College News & Analysis

College Football Week 2: PFF’s Team of the Week and Player Awards

Sep 11, 2021; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; Virginia Cavaliers quarterback Brennan Armstrong (5) passes the ball as Illinois Fighting Illini defensive back Jartavius Martin (21) watches in the first quarter at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

What was thought to be an underwhelming Week 2 college football slate ended in chaos and excitement.

Road underdogs Oregon and Iowa took down Ohio State and Iowa State, respectively, in the lone top-25 matchups of the week, and top-15 teams USC and Texas were unexpectedly handled by Stanford and Arkansas, respectively. Along with that, No. 5 Texas A&M scraped by Colorado and No. 8 Notre Dame eked past Toledo with three-point wins as two-plus touchdown favorites.

Now that the first run of analysis is finalized and available in PFF's CFB Premium Stats+, we get to fill you in on this week’s top performers. Here, we present PFF’s Team of the Week and player awards from Week 2 of the 2021 college football season.


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PFF TEAM OF THE WEEK

Offense

QB: Brennan Armstrong, Virginia
RB: Evan Hull, Northwestern
RB: Zach Evans, TCU
WR: Jacob Copeland, Florida
WR: Khalil Shakir, Boise State
WR: Trevon Bradford, Oregon State
TE: Sean Dykes, Memphis
LT: Ikem Ekwonu, NC State
LG: Josh Rivas, Kansas State
C: Jacob Gall, Baylor
RG: Beaux Limmer, Arkansas
RT: Michael Niese, Temple

Defense

DI: Matthew Butler, Tennessee
DI: Will Choloh, Troy
Edge: Jordan Domineck, Georgia Tech
Edge: Taylor Riggins, Buffalo
LB: Jesse Luketa, Penn State
LB: Cody Moon, New Mexico
CB: Cam Smith, South Carolina
CB: Matt Hankins, Iowa
S: Tre Young, South Alabama
S: Tyler Nubin, Minnesota
Slot: Elijah Hicks, Cal

Offensive Player of the Week: QB Brennan Armstrong, Virginia

Armstrong is throwing his hat in the ring for “most underrated quarterback in college football” after producing his fourth elite PFF grade in his past five games. Armstrong finished with a 94.7 PFF grade against Illinois in Week 2 upon first review, anchored by four big-time throws and zero turnover-worthy plays (his one interception was wrestled away from the wide receiver). He finished with 321 passing yards coming from throws that were 10-plus yards downfield, the highest among all quarterbacks in Week 2.

Armstrong’s mechanics aren’t something to model after, but he clearly makes it work. The accuracy issues that plagued his 2020 campaign — which still ended in a 90.3 season grade — were nowhere to be found in his two games in 2021. Now, he’ll have to try to replicate this success against top-25 ranked North Carolina in Week 3.

Defensive Player of the Week: LB Jesse Luketa, Penn State

Luketa might be piecing together a breakout year after playing well in Week 1 and as good as any defensive player in the country in Week 2. He pivoted to a hybrid role this season after playing exclusively off-ball his first few years with the program.

Against Ball State on Saturday, Luketa was forced to off-ball linebacker for most of the first half due to Ellis Brooks missing the first two quarters after a Week 1 targeting penalty. Luketa then moved to the edge to start the second half. And he finished with a 92.0 PFF grade, four defensive stops, a couple of pass-rush wins and an incredible one-handed interception that he turned into a touchdown:

True Freshman of the Week: CB Greg Rubin, Memphis

Rubin played 95 snaps in Memphis’ 55-50 shootout win against Arkansas State, and he was involved often. He made some mistakes — such as the 53-yard touchdown he gave up in the first quarter — but there were far more positives.

Rubin saw 10 targets in coverage, breaking up five while forcing three passing stops. He proceeded to earn an 82.2 coverage grade for the game, the sixth-best mark among outside corners going up against FBS offenses in Week 2.

Most true freshmen are lucky to break up even five passes over the duration of a whole season. Sustaining that level of play over such a high volume of snaps is impressive, especially considering this was Rubin’s first career start and second game overall in his college football career.

Offensive Line of the Week: Baylor Bears

Baylor claims Offensive Line of the Week honors for the second consecutive week. Yes, they did play Texas Southern — an FCS program — but the line came together to play almost perfectly, ultimately earning the highest cumulative grade of the week by 13 grading points. In fact, they tied for the highest single-game offensive line grade in the PFF College era (since 2014). 

Secret Superstar of the Week: QB Anthony Richardson, Florida

Gators fans know very well who Anthony Richardson is at this point, but he's a little less known outside of the state of Florida.

Richardson came in for four dropbacks against USF: one was a scramble where he broke two tackles and picked up 18 yards, while the other three resulted in perfectly placed passes downfield. Those three big-time throws picked up 152 yards and two touchdowns. The backup QB also managed to take one of his three designed runs 80 yards to the house. 

Starting quarterback Emory Jones has been the rushing threat he was expected to be and is making the right reads as a passer, but a concerning accuracy issue has popped up over his first two games. He could have a short leash moving forward, given the flashes that Richardson — a 2020 four-star recruit — has shown. 

Play of the Week: Jacksonville State’s game-winning Hail Mary

Any hope FSU had gathered after the hard-fought Week 1 loss to Notre Dame was crushed late Sunday night with a brutal loss to FCS program Jacksonville State on this game-ending Hail Mary.

Wide receiver Daymond Philyaw-Johnson saved the day after evading the two defenders to get into the end zone and secure the win. Philyaw-Johnson transferred to Jacksonville State this past offseason from Duke, where he hauled in only one deep reception in four years. He’s now the big man on Jacksonville State’s campus.

Biggest Game-Changing Moment: Oregon RB CJ Verdell’s 77-yard touchdown

Win Probability change: 20%

Oregon entered The Shoe as two-touchdown dogs to the No. 3-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. A Ducks cover seemed likely at halftime with Oregon up 14-7, but that mindset shifted to them outright winning not too long into the third quarter.

On third-and-3 at their own 23-yard line, running back C.J. Verdell took a carry right up the gut for a 77-yard score to extend their lead to two touchdowns. That swung their win probability from 56% to 76%, according to PFF’s model. The rest is history.

The College Football Playoff picture is now even murkier with the Buckeyes taking an L at home against the Ducks.

 

Know tomorrow, today. Western Southern Financial Group.
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