LSU Tigers: Brendan Langley
September, 25, 2013
By Edward Aschoff | ESPN.com
We're continuing to look at the first quarter of the 2013 college football season today by checking out the effect true freshmen have had. We know that the days of freshmen sitting back and watching are over, and SEC teams have made sure to get the youngsters on the field as quickly as possible.
Who has received the best results from their freshmen through the first four weeks? Who not only has quantity but quality when it comes from the freshmen impact? Take a look:
1. Ole Miss: The Rebels might have had the most talked about recruiting class this past spring, and boy has it delivered. Coach Hugh Freeze was concerned about the class receiving too much hype, but these kids haven't had trouble adapting to the college game. Heading into this week's Alabama game, Ole Miss has five true freshmen as starters on the depth chart. The headliners in the class have been defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, who has 10 tackles, including four for loss, and wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, who is averaging 5.3 catches per game and has 154 receiving yards. Tight end Evan Engram has also had a major impact, catching 11 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns, while offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil will make his second straight start at left tackle. Starting nickel corner Tony Conner intercepted a pass on his first career defensive snap, while offensive lineman Austin Golson has played around 50 percent of the snaps.
Frederick Breedon/Getty ImagesTrue freshman WR Laquon Treadwell has been one of several instant-impact rookies for Ole Miss.
2. Georgia: The Bulldogs knew they were going to have to get a lot out of their freshman class, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Through the first four weeks of the season, six of Georgia's top 15 tacklers are freshmen: safety Tray Matthews (14), linebacker Leonard Floyd (12), cornerback Brendan Langley (10), safety Quincy Mauger (five), defensive lineman John Taylor (four) and linebacker Reggie Carter (four). The Bulldogs have played 14 true freshmen this season, which ranks third nationally. Ten of them have played on the defensive side of the ball and three of them -- Matthews, Floyd and Langley -- have started. In addition, freshman receiver Reggie Davis has two catches for 134 yards, including a school-record 98-yard touchdown reception against North Texas.
3. Arkansas: The first thing you think about when you see this Razorbacks team is the running game. Alex Collins became the first freshman in SEC history to begin his career with three straight 100-yard rushing games and the first true freshman in the NCAA to record three straight 100-yard rushing games to start his career since Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson had nine straight in 2004. Collins leads the SEC with 481 rushing yards, is averaging 120.3 yards per game and has been named the SEC Freshman of the Week twice. Tight end Hunter Henry is second on the team with eight catches for 125 yards and a touchdown. Offensive tackle Denver Kirkland grabbed a handful of snaps against Southern Miss, while fellow tackle Dan Skipper blocked a field goal against Rutgers. Cornerback D.J. Dean has received a lot of snaps this fall as well.
4. Tennessee: Fourteen true freshmen and 22 freshmen overall have played for the Vols this season. Three true freshmen have made starts this season: wide receiver Marquez North (four), defensive back Cameron Sutton (four) and wide receiver Josh Smith (two). North, who leads the team with 12 catches for 112 yards, became the first true freshman to start the season opener for Tennessee at receiver since Marsalis Teague in 2009, while Sutton is the first true freshman defensive back to start a season opener since Justin Coleman in 2011. Defensive back Malik Foreman intercepted a pass in his debut against Austin Peay, becoming the first true freshman to record a pick in his Vols debut in the season opener since Dwayne Goodrich in 1996. Defensive back Devaun Swafford recorded a pick-six in Tennessee's loss to Florida last week.
5. LSU: The Tigers have played 14 true freshmen this season, and eight of those are defensive players. Cornerback Tre'Davious White is the only freshman to make a start this year, doing so against Kent State and Auburn. White has 17 tackles on the season, including one for loss, and has also forced a fumble and broken up a pass. Kendell Beckwith has received some good snaps at linebacker and on special teams. He also lines up at defensive end to provide more of a pass-rushing threat on third downs. Defensive lineman Christian LaCouture has seen time in the rotation along the Tigers' defensive line.
There's plenty going on in SEC country. From the weekend that was to the key matchups on the horizon, such as Alabama-Ole Miss and Georgia-LSU, here are some key reads from around the league:
- Alabama's secondary was torched earlier this month when it faced Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M. After rotating players against Colorado State, head coach Nick Saban said the competition at cornerback is ongoing.
- Georgia has a young secondary, with two freshmen (Brendan Langley, Tray Matthews) and a sophomore (Josh Harvey-Clemons) in the starting lineup. They say they are ready for their showdown with LSU.
- LSU will embrace the hostility at Georgia when the teams meet this weekend, when the Tigers will play at an opponent's home stadium for the first time this season.
- After sophomore running back Brian Kimbrow had a tirade on Twitter that was apparently about playing time, Vanderbilt coach James Franklin said he has handled the matter internally.
- Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace is confident in his offense, telling reporters "we can put points" on Alabama when the teams meet.
- A handful of players from Georgia, Georgia Tech and Northwestern wrote the letters "APU" on their football gear over the weekend to make a statement against the NCAA and for players participating in the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit. The National College Players Association has become the key voice in the movement.
- There were several positives to take away from Texas A&M's win over SMU on Saturday.
- With a lot of success on third down in particular, South Carolina's defense showed improvement in its last game against Vanderbilt, Steve Spurrier said.
- Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy made the most out of his opportunity to play when starter Jeff Driskel went down with an injury.
- Kentucky hasn't beaten Florida in its last 26 tries. That's something coach Mark Stoops believes needs to be talked about, but that it can't be the focal point.
- Tennessee quarterback Nathan Peterman will be out up to four weeks after having surgery on his right hand and Tennessee coach Butch Jones says that for now, Justin Worley is the starter. Jones wants to see his quarterbacks eliminate mistakes.
- Missouri used something Gary Pinkel called a "30 defense" in its victory over Indiana on Saturday.
- Arkansas blew a 17-point lead in its loss to Rutgers on Saturday, but coach Bret Bielema said the Razorbacks must move on with Texas A&M coming to town.
- Auburn receiver Jaylon Denson, who tore the patellar tendon in his left leg and is out for the season, vows to come back stronger.
Saturday's top plays in the SEC
Final Eastern Kentucky 3 Florida 52 Final Charleston Southern 9 10 Georgia 55 Final South Alabama 12 South Carolina 37 Final 8 Ole Miss 0 Arkansas 30 Final Western Carolina 14 1 Alabama 48 Final Samford 7 14 Auburn 31 Final 20 Missouri 29 Tennessee 21 Final Vanderbilt 0 4 Mississippi State 51