Football Writers Association of America Oct. 5, 2021
For Immediate Release
Contact: Steve Richardson
214-870-6516
A weekly look at the first-year standout players and coaches
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2021 FRESHMAN FOCUS: WEEK 5

DALLAS (FWAA) Each week during the 2021 season, we will highlight the notable performances of first-year players and head coaches leading up to the selection of our annual Freshman All-America Team and the Steve Spurrier First-Year Coach of the Year Award presented by Chris Doering Mortgage. Here are the top performances from Week 5, the weekend of Oct. 2:

FIRST-YEAR PLAYERS: THE FRESH FOUR

Cal Haladay, LB, Michigan State (6-1, 235, Elysburg, Pa.): 10 total tackles, 1 TFL, 1 FUM REC

Haladay helped lead a Spartan defense that allowed just 72 yards rushing on 26 carries in Michigan State's 48-31 win over Western Kentucky. The redshirt freshman's fumble recovery was also the only turnover for either team in the game. Haladay will look to keep imposing his will next week on the road against division foe Rutgers.

D'Wan Mathis, QB, Temple (6-6, 205, Oak Park, Mich.): 35/49, 322 yards, 3 TD; 4 rushes, 53 yards

Mathis was excellent in his second game back since injuring his right foot in the season opener as the Owls upset Memphis, 34-31. After falling behind 17-0, Temple scored 17 unanswered points in the final six minutes of the second quarter to tie the game at halftime. The redshirt freshman's 35 completions tied a school record for most in a game. Mathis plans to carry his success into Cincinnati this weekend against the fifth-ranked Bearcats.

Keaton Mitchell, RB, East Carolina (5-9, 188, McDonough, Ga.): 15 rushes, 222 yards, 2 TD

It was more of the same for Mitchell Saturday as the speedster ran all over Tulane in a 52-29 East Carolina victory. The true freshman's 222-yard performance a career high was highlighted by a 68-yard touchdown dash in the first quarter. Mitchell's 574 yards rushing on the season are tied for second-most among all FBS freshmen. He will try to keep the hot wheels turning Saturday as the Pirates face off against UCF in Orlando.

Ohio State's C.J. Stroud (Icon Sportswire)

C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State (6-3, 218, Empire, Calif.): 17/23, 330 yards, 5 TD; 2 rushes, 13 yards

Stroud threw for a career-high five touchdowns in Ohio State's 52-13 thumping of Rutgers. The redshirt freshman threw four unanswered touchdown passes following the only Scarlet Knight score of the first half. Stroud showed a high level of prowess in pocket awareness, mobility, and accuracy that he will look to replicate Saturday at home against Maryland.

STEVE SPURRIER FIRST-YEAR COACHES

Bryan Harsin, Auburn: Auburn's 24-19 win over LSU was its first Tiger Bowl win in Baton Rouge since 1999. Harsin's Tigers struggled to get going offensively but rallied late with two fourth-quarter touchdowns and a dramatic interception on LSU's final drive, sealing the victory. Auburn's run defense was nothing shy of ferocious Saturday, limiting LSU to eleven yards on 26 attempts.

Josh Heupel, Tennessee: Heupel's Volunteers punished Missouri early and often Saturday, walloping the Tigers 62-24 and earning their first conference win. After a lackluster offensive showing the week prior against Florida, Tennessee more than righted the ship to the tune of 683 total yards. Quarterback Hendon Hooker was spectacular, finishing 15-of-19 passing for 225 yards and 3 touchdowns. Running back Tiyon Evans added 156 yards rushing and three scores of his own.

Steve Sarkisian, Texas: The Longhorn offense put up another strong outing Saturday in a 32-27 conference win over TCU. Texas running back Bijan Robinson also shined with 216 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 35 carries. Sarkisian's Longhorns outgained the Horned Frogs 414-351 en route a 2-0 record in the Big 12.

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers and key executives in all areas of college football. The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday operations while presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its programs and initiatives, contact Executive Director Steve Richardson at 214-870-6516 or tiger@fwaa.com.

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