Once upon a time, it was the dog days of summer. Your favorite baseball team was making moves at the trade deadline and you were catching some rays by the pool. Now, your team is potentially in the postseason and your pool is closed until next summer. Beyond all that, it’s cider mill season. It’s pumpkin spice latte and being basic with a flannel shirt season. Let’s be real, it’s football season. It’s been football season, and we’re moving along with the quickness.
It’s incredible to think that we’re through five weeks of the college football season, and by this time next week, we’ll be halfway done. Just think, we were just staring our fantasy football drafts and firing up the grills in a parking lot off University Drive, like, yesterday. Before we know it, it’ll be bowl season, and everything will come to a crashing end. If you’re an Oregon State Beavers fan, then your season ended before it even began. If you were part of the “whiteout” conditions at Penn State on Saturday, odds are your season as a Nittany Lions fan came to crashing halt. It’s not over, but it doesn’t look promising.
We learned plenty in week five. Let’s recap with the true freshman that stood out, the head coaches that made questionable decisions, and the players that helped their 2019 NFL Draft stock.
The Book of Ian Has Begun
Notre Dame has a quarterback, and it’s going to make all the difference for them. Going into the season, I overlooked this Fighting Irish football team. I thought they lost too many offensive weapons and didn’t think Brandon Wimbush could get the job done. I was partially right, but Ian Book has generated some serious buzz at quarterback for Notre Dame.
This was one of my favorite throws from Ian Book against Stanford. Great placement and some great zip on it. pic.twitter.com/SlrE8pESVF— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) October 1, 2018
Since taking over, Book has completed 52 passes on 70 passing attempts for 616 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s making Wimbush and Kizer look like afterthoughts and adding three rushing touchdowns to his resume. This offense has generated some juice, and Ian Book has the sauce.
Lost in all the buzz, wide receiver Miles Boykin had a breakout game against Stanford in week five. He caught 11 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown. The 6’4 and 228-pound receiver has already made his senior year a career year for him. He’ll look to create more buzz for himself in an already stacked wide receiver class for the 2019 NFL Draft.
James Franklin and the Penn State Nittany Lions
Oy vey! It’s fourth down and five yards to go. You’re down one point and the score is 27-26, but you’re playing in your own house, Happy Valley. Playing Ohio State shouldn’t matter; the only thing that matters is that the Penn State defense fell apart in the fourth quarter and James Franklin made a terrible decision.
Oy vey, this pretty much sums up the final 6:43 of the Penn State/Ohio State game. pic.twitter.com/11E28e21v3— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) October 1, 2018
Poor tackling on the defensive side of the ball may be one of the bigger concerns for the Nittany Lions. It was the sole reason they allowed 13 points in the final seven minutes of the fourth quarter. Poor tackling is frustrating, but bad coaching on fourth down with the game hanging in the balance is inexcusable.
James Franklin certainly takes blame for the loss, and Penn State needed to win this game to keep their hopes alive in the Big Ten. The season isn’t over yet, but the only team that can slow down Ohio State is Ohio State. For whatever reason, an inside zone play was called, and the ball was left out of the hands of the best playmaker for Penn State, Trace McSorley. The Nittany Lions will now take the week off to prepare for a huge game against Michigan State.
Chase Winovich and the Michigan Wolverines
Move aside, quarterback Shea Patterson and defensive end Rashan Gary. The best player on the Michigan football team is Chase Winovich. Right now, it’s not even close. He’s playing on a completely different level and is one of the big reasons the Wolverines came back from the dead against Northwestern on Saturday.
At one point the Wolverines were down 17 points, but because of the stellar play from defensive end Chase Winovich, the Wolverines won their fourth straight game. Don’t get me wrong, the run game has really come alive for Michigan. Karan Higdon has run for over 100 yards in three straight games and already has five touchdowns on the season.
The real storyline was from the Michigan defense that made impressive stops from the second quarter until the end of the game. With 9 tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack, Winovich has put together a fantastic senior season. He’s got a phenomenal motor and has become a real technician with his ability to work his hands and dominate the top of the arc toward the quarterback. On the season, he has 32 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. Michigan will continue to use Winovich off the edge, and he’ll continue to feast. He’s a name to know for the 2019 NFL Draft and for Michigan as they try to remain perfect in conference play.
Some NFL Draft Notes
- Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame – He looked the part against Stanford on Saturday night. The Cardinal have had average play from their offensive line, but Tillery played on a different level. He’s got fantastic size at 6’6 and 300 pounds, but he’s also got the ability to play anywhere on the interior. He’s naturally gifted as a pass rusher and stopping the run, but he needs to develop some type of counter move. Normally I let a player be himself, but there are times that I see flashes of Chris Jones for the Kansas City Chiefs.
- Benny Snell, RB, Kentucky – One point on Twitter, I spelled his name wrong. Watching him play, I won’t be forgetting it anytime soon. Snell was great for Kentucky as a sophomore, but the junior running back has been lights out this year. He moves well in space and has no problem dropping a shoulder and running you over. Snell has 115 carries for 639 yards and eight touchdowns on the season.
- Brian Lewerke, QB, Michigan State – Something is wrong with my third-ranked quarterback. Whenever you put on the tape, you’ll find Lewerke holding on to the ball for too long, throwing off his back foot, and making poor decisions. At one point, I believed that he was going to be the best quarterback that Mark Dantonio would have. Now, I don’t know if that’ll be true. Granted, he has thrown for 999 yards and completed 65.6 percent of his passes, but he’s only thrown five touchdowns to five interceptions. It’ll be interesting to see what he does moving forward. Wide receiver Cody White broke his hand in Saturday’s win against Central Michigan, and Darrell Stewart has been nursing an ankle injury.
- Daniel Jones, QB, Duke – The prototypical quarterback has generated some serious buzz. He’s got a strong arm and looks the part of an NFL quarterback when standing in the pocket. Another box that you can check is his toughness. On September 8th against Northwestern, he suffered a broken clavicle in his non-throwing shoulder. Ten days later, he resumed football activities, and on Saturday he started against Virginia Tech. Despite playing in a losing effort, Jones being back on a football field is great for his 2019 NFL Draft stock.
- Charles Omenihu, DL, Texas – One of my favorite players from my summer studies was Charles Omenihu. He’s got great size for the position (6’6 and 275 pounds), and teams will love that with his combination of power and speed. He still needs to put together a pass rush plan and not rely so much on his power, but against Kansas State he had five tackles and two sacks. He’s a name to know moving forward for a Texas Longhorns football team that has a 4-1 record.