PFF's college football Week 4 roundup
Best team performance: Utah
In a wild week of Pac-12 play, you can make a case for Utah, USC or UCLA as the team of the week. But it’s the Utes who take it for trouncing their hosts in Autzen stadium, which has become one of college football’s least-hospitable venues.
Utah didn’t win because of a particular play, player or tactic — they dominated all three phases in what was truly a team victory. Defensively they hassled and harassed the Oregon quarterbacks, disrupting the passing game. The Ducks responded by benching starting QB Vernon Adams, but Jeff Lockie fared little better — his two third-quarter interceptions helped the Utes put the game beyond reach. Utah QB Travis Wilson was the star on offense, accounting for five touchdowns in three quarters of action, with the fifth putting Utah up 48-13 late in the third.
Worst team performance: Arizona State
Staying in the Pac-12, Arizona State, Arizona and Oregon all staked compelling claims for the weeks worst performance. However, Arizona State earned the nomination for their nightmare first half performance, where anything that could go wrong, did go wrong.
They had started well enough. Although they gave up 52 yards to WR JuJu Smith-Schuster on the opening play, that first drive ended with safety Kareem Orr picking off Trojans’ QB Cody Kessler. The Sun Devils followed that with a 75-yard drive that ended in a fumble and followed that up with two more turnovers by half time.
Arizona State had six first-half possessions — two were ended by fumbles, one by interception, two by missed field goals and the sixth was a punt. The Sun Devils were able to keep the USC rushing attack in check, but that hardly mattered as Kessler threw for four first-half touchdowns to put the up Trojans 35-0 at the break, effectively ending the game as a contest.
Best individual performance: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
TCU receiver Josh Doctson’s record-setting day was enough to pip LSU RB Leonard Fournette to this week’s individual performance award. Doctson turned a Big-12 record 18 catches into 267 yards and three touchdowns, accounting for more than half of the Horned Frogs receiving stats. Even knowing that he was the focal point the Red Raiders could do little to slow him down. Doctson entered the game tied for seventh among receivers with a 6.4 overall grade. It was ironic that the play that won the game for TCU came from a play that Doctson couldn’t quite make, as he could only tip QB Trevone Boykin’s overthrown pass, but that deflection enabled RB Aaron Green to catch the game-winning pass.
Worst individual performance: Justin Thomas, QB, Georgia Tech
Coming off a loss in South Bend, the Yellow Jackets needed to take care of business at home to Duke to keep their season on track. Instead the Blue Devils dominated, shutting down the Yellow Jackets’ most dangerous player, QB Justin Thomas, on their way to an upset in Atlanta. Thomas was held to 58 yards and one touchdown on 24 carries, and completed just 6-of-21 for 143 yards with one touchdown and one pick.
As a run-first quarterback, Thomas isn’t expected to be a great passer, as evidenced by the 28.6 completion percentage he’s posted as the starter. Georgia Tech lost four of their top five rushers from 2014 which placed a huge burden on Thomas — last year’s leading rusher — and created a need for other ball carriers to step up either individually or collectively, but that hasn’t quite happened. As a result, Duke could focus on stopping Thomas, knowing that if they did, they would stop the Yellow Jackets.
Biggest surprise of the weekend: Florida’s comeback
As a result, Florida beating Tennessee is hardly surprising, They did enter this game as marginal underdogs, but the Gators had won the previous ten encounters. Instead, the surprise was that they won after going 13 points behind with little over 10 minutes left to play.
The Gators would have just two drives to make amends, and they did, marching for 145 yards, after having mustered little in the way of an effective offense in the previous 50 minutes of play. No player symbolised the Gators turnaround more than QB Will Grier. Grier had 10 completions for 131 yards and two touchdowns on those final two drives — prior to that he had completed 13 passes for 152 yards, zero touchdowns and an awful interception. Tennessee has developed an unhealthy habit of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.