There's Still More Football To Play
we’ve only played one week of the college football season. One … week.
No, your team still probably isn’t better than Michigan. No, your team
isn’t a lock for the BCS after blowing out some team from the Sun Belt,
MAC or FCS. No, your season isn’t over even if you did lose to some team
from the MAC or FCS. It’s week one of a very, very long season, and the
Appalachian State upset isn’t going to be the only bizarre twist as it
There’s a common misconception that, like the pros, the college kids are
ready to roll on opening day. The NFL types get three-plus weeks of
intense training camp, several “voluntary” off-season practices, and
daily training sessions and study followed up by five warm-up games to
figure out the best combination of starters. Everyone gets to work on
what they need to for the season. The college teams get roughly a
quarter of the fall preseason practice time and film work (and that’s
being generous) that the pros do, yet they’re supposed to hit the ground
running. That’s why many teams schedule a supposed cupcake to start
things off, and even if week one doesn’t go as planned, that doesn’t
mean the year is over.
Michigan is still great, even if it's a national punching bag right now.
That offense is going to hang up huge numbers all season long to make up
for the issues on defense. The Wolverines are going to beat Oregon.
They’re going to beat Notre Dame. I’m not sure about the Penn State
game, but they’re going to beat Northwestern, Eastern Michigan, Purdue,
Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan State before playing Wisconsin. They’re
going to be right in the thick of the Big Ten race all season long, and
they’re going to be a serious threat to go to the BCS. Losing to
Appalachian State changed nothing other than national title hopes, which
were out of Michigan’s hands anyway since USC and LSU, thanks to how the
system works, will play for the championship if they each go unbeaten.
So relax. In two weeks, ff your team still stinks, or if your team is
still blowing the doors off everyone, then it’s time to react. Let’s
wait and see how the teams that got crushed play this week to see if
week one’s big win might not have been that big a deal. Don’t judge
everyone quite yet.
Much Ado About Charlie
Now that Charlie Weis' grand Quarterback Shell
Game did absolutely nothing to confuse or slow down the Georgia Tech
defense, where does the Notre Dame coach's reputation go from here?
Universally labeled as an offensive genius not long ago, Weis' Irish
were dismantled by the Yellow Jackets, 33-3, amassing just 122 yards of
total offense and setting the tone for what could be a major rebuilding
year in 2007. Dozens of programs lose starting quarterbacks
every season, yet live to tell about it, so Brady Quinn's graduation
alone isn't enough to justify a historically bad opener. Can Weis
coach? No doubt. Has the media built him up too high and too fast?
You bet. The irony in all of this? As Weis and Notre Dame embark on
the highway to mediocrity this fall, they could cross Tyrone Willingham
and Washington driving in the opposite direction.
3. Lose almost an entire defense to graduation or the NFL Draft?
No problem. Lose a potential All-American corner to ineligibility and
then the NFL supplemental draft? What, me worry? Start an offensive
line overflowing with freshmen and sophomores? No sweat. This is what
faced Georgia head coach Mark Richt prior to a dangerous opener with
potent Oklahoma State, but in the end, the Cowboys were the ones leaving
with the lesson learned. Behind a strong performance by quarterback
Matt Stafford and that young offensive line, the Bulldogs put up 35
points on an OSU defense that must get better. On the other side of the
ball, defensive coordinator Willie Martinez’s defense sent the true shot
across the bow, holding the Cowboys to only 14 points. If you didn’t
know the Bulldogs defensive depth chart in 2006 or in 2007, you’d have
thought it was loaded with nine or ten returning players. Richt and his
staff were as prepared, on the field and in recruiting the past few
years, for a night like this as any staff could possibly have been.
When you rank the great coaches in the nation, you’d better have this
man up in your top five.
Kills: Anybody who had the stamina to endure ABC’s four-plus hour
presentation of the Tennessee-California game Saturday night was
treated to a look at some serious high-octane football. Yes, it was
at times tough to see the talent with a Brent Musberger soundtrack
that included – among other gems – “He’s from Chattanooga, and he
brought the choo-choo on that one.” But watching the Cal wideouts
and the UT linebackers and D-backs was like checking out a
flag-football contest between rival track teams. It’s still vital to
have strength up front, the better to make sure the QB doesn’t end
up in traction, but the need for speed is greater than ever before.
Had Florida been on the field, instead of the Volunteers, viewers
may have had to watch the game frame-by-frame, in order to slow
things down enough to understand what was happening. From this point
on, anybody voting in polls had better first look at the pace with
which the team plays, the better to understand where it fits in the
hierarchy. Plodders may win some games in the neighborhood, but if
you want to step out of the area, you had better bring some blazers.
Tennessee saw that last night, when it lacked the playmakers to stay
up with Mr. Jackson and Co. California may not have enough to beat
USC, but it showed Saturday that it has learned enough over the past
few years to remake itself with fast athletes, rather than big
Early Officiating Issues
Let's call this thought "Pet Peeve Central." A
new season brings old problems with officiating.
Example A: Bogus roughing the punter calls
(running, yes; roughing, no) in the Wake-BC and KSU-Auburn games.
More refs getting seduced by Hollywood punters.
Example B: A play not being blown dead on a
false start (early in the first quarter of LSU-Mississippi St.).
Dangerous to the athletes, and generally irresponsible.
Example C: In the Utah-Oregon St. game, with
about a minute left in the first quarter, the play clock stood at
zero for about three seconds. No delay of game penalty called.