College Football 2020: Week Two Devy Takeaways

By Alex Kurpeski

This week I was really looking forward to gushing about the performances of Sam Howell and Brock Purdy, two of the quarterback prospects in the nation. Unfortunately, neither Howell nor Purdy gave much reason to gush. While Howell struggled for the better part of his matchup against Syracuse, Purdy’s team was upset by Louisiana-Lafayette. Though there were some nice performances from some of the other stars in action this week — Sam Ehlinger and Spencer Rattler in particular — I was largely disappointed by the rustiness on display this week. 

Sam Howell’s Struggles Early, Turns It On Late

Howell, a player who many see as the QB1 for the 2022 NFL Draft, was expected to have a big game in the Tar Heels season opener against Syracuse. Instead, Howell looked as if he was in the midst of a regression, missing on several throws that were his bread and butter in 2019. Though his performance eventually evened out, Howell did throw a pair of ugly interceptions in the first half. Howell’s ability to shake off the early game jitters was commendable, as the Tar Heels began a 24-0 run in the second-half following a long scoreless drought.

I’m certain that the young gunslinger will find himself as he gains more reps this season. After all, the shortened offseason certainly could have contributed to his rustiness in Week One.  Howell looked every bit like the QB1 he’s been made out to be in the second half of this matchup, although the version of himself that we saw in the first half was worrisome, to say the least. Howell’s Heisman hopes may have taken a small hit in this game, where many had expected him to dominate from start to finish. 

Purdy’s Party Gets Pooped On By The Ragin’ Cajuns

Without his top target from last season Charlie Kolar (lower-body injury), Purdy failed to play like the first-round prospect that many draftniks have made him out to be. Though the Cyclones as a unit struggled mightily against the aggressive Ragin’ Cajuns, Purdy failed to be transcendent in a game where his team sorely needed him to be.

Yes, Iowa State’s pass-catchers were not doing Purdy any favors. They failed to get open consistently and one player, in particular, was solely responsible for Purdy’s lone interception on the day. However, Purdy is still mostly to blame for his poor performance. There were numerous instances where he missed on throws that he should be able to hit with his eyes closed. A passer who many have pegged as the fourth or fifth-best in the 2021 draft class, Purdy completed only 45% of his passes for a mere 145 yards. He looked nowhere close to being a potential first-round prospect. There’s still time for Purdy to redeem himself, but this performance was an absolute stinker. 

Doege & The Mountaineers Trample Eastern Kentucky

For the second week in a row Eastern Kentucky was trampled by a team from West Virginia. Just as Marshall’s Grant Wells did last week, Mountaineers’ QB Jarret Doege dissected the Colonels defense. Though Austin Kendall and Garrett Greene also checked into the game, Doege’s performance solidified him as the top option at the position. Doege completed 76% of his passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns.

West Virginia also excelled moving the ball on the ground in this one, with two backs rushing for 100+ yards (Leddie Brown & Alec Sinkfield). Brown and Sinkfield averaged 12.3 and 8.2 yards-per-carry respectively in this contest, both scoring two touchdowns. We can only take so much away from this performance, as a power conference team like the Mountaineers should always dominate a non-FBS team like the Colonels. 

Rise Of The Rattlesnake

The latest starter for Lincoln Riley and the Sooners, Spencer Rattler already found himself as one of the top Heisman candidates in the nation before even taking a snap this season. Rattler’s performance in Oklahoma’s season-opening victory over subdivision foe Missouri State only solidified the hype. Rattler completed 82.3% of his passes for 290 yards and four touchdowns.

The former five-star recruit looked incredibly comfortable shredding the Bears defense to bits in this one. Rattler demonstrated some pinpoint accuracy and NFL level arm strength. Though we can question the cut of MSU’s jib on defense, the simple fact that we have something to work off in regards to college game tape for Rattler is a plus. The Devy community has long speculated on Rattler’s upside in this offense, so to finally see him in this setting was truly a treat. 

Clemson Claps Wake Forest, Lawrence Dominates

Trevor Lawrence’s stat line in this one speaks for itself. The presumptive No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft looked every bit like the franchise passer he’s been cracked up to be, completing 78% of his passes for 351 yards, scoring three total touchdowns.

Lawrence looked poised, accurate, and in charge operating out of the pocket in this one, while also scoring twice on the ground. The Demon Deacons’ defense stood no chance against Lawrence and the Tigers offense. His status as the QB1 in 2021 is unchanged. 

Ehlinger’s Electric Debut

Sam Ehlinger is easily one of the most heavily scrutinized signal caller’s in College Football. The Longhorns starting QB has been criticized more than any returning passer for reasons both fair and unfair. Thankfully, Ehlinger started the 2020 season off on the right foot, taking advantage of a cupcake matchup against UTEP. Ehlinger may have added his name to the Heisman shortlist with his performance in this contest, completing 75.7% of his passes for 431 yards and five touchdowns.

With Brock Purdy’s struggles in Week One and Jamie Newman’s decision to opt-out of the 2020 season, there’s room for Ehlinger to wriggle his way into the QB4 discussion for the 2020 NFL Draft, especially if he can carry over his confidence from this performance into Big 12 action. 

Remember The Name: Bailey Zappe

You may not know the name Bailey Zappe. Before Saturday I did not know who this young man was. As the QB for Houston Baptist University, Zappe is not the type of player who would normally find himself in the national spotlight. Not to brag but I have more followers on Twitter than Zappe (sorry but this is rare when discussing players). However, after his performance against Texas Tech, it will be hard to forget his name.

The Huskies nearly pulled off an improbable upset over the Red Raiders losing 35-33. Zappe finished this game with a 61.2% completion rate, 567 passing yards, and 4 touchdowns, with zero interceptions. Zappe was truly incredible. There’s nothing special about Zappe’s athletic profile. He’s got okay size, a decent arm, and he gets the ball where it needs to be. But there was something intangible about Zappe’s performance in this game that made me believe in him as a potential NFL quarterback. I wouldn’t say that Zappe has “It” but he does have something. I’m looking forward to seeing just what that “something” is this season, as “something” could very well turn out to be “It” in disguise. In Houston Baptist’s first-ever game against a power-five opponent, they looked legit thanks to Zappe’s gutsy performance. 

 

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