Sunday, August 31

Random Week 1 summaries/impressions

NC State @ South Carolina

I'm only commenting on this game since I watched it basically in its entirety, because I don't think it's going to amount to much. NC State looked terrible, while South Carolina has clearly improved their defense. I don't think this was a simple case of "playing against an ACC offense cures all defensive ills." You'd like to see the Cocks find a QB, but Beecher was aweful and we've already seen how Smelley performs over the course of a season.

Oregon State @ Stanford

Stanford is clearly committed to the running game, and without losing their top four RBs this season they just might be able to do something with that! You're not going to win many games with a 313 passing yardage deficit. Even ignoring the goalline fumble, the Cardinal was (fuck you, non-pluralized team nickname) lucky to win this. On Oregon State's side, Moevao needs to find consistency as he was very streaky this game.

Bowling Green @ Pittsburgh

In summary, Pitt was horribly overrated. Having a top 10 RB doesn't matter if you can't block for him.

East Carolina @ Virginia Tech

It's amazing that one horrible QB can sabotage an otherwise good team like VT. The defense played solidly, scoring a TD and not really giving up that much to ECU. Special teams lost the battle today, but lost in the blocked punt they gave up was the blocked PAT and subsequent return for 2 points that they did have. Don't expect this area to be a minus very often. However the offense gained just 243 yards against a CUSA defense, and most of the blame for that can be blamed on the 139 yard, 2 INT performance from the QB. Ack.

Utah @ Michigan

What I was suprised about was just how dominant Utah was for about 50 minutes. Really had it not been for roughly a thousand penalties against the Utes, this one would have been completely out of reach by the time the Wolverines started scoring. This season could be pretty bad for Michigan. Ideally, Rich Rodriguez basically upgrades the offense while downgrading the defense compared to Lloyd Carr. In the long run, the offensive upgrade may be greater than the defensive downgrade, but right now the offensive players aren't there to make that payoff a reality. Give him a season or two of recruiting then we'll see it.

We'll get back to you on Utah... they looked good but this game was more about poor execution and a lack of identity from Michigan.

USC @ Virginia

We had slight questions about USC's quarterback and more about their offensive line. Both were answered in an impressive outing. Don't read too much into it being a BCS conference opponent - UVA is marginally better than a midmajor and they lost key players even from last season's lucky/overrated squad - but read as deeply into the stats as you want. A rushing edge of 218-32 is ridiculous, as is a 74% completion rate at 9.7 yards a pop. The box score barely does justice to how badly the Cavs got dominated. I'll be moving USC up to #1 in my rankings after watching this.

Youngstown State @ Ohio State

It's always tough to get a read on the Buckeyes from their Battle of Ohio games, but one thing's for sure: Ohio State's kicking game is fantastic. 5/5 FG including two 50+ yarders. Those are good against anybody. The concerns are that a crappy team like Youngstown State was able to stop so many first half OSU drives short of the end zone, and obviously Beanie Wells' condition. I think he'll be good to go against USC and probably get a lot of rest (pulled after first drive/first quarter?) against Ohio U the week before, but we'll see as the updates come in. Another question is how Terrelle Pryor will fare against a real defense, but Tressell clearly intends on incorporating him into the offense.

Missouri vs Illinois

Both offenses started the game with jitters. Missouri's receivers had cold hands and Juice Williams came out with the intention to impale his targets. The second quarter featured all of Missouri's "other" weapons - Wolfert hitting a 51 yard FG, Maclin returning a KO for TD, and Derrick Washington running all over the Illini defense. Chase Coffman showed that there is no dropoff at the TE position after last season.

So we went into halftime with the Tigers up 31-13. The offenses traded scores to start the third quarter, then Maclin had another great return (this time off a punt) to set up a quick 45-20 advantage for Mizzou. This is when Missouri showed once again why they won't win the BCS title and probably not the conference title either. They completely stop playing defense, went conservative on offense, and next thing you know it's 45-35 and Illinois is in scoring position. Fortunately for them, Sean Weatherspoon intercepted passes on consecutive drives to seal the game at 52-35. Illinois scored a meaningless TD as time expired, 52-42. The Rose Bowl will no doubt see this as a good enough showing to justify picking Illinois once again, should Ohio State be in the championship.

Missouri basically answered all questions but one: the ability to finish a game. Daniel was amazing both with his arm and his feet. The offense played a very physical game along with racking up the points and yards. They've found a replacement for Tony Temple. The defense shut down the run and did a decent job against the pass for 2.5 quarters. Special teams was a difference-maker. But you cannot stop playing when you get a big lead.

Illinois actually looked better than last season. The defense was about the same but Juice Williams is so much better than he was a year ago. The offense won't be as physical but it moved the ball and actually played turnover free up until the final minutes. They'll compete for #2 in the conference once they figure out how to run the ball, and with a passing attack like this one, defenses will have to start dropping more people back into coverage.

Didn't think I'd see Chase Daniel outrush Juice Williams while Williams outpassed Daniel. Hm.

Alabama vs Clemson

As summarizes most Clemson defeats, the Tigers ran the ball 14 times while passing 34. (further adding evidence to the theory that Tommy Bowden allows his mentally challenged brother Jeffy to call offensive plays) Sure they rushed for 0 yards and that might lead you to believe that they correctly abandoned the run, but it's not like they really put any effort into establishing the ground game in the first place. And passing into Saban's defense when they're expecting it is asking for this kind of offensive output -- keep in mind that of Clemson's 10 points, 7 came from a KO return for TD by Spiller.

Don't take away from Bama though - Clemson's defense isn't subject to Jeffy's possible influence, and the Tide pretty much rolled over it. The new passing scheme allowed John Wilson to complete 73% of his throws and two backs topped 90 yards as the Tide rushed the ball FIFTY times this game, controlling the clock. Julio Jones didn't have the greatest impact, but did score a TD in his first game.

This game reminds me of Tennessee-Cal two years ago in that we probably had these two teams' places in the college football ladder flip-flopped. I'm considering Alabama as a possible top 15 team while wondering whether Clemson fits into the top 25 at all.

Washington @ Oregon

Oregon looks like a strong team to challenge Arizona State for #2 in the Pac 10. The QBs were adequate, while the ground game and defense were dominant. Nothing to convince me that they're anywhere near USC's level, but a good team nonetheless. Washington, on the other hand, looked pretty bad and Locker is going to need to step up his game for this team to finish with a winning record.