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College Football Week 9: NFL Draft Observations and Players of the Week

Duke v Florida State Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Week 9 of college football featured a lot of highlights, lowlights, and downright head-scratching moments. Watching the slate of games Saturday, here is what I came away with.

  • Impressive bounce back from Caleb Williams. Though things shouldn’t work this way, the tides of discourse began to turn against Caleb Williams over the last two weeks. Two straight USC losses and a rare, bad game by Williams last week against Notre Dame and questions swirled about if Williams really is a first overall caliber player. On Saturday, the Cal Bears went up 43-29 early in the fourth quarter and it felt like those questions would just keep swirling with USC dropping a third game in a row. Then Caleb Williams turned it on, leading the Trojans on three scoring drives to put up 21 unanswered points. Williams looked unfazed by the pressure of the moment and calmly moved the ball down the field for USC. It was an impressive, mature performance by the talented junior signal caller. He showed great decision making, poise, and that big arm that everyone loves. He also moved the ball well with his feet, rushing for a score in the fourth quarter. Williams carrying USC to a win when they were in a tough spot was exactly the performance he needed to quiet some doubters.
  • Keon Coleman kicks ass. Every week it feels like FSU’s Keon Coleman is doing something awesome and this week was no different. Against Wake Forest, Coleman caught seven catches for 66 yards and two scores. One score was on a screen where he broke two tackles to run into the end zone and the other one was a one handed grab against single coverage. Coleman now has nine touchdown catches this season, scoring on almost a quarter of his catches. Coleman is in his first year at FSU after transferring from Michigan State and the change of scenery has been fantastic for him and the Noles. Coleman’s rare blend of size (6’4”, 215) and athleticism make him a dangerous target for Jordan Travis and playing alongside Johnny Wilson. In a stacked wide receiver class, Coleman keeps doing things every week to stand out.
  • I love watching Notre Dame’s offensive line. Notre Dame beat the breaks off of Pitt on Saturday, putting up 58 points on the Panthers. Notre Dame did not exactly get a stellar performance from their passing game as Sam Hartman didn’t throw a touchdown but did throw two picks, so all the work was done on the ground. The Irish rushed for four scores and got nice games out of Audric Estime and Jadarian Price. All of this was made possible but the big five guys up front. Tackles Joe Alt and Blake Fisher especially impressed with their physical play, keeping Sam Hartman clean and paving the way for the Irish running game. It was a clinical performance by the group.
  • I hope we get to see Shedeur Sanders play with a real offensive line. No one is denying the turnaround at Colorado has been impressive with Deion Sanders leading the charge. His son and the starting quarterback, Shedeur, has been mostly very impressive. However the Buffaloes’ loss to UCLA was further evidence that Sanders and the program still have a long way to go. While Colorado has some impressive skill position talent, they are woefully under equipped in the trenches, especially on the offensive side. They totaled 25 yards rushing on the day while Sanders was sacked seven times by a ferocious Bruins pass rush. The guys blocking for Sanders are so far below the standard of college football and I’d love to see what the talented quarterback could do with some real talent in front of him.

Offensive Player of the Week: Joe Alt, Offensive Tackle, Notre Dame

Joe Alt is the best blocker in college football right now and his game against Pittsburgh is another notch in his belt. He dominated the Panthers defensive line, paving the way for Audric Estime while keeping Sam Hartman upright. The 6’8”, 320 pounder is just too big and strong for most college defensive linemen and his athleticism was on full display. He is playing like a top five pick right now.

Defensive Player of the Week: Laiatu Latu, Edge, UCLA

Again. Laiatu Latu was part of a dominant defensive performance by UCLA to hold Colorado to 24 rushing yards and 16 points. Latu had two sacks and was a terror for four quarters, keeping Shedeur Sanders well off balanced. This was Laiatu Latu’s second multi-sack performance of the season and now the senior pass rusher has 8.5 sacks on the season through eight weeks.

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