Five Things I Think: After Week 1!

FootballWeek 1 is nearly in the books with only the matchup between Florida State and Pittsburgh tonight remaining. Jameis Winston, the talented redshirt freshman, will be making his debut as the Seminoles’ starter. Given a supporting cast that includes running backs James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman along with receivers Rashad Greene and Kenny Shaw, Florida State’s offense has to the potential to be very explosive this season. Hopefully, Winston and company will finish off a great first weekend of college football that included several upsets, some Manziel drama, and a few less-than-stellar performances by top teams including #1 Alabama and #2 Ohio State. Sunday’s game between Louisville and Ohio included Teddy Bridgewater playing beautifully, the return of Michael Dyer, and an amazing play by Ohio kick returner Devin Bass in which he shows incredible balance! Watch here!

1. Seven FCS teams beat FBS teams! This is why it doesn’t matter how teams matchup on paper, folks. Anything can happen and it’s that unpredictability that draws us to this game that we love. #25 Oregon State lost to Eastern Washington and Kansas State was brought down by North Dakota State. To be fair, North Dakota State is the two-time defending FCS national champions and Eastern Washington won 11 games last season so it’s not as if these two teams are horrible. Additionally, while KSU was a BCS team last season, it lost a quarterback who was responsible for 68% of its offensive yardage. Southern Utah (who beat South Alabama) and Northern Iowa (who beat Iowa State) each had losing records last season but still had more combined wins (10) than their opponents (8). South Florida (who lost big to McNeese State and UConn (who lost to Towson) but given USF won just three games last season and is in rebuilding mode that wasn’t all that surprising. UConn won just five games last season and we can’t forget that Towson played pretty well against LSU last season. The Eastern Illinois’ 40-19 beat down of San Diego State was the one that was most surprising. San Diego State was a 9-win team last year that beat the likes of Nevada and Boise State, while Eastern Illinois won just seven games and finished its season with a 48-point FCS playoff loss.

2. Johnny Manziel makes a late entrance — and an early exit. Johnny Football was suspended for the first half of the game against Rice because he should have known that signing so many autographs would lead to someone profiting from his name and therefore should have stopped that from happening. Manziel actually played well, going 6 for 8 for 94 yards and 3 touchdowns and rushing 19 yards on 6 carries and looked comfortable with his receivers. After throwing a touchdown to Mike Evans, Manziel was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct (taunting) after talking smack to two Rice players and pointing to the scoreboard. Coach Sumlin benched his quarterback for the rest of the game saying that his behavior “wasn’t very smart and that is why he didn’t go back into the game”. I agree with Sumlin that Manziel’s “taunting” along with his “money” hand motions after big plays weren’t brilliant. I have no issue with a little smack talking, but the NCAA are fearful that someone’s feelings could get hurt and doesn’t allow many kinds of celebrating at all to avoid that happening. The hand motion isn’t new, as Manziel did the same thing last season after big plays, but it got a lot of attention because of the recent autographs for money investigation. Many people have gotten upset with Manziel over Saturday’s antics, saying that he was selfish and getting those kinds of penalties in a big game can cost the Aggies wins. Yes, a 15-yard penalty on a kickoff could hurt them against a team like Alabama or LSU, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. This was against Rice in a game with less than ten minutes left his team had a 23-point lead. Let’s not forget that his fiery disposition is a big part of why the nation was so enamored with him last year. He plays like football is a game … how dare he! Sam Houston State, come on down.

3. Top two weren’t convincing despite winning by at least twenty. My football Saturday started with my Buckeyes playing in one of the early games against Buffalo. Going into the game I had no worries that TOSU would lose, I thought they’d win fairly easily. I didn’t expect a shutout, remembering that Buffalo started last season by putting 23 points up against Georgia and that the Buckeyes would be without its best defender in cornerback Bradley Roby. I was looking for Braxton Miller to demonstrate a better passing game, watching to see how the running game would look with the top two backs being out with suspensions, and hoping the defense (which replaces most of its front seven from a year ago) performs well together. Miller did pass the ball well outside of a screen pass that was intercepted and returned for a score. Jordan Hall averaged nearly eight yards per carry while rushing for 159 yards and two touchdowns. The defense is catching some flack from fans, and I think that’s mostly because of the score. I think the biggest thing Meyer will be working on this week is discipline as the Buckeyes committed nine penalties for 94 yards. In a mid-afternoon game, Alabama beat Frank Beamer’s Virginia Tech squad by 25 points, but it wasn’t in a manner I’d guess anyone expected. AJ McCarron completed less than half of his passes, Alabama rushed for less than 100 yards, and Christian Jones was their leading receiver (which he has only done once before). 21 of the Tide’s 35 points came from special teams (a PR and a KR by Jones) and defense (Sunseri INT return) which is ironically for what Frank Beamer teams are typically known. I still expect McCarron to break Alabama’s record for passing yards in a season, but there is clearly still some adjustments needed from an offensive line that replaces three All-Americans. I know I expected a bigger offensive display, particularly in the passing game given the depth at receiver on the roster. They have a bye week to prepare for the only team that handed them a loss last season, Texas A&M. I expect that there will be a lot of yelling coming from Urban Meyer and Nick Saban this week as they will not be satisfied with these performances despite them looking great on the surface.

4. How about Bobby Petrino? When Bobby Petrino was fired from Arkansas, I thought he’d come back to the SEC perhaps after sitting out a season. I especially thought it would happen after three schools in the conference got rid of their coach after last season (in addition to Arkansas getting rid of Petrino’s replacement, John L. Smith). It didn’t happen and Petrino was picked up by Western Kentucky after Willie Taggart (another coach I thought would take one of the SEC vacancies) left for South Florida. I still believe WKU is a mere pit stop for Petrino, but he’s starting his season against two of the schools that chose someone else to fill their vacancies (Kentucky and Tennessee). Saturday, Petrino’s Hilltopper’s beat Mark Stoops in his Kentucky (and head coaching) debut despite converting only 20% of their third-down conversions. They beat Kentucky in nearly every other statistical category, however. Willie Taggart did a great job of turning the program around, as it should be noted that WKU also beat Kentucky in and overtime matchup last year. If Petrino can pull off back-to-back wins against SEC teams, even if those two teams combined for seven wins last season, it would be a big step forward for the program and for Petrino. People still likely look down on him for the events that led to his Arkansas dismissal, but one cannot dismiss that he’s won everywhere he’s been.

5. Former Texas QB performs well for Colorado. One of Texas’ biggest advantages this season in conference play is that it has the most experienced starting quarterback in the Big 12 in David Ash. In 2010, when there was a four-way quarterback competition that Case McCoy ended up winning at Texas, it turns out all four of them would end up being starters. Garrett Gilbert is currently the starter at SMU, David Ash has taken the starting job away from Case McCoy, and Connor Wood is now the starter at Colorado. Wood transferred to Colorado in 2011, his redshirt freshman season, played in seven games last season (started one), and is now the starter. Sunday’s game against Colorado State was a much better game than one would have expected from a battle of a one-win and four-win teams last season. It was Mike McIntyre’s debut has the Colorado head coach (he was at San Jose State) and he and his quarterback have already matched the win total from last season. Wood completed 71% of his passes, threw for 400 yards, and 3 touchdowns. He was fun to watch and I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on him and Colorado for the remainder of the season. The Buffaloes are in a very tough division, so they’ll struggle to win enough games for a bowl game, but it looks like they’re headed in a positive direction. Keep an eye on this kid.

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