It didn't take long for the College Football season to get rolling, as Texas A&M's Kenny Hill sparkled in the Aggies' season opener at South Carolina on Thursday. Putting Johnny Manziel in the rearview mirror, Hill completed 44-of-60 passes for 511 yards and three touchdowns. He broke Manziel's single-game school record for passing yards in his first career start.
Meanwhile, the weekend saw the return of Everett Golson to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to the tune of five total touchdowns, while Todd Gurley jumped out to an early lead in the Heisman trophy race with four scores and 293 all-purpose yards. A plethora of Week 1 blowouts saw players like Dak Prescott of Mississippi State and Cody Kessler of USC put up some gaudy numbers from the quarterback position as well.
Let's look at who else helped or hurt their cause in this edition of the College Football Barometer.
D'haquille Williams, WR, Auburn - The highly touted junior-college transfer did not disappoint in his Auburn premiere. Williams (first name pronounced "Duke") set a school record for receiving yards in a debut with 154 yards on nine catches. He found the end zone once, while nearly scoring on a 62-yard reception. The athletic, physical receiver goes about 6-foot-2, 230, and attacks the ball in the air, but can also outrun opposing defensive backs as well. No other Tiger had more than two catches in the 45-21 win over Arkansas, meaning that Williams has already gained the trust of his quarterbacks. It should be a big season for Williams.
Marlon Mack, RB, South Florida - Marlon Mack wasn't even supposed to be there Saturday. Slated to back up starter Darius Tice, Mack was thrust into the spotlight when it was determined in warm-ups that Tice could not play due to a knee injury. The freshman took the opportunity and ran with it, lighting up lowly Western Carolina his collegiate debut. The freshman running back rushed 24 times for an astounding 274 yards and four touchdowns in the 36-31 victory over the Catamounts. With a performance like this, there's no guarantee Tice gets his job back upon his return. Although the Bulls have a tough upcoming schedule the next four weeks, it is difficult to ignore what Mack did during his first college game, even against an inferior opponent.
Bradley Marquez, WR, Texas Tech - Nobody thought the high-octane Red Raiders offense under Kliff Kingsbury would have trouble scoring points. However, there was a question as to who would be on the receiving end of most of quarterback Davis Webb's passes. That's because the top two pass catchers from 2013, Jace Amaro and Eric Ward, are now in the NFL. Many felt that the diminutive Jakeem Grant would be the first to step up and fill the void. However, in Tech's 42-35 triumph over Central Arkansas, it was senior Bradley Marquez who shined. The 6-foot Marquez was overshadowed in 2013 but still caught 49 passes for 633 yards and six touchdowns. He was the go-to target in the season opener, though, hauling in 11 balls for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Both of his TDs came in the fourth quarter as well, with the outcome of the game still hanging in the balance. In such a potent, up-tempo offense, Marquez has the chance to put up some huge statistics during his final season in Lubbock.
Clint Trickett, QB, West Virginia - The Mountaineers were not even supposed to keep their season opener close against Alabama, but the West Virginia offense under Trickett was able to move the ball surprisingly well against the once-feared Tide defense. In what was supposed to be a matchup of former Florida State quarterbacks, Trickett played the entire game while Alabama quarterback Jacob Coker barely sniffed the field. Coach Nick Saban instead went with fifth-year senior Blake Sims. Still, Trickett was arguably the most impressive gunslinger on the turf Saturday, completing 29-of-45 passes for 365 yards and a touchdown. If Trickett can put up these kind of numbers against an SEC-caliber defense like Alabama, he should be primed for more success in the Big 12, where shootouts are commonplace. The spread offense of coach Dana Holgorsen should aid his numbers as well.
Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA - Hundley nearly bolted UCLA for the NFL last season and would have likely been a first-round pick had he come out. Instead, the dual-threat quarterback decided to return to Los Angeles for his junior season. Pegged as a Heisman candidate entering the year, Hundley's first game of the 2014 campaign was not exactly a smashing success. Facing a Virginia squad that was picked to come in dead last in the ACC Coastal Division, Hundley did not throw a passing touchdowns in the 28-20 victory. He completed 20-of-33 throws for 242 yards. Hundley did score a rushing touchdown, but was otherwise largely bottled up on the ground. Hundley rushed 15 times for 39 yards and the one score. The Bruins needed three defensive touchdowns to seal the win over the Cavaliers, but will almost certainly need better performances from Hundley to win the Pac-12, as many pundits predicted them to do prior to the season. Hundley will have a much easier time against lowly Memphis next week, but then will have to face revamped Texas and ranked Arizona State before the pivotal Oct. 11 game against Oregon. Hundley will have to get his act together fast.
Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor - Petty found the end zone three times in the first half against SMU on Sunday, but was then forced to sit out the second half due to a back injury. While the ailment is not considered serious, back injuries can be fickle, and Baylor's season rests on Petty's back. He had an absurd 2013 campaign in which he passed for 4,200 yards, 32 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Not to mention the fact that he scored 14 more times on the ground. Petty picked up right where he left off in the first half against the Mustangs, completing 13-of-23 passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing for another score. The Bears play Northwestern State and Buffalo in their next two games before conference play begins, so even if the injury is minor, it remains possible that Petty gets limited reps as a precautionary measure, particularly when those two games get out of hand.
Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh - Boyd was an immediate star after stepping on campus for the Panthers last season. In a scintillating freshman campaign, Boyd snared 85 passes for 1,174 yards and seven touchdowns. He started 2014 with a 35-yard punt return against Delaware, then followed that up with his first receiving touchdown of the year. However, he managed to dislocate a finger on his left hand and was forced to leave the game after just two catches for 18 yards. The Panthers found little resistance in the 62-0 drubbing of the Blue Hens, but Boyd's status is up in the air for Friday's tilt at Boston College. The absence of Boyd, one of the top receiving options in the nation, would be a tough blow for fantasy owners so early in the season.
J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State - While it was evident that Barrett is no Braxton Miller, he performed admirably in OSU's 34-17 win over Navy. After a slow start, Barrett finished 12-of-15 for 226 yards and two touchdowns. Barrett did run nine times for 50 yards as well, but he does not truly possess the dual-threat ability of Braxton Miller. Still, he managed the game and eventually wore down the feisty Midshipmen. Barrett and the Buckeyes will next face the Virginia Tech Hokies, a squad known for its defense under coach Frank Beamer. It will be interesting to see how Barrett handles this test against a veteran coach who could throw the kitchen sink at him.
Mike Davis, RB, South Carolina - Davis was clearly not at full strength in the season-opening loss to Texas A&M. He did not start the game, then received just six carries and ran for 15 yards in the 52-28 loss to the Aggies. Certainly the lopsided score didn't help his cause, as the Gamecocks were forced to essentially abandon the running game in the second half of the defeat. Still, Davis was apparently limited due to a rib injury, and coach Steve Spurrier has basically listed him as doubtful for the next contest against East Carolina. With a matchup at home against Georgia set for Sept. 13, it is entirely possible that Davis sits out the ECU game in the hopes that he is 100 percent for the crucial matchup with the Bulldogs. Davis had 264 yards and two touchdowns in his first two games of 2013, so anyone hoping to rely on Davis early on in 2014 must be sorely disappointed.
DeAndrew White, WR, Alabama - After making a dynamic 38-yard grab against West Virginia, White suffered a separated shoulder and was forced to miss the remainder of the contest. Prior to exiting, he had tallied six catches for 73 yards. Although it was clear Saturday that Amari Cooper is the No. 1 wideout on the squad, quarterback Blake Sims was more than adequate under center, meaning that White should improve his numbers from last season. In 2013, White snagged 32 passes for 534 yards and four scores. Still, while the shoulder injury is not considered serious, White may sit out the next game or two as a precaution. The Tide play two patsies in Florida Atlantic and Southern Miss, and coach Nick Saban may choose to rest the senior for the punishing SEC slate.
Sam Richardson, QB, Iowa State - In the Big 12 preseason poll, the Cyclones were selected to finish ninth, with only the Kansas Jayhawks predicted to end up in a worse position. If there was any doubt that Iowa State was going to struggle this season, that notion was quickly dispelled in an abysmal 34-14 loss to FCS opponent North Dakota State. Although the Bison are the three-times defending FCS champions, they lost 12 starters as well as their head coach from a season ago. It didn't seem to matter, though, as Richardson could not seem to get anything going for the Cyclones. He beat out sophomore Grant Rohach for the starting job even though the latter started the last four games of the 2013 campaign. Richardson passed for just 151 yards while tossing two interceptions. He did rush for 58 yards, though was limited to just 3.9 yards per carry. With redshirt freshman Joel Lanning also in the mix, the Cyclones could be in line for a game of quarterback musical chairs in 2014.
Cole Stoudt, QB, Clemson - The Tigers certainly missed the experience of poise of Tajh Boyd against Georgia on Saturday. The 6-4 senior Stoudt, who has played well throughout limited playing time during his time at Clemson, looked rattled at times under center in the 45-21 loss to the Bulldogs. Stoudt completed just 15-of-28 passes for 130 yards and an interception. Granted, the Tigers were also missing Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant, but Stoudt and the rest of the Clemson offense sputtered throughout the game. In addition, freshman Deshaun Watson led the Tigers on a touchdown drive early in the second quarter, perhaps furthering the idea that Stoudt may not have the job ling if he continues to struggle. He should bounce back against South Carolina State this weekend, but expect to see Watson in the mix when the Tigers travel to Tallahassee to take on the defending national champion Florida State Seminoles on Sept. 20.