Gunnar Watson - QB - Troy
The Butler, GA native was rated a three-star prospect and the 49th best pro-style quarterback recruit from the 2018 prep class. He spent the last two seasons as the understudy to Kaleb Barker who threw for 3,628 yards with a 30-10 ratio in 2019. Watson saw limited action, completing 13-of-22 passes for 89 yards in mop-up duty as the usually dominant Troy limped to a 5-7 finish.
The disappointing record had more to do with a disappointing defense allowing 34.8 PPG than any deficiencies on the offensive side of the ball. Troy’s offense averaged 33.8 PPG and 456 total yards last season, which are both the highest marks this offense has produced since 2013. With seven returning starters, the continuity is in place for this offense to sustain those totals in spite of the loss of their senior captain signal caller, Barker.
Watson held off a challenge from JUCO transfer Jacob Free to win the starting quarterback job in fall camp. He completed 70 percent of his passes for 248 yards and a 2-1 ratio in an easy 47-14 win over MTSU in the season opener, but stumbled a bit against a BYU team that has wreaked havoc on their G5 opponents. This weekend’s performance was Watson’s best of the year, completing 33-of-46 passes for 338 yards and a 4-0 ratio in a 37-13 blowout of Texas State. He now gets to feast on Eastern Kentucky next Saturday before embarking on Troy’s appetizing Sun Belt conference schedule. Expect to see more 300+ yard passing performances out of Watson in the coming weeks.
Tank Bigsby - RB - Auburn
The four-star RB was rated as the fourth-best back in this year’s freshman class and 40th overall player in the nation according to 247 Sports. Though he received considerable hype entering camp, the lack of spring practice and shortened acclimation period meant Bigsby would likely be relegated to committee work for the first few games.
In the season opener against Kentucky, Bigsby worked in behind starter Shaun Shivers and veteran D.J. Williams as he logged six carries for 15 yards in the 29-13 Auburn win. However in their second game against Georgia, Shivers got injured which allowed Bigsby to see extended action. He made the most of his opportunity, rushing eight times for 31 yards and excelling in the pass game with seven receptions for 68 yards in a 27-6 loss.
Heading into Saturday’s contest against Arkansas, Shivers was unable to suit up leaving Bigsby to shoulder the majority of backfield touches. The talented true freshman erupted for 146 yards on 20 carries while also snagging four passes for 16 yards in a tight 30-28 win over Arkansas. He displayed all the elusiveness and power you’d want to see out of your SEC bell-cow running back, averaging 7.3 YPC on the day. He showcased a Playstation-worthy spin move while finishing runs off by punishing would-be tacklers. All-in-all it was a dazzling first start for the budding Auburn super-star.
Michael Carter - RB - North Carolina
The 5-foot-10, 200 lb. senior just barely managed to cross the 1,000 yard barrier in 2019, finishing with 1,003 rushing yards, three touchdowns and a 5.7 YPC. Entering 2020 Carter and backfield-mate Javonte Williams were expected to form a 1A/1B backfield combo for a UNC offense that has the potential to score 40+ points per game this year.
Their first game against Syracuse offered a peek into how UNC OC Phil Longo would rotate the two backs this year. Williams handled the short-yardage/goal line work as he rushed 14 times for 57 yards and three touchdowns while Carter thrived in an all-purpose role, rushing for 78 yards on seven carries to go with six receptions for 60 yards in the air. The arrangement held Week 2 in a 26-22 win over BC, with Carter rushing 16 times for 121 yards but no touchdowns while Williams posted 11 carries for 57 yards.
However this week the backfield exploded against a depleted Virginia Tech defense that was missing several players to pandemic related absences. Williams rushed 20 times for 169 yards and two touchdowns while Carter posted a career-high 214 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. This was the first game that we got to see the power of this North Carolina offense unleashed, as they racked up 399 rushing yards and 656 total yards on the day. It’s clear that OC Longo prefers to use his RB’s liberally in the Gold Zone. Expect more huge days ahead for Carter and Williams as UNC faces @FSU, NC State, @UVA and @ Duke over their next four games.
Caleb Chapman - WR - Texas A&M
A four-star recruit who was rated the 60th best WR in the 2018 high school class, the towering (6’5/215) wideout Chapman was presented with the opportunity for more playing time in the wake of 2019 WR1 Jhamon Ausbon opting-out. He caught a red-zone touchdown while recording four catches for 40 yards in a 17-12 ugly win over Vanderbilt but was shut down with just one reception last week against Alabama.
However this week against Florida, Chapman was Kellen Mond’s go-to-guy when he need a big completion catching nine passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns in the thrilling 41-38 upset victory. His finest moment came on a 51-yard touchdown reception to tie the game up 38-38 lat in the fourth-quarter when he got behind the defense and simply out-muscled the smaller Florida defender for the pivotal game-tying TD.
Chapman relies on physicality and body control to gain an advantage on defenders, using his thick frame to shield defenders in contested catch situations. He’s not a speed burner and almost plays like a small-tight end. But his hands are right-as-rain and his subtle route running is tailored to maximize his physical attributes. Chapman has a stretch of appealing matchups coming up against @Miss St./Arkansas/@South Carolina and should continue to be Kellen Mond’s favorite red-zone target.
Kenny Yeboah - TE - Ole Miss
It seemed like every time I looked at the screen, Kenny Yeboah was making an impact play against Alabama. The former Temple-transfer was a matchup nightmare for the Crimson Tide, as Ole Miss HC Lane Kiffin moved him all over the formation to force slot and boundary corners to pick-up the hulking tight end in one-on-one situations.
Yeboah’s finest moment came when he lined up in the slot and ran a narrow post up the seam when QB Matt Corral hit him with a perfectly-timed laser that allowed Yeboah to split the converging safeties and run for a 68-yard touchdown in the third-quarter. He also caught the first TD of the day for either team on a six-yard gold-zone TD strike on Ole Miss’ first drive of the game. When he wasn’t using his size and athleticism to score touchdowns, he was strong-arming the smaller outside Alabama corners at will for sideline jump-balls.
The redshirt senior TE caught 19 passes for 253 yards and five touchdowns last season for his former school, Temple. In three games this season, he has produced at least three catches for 81 yards in each game. Additionally he has caught a touchdown in all of his games thus far in 2020. All told, Yeboah has 15 receptions for 355 yards and four touchdowns as the athletic flex tight end is on an All-SEC caliber pace so far this year.