DALLAS (FWAA) – Each week during the 2022 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 9, the weekend of Oct. 29:
FIRST-YEAR PLAYERS: THE FRESH FOUR
Kaleb Johnson, RB, Iowa (6-0, 212, Hamilton, Ohio): 22 rushes, 200 yards, 1 TD; 2 receptions, 17 yards
Johnson’s career day willed Iowa past Purdue to the tune of a 24-3 win. The true freshman became the first Hawkeye (5-4) to rush for 200 yards since 2015. Johnson ripped a 75-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to bury the Boilermakers. The team’s rushing leader will try to help Iowa win its third consecutive conference game against Wisconsin this weekend.
MJ Morris, QB, N.C. State (6-2, 192, Carrolton, Ga.): 18/28, 210 yards, 3 TD; 19 rushes, 43 yards
Morris led N.C. State past then-No. 21-ranked Wake Forest, 30-21. The true freshman got his first career start last week in relief of preseason ACC player of the year Devin Leary. He has been electric for the Wolfpack (7-2) offense in both games, throwing for six total touchdowns with no interceptions. Morris will look to lead NC State past a lowly Boston College squad this Saturday.
Benjamin Morrison, CB, Notre Dame (6-0, 179, Phoenix, Az.): 7 tackles, 2 INT, 1 TD, 97 return yards, 1 pass defensed
Morrison’s first two career interceptions helped spark Notre Dame’s monumental 35-14 upset of then-No. 4-ranked Clemson. The true freshman’s 96-yard pick six highlighted the day after his first interception on the previous drive set the Fighting Irish (6-3) up on the Tiger 14-yard line. Morrison’s seven tackles were also the second most on the team. Fresh off its second consecutive ranked win, Notre Dame will look for a dominant day against Navy this weekend.
Malaki Starks, S, Georgia (6-1, 205, Jefferson, Ga.): 10 tackles, 1 pass defensed
Starks helped lead a Georgia secondary that suffocated then-No. 1-ranked Tennessee’s lethal passing attack in a 27-13 win. The true freshman, who led the Bulldogs (9-0) in tackles for the third time this season, has been an integral part of the secondary all year. He also co-leads the team in interceptions (2). Starks and the Georgia defense will be tested with another explosive pass attack this Saturday when they travel to Mississippi State.
STEVE SPURRIER FIRST-YEAR COACHES
Mike Elko, Duke: Duke became eligible for its first bowl game since 2018 with a 38-31 win over Boston College. Riley Leonard threw for 158 yards and a touchdown and added 96 yards and a score on the ground in the win. Elko’s defense struggled at times, but it got off the field well as the Eagles were just 4-of-14 on third down conversions. The Blue Devils (6-3) will try for their third consecutive ACC win on Saturday when Virginia Tech visits Durham.
Marcus Freeman, Notre Dame: Freeman’s Fighting Irish left no trace of then-No. 4-ranked Clemson in a 35-14 win. The Notre Dame (6-3) defense, which forced two turnovers, did not allow points until the 10:14 mark of the fourth quarter. Logan Diggs and Audric Estime both rushed for over 100 yards and the defense and special teams both added touchdowns of their own. The Fighting Irish, winners of six of their last seven, face Navy this weekend.
Brian Kelly, LSU: Kelly’s gutsy decision to go for two in overtime paid off as the Tigers topped then-No. 6-ranked Alabama 32-31. It was LSU’s (7-2) first time beating Alabama in Baton Rouge since 2010. Jayden Daniels kept rolling, completing 22 of 32 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns with another 95 yards and a score on the ground. Just three wins away from an SEC Championship Game berth, the Tigers travel to face Arkansas on Saturday.
Dan Lanning, Oregon: Lanning’s Ducks dominated Colorado like they have the rest of the Pac-12 with a 49-10 win. Bo Nix threw for 247 yards with four total touchdowns while Bucky Irving added 120 yards rushing to the effort. Oregon (8-1) forced three turnovers and limited Colorado to just 3.3 yards per carry. The Ducks will look to stay atop the conference standings with a win over a strong Washington team this weekend.
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 email@example.com.