For college football fans, it was another exciting week with even more to cheer for.
The Big Ten and Mountain West both started their COVID-shortened schedules on Saturday and they brought 17 more Canadians into the NCAA picture with them.
Intro to Canadian Studies will keep you abreast of all the fresh blood but it was a list of familiar names who stood out from the rest in Week 8. We’ve got even more content to get through now but a good lecturer can still captivate a crowded classroom.
Put your phones on silent and let’s get started.
Top of the Class
1. REC John Metchie III, SO, Alabama Crimson Tide (Brampton, Ont.)
I’ve got good news and better news.
John Metchie III is still incredibly good and he’s about to get a lot more targets.
The young receiver was the star of the “Battle of Brampton” on Saturday, hauling in seven receptions for 151 yards. There were no touchdowns this week for the Canadian sensation but he made several spectacular catches, high-pointing balls and absorbing hits in tight double coverage.
Metchie finished with a Pro Football Focus grade of 75.2 and his role in the offence is only going to grow. The third option to start the season, Metchie is now part of a one-two punch with DeVonta Smith after Jaylen Waddle broke his ankle early against Tennessee.
The Canadian must now assume the role of the injured projected first-round NFL draft pick, so if you are tired of hearing me sing Metchie’s praises, I suggest you invest in some earplugs.
2. RB Chuba Hubbard, JR, Oklahoma State Cowboys (Sherwood Park, Alta.)
The reigning Cornish Trophy winner has rounded into form after a rough start to the season and finally showed his big-play ability against Iowa State.
Thus far, Hubbard had been entirely reliant on his offensive line for production. When he was given space, he took it, but when he wasn’t, he fell flat. His 32-yard touchdown Saturday was the solo effort he’d been missing.
With multiple unblocked defenders converging on the Canadian Cowboy, Hubbard showed the patience, vision and balance to break the first tackle and head for daylight. It was Hubbard at his very best and a long overdue highlight.
Hubbard finished with 25 carries for 139 yards and one touchdown, as well as a reception for 21 yards. That earned a 68.5 grade from PFF. While his showing against Kansas a few weeks ago was superior, this game proved that Hubbard could still take over a play by himself.
Hopefully, many more highlights are forthcoming.
T-3. REC Josh Palmer, SR, Tennessee Volunteers (Brampton, Ont.)
While Metchie was undeniably the headliner in a decisive Alabama victory, fellow Bramptonian Josh Palmer turned heads with a beautiful touchdown catch for Tennessee. It was one of four catches for 57 yards by Palmer, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
Three of Palmer’s catches — including the touchdown — came against projected first-round NFL draft pick Patrick Surtain II. The two went at it all game and Palmer’s score was the Alabama star’s first blemish on the season.
The Canadian finished with a PFF grade of 67.0, but showed throughout that he could beat the very best. When Palmer begins to climb up draft boards this off-season, this week will be one of the reasons why.
T-3. WLB Enock Makonzo, JR, Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (LaChine, Que.)
Going into a week ranked for the first time in school history, the Chanticleers stayed undefeated against Georgia Southern and Canadian linebacker Enock Makonzo played well enough to force a tie for the final spot on the Top of the Class podium.
The defender was all over the field on Saturday, making six tackles and only allowing three catches for 27 yards despite being targeted seven times. Where Makonzo really shone was rushing the passer. In just nine attempts, Makonzo got home for two sacks and hurried the quarterback twice more to record an impressive PFF pass rush grade of 77.5.
Overall, the linebacker had a 67.4 defensive grade and made the crucial plays necessary to keep his team in the Top 25. Simply put, he couldn’t be left off this list.
Notes on the Margins
LT Matthew Bergeron, SO, Syracuse Orange (Victoriaville, Que.)
It has been a difficult season thus far for Matthew Bergeron and his struggling Syracuse team, but an admirable performance against top-ranked Clemson could be an indication of better things on the horizon.
A mediocre showing in the run game brought down Bergeron’s overall grade, but he didn’t allow a single pressure all day as a blindside protector and finished with a stellar 88.4 pass blocking grade against the best team in the nation. Clemson doesn’t have the defensive line it once did, but it remains a front loaded with five-star recruits and future NFL draft picks.
Bergeron locked them all down, showing that the Canadian has the high-end potential to compete against anyone.
CB Benjamin St-Juste, JR, Minnesota Golden Gophers (Montreal, Que.)
Benjamin St-Juste didn’t have a particularly flashy game with just two tackles in a bad loss to Michigan, but numbers don’t tell the whole story.
The graduate student from Montreal has developed into a shutdown corner and he didn’t allow a catch all game, finishing with a coverage grade of 71.4.
Extremely intelligent and a gifted leader, St-Juste is one of this nation’s finest and his play on the field continues to prove it. He’s a player to keep a close eye on as the Big Ten season progresses, as he may be a serious candidate for early entry into the 2021 NFL Draft.
DT Alex Dumais, SO, Fresno State Bulldogs (Montreal, Que.)
While a bevy a Canadians returned to action this week with their Big Ten and Mountain West program, Alex Dumais and the Fresno State defence had a debut they’d like to forget. Hawai’i victimized the group for 323 yards rushing and four touchdowns, putting to bed high expectations for the Bulldogs.
Though he managed two tackles and a quarterback hit, Dumais was one of those who looked exhausted and out of position in the face of the Rainbow Warriors’ relentless option attack. His PFF grade for the day was a 48.5, a failing grade made only slightly better by the fact two other defensive starters for Fresno State had worse numbers.
The Bulldogs have only a short week to figure out their problems before facing Colorado State on Thursday, but Dumais knows he will have to be a lot better for his team to get back on track. Here’s hoping the well-built Canuck can be part of the solution.
RB Chase Brown, SO, Illinois: 10 offensive snaps, three carries, 12 yards, one reception, negative two yards, one tackle
FS Sydney Brown, JR, Illinois: 70 defensive snaps, nine tackles
REC Jared Wayne, SO, Pittsburgh: 28 offensive snaps, no receptions, one tackle
REC Ajou Ajou, FR, Clemson: One offensive snap
MLB Geoff Cantin-Arku, SO, Syracuse: 42 defensive snaps, four tackles, one pass deflection
SLB Tyrell Richards, JR, Syracuse: 38 defensive snaps, two tackles, one tackle for loss
FS Ben Labrosse, FR, Syracuse: 27 defensive snaps, one tackle
DE Daniel Joseph, SR, NC State: 28 defensive snaps, two tackles, one sack
OLB Tavius Robinson, JR, Ole Miss: 48 defensive snaps, two tackles, one quarterback hit, two hurries
OC John Kourtis, SO, Liberty: Six offensive snaps
MLB Amen Ogbongbemiga, SR, Oklahoma State: 65 defensive snaps, three tackles, one quarterback hit, one hurry
WLB Jesse Luketa, JR, Penn State: 30 defensive snaps, three tackles, ejected for targeting
FS Jonathan Sutherland, JR, Penn State: Three defensive snaps, one tackle
OLB DK Bonhomme, SO, Indiana: 11 defensive snaps
NT Olivier Charles-Pierre, SR, Houston: 15 defensive snaps, one tackle
LT Alaric Jackson, SR, Iowa: 76 offensive snaps, three pressures allowed
FS Alonzo Addae, SR, West Virginia: 68 defensive snaps, seven tackles
DE Akheem Mesidor, FR, West Virginia: 15 defensive snaps, two tackles
OLB Isaiah Bagnah, FR, Boise State: 10 defensive snaps, two tackles
DE Luiji Vilain, SR, Michigan: Three defensive snaps, one hurry
REC Nick Mardner, SO, Hawai’i: 43 offensive snaps, two receptions, 26 yards
LT Dontae Bull, JR, Fresno State: 71 offensive snaps, three pressures allowed
REC Terrell Jana, SR, Virginia: 48 offensive snaps, three receptions, 60 yards
PK Gabe Siemieniec, SR, Louisiana Tech: Seven kickoffs, 421 yards, 60.1 average, five touchback
TE Bruno Labelle, SR, Cincinnati: 25 offensive snaps
NT Samuel Obiang, SO, Texas State: 46 defensive snaps, two tackles
DT Daniel Okpoko, SO, San Diego State: One defensive snap
Rostered but not dressed: OL Liam Dick, FR, Pittsburgh / REC Ezechiel Tieide, SO, Boston College / RG Patrick Davis, SR, Syracuse / REC Damien Alford, FR, Syracuse / DE Wilt Gabe II, SO, Coastal Carolina / CB Deane Leonard, SR, Ole Miss / REC Barron Miles Jr, FR, Nebraska / CB Patrice Rene, SR, North Carolina / TE Theo Johnson, FR, Penn State / REC Malick Meiga, FR, Penn State / OL Tyrell Lawrence, FR, Minnesota