Senior quarterback Brady Quinn bounced back from some poor throws early in Notre Dame's opener at Georgia Tech to score on a first-half touchdown run and then help the Irish pull off a very hard-fought 14-10 road win.
Quinn lacked touch on his deep throws, overthrowing several attempts throughout the game, and he got knocked around most of the night. However, to his credit, Quinn shook off the constant pressure and was able to keep Notre Dame in the game by locating his secondary weapons on a night when his primary target – wide receiver Jeff Samardzija – was held in check with six catches and 74 yards.
Quinn overcame questions about his accuracy, pure arm strength and pocket presence a year ago to post one of the best seasons of any quarterback in Notre Dame history. He jumps right back into the fire this Saturday in the Irish's home opener against Penn State, a team that features three of the best linebackers in college football. However, the Nittany Lions' short cornerbacks could struggle with the 6-foot-5 Samardzija and fellow starter Rhema McKnight.
Scouts would like to see Brady set his feet more often in the pocket. That would keep him from throwing off his back foot and allow for a little less air under his deeper throws.
OTHER TOP PROSPECTS
Adrian Peterson – The Oklahoma junior running back looked fresh and showed that second gear of speed in the open field that thrust him to the front of the Heisman Trophy pack two years ago. He rushed for 139 yards and one touchdown and added an additional TD on a 69-yard catch in the third quarter when he took a short pass and raced down the right sideline past six to eight UAB defenders. If Peterson can stay healthy, it is very possible he could eclipse the 2,000-yard rushing mark and score 20-plus touchdowns.
Justin Blalock – The Texas offensive lineman did not receive much in the way of competition in last Saturday's destruction of North Texas, but the play of Blalock and the rest of his line mates will help determine the outcome of this weekend's pivotal contest against top-ranked Ohio State. Blalock has held down his right tackle spot, although he may be moved inside to guard at the NFL level.
The Buckeyes have a wealth of talent along the front four, including defensive tackle Quinn Pitcock, but they also have very athletic linebackers. The Longhorns' offensive line must watch out for stunts and delayed blitzes, especially since Texas is starting an inexperienced quarterback in Colt McCoy. This is a showcase game for an offensive lineman. It's the type of contest in which you can judge his technique and ability to play the game at a faster pace.
D-1A NEWS AND NOTES
Michael Bush – The Louisville running back will miss the rest of the season after suffering a broken right leg against Kentucky, and he faces a normal recovery time of six to eight months. The senior is unlikely to be available for most of the postseason activities, including college all-star games and the NFL scouting combine, as his rehab would put him on pace to potentially be back at full strength as early as mid-March. He hasn’t used a redshirt year, so returning to school for a fifth year will be an option for Bush, who was considered a top candidate for the Heisman Trophy and a potential first-round choice before the injury.
Bret Meyer – The junior quarterback accounted for 306 of Iowa State's 382 yards of total offense in the Cyclones' 45-43 overtime victory over Toledo. Meyer completed nearly 71 percent of his passes, threw for two touchdowns and rushed for three TDs. He has a rare blend of size (6-foot-3, 210 pounds), athleticism and arm strength that could catapult him up the charts in the eyes of pro scouts. Meyer has road games at Iowa and Texas before the end of the month, so his ability to play big against top-10 opponents will be vital to both his own success and that of his team this season.
Louis Holmes – One of the most sought after junior college transfers (40 tackles for loss and 16 sacks in two years), the Arizona defensive end jumped off the TV screen against his first Division I-A opponent (BYU), as he recorded three tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble and one pass deflection. He was a late arrival to the Wildcats' campus as his transcripts from Scottsdale Community College were reviewed before he finally made it onto the field during the team's third day of practice last month. Holmes is an athletic freak for his size (nearly 6-foot-6 and 270 pounds). Remember the name. He wears No. 1 and plays most of his downs at left defensive end. This kid will be a first-round pick in either of the next two NFL drafts.
Anthony Waters – The senior linebacker from Clemson will miss the rest of the season after suffering a torn ACL in his left knee in Saturday's win over Florida Atlantic. He has already taken a redshirt year, so the chance that he would receive a sixth season of eligibility is remote. Waters should still receive an invite to next February's NFL combine, but his recovery from surgery will probably prevent him from working out for scouts before his March pro day.
Matt Herian – Nebraska's senior tight end returned to the field against Louisiana Tech after two surgeries and extensive rehab to overcome a fracture in his left leg nearly 1½ years ago. He had three catches for 61 yards and one touchdown, but he will need a full, healthy campaign in order to get back on the NFL radar screen.
Chris Hopkins – Toledo's senior tight end put on pass-catching clinic against Iowa State as he recorded 13 receptions for 148 yards and three touchdowns, two of which covered over 20 yards. He also converted a two-point conversion and was the intended receiver on the overtime two-point attempt that fell short. A three-year starter, Hopkins has good size (6-5, 255), and, if this past week is any indication of his production this season, NFL scouts will be attending more MAC games than usual.
Kevin Kolb – The Houston senior quarterback is currently seen as more of a mid-round type prospect, but he came through in a big way last Saturday night by throwing a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes after being shut down for most of the game by Rice's emotionally driven defense. Kolb finished the game 22-of-35 for 233 yards, but he was just 15-of-22 for a shade over 150 yards entering the final period. While his stat line was mediocre, Kolb showed very good poise and leadership skills as he led the Cougars back from what would have been a devastating opening-week loss to their cross-town rivals, especially since the Owls finished last season 1-10.
Johnathan Holland – The senior wide receiver from Louisiana Tech made an eye-opening 40-yard touchdown catch in a loss to Nebraska, part of a seven-reception, 139-yard performance. Holland opened eyes in his team's upset win over Fresno State late last season and is one of the fastest players in the country. That will prove to be a huge asset for him as area scouts continue to chart his progress.
Larry McSwain – The UAB senior defensive end missed a golden opportunity to display his pass rushing skills against highly ranked Oklahoma after he was suspended one game for violating team rules. The coaching staff has yet to announce whether he will be available for this week's home opener against East Carolina.
Jordan Palmer – The younger brother of Carson Palmer completed 19 of 28 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns in UTEP's exciting 34-27 win over San Diego State. However, the senior quarterback was intercepted four times, running his streak of turnovers to 15 over his past four games. Jordan seems to have good but not great arm strength, although he tends to believe he has that extra zip to squeeze the ball into places that he actually can't. A pair of his picks came on deep out throws that wobbled a bit and were snagged by the defender. These are the type of concerns that become more obvious in postseason game practices.
SMALL SCHOOL WONDERS
Jacoby Jones – The Lane (Tenn.) senior wide receiver/return man scored four touchdowns, three coming on receptions as part of a 10-catch, 128-yard effort and one coming on a 58-yard punt return against an overmatched Lincoln (Mo.) team. The New Orleans native has gained the attention of area scouts thanks to his size (6-3, 210), speed (4.45) and big-play ability. He averaged 175 yards of total offense per game as a junior.
Andre Coleman – The Albany (N.Y.) senior defensive end has started to receive attention from area scouts, as a pair of NFL teams were in attendance during his practices last week. The 6-4, 290-pound All-Northeast Conference selection has a chance to impress scouts this season if he can continue to improve his pass rushing skills and show the type of strength at the point of attack equal to his impressive size. Coming up are games against Fordham and Delaware, likely the top opponents on Albany's schedule. Coleman has run in the 5.0-second range in the 40-yard dash and hails from the same school that produced safety Kurt Campbell, a seventh-round pick by the Green Bay Packers in 2005.
Marques Murrell – The Appalachian State senior defensive end (and younger brother of former NFL running back Adrian Murrell) set his sights on an ACC opponent this past weekend as he racked up a sack and two additional QB hurries against North Carolina State. Although he is likely to be converted to outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, the 6-1, 240-pounder is a premier edge rusher at the Division I-AA level and proved his worth against the Wolfpack.
Tyrone Timmons – The Mississippi Valley State senior wide receiver opened up his final year in the SWAC with six catches for 90 yards in a 10-0 win over Arkansas Pine-Bluff. At 6-3 and 215 pounds, the former prep quarterback has opened eyes over the past two years and has a chance to be the best prospect out of the school in recent memory. He has been timed in the 4.55 range at his current size and averaged over 17 yards per catch as a junior.
Dan Peters – The Shepherd (W.Va.) safety recorded three interceptions to kick off his senior season. He has 22 career interceptions, including 12 last season. That was good enough to lead all levels of college football.