We are now a comfortable five weeks into the college football season and it is finally time to single out some of the country’s top statistical performances. From rushing yards to third down conversion percentages, each week I will hand pick my favorite numerical nuggets for your reading pleasure. Maybe you will learn something new about your favorite player or team, maybe you discover a stat category you have never heard of before or maybe you just enjoy the way I string words (and numbers) together – the possibilities are endless. Here goes your first weekly dose of digits.
Completion Percentage – 75.8%
We start with the guy who has led Colorado to its first 4-0 start since 1998, - Buffs quarterback Steven Montez, who is the most efficient QB in all the land, having completed 91 of his 120 attempts thus far. The junior quarterback has come a long way from his 0-7 off-the-bench days at Michigan two years ago. Through four games, Montez has thrown for 1,092 yards and nine touchdowns with only two interceptions. Montez is a more confident and intelligent quarterback these days, thanks in part to Colorado quarterbacks coach Kurt Roper but also his own maturity and hard work. The Buffs host ASU this weekend and Montez should put up more solid numbers, continuing on the path of perfection.
All-Purpose Yards – 209.00
One of my favorite categories, all-purpose yards, showcase young men who do it all. Last year we saw this category dominated by college football greats like Rashaad Penny, Saquon Barkley and Bryce Love. But this year, there are some new kids on the block. Like Rice senior running back Austin Walter, who has rushed for 409 yards, caught 200 receiving yards and posted 436 kickoff return yards for a total of 1,045 yards. Walter is averaging 209 all-purpose yards per game through five games this season. Even though Rice is 1-4 on the season, Walter continues to be a beacon for the Owls.
“One consistent bright spot for us this year is Austin Walter and what he's been able to do,” said head coach Mike Bloomgren during a press conference. “He had a heck of a day on Saturday as well, rushing for 167 yards, 69 return yards and 32 receiving yards with a touchdown rushing as well as receiving. He now is the national leader in all-purpose yards at this point. We're excited for him. I think he is playing really well right now.”
Turnover Margin – 2.40
The ever-important “we don’t give the ball away as much as you do” statistic. When looking for future free football bets, keying in on who consistently wins the turnover battle is a good way to make your bank. And surprise, the team leading this category is Kansas. Yes the Jayhawks, formerly found at the bottom of the Big-12 in football, now just residing in the bottom half. Kansas is 2-3 overall, 0-2 in the Big-12 with Kansas State and Iowa State below them. Through five games, the Jayhawks have forced six fumbles and intercepted the ball eight times, for a total of 14 turnovers gained. They have only fumbled the ball twice, giving them the highest turnover margin in the nation at +12. The next closest team would be Florida, who boasts a +9 margin.
While the Kansas football terrain has been rocky for head coach David Beaty, a conference win or two would go a long way in keeping his drive alive. And the Jayhawks' impressive turnover margin will definitely be the difference maker in close games down the road.
Yards Per Reception – 24.62
If Miami had a chain for most spectacular catches, sophomore Jeff Thomas would be rocking that bling every single game. He is second on the team behind fellow sophomore wide receiver Mike Harley with 13 catches for 320 yards and two touchdowns. But he leads the nation in yards per reception and beats Harley in yards per game, averaging 64 to Harley’s 34.6. He also has one carry for 19 yards.
He is multifaceted, leading the team in all-purpose yards with 636 yards, averaging 127.2 yards per game. He also boasts 171 kickoff return yards and 126 punt return yards. With the Canes' loss of No. 1 receiver Ahmmon Richards in the game against LSU, Thomas has stepped seamlessly into a role he has physically and mentally matured over the off-season for. Someone get on that YPR medallion…
Passes Intercepted – 10
For all that college football giveth, it also focuses on the taketh away. That’s where North Texas shines; leading the nation in passes intercepted. In five games, the Mean Green’s opponents have thrown 178 passes, to which North Texas has intercepted 10 of them for a total of 126 yards and two return touchdowns. They were one of the unbeaten, until LA Tech blocked a field goal at the end of last Saturday’s game, handing the Mean Green its first loss of the season.
You may know North Texas for their fake fair catch against Arkansas or their under-the-radar quarterback Mason Fine (he has his own website, guys!), but what you might not know is that three different guys have three interceptions a piece – senior DBs Kemon Hall and Nate Brooks and junior safety Khairi Muhammad. Redshirt junior DB Taylor Robinson also has one. So basically anywhere you throw the ball in North Texas, you are risking a talented player picking it off.
Sports writer. Avid fan, former player, once-upon-a-time coach, reluctant referee. I do digital media things with my friends. I also jinx kickers. Bay Area born & raised.