>Thursday Late Lunch: Week 1 in Review

Posted: September 9, 2010 in ncaafb
Tags: , ,

>Yes, I’m back. Those of you who have been stumbling around in the wilderness lost without my college football knowledge and insight, have no fear, I’m back to stay. Although if you’ve been in the wilderness for the past couple months you probably didn’t have access to the Internet, but I digress. I am here to guide you through this college season that promises to be one of the most wide open, not to mention awesome, in recent memory. For the first time in a couple years there is no clear cut Heisman candidate that is healthy and every team near the top of the polls has its flaws. The first week showed that any team can lose at any time and numerous players distinguished themselves. Can they keep up there production for the entire year? Or did a cupcake opponent make a single player, or an entire team, look great? Lets dive right in.

Week 1 in Review

Most Impressive Teams:

  1. Oregon Ducks– Yes, I’m aware they played New Mexico. Yes, I’m aware they were playing at home. Yes, I’m aware that they may miss the production and experience of Jeremiah Masoli sometime down the road, but you have to admit, this is pretty impressive. They weren’t playing a 1AA team and they were missing the starting backfield from a team that won the PAC10 last year yet they still exploded for 59 points in one half. They get starting running back LaMichael James back from suspension this week and will join first week hero Kenjon Barner in a loaded backfield. Although starting QB Darron Thomas has limited experience he played almost mistake free and has a bevy of experienced receivers at his disposal. I’ll be interested to see how they perform on the road next week at Tennessee.
  2. Boise State Broncos– The Broncos played what was basically a road game against an experienced and very talented Virginia Tech squad. From the word go they dominated the defensive line and held the Hokies talented backfield duo of Ryan Williams and Darren Evans to 56 yards on 24 carries. They did let Tech back in the game and they had some obvious difficulties against the dual threat capabilities of Tyrod Taylor, but when it mattered they made the big plays and came out with a victory. They showed a toughness and resilience that makes champions in January. They will be favored in the rest of their games and they should cruise to a BCS game.
  3. Utah Utes– The Utes are consistently one of the top non-AQ teams in the nation, but this year they weren’t expected to be a national player. Almost nobody gave them a realistic shot to beat Pitt and running back Dion Lewis was supposed to continue his domination from a year ago and dismantle the Mountain West defense. Then the game started. Utah dominated the game and Pitt was lucky to take the game to overtime with Lewis totaling a mere 75 yards on 25 carries. The yardage was a 405-266 advantage for the Utes and they announced to the nation they’re a team to be reckoned with when it comes to the BCS.

    Most Disappointing Teams:
    Florida Gators– Yes, they did score 31 points, but they had a pick-six, a interception retuned to the 5 yard line, a short field after a failed fake punt, and a 72 yard td run. Take away those plays and the Gators would have scored 6 points and totaled 140 yards of offense. They couldn’t execute a simple shotgun snap and no playmakers stepped up outside of the long run by Jeffrey Demps. The defense looked impressive, especially in holding Miami (OH) to 4 yards rushing and getting 4 interceptions, but come on, it’s Miami (OH). They had one win last year and they’re one of the worst teams in the MAC. Florida was exposed in a major way in this game and they looked nowhere near a top 25 team, much less the number 4 team in the entire nation.

    Pittsburgh Panthers– As much as Utah looked great in dominating the Panthers, it takes two to tango. Pitt couldn’t run the ball, its strength last year, and they weren’t much better in the passing game. Their defense wasn’t the worst we’ve seen this season (we’ll get to that in a second) but they were kept off balance all game and surrendered over 400 yards. Utah isn’t a juggernaut by any stretch of the imagination and if this is the best the Big East has to offer, it may be a good year to watch the ACC.

    USC Trojans– Yes the Trojans dominated Hawaii on the offensive side of the ball (49 points and 524 yards) but it’s Hawaii, it would have been disappointing if they hadn’t done that. What was concerning was the defense. Since no one expected New Mexico to be good this year and no one was surprised Oregon annihilated them, USC has to take the prize as the worst defense of the first week. I couldn’t name a single Hawaii player before this game, which is impressive considering how I’ve read practically every article about college football this summer, yet the Warriors rolled up 588 yards and looked unstoppable at times. This has to be a major red flag for a USC team that plays in the PAC10. I can just imagine Andrew Luck, Jake Locker, Shane Vereen, and the entire Oregon offense salivating at the prospect of playing this horrid unit. Even Kevin Prince could have 300 yards against this team. (Yes Evan, there is a college football player named Kevin Prince, you can hate UCLA now.) Even though they were banned from bowl games this year, you would still think USC could put a quality product on the field, apparently not. I see plenty of 48-45 shootouts in their future.

    Bonus: Ole Miss Rebels/Kansas Jayhawks– Ole Miss was projected to finish last in the SEC West by most people so its not too much of a shock they lost their first game. Kansas got lucky for a few years with Aqib Talib and Todd Reesing, but other than that they’ve almost always been horrible so its not too shocking they also lost their first game. What is shocking is that both of these big name schools lost to 1AA teams in horrific fashion. Ole Miss welcomed in Jeremiah Masoli but the defense gave up 49 points and lost in double overtime to Jacksonville State. Kansas was great on defense, only allowing 6 points and 168 yards to North Dakota, but they scored a total of 1 field goal and lost 6-3. Both teams were absolutely awful and are in early contention for worst BCS conference team along with Washington State.

    Best Finishes:
    UNC vs. LSU– LSU had a commanding 20-point lead going into the 4th quarter and UNC looked done without 9 starting defenders. They then stunned the Tigers defense with a 97-yard TD pass and a 13-play drive that ended with another TD pass. This cut the lead to 6 with just over 2:30 left in the game. From there it looked like LSU would just run out the clock. With about a minute left and the Tar Heels having no time outs remaining, LSU ran for a first down that would have ended the game, but the ball popped loose and the Tar Heels had one more shot. Moving down the field with a quick strike offense UNC got inside the 10-yard line with 8 seconds remaining. Two dropped passes later, however, and the Tigers could exhale. I have to admit that I switched away from this game in the third quarter, but watching the last 3 minutes reminded me why college football is amazing, anything can happen.

    ECU vs. Tulsa– I watched literally none of this game, because I do have some semblance of a life, but I saw the last minute later and a game cannot end in a more exciting fashion. With time running out and ECU on the Tulsa 40 yard line down by 4, transfer QB Dominique Davis (gotta love a player that has D. Davis on the back of his jersey) threw up a prayer into the end zone. That prayer was answered by 6’8” freshman Justin Jones to steal the win and stun the Golden Hurricanes. I’ve seen one hail mary win in my life, a UCD win 2 years ago, and I can say it is so unexpected and such a 180 degree turn from despair to exultation that nothing else in college football can come close. But then again, it was the first week of the year and no one cares about these two teams, so it’s not that great.

    Best Game:
    Boise State vs. Virginia Tech– I already touched on this game in one of the above sections so I won’t go too in depth. Basically this was a hard fought; back and forth struggle between two evenly matched teams that went down to the wire. The fact that both teams were fighting to stay in the National Championship picture made it even more intense. With this win Boise basically assured itself a perfect season and a shot at the National Title.

    Best Players:
    Kenjon Barner (HB Oregon)– Barner racked up yards and touchdowns by the boatloads in the first half against New Mexico.Oregon vs. UCLA

    Mike Pouncey(C Florida)– Just kidding. Although to be fair he did complete almost as many shotgun snaps as he messed up. 50% isn’t too bad right…?

    Mark Herzlich (LB Boston College)- Even though he only played about 20 plays and made 5 tackles, the outside linebacker from Boston College made a courageous return from cancer and should see expanded playing time in coming weeks.

    TJ Yates (QB UNC)- Not only did he play without a majority of his weapons against a strong LSU defense, he put up the most passing yards in the nation and almost led his team back from a large 4th quarter deficit.

    Heisman Watch:
    My Heisman watch is going to be based on what players have done so far in the year. Yes, Mark Ingram and Dion Lewis are still more likely to win the trophy than Kenjon Barner, but they have a combined 75 yards on 25 carries, so they get no love here. With that being said, no defensive player or lineman has a realistic shot at the award, so unless someone has a Suh-type year, they won’t get any love either.

    1. Kendall Hunter (HB Oklahoma State)-257 yards and 4 td’s: The most dominating performance of the first weekend. Hunter completely dismantled Washington States overmatched defense and set the tone for what should be a standout senior season. OSU may not win very much this year but Hunter will be a bright spot.
    2. TJ Yates (QB UNC)-412 yards and 3 td’s: Yates was without his top receiver and top two running backs due to suspension and was facing one of the top corners in the nation in Patrick Peterson. Even through this adversity Yates still posted the top passing performance of the first week and almost led his team all the way back from a 20-point deficit and performed admirably.
    3. Kenjon Barner (HB Oregon)-207 total yards and 5 td’s: This is even more amazing when you realize the Ducks back only played for one half against a Mountain West defense. Also Kenjon Barner is one of the top names of the year. Expect his production to drop off significantly as starter Lamichael James returns from his suspension.
    4. Denard Robinson (QB Michigan)- 383 total yards and 2 td’s: Robinson turned in one of the top rushing performances of the week and his passing was decent against a Connecticut team that’s expected to contend for a Big East title (see what I mean about the Big East this year?) I need to see a few more weeks of production from Denard before I put him here to stay.
    5. Kellen Moore (QB Boise State)- 215 yards and 3 td’s: The stats aren’t the greatest but Moore faced what 100830_kellen_mooreshould be a top 20 defense. He threw no interceptions and made almost no mistakes. Heisman trophy’s are won and lost based on moments and his comeback drive in the final minutes will rank right up there when the season is over. I expect Moore to stay on this list all season long and could very well take the trophy at seasons end.

    Extra Thoughts:
    This week of college football was pretty mediocre until Sunday and Monday. I expect next week, with its ridiculous slate of games, to be entertaining from start to finish. Oregon showed in the first week that it has a very balanced and deep team. I expect them to win 11 games this year and take the PAC10 title. Florida is on the other side of the spectrum, they also lost major players from last year, but they played horribly and if they had played a mediocre-to-decent team instead of Miami (OH) they would have gotten blown out. The post-Tebow era started off poorly and doesn’t look to get any better. As I said above, the Big East looked pretty weak and none of the top teams looked dominant in their opening games, even against weaker competition.

    Week 2 Preview
    Week 2 is when college football usually takes off, with major teams starting to play each other more and some conference play taking off. Lets take a closer look.

    Games to Watch:
    Florida State vs. Oklahoma: Both of these teams can light up a scoreboard through the air or on the ground. Both of them have also shown some defensive deficiencies so look for Christian Ponder, Landry Jones, and Demarco Murray to put up big numbers and possibly leap onto some Heisman leader boards (like mine, which is the only one that matters).

    Ohio State vs. Miami: Probably the marquee game of the weekend and one of the best non-conference games left this season. Both Jacory Harris of Miami and Terrelle Pryor of Ohio State are veteran leaders that have Heisman and national title aspirations. Look for a tense, entertaining, back and forth game along the lines of the Boise-VT game this past week.

    Penn State vs. Alabama: Mark Ingram is most likely out. Marcel Darius is out. With that being said, Alabama will still dominate. They are playing at home against a freshman quarterback and a team that looked largely unimpressive last week against a 1AA team. Expect Nick Saban’s defense to have a field day.

    Oregon vs. Tennessee: Oregon looked impressive in the first week, but how will they fare traveling to an SEC stadium for a night? Derek Dooley’s young Volunteers will be looking to silence critics and pull a huge upset for their rookie coach. Look for LaMichael James to have a big game.

    Michigan vs. Notre Dame: Both of these teams looked impressive on both sides of the ball in season opening victories. I’m gonna be interested to see how the Notre Dame defense handles Denard Robinson’s running ability and if Michigan can keep the no-huddle spread attack of the Irish in check. This should be another shootout.

    Noel Devine (HB West Virginia): Held somewhat in check in the Mountaineers opening week win, but should explode against rival Marshall.

    Cameron Newton (QB Auburn): The Florida transfer racked up 5 total touchdowns in the Tigers first win. Auburn put up half a hundred on Mississippi State last year and I expect Newton to help them do it again.

    Case Keenum (QB Houston): The preseason Heisman candidate is leading a team that throws almost every play and is playing UTEP at home. Enough said.

    Demarco Murray (HB Oklahoma): Oklahoma should get into a high scoring shootout with a defensively challenged Florida State team. These are perfect conditions to replicate his 200-yard performance from week 1.

    Wild Prediction:
    South Florida will go in to Gainesville and win by double digits against the Gators with a sophomore quarterback.
    Check back in next week for a recap of week two and for me to gloat about USF’s domination of Florida. Or for me to totally ignore a Gators victory. Have a great weekend.


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