Emmanuel Moody admits he was perplexed last week during practice for Southern Cal's game at Arizona.
The true freshman running back kept getting the ball, way more reps than usual.
"The coaches had me run play after play," Moody told Rivals.com. "I didn't know why they were working me like that."
Turns out they were getting the Texas native ready for his breakout game. Moody, whose workload has steadily increased for the third-ranked Trojans, set career highs for carries (21) and yards (130) as USC overcame a 3-3 halftime tie to beat the Wildcats 20-3. It all adds up to Rivals.com National Freshman of the Week honors.
"It's good competition, it's healthy," Moody said. "If you can handle it, it can only make you better."
Moody said the transition to the college game hasn't been that difficult for him, at least on Saturdays.
"The toughest part is practice," Moody said. "I'm going against probably the No. 1 defense in the nation, and they come after you like a bunch of dogs every day. They get me prepared for Saturdays."
Others who were well prepared this past Saturday and were considered for freshman of the week:
• Tennessee redshirt freshman running back LaMarcus Coker, who carried eight times for 146 yards (a dazzling 18.2 yards per carry) as the Vols beat Marshall 33-7;
• Texas redshirt freshman quarterback Colt McCoy, who completed 18 of 23 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns with one interception as the Longhorns beat Iowa State 37-14;
• Georgia redshirt freshman QB Joe Cox, who entered in the second half against Colorado and completed 10 of 13 passes for 154 yards and both of the Bulldogs' TDs. The second came with less than minute to play and rescued UGA for a 14-13 triumph against Colorado;
• Virginia redshirt freshman defensive end Jeffrey Fitzgerald had four tackles, including three for loss and a sack, though the Cavaliers fell to Georgia Tech 24-7.
Coordinator of the week
First-year coordinator Ron English says he has tried to simplify things for the Michigan defense.
He stresses two things, and so far the Wolverines have responded well. In Saturday's 27-13 victory over Wisconsin in the Big Ten opener, English's unit held the Badgers to just 12 yards rushing on 27 carries and had four sacks.
"We want to play fast and we want to play physical," English told Rivals.com. "We're demanding in that the first thing we want to do is play fast. And we want to execute well.
"I think we were disciplined in the run game (against Wisconsin), and we did some things with our technique that were good. We played hard and we tackled well."
Those are things this Michigan defense has been doing well all season. The Wolverines (4-0) are No. 1 in the country in rushing defense, yielding just 18 yards per game. They also are fifth nationally in total defense and tied for fifth with 16 sacks.
Michigan's defense also has scored its fair share of points. The Wolverines had an interception return and a fumble return for touchdown against Notre Dame. English's unit has produced three TDs this season.
"We've shown some different looks this season, and our kids are becoming proficient in technique," English said. "And when we blitz we've done it with great speed and great effort."
English, 38, is in his fourth season in Ann Arbor. This is his first year as coordinator after spending three seasons as the secondary coach. Prior to arriving at Michigan he spent five seasons as the
secondary coach at Arizona State.
The Michigan defensive coaching staff could be an intimidating spot for a first-year coordinator. The Wolverines have three assistants on that side who have been coordinators at some point in their careers.
But English said it has been all help, no hindrance
"We've got really good coaches," English said. "It's a staff with a lot of experience at all levels. Our linebackers coach, Coach (Steve) Szabo, has been in the NFL for a lot of years. Coach (Steve) Stripling, our d-line coach, and our cornerbacks coach, Ron Lee, have been in the Big Ten for a number of years.
"They're all excellent teachers and excellent coaches. And we have good players who really want to win and are motivated."