Just three weeks into the college football season, we’ve already seen some players’ stocks skyrocket, while others have plummeted. It’s a fluid situation, but here are a few players who are trending upwards and downwards:
STOCK UP: Malik Nabers & Brian Thomas Jr. WR LSU
After 2 solid weeks of production, Malik Nabers exploded in Week 3 with 13 catches for 239 yards and 2 touchdowns. Then followed it up in week 4 with 8 catches for 130 yards and 2 more touchdowns. The most impressive part of that stat line is the skills he put on film while piling up all those yards. Mississippi State used multiple coverages and multiple defenders to try and slow Nabers down, but each time he found the weakness in the coverage or the weakness in the defender. He had an answer for every problem the defense tried to present.
Brian Thomas Jr. was right there along with Nabers. The 6’4 200lb wideout has 413 yards receiving through 4 games and is averaging 20 yards per catch. Add in 5 touchdowns along with all that production and LSU has a dynamic duo that defenses are going to have trouble covering.
Stock UP: J. Michael Sturdivant WR UCLA
Through the first 4 weeks of the season, J. Michael Sturdivant has proven that he knows how to get down the field. The 6’3 205 pound receiver is averaging over 20 yards per catch so far. In order to be a successful deep threat, a receiver has to have ball-tracking ability and speed. Sturdivant has both. Watching the film, you can see the subtle adjustments he can make while the ball is in the air and the long stride to create separation from smaller DBs.
Stock UP: Malachi Moore NB & Terrion Arnold CB Alabama
We all know about Kool-Aid McKinstry, but his teammates in that Bama secondary can play too. Terrion Arnold and Malachi Moore had the USF receivers in a straight jacket in Week 3. USF tried Terrion Arnold deep on multiple occasions, and the former track athlete showed off his wheels easily staying in phase receivers downfield. Moore pitched in with 5 tackles on particularly impressive where he read the blockers and blew up a swing pass for a loss. Moore also located a bad pass in the air and came down with an interception. In tandem, Arnold and Moore handled switch releases and bunch sets beautifully, properly distributing routes and communicating assignments. In week 4 it was more of the same. Malachi Moore again showed off his physicality by fighting through a blocker and blowing up a screen. Terrion Arnold turned on the jets again to snag an interception on a post route.
STOCK DOWN: Mississippi State Defense
Malik Nabers is a good player and he gets his credit, but the Mississippi State secondary didn’t do much to make him work hard for it. Coverage and technique-wise, I thought there was a lack of physicality when handling Nabers in his routes. DBs didn’t create collisions or try to reroute the receiver in his route stem. The technique at the line of scrimmage was predominantly off-man or zone, giving Nabers a free release off the line and allowing him to run his route unhindered. When Mississippi State did try some press-man, Nabers attacked the CB’s lack of COD, winning multiple times with double moves. It was a long day for the defense.
In week 4 that same Mississippi State defense gave up another 37 points to South Carolina. South Carolina WR Xavier Legette torched that Mississippi secondary for 189 yards on 5 catches. QB Spencer Rattler only missed on 2 throws going 18/20 for 288 yards.
Stock DOWN: Jeff Sims QB Nebraska
In Nebraska’s first 2 games, both losses, Sims was responsible for 4 interceptions and 2 fumbles. The Nebraska offense had trouble moving the football in both games. Adding injury to his struggles, Jeff Sims has been sidelined for the last 2 games with an ankle injury. In the last two games, both wins, the offense has come to life under 6’5”, 215lb QB Heinrich Haarberg. Haarberg has kept the offense moving despite modest passing stats. In week three, he had 158 yards passing but supplemented that with 98 yards rushing on 21 attempts, In Week four, more of the same with 107 yards passing and 157 yards rushing. The most important numbers these past 2 weeks are 0 turnovers and 35 & 28 points respectively. Will Jeff Sims still have a job when he gets healthy?