The opening weekend of college football may have been underwhelming for many, with only five games being played and two total ranked teams being featured during this games. However, it was still a weekend of strong performances for many college football players looking to boost their draft stock. In a weekend where many players shined in leading their teams to wins or staying competitive, it is hard to overlook Stanford running back, Bryce Love, leading the charge in the Cardinal's dismantling of the Rice Owls in Australia.
Bryce Love is a big storyline this year. With Christian McCaffrey off to the Carolina Panthers, Stanford needs to replace the most productive and dynamic skill player in school history. Love is a bit different of a player than McCaffrey. He is shorter and more compact at 5'10" and around 195 pounds and isn't nearly the receiving threat McCaffrey was. However, Love is an incredibly physically gifted runner who will amaze audiences and frustrate defenses on every carry, much like he did against Rice.
On only 13 carries, Love raced for an impressive 180 yards on the ground and one touchdown. In the process, he broke six tackles (according to Pro Football Focus); an incredible rate of elusiveness. Sure, it was *only* Rice, but good players are supposed to dominate lesser competition and that is exactly what Love did. His speed was overwhelming for the Owls, but he also showed a lot of wiggle as a runner in terms of making impressive, ankle breaking cuts and also flashing some power to break through arm tackles.
While the jury is still out on whether Love is going to fully replace Christian McCaffrey, he doesn't really have to. McCaffrey, for one, was a legendary player on the field and from a production standpoint. On top of that, Love can just be his own player and still massively help Stanford win football games this year. This is another crowded year for talented running backs and with more performances like his opening week performance, Love can assert himself as one of the most dynamic players in the country. With USC next on the schedule, he will immediately get to prove his value to Stanford in toppling one of the top teams in the country.
Other Performances of Note:
- Ryan Nall, Running Back, Oregon State: While the Beavers were not able to pull out a victory against Colorado State on Saturday, Ryan Nall did everything in his power to help elevate the offense. The 240 pound back rumbled for 115 yards on only 15 carries, including a massive 75 yard run where he showed off incredible long speed for his size on top of his impressive tackle breaking ability. Oregon State might not be on the national radar this season, but Nall looks every bit like a bruising NFL running back.
- Quinton Flowers, Quarterback, South Florida: South Florida found themselves in a bit of a pickle early on Saturday when San Jose State jumped to a surprising lead. However, the light flipped on for their playmaking quarterback and Quinton Flowers put three total touchdowns on the board to help the Bulls comeback to win. This is a talented year for quarterbacks and Flowers' name might get lost a bit, but he is a dynamic player with deep ball ability and legs to move an offense. He looked incredibly good as a passer on Saturday and could continue to put his name in a crowded conversation for viable NFL prospects this season.
- Adam Breneman, Tight End, UMass: While the Minutemen lost in a thrilling shootout with Hawaii, Adam Breneman did everything he could to keep UMass in it. The 6'5" goliath caught nine passes for 179 yards, averaging nearly 20 yards per reception. That is unheard of for a tight end. Breneman is obviously a big time receiving target after being one of the most productive tight ends in the country last year, but it looks like he is in for an even bigger year this season. With guys like OJ Howard, David Njoku and Evan Engram in the NFL now, there will be few players to steal the spotlight from the former Penn State transfer.