Week 0 of the college football season doesn’t typically lend the most intriguing of matchups. After all, our game of the week was Northwestern vs. Nebraska. That actually turned out to be a very entertaining game for all of the wrong reasons that include a meltdown by Scott Frost and the Huskers in the latter stages of the second half to allow Northwestern to come away with the 31-28 victory in a pretty large upset by Vegas standards (Nebraska -12). The most glorious moment of them all was a Nebraska onside kick after they had just scored to make it an 11-point advantage for the Huskers. Of course, Northwestern recovered and scored two plays later thereby giving away all of their momentum. Frost never seized that momentum back. With that all being said, there were plenty of standout performances in Week 0 we need to recap.
OT Peter Skoronski (Northwestern)
We touched on Skoronski in our preview of Week 0 as one of (if not) the best 2023 NFL Draft prospects participating on Saturday afternoon. The potential first-round pick didn’t disappoint putting on an absolute clinic at left tackle. We also talked about Nebraska’s edge rusher, Ochaun Mathis. Despite Mathis’s ten tackles, he wasn’t a player who flashed in any way. He lined up on the right tackle a fair bit, but at least some of the lack of impact can be directly linked to Skoronski’s play. The Wildcats put up over 500 yards of offense after being one of the worst offenses in Division I a year ago. Nebraska was credited with one pressure (a cornerback blitz) and no sacks on the day. Skoronski’s movement and grip strength were on full display as he displaced Huskers defenders at will all afternoon in Ireland. His stock continues to climb.
Peter Skoronski making defenders disappear.... pic.twitter.com/pDDQAl5uKK— Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) August 27, 2022
CB Devon Witherspoon (Illinois)
The Illinois pass defense deserves all the flowers for the way they disassembled Wyoming’s passing game on Saturday. No, the Cowboys don’t post a juggernaut passing attack by any stretch, but the way the Illini took that aspect of the game away was impressive. Wyoming averaged 1.5 yards on 20 attempts. Witherspoon was a mention in our prospect preview article for the week, and he cashed in on an interception. the fourth-year junior showcased his ball skills and physicality to walk the receiver towards the sideline on the play. Witherspoon came out gaming, and he’s a player draft fans should keep in the back of their mind the rest of the season.
WR Ricky White (UNLV)
The wild world of new-age college football is difficult to follow at times with so many transfer arrivals and departures across the country. If you have a big-brained college football memory, you might recall Ricky White torching Michigan for 196 receiving yards and a touchdown during the 2020 COVID-19 season. White did not play in 2021, but he’s just entering his third year of college. If you didn’t know where White ended up, you probably do now as he lit up Idaho State for 182 yards and a pair of scores on Saturday. He looked like a different caliber of athlete on the field pushing vertical. White could be set up for insane stats in the Mountain West Conference in 2022.
EDGE Jared Verse (Florida State)
Another transfer on the list of standouts is Verse—a transfer from the University at Albany. Florida State played a lower level of competition in Duquesne, but it was nice to see Verse standing out on a more talented defensive line than he had at Albany. Verse is a very athletic defensive end who has prototypical size and athleticism to go along with a chiseled up frame. Duquesne’s running backs had issues turning the corner on him as Verse gave chase to the boundary. The video below shows Verse’s sack on the evening where he swiped the tackle’s hands to get a free rush, flatten, and turn the corner to finish the play. As Brugler notes, Verse will have more opportunity to show off his level of skill and development when the Seminoles face LSU next week.