The Class of 2013 was dubbed the Year of the Cornerback and the collection of five-star prospects that sat inside the top 10 of the Rivals100 presented by Under Armour. It has done nothing to disprove the experts evaluating talent. During Week 9 of the college football season, it was the four safeties from the class that started to fulfill the promise each displayed in high school.
Cravens has been starting for the Trojans since the opening weekend and in the 19-3 win over Utah he added his third interception of the season and returned it 54 yards. Entering the game McQuay only had two tackles, a forced fumble and a blocked punt as a special teams contributor, but he saw significant time on defense this week and added a solo tackle, two assists, a pass breakup and his first interception of the year.
Interim head coach Ed Orgeron said that he knew the program was getting a special duo.
"When we recruited both of those guys, we signed two of the best safeties in America," he said. "Leon is a great example of someone who steps up. He's been working hard and solving problems."
The pair were ranked accordingly as Cravens was the top safety in the country coming out of Murrieta (Calif.) Vista Murrieta and was No. 12 overall in the class of 2013. McQuay III chose to come across the country after being the No. 2 safety and No. 22 from Armwood (Fla.) Seffner.
The victory was the second for Orgeron after taking over for Lane Kiffin three weeks ago. The team is competing with fewer than 65 scholarship players and this week it needed to have contributions from 11 walk-ons.
Orgeron said that it was a good week and he was ready to keep moving forward.
"Outstanding performance by our players, an outstanding mindset throughout the week. Great job by the assistant coaches, pulling together and fighting through adversity. I'm really pleased how we played," he said. "Its' a happy locker room and I'm happy for them."
Redfield and Bell were two of the final four players to have earned a fifth star in the true freshman class and each got their first significant playing time on defense this week and both doubled their output.
Redfield was ranked third of the four top safeties and was No. 30 overall from Mission Viejo (Calif.) High. Entering the game against Air Force he only had two assists on special teams tackles. In the victory, he added another assisted tackle on a punt return but then secured his first two solo tackles in the fourth quarter at his natural position.
Bell was the next to last player to have been given a fifth star, being ranked No. 32 nationally out of Rossville (Ga.) Ridgeland. Coming into the game, he had seen some time and had three solo tackles and three assists. In the blowout against Penn State, he added three more solo tackles -- two of which game on the same drive in the third quarter.
All told, the four safeties added seven solo tackles, three assists, two interceptions and a pass break up -- with the majority of the damage coming from the duo at USC.
Orgeron said that the mindsest of the team won't change as injuries and a lean roster could become more of a challenge, adding that he will continue to lean on his five-star players.
"We weren't going to blink. We weren't going to use it as an excuse," he said. "The words `Step up' and `Compete' were talked about. We believe in you and we're going to compete and play."
Nkemdiche was sidelined with a hamstring injury for the Ole Miss rout of Idaho. He is expected to miss two more games. Season stats: 11 tackles; four assists. Four tackles for loss. One quarterback rush. One pass break-up. One rush for 11 yards.
For the first time all season, Smith led the Irish in tackles as he turned in his best statistical Saturday of the season in the win over Air Force. Smith had five solo tackles and three assists in the contest. He had one tackle for a loss and recovered a fumble.. Season stats: 21 tackles; 15 assists. 4.5 tackles for a loss. Two pass break-up. One forced fumble. One interception for negative-one yards. One fumble recovery.
Lawson was not very involved on the stat sheet in the contest against Florida Atlantic. He totaled just one tackle but added two quarterback hurries. Season stats: Nine tackles; five assists. 5.5 tackles for loss. Two sacks. Six quarterback hurry. One forced fumble.
Treadwell was not in the starting lineup for the first time all season and had his worst game of the year as well. Treadwell was quickly inserted to the game and had a catch in the first series of play but it was one of only two receptions against Idaho. He only had 15 yards on the night, also a season-low. Season stats: 41 catches for 380 yards and two touchdowns. Two rushes for 8 yards. 0-3 passing, one interception.
Fuller did his best to help keep Virginia Tech coursing to an ACC title but the lack of offense caught up with the Hokies this week. Fuller had three solo tackles, and three interceptions. He also had one pass break up which means that Duke went to his side at least four times in the game. Season stats: 22 tackles; eight assists. Half a tackle for loss. Six pass break-ups. Five interceptions for one yards Two quarterback hurries. Five punt returns for negative-1 yard.
Ramsey started another game at free safety and has now seen time at all four positions in the defensive backfield. This was his least involved game of the season as he only was involved with one assisted tackle in the win over N.C. State. Season stats: 21 tackles; eight assists. One sack. One tackle for loss. One interception for 31 yards. One pass break-up.
Allen came off the bench to see game action in the rout of Tennessee. He was credited with two solo tackles as well as an assist in the victory. Season stats: Three tackles; four assists. One quarterback hurry.
Cravens continued to be involved in the defense as the starting safety. This week had a season-low one tackle but he made another interception and returned it 54 yards. Season stats: 27 tackles; 13 assists. 2.5 tackles for loss. Three interceptions for 54 yards. Two forced fumbles. One fumble recovery. One punt return for one yard.
Tunsil was back in the starting lineup for Ole Miss getting the nod at left tackle. He was not flagged in the contest and helped pave the way for several big plays to his side in the rout of Idaho.
Season stats: Five starts. Four other games participated in.
It was announced on Oct. 23 that Thomas would miss the rest of the season and require shoulder surgery. Florida State will apply for a medical redshirt as Thomas only participated on a limited basis in four Seminole contests.
Season stats: Four tackles. Two tackles for loss. One sack.
Howard was not in the starting lineup against Arkansas but saw time on the field. Was only targeted once in the game and it was late in the third quarter when A.J. McCarron was hurried on the attempt. Season stats: 10 receptions for 173 yards and one touchdown. One solo tackle.
Tyner has worked his way into being an integral part of the offense. This week he carried the ball 14 times for 77 yards and another touchdown. He also added another reception in the victory over UCLA. Season stats: 68 carries for 437 yards and seven touchdowns. Four receptions for 49 yards.
White continued to be a steady, impact performer as he was involved in five tackles in the win over Furman. Three of the tackles were solo - pushing him over 20 for the season - adding an assist on two others. Season stats: 21 tackles; 16 assists. 1.5 tackles for loss. Six pass break-up. One forced fumble. One interception for 40 yards.
Notre Dame was idle this week.
A knee injury has pushed Bryant to the shelf for the season. He was out since Oct. 3 and is not expected to return. With limited time on the field it is expected that Notre Dame will be granted a medical redshirt for the explosive back.
Season stats: Three carries for 14 yards.
Mississippi State was back in action this week and earned its first SEC victory of the season. Jones accounted for two solo tackles, an assist, and a quarterback hurry. Season stats: 10 tackles; seven assists. Five quarterback hurries. Four tackles for loss. Two sacks.
Vanderdoes was in the starting lineup for consecutive weeks but against Oregon the defensive end was limited in his impact. Vanderdoes was only in on one solo tackle and one assist. He has not found a way to be a consistent player but that isn't all his doing as teams are keying on him more. Season stats: 14 tackles; 16 assists. 3.5 tackles for loss. Half of a sack. One forced fumble.
McQuay earned some additional defensive playing time this week after spending much of the season on special teams. He responded with his best week of the year. He had one solo tackle and two assists. He also made his first interception and had another pass breakup.
Season stats: Three tackles; two assists. One forced fumble. One interception for two yards. One pass break up. One blocked punt.
Hackenberg had a nightmare performance against Ohio State as the Nittany Lions got destroyed on the road. He was just 12-of-23 with two interceptions. He only registered 112 yards and one touchdown. He was also sacked four times in the defeat. Season stats: 144-of-249 for 1,784 yards, 12 touchdowns, seven interceptions. One rushing touchdown.
Adams was part of a defensive line rotation that Auburn has used all season. This week he was credited with a solo tackle and an assist against Florida Atlantic. Season stats: Seven tackles; seven assists. One sack. Six quarterback hurries.
This season of disappointment continued for Virginia with another loss this weekend. Mizzell was active in the offense but his touches and impact are limited with other weaknesses on the team. He had three carries for 16 yards, three catches for 13 yards, and a kickoff return for nine. Season stats: 28 carries for 127 yards. 14 receptions for 61 yards. 12 kickoff returns for 164 yards.
Redfield came into the game in the second half and had a big day -- relative to the rest of his season. He recorded his first two solo tackles of the year and added another assist.
Season stats: Two tackles; three assists.
Bell played in the victory over Penn State and was in on more than special teams. He made a tackle on a kickoff in the second quarter and then added two more in the second half on defense.
Season stats: Six tackles; three assists. One tackle for loss.
In one of the most unique box scores of the season, Robinson had six assists and no solo tackles in the win over Tennessee. He also added a quarterback hurry in the victory. Season stats: 12 tackles; 11 assists. Three- quarterback hurries. 4.5 tackles for loss. 3.5 sacks.