Sunday, September 6, 2009

College Football Week One (or most of it, at least)

There are still a couple of games on the schedule on Labor Day, but it has already been an eventful week one, and thankfully there was a good story on Saturday to knock the LaGarrette Blount story off the headline for week one. However, an unfortunate part of that story is the injury to reigning Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford that aided BYU in their upset of Oklahoma. Now, that's not to say that BYU would not have won even had Bradford played in the second half, because they were likely the better team even in the first half with Bradford in there, but it certainly made the Cougar's job easier. Regardless, you've got to hand it to the Cougars as they beat the Sooners in just about every aspect of the game.

The Mountain West scored more points today when Colorado State whooped their in-state rival Colorado up and down the field in the first half, then held on in the second half to complete a nice first weekend for the MWC. Meanwhile, Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins is squarely on the hot seat already. The strength of his offense is his stable of running backs, but time and time again, on first downs he would unleash his undertalented son Cody Hawkins to throw. The younger Hawkins can certainly be an effective quarterback, but he is not capable of carrying a team. Instead, if he was running play action after successful runs by Darrell Scott and Rodney Stewart, he would have much better chances of success.

It wasn't all bad for the Big 12 this weekend, however. Oklahoma State got their season off to a strong start, answering some of the questions about their potential defensive liabilities with a strong showing against SEC powerhouse Georgia. If the Cowboys' defense can maintain that type of success throughout the season, they will be able to challenge for a Big 12 title, given their strong offense.

And, I suppose the Blount situation deserves a bit of a comment, not that it hasn't already been said by others before me. Credit is due to Chip Kelly (not for his game preparation, which to put it bluntly, was horrible for the Boise State game) for his decision in regards to Blount. Kelly let it be known that destructive behavior like Blount's will not be tolerated, but at the same time, in his decision to allow Blount to remain in school and to continue to practice with the team, shows Blount and his fellow teammates that the coaching staff will not turn their backs on a player when that player is most in need of guidance. It would have been easy enough for Oregon to kick Blount out of school (and, for that matter, I'll give a bit of credit to Blount for choosing to stay in school, when it would have been easy for him to just quit and maybe explore options in the CFL or USFL), but instead they have thrown their support behind Blount despite delivering a significant punishment to him for his actions. I've heard people throw around the names Lawrence Phillips and Maurice Clarett in reference to Blount, but I would think that if Tom Osborne had shown the type of discipline towards Phillips that Kelly has shown, and if the Ohio State program had shown the type of support towards Clarett when he was being roundly embarassed in the national media as Oregon has shown, either of those stories could have had different, perhaps happier, endings. While Blount's actions Thursday night are completely unexcusable, I for one will be rooting for him to grow up and make the most of the talent he has.

Other quick thoughts from around the college football world:
  • I hope the Big Ten enjoyed what opportunity they had to beat up on Michigan. This Wolverine team won't contend for a Big Ten title this year, but RichRod is well on his way to rebuilding the program.
  • Just a couple of days ago, the upcoming Notre Dame/Michigan matchup would have elicited blank stares from most college football fans. Now, it is one of the highlights of week two action.
  • Regardless of what happened in the game, it was pretty darn stupid of Ohio State to schedule Navy the week before USC. Not only did the Buckeyes probably not spend enough time preparing for the Navy offense, if they did spend any time prepping for that instead of USC, they wasted valuable time. It would have been much better to try to schedule someone somewhere with similar offense to the Trojans.
  • I really hate it when coaches take a phenomenal athletic talent who also happens to play quarterback and try to box that guy up inside the role of a pocket passer. It's too early to tell whether that is what is happening with Tyrod Taylor at Virginia Tech, but if so, it is not worth the effort. For the Hokie's offense to take off this season, they'll need the full complement of Taylor's skills at QB.
  • UCLA is on the upswing. This edition of the Bruins is not going to challenge for the Pac-10 title (or even battle with Cal and Oregon and Oregon State for the 2nd place spot), but somewhere around the time that this group of kids become upperclassmen, they will be a tough out. Their offensive line looks better than last year (although week two's matchup against Tennessee will give a better test), freshman quarterback Kevin Prince is a signigicant upgrade over Kevin Craft (although Prince still has a ways to go), the offense has far more playmakers, and the defense is as stout as it has been in recent years (despite it relative lack of depth). While anything beyond six, maybe seven, wins is a pipe dream, the program is starting to regain its footing under Rick Neuheisel.

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