Week 1 College Football Takeaways - And Another Thing
Conference Strength - People like to jump on their favored conference bandwagon whenever they can - thanks SEC for giving us Conference pride in droves - so it comes as no surprise that with each early season loss by any of the Power 5 conference teams to smaller schools the vultures start circling in the press. Here’s the truth though; The SEC is as strong as Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Florida, Texas A&M, and LSU; The Big 12 is as strong as Texas and Oklahoma: The Pac 12 has Oregon, Stanford, and if we are generous USC and Washington; The ACC has Clemson and FSU; and the Big Ten has Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, and Wisconsin. Those are the only “elite programs” in the country. Sure Notre Dame is good, and Tennessee can be, and Nebraska’s future looks promising, and Miami was real good 20 years ago, but Ole Miss losing to Memphis has zero implications for the playoffs. We’ll know when we see which teams emerge from the gauntlet of conference play. And it’ll likely be the SEC again.
Freshman Quarterbacks - At this point there is no reason to relive the heroics of Bo Nix and the other true freshman quarterbacks that started in the opening game. What is important to note is that so many true freshman quarterbacks started in their first games on campus - even Tagavailoa and Trevor Lawrence didn’t do that. With the NCAA transfer portal in full effect most top level quarterback recruits are no longer going to wait around to play. Some might be willing to sit and learn for a season behind a soon to be first round pick but most of these blue chip quarterbacks are ready to start and expect to. What was once the exception is now the norm. Just ask Georgia, Clemson, Alabama, and Auburn who each had at least 2 recruits start for other schools this season after transferring (Clemson had 3.)
Heisman Hopefuls RB edition - Lost in the Herbert, Lawrence, Tagavailoa, Jalen Hurts Heisman hype were Travis Etienne and Jonathan Taylor, the two highest rated running backs. Etienne responded with 208 yards and 3 touchdowns on 13 touches while Taylor showed some new skills as a receiver and scored 4 touchdowns and 183 yards on 18 touches. Time will tell how their stat lines play out but they certainly set the pace for the season.
Hugh Freeze - I guess it’s interesting that Hugh Freeze coached a game from a hospital bed. I’m also probably biased against Liberty for being a fake University whose stated purpose is to undermine secular education. Ultimately I don’t care about Hugh Freeze or Liberty. They aren’t relevant, nor should they be. Whichever Falwell is funneling money from honest church going Christians into his personal college football team is just irksome to me. And if they want to hire a guy who made a mockery out of their faith then I care even less. I guess I’m just not on board with the rehabilitation of Hugh Freeze as a person that we should root for. Also the Popeyes sandwich is fine if you like fast food chicken.
Whats Happening in Florida? - Despite getting ten sacks Florida looked like an undisciplined mess in their opener. Had they been playing a team from another state they would have likely lost. Miami was horribly ineffective, although much less experienced than Florida. Meanwhile Florida State’s training staff apparently can’t mitigate dehydration at their home stadium, for a night game. Mullen, Taggart, and Diaz all earned the jobs they currently have after years as promising assistants - and Mullen’s tenure as an overachieving Head Coach at Mississippi State - but lack of discipline and conditioning/dehydration are such easily preventable problems that one wonders how much longer any of the three will last.
And Another Thing - It’s telling that as major college football schools try and tailor their programs to fit into a designed system (or process if you’re Nick Saban) Oklahoma seems to be able to adapt offensively to seemingly any style of quarterback. Baker Mayfield was a typically traditional collegiate quarterback, Kyler Murray was smaller and equally prolific in Lincoln Riley’s scheme. Enter Jalen Hurts, about who it is known that he can’t thrown the ball, who proceeds to throw, and run the ball all over the field with an efficiency that a Nick Saban quarterback has never known. It seems like Riley has designed an offense that can adapt to meet the talents of his quarterbacks while at the same time actually coaching his quarterbacks to succeed at the bread and butter passes that make his offense successful. It’s a novel concept being both a master tactician of play calls and a developer of quarterbacks. Perhaps, Gus Malzahn, Les Miles, Lane Kiffin, and Chip Kelley should pay attention to what is happening in Oklahoma.
Get well soon Bob Davie!