Final Thoughts - Terry Johnson
Posted Aug 29, 2013

Terry Johnson's Final Thoughts Before Week 1 Gets Rolling

By Terry Johnson
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- What exactly is the NCAA trying to prove by suspending Johnny Manziel for the first half of this week's game against Rice? In the absence of any hard evidence against him, why is any type of punishment necessary?

- With all due respect to Dabo Swinney, Clemson's epic showdown with Georgia is a "one-all, end-all deal." A loss to the Bulldogs would end any chance that the Tigers have at winning the national championship. A one-loss ACC team doesn't play for a crystal football unless everyone else has two losses.

- Clemson's defense - not its high-octane offense - is the key to victory this week. After all, the Tigers went 2-1 against the SEC last season because the front seven was able to slow down the run and get after the quarterback (average of 4.0 sacks per game). That's not good news for a UGA's big uglies, who had a hard time protecting Aaron Murray in the spring game.

- Of course, a lot of those struggles were because of the 'Dawgs better-than-advertised defensive line. While the unit only returns one full-time starter, this is one of the deepest lines in college football. Expect to see this talented group seize control of the line of scrimmage from the opening whistle.

- How well will the two-quarterback system work for Oklahoma State? While this approach makes sense for a school that's playing in a glorified scrimmage (e.g. USC vs. Hawaii), Mike Gundy's team simply doesn't have the luxury of trying to figure out things on the fly against a quality opponent like Mississippi State.

- Yes, the Bulldogs can pull off this upset. Dan Mullen's squad is 21-2 over the last three seasons when it averages at least 4.0 yards per carry. With four starters returning on the o-line - including All-American candidate Gabe Jackson, there's no reason to think that the 'Dawgs won't hit this number on Saturday.

- In case you were wondering, the Cowboys allowed 4.3 yards per carry away from the friendly confines of T. Boone Pickens Stadium in 2012.

- No, Gary Patterson isn't going to play Devonte Fields against LSU. There's no way a man of his character would abruptly reverse his position, regardless of what's at stake.

- It'll be interesting to see how Zach Mettenberger fares in Cam Cameron's new scheme. Although most remember him for his unceremonious dismissal from the Ravens, Cameron has an excellent track record developing quarterbacks. Since TCU's veteran secondary finished fourth nationally in interceptions last year, we should find out right away whether the Bayou Bengals will feature a balanced offense or a "three yards an a cloud of dust"-type of attack this season.

- By the same token, I'm curious to see what TCU does at quarterback. Will it be Pachall, Boykin, or some combination of the two like Northwestern does with Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian?

- It won't capture much attention nationally, but the Washington State - Auburn game will have a huge impact on both teams. The winner should have an excellent chance to play in a bowl this season.

- Watch out for the Sun Belt conference this weekend. While Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, and Western Kentucky are all listed as underdogs, each team has enough firepower on offense to cause trouble for their heavily favored opponents.

- Of those three schools listed above, ULM has the best chance to "shock the world". After all, senior Kolton Browning put up his best numbers in big games last year, including a 412-yard, 3 TD performance against Arkansas. He should have no trouble picking apart an Oklahoma secondary that needs to replace three starters from last season's squad.

- However, it's worth noting that Bobby Petrino is now the head coach at Western Kentucky. A win over the Wildcats would definitely help him find a more high-profile job next fall.