September 04, 2006

What we now know... Week 1

Sometimes the lights go on after the games begin.

It might be premature, but any outcome of the Florida State - Miami game will result in the winner thrust to the forefront of the ACC and National title chase while the loser will walk a fine line to get back to those heights. Both teams are players in the game of big time college football and really not much else will be learned.

Maybe I just want to get the opinions out there before it becomes too tainted by the media's version of events.

First off, the opening weekend provides few clues about the rest of the season. Performances that appeared to have a "wow" factor need to be dialed down a notch or two. We also have a wide swath of teams out there that we really don't know much more about.

- Colt McCoy at Texas looked great, but he and the rest of the Texas offense will face a major upgrade going from the North Texas defense to the revamped Ohio State defense. Let's not get too high on McCoy just yet.

- Tennessee won big, but when you throw three hitch patterns the defensive backs miss their tackles the result is a stat line that reads 11 completions for 291 yards by Erik Ainge. Make no mistake, the Tennessee defense was lock-down as usual and the Vols will not repeat last year. However, the Cal defense more than did their part making Tennessee look good. Earlier in the summer, I railed to a friend of mine that it is a travesty that the Florida-Tennessee game on September 16th will be the CBS prime time game instead of Auburn-LSU. After Saturday's results in Knoxville and Gainesville, UT-UF will do just fine.

- Kentucky can still win six games, however, I am perplexed at how the players seem unprepared for any big game. Louisville scored in three plays and you could see the panic on the coaching staff's face. Any staff worth anything scripts its plays, usually about the first 15-20. Why does it seem that when the UK staff gets off the script, the offense starts to move? The other issue is the defense. I don't know whether the talent level is still years away or whether the Mike Archer schemes, but Wildcat defenders seem always to be out of position, especially against the run. Chalk the loss up to a national title contender as one they weren't supposed to get, but I can attest that this Wildcat fan is tired of hearing the talk. Start walking the walk, gang.

- Notre Dame will slide in the rankings this week due to their game with Georgia Tech. While most of the country was tuning up with I-AA patsies, (Oops, Colorado had that plan and botched it.) the Irish had their hands full on the road with a defense that shutdown Miami and Auburn on the road last year. They still aren't the #2 team in the country, but it was a nice win. However, the credit in the media isn't for the tough, gutsy win. Its for the tough, gutsy loss by a defense that got no help from an inept offense. So, in both ways Notre Dame will get nothing from this weekend. They beat a team that had no chance of moving the ball and couldn't rest their defense. That is your perception from the weekend. I go with a tough win on the road against a stellar opponent and a supposedly game-changing wide receiver. I guess wins just aren't good enough anymore.

- One of the most overlooked game of the weekend was in Pittsburgh. The Panthers beat Virginia, 38-13. I haven't checked the boxscore and I didn't see the game which makes me on the level with most voters of the coaches and writers polls. I do know when I see a score like that it tells me that Dave Wannstedt will have less heat on him today than last year and Al Groh at Virginia will be hearing it all next week. Both coaches were hired as a part of the "Pete Carroll Rule" where ex-NFL coaches were returning to college. The result Saturday now gives Pitt hope that it made the right move last year while the UVA fans are starting to wonder if this is as good as it gets with Groh, who can recruit well but can't win big.

- Finally, the game now feels like the NFL. The new time rules have created a quick game and have left virtually no chance for a comeback under five minutes. ESPN's wrap of the day included a bit about records being safe due to the shorter games and I couldn't agree more. We now have replay, we now have a shorter game, we now are having the celebration penalties, we now know the players number when a penalty occurs. What is left that makes the college game unique?

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Heavenly time period: College football season until the championship game of March Madness.