Week 7 took us to crazy town with all sorts of guys coming out of nowhere, key players returning from injury, and Tez Walker officially putting his stamp on the 2023 season. Where will Week 8 take us???
The Wally Pippers
Wally Pipp was the Yankees starting first baseman in 1925 who sat out a game due to a headache and was replaced by a rookie named Lou Gehrig. The rest was history, as Gehrig went on to start the next 2124 games and ended up in the HOF. We have already seen multiple QBs get “Wally Pipp’d,” with Haarberg for Sims at Nebraska and Maiava for Brumfield at UNLV. These programs improved for whatever reason since the starter was injured and stuck with the replacement. Are there other potential Wally Pipp situations?
Noah Fifita has taken Arizona to another level in his three starts against UW, USC, and Wazzu. His completion percentage (74.6%), TD-INT ratio (8-2), and overall command of the offense are better than what we have seen from Jayden de Laura, and it would be irresponsible of this staff not to hand the job over to the redshirt freshman permanently. He’s got the sauce. Let him cook…
TCU has a smaller sample size but also may have a Wally Pipp scenario on their hands. Chandler Morris is no stranger to being Wally Pipp’d, as he lost his job to Max Duggan after he suffered an MCL injury in Week 1 of 2022. Well, the MCL happened again, and redshirt freshman Josh Hoover got his first start and proceeded to torch BYU to the tune of 439 yards and four TDs. Despite Hoover lacking the mobility that Kendal Briles usually requires from his QB, he was able to rejuvenate a stagnant Frogs offense while having a higher big-time throw rate (BTT%) and lower turnover-worthy pass rate (TWP%) than Morris. Don’t be shocked if Hoover keeps the gig if he can maintain the momentum he created in Week 7.
Keep an eye on Navy freshman QB Braxton Woodson as well. He has a tough matchup vs Air Force, but injuries have boosted the freshman (plebe) into the starting role. All indications were that the staff felt it was just a matter of time for him to be the man in Annapolis.
Death by A Thousand Snaps
Coach Prime is going to get Travis Hunter killed by the sheer amount of snaps he is playing. Sure, he is only 19, but he’s in incredible shape and has basically demanded this workload from the staff. However, sometimes a coach needs to save a player from himself. Hunter logged 157(!) snaps in his first game back from a lacerated liver…in altitude. His performance on offense was eye-popping: 19 targets for a 13-140-2 receiving line, but you could tell he was exhausted on D and Stanford exploited that by targeting Elic Ayomanor, the WR Hunter was guarding 18 times for 294 yards. We love this kind of WR volume for CFF purposes, but playing him to the point of exhaustion is putting Hunter in a compromised position that will likely lead to a soft tissue or structural integrity injury.
Speaking of Two-Way Studs
Sione Vaki is no joke. There were rumblings the Utah safety would see some snaps at RB, but no one expected him to go 15-158-2. He continued to play snaps on D and ended up Utah’s top-rated offensive player while also being the fourth-highest on defense against Cal, according to PFF.
Vaki made Bruce Feldman’s “Freak List” at 6’0″, 210 pounds with a 39-inch vert, 10’5″ broad jump, bench press of 400, and squat of 520. He actually played WR in high school and recorded a 65-1,359-20 receiving stat line one season.
A Stinky Playoff Push
The TE position for 2023 has the odor of a dingy cellar that’s been saturated for 30 years with cat piss. We are to the point that guys like Cade Stover and Arlis Boardingham are like legit starting TEs the rest of the way. Here are some guys a little off the radar that have some favorable playoff matchups.
The Case Against Jeanty
There is lots of talk, and rightfully so, that Jeanty has made a case to be the 2024 RB1 in CFF drafts and potentially the 1.01. I’ll play devil’s advocate (even though I projected him as a 2024 round-one selection prior to 2023) for a minute and tell you why that may not be the case. Never mind the potential return of George Holani. The bigger concern here is the portal. Jeanty deserves better than the 3-4 Broncos, and someone better will inevitably come calling in January. We saw high-end G5 backs in Carson Steele and Sean Tyler attempt to level up to the P5 and to elite RB systems, no less, only to see their CFF value destroyed. There is no doubt that Jeanty is a P5 talent, but the top 2024 RB is never a given in this portal era.
That’s a wrap, friends. Let’s have a fun Week 8. Cheers!