by Dave Miller
October 12, 02013
Let's take a look at some players that will be vital to the success of their teams on Saturday.
Also, be sure to check out the Week 7 preview edition of the Against the Grain podcast.
Georgia RB J.J. Green: With Todd Gurley being doubtful to play against unbeaten Missouri — although he was doing a bit more in practice by the end of the week — the Bulldogs will be reliant on the freshman Green, who had entered the game last week against Tennessee with only five career rushing attempts. However, Green stepped in to run for 129 yards on 17 carries with Gurley and Keith Marshall sidelined. It was a huge boost to an offense that was just decimated by injuries against the Vols, as Marshall and receiver Justin Scott-Wesley were lost for the rest of the season in addition to receiver Michael Bennett being out for the foreseeable future. With Malcolm Mitchell already lost for the year, more pressure now falls on receiver Chris Conley as well as freshmen tailbacks Green and Brendan Douglas. Green, in particular, will be in the spotlight. And that's unexpected considering he arrived in Athens as more of an athlete who was considered a possibility at cornerback or receiver.
Texas QB Case McCoy: David Ash remains out with a head injury, so McCoy gets the call in the Red River Rivalry against Oklahoma in Dallas. With true freshman dual-threat signal-caller Tyrone Swoopes getting increased reps the few weeks before the Longhorns' game against Iowa State, many Longhorn observers believed that Swoopes was being prepped for action against the Sooners. But he didn't see the field against the Cyclones, so he was unable to get his feet wet. So it looks as if head coach Mack Brown is content with McCoy going up against that speedy and very active 3-3 front of OU, which lost linebacker Corey Nelson for the year in the win over TCU last week. It's hard for me to envision McCoy making enough plays against OU unless the 'Horns commit to the run and are successful at doing so. But there's no question he needs to make some plays through the air and be turnover-free if Brown is to notch a much-needed win over OU.
US PRESSWIRETyler Murphy will face a tough road environment in Death Valley.
Florida QB Tyler Murphy: Since taking over for the injured Jeff Driskel, Murphy has performed very well as the Gators signal-caller. But he will face his first difficult road test of his career when UF travels to Baton Rouge to take on LSU. Murphy has thrown for 530 yards and five touchdowns since replacing Driskel, including passing for 240 yards and three touchdowns last week against Arkansas. He has completed 72.2 percent of his passes and has looked comfortable and poised. But he will enter an environment in which the Tigers are 53-7 under head coach Les Miles. This is a talented Tigers defense, but it is young. And the secondary can be exposed. Is Murphy equipped to do so, though? Despite the Gators typically being a run-first offense, he led a more balanced attack last week when the Gators averaged just 2.8 yards per carry against Arkansas. More clutch passing will be needed on Saturday.
Ole Miss RB Jeff Scott: The Rebels had a 10-point fourth-quarter lead on the Aggies last season before Johnny Manziel led a rally to beat them in Oxford. Hugh Freeze's team is trying to avoid its third straight defeat this week, and Scott will be an integral part to its chances at victory in the team's first of six straight home games. The Aggies' defense is ranked No. 87 nationally, as they have given up 30.8 points per game. And they'll be without defensive tackle Kirby Ennis for the rest of the season. In my opinion, Scott isn't getting enough touches in this Ole Miss offense. He should find room on the edges against A&M, and he is also a weapon on special teams or lined up in the slot. If the Rebels are to win on Saturday, Scott must be a big part of the game plan.
Michigan LB Jake Ryan: The Wolverines could get back their defensive star this week against Penn State after he missed the team's first five games while recovering from an ACL injury. Head coach Brady Hoke told reporters on Monday that Ryan has been cleared to play by team doctors and that he could "potentially play" in this week's game against the Nittany Lions. Greg Mattison's defense is ranked in the Top 20 nationally in total defense, but the unit lost defensive lineman Ondre Pipkins to a torn ACL last week. Ryan led the Wolverines in tackles last season with 88 (16 tackles for loss) and also had 4.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. So his presence would be an obvious boost to the team is it gets into the heart of Big Ten play.
Dave Miller, the college football editor and writer for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.