Unsurprisingly so, DT Shackelford won Rebel of the Week after a game in which he accounted for three turnovers and saved another ball from hitting a receiver in stride in the end zone. I happened to be watching him during the entire play in which he broke up a pass, and I was extremely impressed.
Even though the score was a ton to not very much, DT was playing football like his life depended on it. He bolted out of his stance, bounced backwards, read the QB's eyes, and jumped towards the ball, getting a piece of it. Even though I was watching, I didn't realize that he had deflected it until I watched the replay on the jumbotron. It looked like it was just a bad throw, but it wasn't. DT was just in the way.It's important to note that in some ways DT was just in the right place at the right time. Generally, people don't laud fumble recoveries (unless they're in the end zone by a Boise receiver, seriously, if you didn't see that, it was nuts). DT found the ball on the ground, but the players who ripped it out deserve a lot of credit too. So thanks Lawon Scott and Marcus Tillman. Good job ripping the ball out. And the real praise for the interception should go to Joel Kight, who obliterated the quarterback on the play, causing the ball to shoot up into the air.
That's what's so exciting though, DT was able to capitalize off of the opportunities given to him, and he played hard. Jonathan Cornell needs to watch his back, because the true freshman is nipping at his heels.
That's the story of the game though. True freshmen making an impact. Pat Patterson was the leading receiver. DT Shackelford contributed to three turnovers. Joel Kight, who can really deliver some kaboom for a small-ish guy, demolished the quarterback. Jesse Grandy had a long touchdown run that made even casual fans try to remember his name. That was a freshman Mico McSwain (see: Mico McSwain before partying, pregnant girls, and failed classes got the best of him) type of run.
It's such a good feeling to get that kind of contribution from players who won't be asked to do too much this year. We lose an incredible group of seniors, but early indications are that this group of true freshmen will help soften the blow.