Players on the Hot Seat in College Football Week 7
After every week, many players find their seats a little warmer than they were before.
For the eight individuals on this week's list, Week 7 could make or break their 2013 campaigns.
Some faces are familiar, as they've been under pressure before. Others are finding themselves on this list for the first time.
Regardless, all of them are under pressure. How they handle it will speak volumes about the type of players they are.
It's time to take a look at whose seat is hot in Week 7.
Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU
Against Mississippi State, LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger was impressive.
He completed 25 of 29 passes for 340 yards and two touchdowns in that matchup alone. Even more impressive was that two of his four non-completions were drops. One of the others was an interception that required Mississippi State's Nickoe Whitley to dive for it.
Mettenberger also shined against Georgia, completing 23 of 37 passes for 372 yards and three touchdowns. Following Georgia and Mississippi State, Mettenberger is now leading the SEC in passing efficiency with a 190.1 rating. For comparison, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel has a passing efficiency of 188.1.
LSU's head coach Les Miles recognizes that Mettenberger still has a lot to prove. While the quarterback has gained plenty of attention, he knows he hasn't it made just yet.
Taking a cue from his coach, Mettenberger told the The Times-Picayune how he's staying focused:
You've got to keep your head down and weather the storm. That's something Coach Miles always says. It would be no different if those talks would come about. (Georgia) was a pretty big spotlight and I think I handled that well.
With plenty of season left, Mettenberger will have many eyes focused on him. He's on the hot seat because he's not in the clear just yet.
James Franklin, QB, Missouri
What a difference a year can make.
In 2012, Missouri struggled in the SEC. By the seventh week of play in 2013, the Tigers have worked their way to into the Top 25, and quarterback James Franklin is leading the way.
Against Vanderbilt, Franklin threw four touchdowns in the Tigers' 51-28 win.
Missouri now sits at 5-0 for the season and 1-0 in the SEC. The Tigers' next matchup could prove to be the biggest test for Franklin and his team, though.
Georgia may be missing some key players for the matchup, but it doesn't take any pressure of Franklin.
The quarterback will have to stay balanced in order to secure the win.
Missouri's head coach Gary Pinkel believes Franklin is playing well, according to Fox News. As a result, Franklin was recently added to the 77th Maxwell Award's watch list.
The senior has completed 68 percent of his passes this season for 1,407 yards with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions. He has also rushed for 278 yards and two scores.
This season has been much better for Missouri. To keep winning, Franklin must continue to lead and play to the ability he has shown he is capable of.
SEC teams won't make it easy for Franklin, but the senior has the opportunity to shine.
Devin Gardner, QB, Michigan
Michigan's Devin Gardner is tired of being picked off.
As of now, the junior quarterback leads the Big Ten with eight interceptions. Gardner told MLive.com that it had everything to do with letting the game get in his head.
He said he has had enough.
I made a conscious decision not to get rattled anymore. I had two weeks to think about that and went into the game no matter what happened, I was going to stay calm.
Against Minnesota, Gardner finally proved himself. The junior completed 13 of 17 passes for 235 yards and one touchdown. He also did not turn the ball over once.
While a step in the right direction, Gardner will be tested against Penn State.
He will have to stay calm in front of an opposing crowd on the road. He will also have to stay focused, as Penn State's defense is reeling to make a point after losing to Indiana.
Communication will be key. Staying calm will be non-negotiable.
Gardner has a lot to prove. The Nittany Lions will challenge him. How Gardner responds could define the rest of Michigan's season in the Big Ten.
Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
After Penn State's 44-24 loss to Indiana, the Nittany Lions' freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg found himself firmly planted on the hot seat.
Hackenberg wasn't solely responsible for the loss to the Hoosiers, though. In fact, Hackenberg played a big game for Penn State.
The freshman ended the game by throwing for a school-record 55 times. He completed 30 of those 55 passes for 340 yards and three touchdowns.
It still wasn't enough.
Penn State was expected to have challenges this season. However, head coach Bill O'Brien and his team still have many, assuming they'd challenge some of the Big Ten's best. That seems unlikely now.
Hackenberg is young. He has only played five games for Penn State as of now. How he handles every game going forward will say a lot.
Putting Hackenberg on the hot seat has less to do with the loss to Indiana and more to do with how he recovers.
O'Brien told Bob Flounders of PennLive.com that Hackenberg is close to defining himself.
Everything (Hackenberg's) seeing, he's seeing for the first time. ... I'm trying to put him in position where he can make plays.
Learning takes time, especially for young quarterbacks. In Hackenberg's case, he needs to learn just a little more quickly than everyone else.
Daniel Sams, QB, Kansas State
Kansas State's matchup with Oklahoma State was arguably one of the Wildcats' worst performances of 2013 so far.
Quarterback Daniel Sams took a bulk of the snaps in the 33-29 loss, too. Generally looking at the game, out of Kansas State's five turnovers, Sams was responsible for four.
It wasn't pretty. It wasn't entirely Sams fault, though.
Quarterback Jake Waters also had his fair share of issues. He will continue to share snaps with Sams. Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder seems firmly planted in that decision, too, despite many calling for Sams to be the sole quarterback.
The difficult part of Snyder's two-quarterback decision is that it doesn't allow Sams to grow. The sophomore is erratic but working out the kinks. Playing time helps.
However, Sams will have to work with the time he is given.
If the sophomore wants to eventually be the starter for the Wildcats, he will need to find consistency.
His precision will need to be improved. He will also need to find a way to stay calm under pressure.
Sams has all of the tools to be a great quarterback for Kansas State. Unfortunately, he's standing in his own way.
It might not always be pretty, but Sams is growing.
Until he steadies himself a bit, though, his seat will remain hot.
Nate Sudfeld, QB, Indiana
Indiana's offense now belongs to quarterback Nate Sudfeld.
While Tre Roberson will also see the field alongside Sudfeld, the latter will carry most of the weight. Most of that weight will be in the passing game, too.
Sudfeld is currently averaging 293.4 yards per game. He is in the top six of passing averages in the Big Ten.
In just five games, Sudfeld has thrown for a grand total of 1,467 yards and a conference-leading 13 touchdowns.
Impressively, Sudfeld didn't even become Indiana's starter until Week 3.
After helping the Hoosiers defeat Penn State, there are a lot more eyes on Sudfeld. Where he takes Indiana from here will be closely monitored.
Sudfeld has been impressive for Indiana. He will face Michigan State next on the road, a game that will test the young player.
The Spartans have a tough defense, too. Sudfeld will either shine or falter.
Tommy Armstrong, QB, Nebraska
Tommy Armstrong will make his third start as Nebraska's quarterback against Purdue.
Veteran quarterback Taylor Martinez is still recovering from a turf-toe injury. Head coach Bo Pelini confirmed Martinez would be unable to play, putting Armstrong right back in the spotlight.
While fifth-year senior Ron Kellogg III will also take some snaps, all eyes will be on Armstrong.
In his first two starts, Armstrong has completed 20 of 28 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns. He has yet to commit a turnover.
Fans are excited about Armstrong. Many, in fact, believe he should be named the permanent starter over Martinez.
However, Pelini is firm that once healthy, Martinez is the man to start.
Armstrong can control the conversation, though.
If the redshirt freshman can win big against Purdue, he will make the chatter for a quarterback controversy that much louder.
Armstrong controls his fate. How he plays on the road will say a lot about his future as quarterback in 2013.
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
If there is a seat hotter than the rest this week, it belongs to South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney.
The Gamecocks defensive end has gotten a lot of people talking this year. Searching his name results in article after article. The talk isn't necessarily all good, though.
Clowney is a junior at South Carolina. This is also his last season with the team, as he plans to enter the NFL Draft.
The junior is projected to be a top pick, too.
However, Clowney has only had 12 tackles and two sacks this season so far.
Against Kentucky, he didn't even suit up. Clowney claimed he had bruised ribs, so he wouldn't be playing. That was that.
Many have assumed Clowney is now "saving himself" for the pros. No one knows if the star defensive end is really injured.
Regardless, ESPN is reporting Clowney is likely to start against Arkansas. What comes of that likely start will speak volumes about Clowney as a player.
Many have an opinion, but only Clowney knows what is truly going on. He may not care if he is on the hot seat or not, but NFL teams can take notice of this behavior.
It would be a shame to see Clowney waste away his last year with South Carolina.
Ultimately, it's his call, though.
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