ll have to improve after week one, though, is tackling. Early in this game, he missed three sure tackles. Becoming that sure tackler that coaches love to see will be key for him this season.
There were times last year that he took bad angles, came in out-of-control, and because of it, missed those tackles. That carried into this game against Purdue, but not all of it was bad for Fisher. He flashed his range and also forced a fumble with a good hit on Purdue quarterback David Blough. For all of us football fans, let’s hope that Fisher was just shaking off the rust
Remember Justice Hill?
It took less than a quarter, and Justice Hill made sure that the nation remembers who he is. Even though James Washington and Mason Rudolph got drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2018 NFL Draft, Hill made sure we remember he’s still there.
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) August 31, 2018
With an explosive 93-yard run that put Oklahoma State in position for a touchdown, Hill accumulated 141 total yards in the first quarter alone. Despite not playing for long, and deservedly so, as the Cowboys were beating Missouri State by 24 points at halftime, Hill finished the game with 10 carries for 122 yards and a touchdown.
He has officially started his junior season with a bang, and there’s plenty to like when watching his tape. He can catch passes out of the backfield and had 31 receptions last season. He’s a strong runner with good balance and has great burst through the line of scrimmage. Hill’s running style is one that I love because it’s simple. He doesn’t overcomplicate things. He takes the yards that he’s given, but he’s also got the burst and jump-cutting ability to create a big play.
I’ll be the first to say that he’s not as good as Bryce Love or Myles Gaskin, and personally, I don’t think he’s a top-5 back in college, at least yet. But with some more performances like the one from Thursday night, he’ll be discussed a lot more during this season. He’s certainly put himself on the map; now he’s gotta stay there.
Zack Moss the Top-5 Running Back
One of my favorite players going into this season is Utah running back Zack Moss. He’s got some serious upside and is one of the more consistent players on film. Last night, the Utes started slowly against Weber State. In the early going they were losing 10-0, but it didn’t take long for things to turn around and for Utah to take the lead.
Zack Moss took an inside zone run 86 yards for a touchdown. This got the night going for Utah, and they never looked back. On the night, Moss finished the game with 16 carries for 150 yards and a touchdown. He also added 3 receptions for 24 yards and a second score. When you watch Moss play, you’re going to see a bruiser. You’re going to see a running back that runs north and south. If you don’t get out of his way, he’ll get you out of the way. He’s not the most elusive runner and doesn’t have the shiftiness of a Myles Gaskin or Bryce Love, but he doesn’t need it.
On film, Moss displays good balance before and after contact. More often than not, he’s looking to barrel over defenders, but he’s also got the ability to jump-cut upfield. He’s a patient runner and lets his blocks develop in front of him, but again, much like the run you see above, he can hit it and go. The burst is there, and it’s clear he has the long speed to make it to the end zone.
One of the more complete running backs in this class is Zack Moss, and there’s no reason he shouldn’t be on top-5 running backs lists for the 2019 NFL Draft. If you’re looking at my running back list to start the season, it’ll go Bryce Love, Damien Harris, Myles Gaskin, Zack Moss, and David Montgomery. After the first Thursday night of week one, Zack Moss has clearly arrived, and he’s here to stay.