Welcome back to another installment of The 4&8 Report, wherein each week I’m finding an incredibly loose premise with which to talk about the numbers 4 and 8, which is the record of Notre Dame football in 2016, and also the Cincinnati Bearcats in 2016 and 2017, and I feel like I’m getting closer to ruining the ongoing joke the commenters have about this.
Anyways, today I’m going to try a novel approach to this:
I’m going to talk about football.
We all know the biggest stars in the game. Trevor Lawrence. Kyler Murray. Tua Tagovailoa. Desmond Ridder. But those guys had fourteen or fifteen games to tally up their statistics in. I want to know about the best performances from guys who only had a partial season this year. Let’s set a range of games played in; say, guys who just barely retained their ability to redshirt (four games), all the way up to guys just short of the threshold for most statistical leaderboards (eight games).
Who had a notable 2018 in somewhere between four and eight games?
Here’s somewhere between four and eight answers to that.
Tyler King, RB, Marshall
In only seven games before going down with a leg injury in October, the electric sophomore back ran for 655 yards, on a 6.1 yard/carry average. Here he is, going for 195 on the ground against Old Dominion:
You might say “okay, but that’s Old Dominion”, at which point I will direct you to Virginia Tech’s season.
Tavion Thomas, RB, Cincinnati
Much of the success of the Bearcats’ 11-2 comeback season was on the back of star sophomore Michael Warren II, who racked up 1,561 yards from scrimmage this year. But he had a strong backup in the freshman Thomas, who spelled him periodically throughout the season — and took over the lead role when Warren went down with injury before the regular season finale against East Carolina. That 106-yard performance took Thomas to 496 in seven total games, with a 5.6 yard average.
Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
Okay, I’m cheating here. Shenault actually played in nine games this year, exceeding my own arbitrary threshold. (We’ll say he was only full strength for seven or eight of those.) But he was awesome in those games — with a month interruption due to a toe injury — pulling in 86 receptions for 1,011 yards and 11 total touchdowns. Here he is embarrassing Nebraska on the rescheduled Scott Frost Day:
DK Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
Metcalf played in 7 games, averaging 21.9 yards per catch before shutting down for the season after a neck injury.
Also, DK Metcalf has been sent back from the future to kill John Connor, and I think we should just let him.
DK Metcalf has somehow gotten bigger since last we saw him pic.twitter.com/DdkEZ2my6g— Bunkie Perkins (@BunkiePerkins) February 11, 2019
Jack Coan, QB, Wisconsin
Coan spelled the Badgers’ primary starter, Alex Hornibrook, as he struggled with concussion-related symptoms late in the 2018 season. The team chose to burn his redshirt for a fifth game in the Pinstripe Bowl against Miami; he only threw 11 passes in the game, but Wisconsin cruised to victory 35-3 behind a steady rushing attack.
In limited play, the sophomore backup completed 60 percent of his passes and had a 122.2 rating. But “throwing 11 times and winning a mid-level bowl game” is a critical Wisconsin QB milestone.
Asa Martin, RB, Auburn
The freshman only had 13 carries for 57 yards in four games. [checks notes] Four games? Five games? Ah, well. Nevertheless,
Willie Jones III, QB, Texas State
Jones missed some time midseason with a shoulder injury, but roared back late, capping his push with a 325-yard, 2-TD performance in a win over Georgia State. He threw for just under 1,000 yards and ran for another 400 in eight games (essentially six, discounting games he barely factored in).
Zach Sinor, P, Oklahoma State
Sinor missed nearly half of his senior season recovering from hernia surgery, but turned in a characteristically great season — his 45.5 yard/punt average would’ve placed him in the top 10 nationally if he’d had a qualifying number of attempts, and it was right in line with the rest of his career in Stillwater. Having started all thirteen games each of his previous three seasons, Sinor averaged 42.2 yards per punt in his college career.
Punting is winning.