After what seemed like an eternity of waiting, we’ve finally got college football again. While nothing may top the craziness of last year, this season is still going to be a rollercoaster if the opening week is any indication. Virginia Tech, Pitt, Clemson, Michigan and Tennessee all go down, while Missouri, Ohio State and Georgia suffer some key losses with injuries. Florida, USC and Oklahoma all beat up on some cupcakes, while Kentucky and Lousiville set offense back 50 years with a less-than-exciting game. Here’s a few things I learned this weekend:
1). The ACC shouldn’t expect a BCS bowl win…again. Clemson, touted as the class of the league, proudly donned their underachiever label again as they got hammered by Alabama. Clemson’s offensive line is among the worst I’ve ever seen, and their defense was less than impressive as well. Alabama looks to be better than expected, with a fast defense and solid running game, but this game surely didn’t help the ACC’s cause. Of course, Virginia Tech losing to ECU on a blocked punt was pretty bad, as was Virginia’s spanking by USC. I’ve often wondered, that after months of practice, two-a-days, film watching, conditioning, lifting and more practice, after waiting anxiously to run out on the field and hear the crowd roar, after thinking “this might be our year”…what does a coach say to a team that loses by 45 in the first game? “Hey guys – nice effort! Maybe next time we’ll score in double digits. I told you guys all that hard work in the off-season would pay off!!” On the bright side, UNC and Duke should be really good in basketball again…
2). Players run really fast. Check out CJ Spiller, Brandon James and Jeremy Maclin’s kick-off returns for touchdowns. As my friend put it, Spiller ran “faster than I can drive my car. I’m pretty sure he was in the other end zone before the kicker even knew he had kicked it.” Point being – there’s a host of fantastic athletes on high profile teams, and this season should have plenty of highlight reel plays. In addition to the above-mentioned, here’s some other guys you should check out if you get the chance. Percy Harvin of Florida, Arrelious Benn of Illinois, Julio Jones of Alabama, Knowshon Moreno of Georgia, Joe McKnight of USC, Trindon Holliday of LSU, Shane Vereen of Cal and Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech.
3). Tennessee hates the West Coast. After last year’s drubbing at Cal, the Vols were primed to play UCLA on Monday. Despite playing against a depleted Bruin squad starting a third-string QB, the Vols were unable to capitalize, losing in overtime. UCLA QB Kevin Craft tossed four (yes four) first half interceptions, yet Tennessee let them hang around. But all is not lost for UT, despite another very disappointing start. While the offense looked out of sorts, the defense was very solid. I’d put the safety combination of Eric Berry and Demetrice Morley up against any in the country, and their front four played well also. Once Jonathan Crompton settles in a little more, the Vols will be tough.
4). Ohio State’s title hopes went downhill quick. Say what you want about the Buckeyes getting pounded in two straight national title games (and I have), but there’s no denying they’re one of the best programs around, entering this season on a short list of contenders. But all that may have changed when running back Chris Wells went down early in the second half with an apparent foot injury. Although loaded with premier talent, Wells is the one guy the Buckeyes can’t do without. He takes pressure off the offense, and opens things up for Todd Boeckman to throw. Early word sounds out of Columbus sounds like Wells will be okay and should be healthy for USC in two weeks, but Buckeyes fans will be holding their breath until he takes the field again.
5). And finally, in the “It seemed like a good idea category”…here’s some questionable decisions from the opening week.
Jim Tressel: “Sure I’ll put Beanie Wells in the game even though the outcome is no longer in doubt in the second half. What could go wrong?”
Tommy Bowden: Apparently promised hotshot recruit Jamie Harper he would get the first carry of the season. One fumble later, Clemson was on their way to a beatdown.
Steve Spurrier: Vowing to be different this year by not rotating quarterbacks, Spurrier’s confidence is rewarded when Tommy Beecher tosses 4 picks. Welcome to the starting line up, Chris Smelley!
Chattanooga: I don’t care if they expected to lose to Oklahoma. I don’t care what the payout was. I just don’t think it can be good for a team’s morale to be down 50-0 at halftime in the first game.
Myron Pryor: “Wind sprints? Why would I need to do those? I’ll just sit over here and order a pizza?” (only kidding Myron – the 72-yard fumble return was the highlight of my day)
Idaho: Let’s see…lose first game? Check. Lose first game to Arizona? Check. Lose first game to Arizona by 70 points?? Maybe it’s time to start scheduling down, considering the Vandals clearly weren’t ready for this. I’m pretty sure I could grab Smoothron and a few other jokers here and we could play the Wildcats closer than that.