Monday, September 1, 2008

Week 1 Recap

Week 1 Quick Thoughts:

Way to make us proud Pitt (sorry Mark May), Texas A&M, Miss. State, Clemson, VT and all the others (including Michigan). UGA is not the #1 team in the country, and I fully expect the rankings to reflect such (my top 4: OSU, USC, OU, and UGA). Oklahoma and the winner of USC/OSU for the BCS (I'm still going Buckeyes as long as Beanie's healthy). I wish this was UGA’s year, but the recent season-ending injury to Jeff Owens, the leader of UGA’s DL, leads me to believe otherwise.

By now, everyone has watched and read about what a joke Clemson is again. Pitt and Texas A&M are jokes as well. Sherman may already be on the hot seat, and Wannstedt has to be close to the end of the line (could be next week if Buffalo surprises). Speaking of the MAC, the Gophers squeezed out a victory against now MAC bottom feeder Northern Illinois. Things could get ugly, like last year, when the Gophers travel to Bowling Green this weekend. Juice surprised me with his arm, but I’m still not sold on the Illini this year (believe Penn State and/or Wisconsin will be #2 in the Big 10/11). The SEC beat the ACC twice times by a combined score of 68-10. Mississippi State and Arkansas disappointed for the SEC. I continue to believe Ole Miss will be bowl bound this year, and this weekend only further confirmed my belief. Oh, and I still believe the ACC is better than the Big East and UNC will be bowl-bound, even after that weak performance over McNeese St.

Week 1 Game of the Week (Clemson/Bama) Recap:

"I think the ACC is just as good as the SEC," Harper said. "I think we didn't have a good showing tonight, but I think the two conferences are very equal."

Hmm, having watched the game as well as the past several years of SEC/ACC matchups (i.e. FSU/UF, GT/UGA and for anyone bringing up Clemson/USC please check on the last time Clemson was shut out at home), I think I’ll have to disagree. I still believe the ACC is a better conference with the addition of Miami, VT, and BC, but these are tough times for a conference steeped in tradition (okay, maybe an exaggeration but FSU, Miami, BC, and VT all have decent tradition).

And, I had to laugh at this little excerpt from

Clemson already trailed 3-0 when Harper underthrew a wide-open Aaron Kelly down the left sideline on the Tigers' first play from scrimmage, turning a potential long gain into a near-interception. The Tigers attempted their first run from scrimmage on the next play, but the carry didn't go to either Davis or C.J. Spiller, who comprise arguably the nation's top tailback tandem. The ball instead went to true freshman Jamie Harper, who fumbled at Clemson's 31 to set up Leigh Tiffin's second field goal of the night.

Clemson never recovered.

Bowden acknowledged Sunday that he promised the first carry of the season to Harper while recruiting the former four-star prospect from Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian. Bowden didn't regret the decision and noted he made similar types of promises to Davis, Spiller and former Clemson receivers Justin Miller and Roscoe Crosby while recruiting them.

Georgia Southern vs. Georgia Recap:

I’m pretty sure that everything that needs to be said has already been said by those who make money doing this, but as for my two cents:

The offense and defense looked sharp (at first). I have difficulty understanding why Joe Cox was put in on the third series of the game. I don’t want to question CMR’s decisions, but it seemed that Stafford and the offense lost its rhythm briefly with Cox taking the helm. UGA will need Stafford to realize the vast potential that keeps the NFL scouts drooling if UGA is going to win the SEC (first things first before talking NC),. Knowshon was, well, Knowshon. Richard Samuel and Caleb King (why didn’t he get in earlier?) showed flashes of their ability while making enough mistakes (fumble for Samuel and picking up blitzes for King) to keep them hungry and sick RB Coach Ball on them. Samuel is a bruiser and straight ahead runner who isn’t going to make many people miss, while King showed the moves and speed that everyone’s been talking about since his HS days. As for the WR’s, I’m still not sold on Durham (dropped a 3rd down bomb by Stafford) and Moore (seems to lack sure hands/confidence). Massaquoi and Green are sure-handed receivers with both looking good (MoMa had some great hands while getting pushed out on the sidelines). I wonder how much we will see of Tavarres King throughout the season. Overall, the offense flashed its potential, leaving me wanting more.

As for the defense, UGA looked good – for the first 8 snaps. It looked like Owens’ injury deflated the mood of the defense, and I don’t blame them. Owens was one of two leaders of the defense, with Ellerbe being the other. UGA has now lost its best DL and OL for the year. I fully understand that UGA has good depth on its lines, but I think this injury could have huge implications if Corvey Irvin doesn’t became a dominant DL like Owens suggested at SEC Media Days and Kade Weston doesn’t return healthy and angry. It was mentioned during the game that something like 10 of the 12 offenses that UGA will face run some form of the spread. While UGA has been recruiting players to defend the spread (notice the accumulation of defensive speed – sometimes instead of size like Curran), it was disappointing to see the running lanes that GSU had after the 1Q. I know we were up 38-0 before GSU started scoring, but that’s overlooking two drives into our red zone that GSU failed to capitalize on (missed FG; interception). Everyone who says UGA did what they needed to do and let GSU score early seems to be overlooking that little fact against our #1 defense. I’m not angry about it, though, because I think Willie M. is angry about it and will correct it going forward.

- Positives: RB’s; Stafford; the freshman (specifically, Marcus Dowtin, Blair Walsh, and AJ Green)
- Negatives: DB tackling; DL against the run; kick-off coverage
- Unknowns: Stafford’s communication/confidence in WR’s (some drops, some poor throws); OL

Week 2 Preview:

Central Michigan vs. Georgia – for those who don’t know Dan LeFevour, he is one of two QB’s to ever thrown for 3,000 yds and rush for 1,000 yds in a season (the other being Vince Young). While everybody in Georgia was talking about Georgia Southern possibly being this season’s App. State, Central Michigan is the better bet. Why not? Well, Clemson destroyed CMU, hanging 70 on the Chippewas last October.

It’s a tougher test than GSU for our defense. It’s another tune up before starting the SEC slate and anything less than 45 points from UGA’s offense and a 20 point win would be a disappointment. I’ll take a win any way that we can get it without a major injury.

As for other games, East Carolina will not beat West Virginia. I know some are throwing that out there given ECU’s win over Virginia Tech, but they are looking over one glaring fact: West Virginia has a pretty good offense unlike VT (no WR’s or RB’s not to mention Glennon isn’t that great). On Thursday night, South Carolina at Vanderbilt should be decent matchup facing Chris Nickson and Vandy’s option look against a stout South Carolina defense. Who will quarterback for Spurrier? Also of interest is Wake Forest, which showed impressive efficiency in dismantling Baylor, against Ole Miss, sleeper in the SEC West, and Georgia Tech’s triple option against Boston College’s defense. At quick glance, potential upsets include Bowling Green over Minnesota (if Minny’s favored) and UL-Monroe over Arkansas. Overall, a pretty weak slate ahead of Week 3, which undoubtedly will feature the 3rd game of the century (see: USC vs. ND and Texas vs. USC) in 8 years as Ohio State travels to Southern Cal.

Week 1 Picks Review:

I was traveling this week and didn’t have time to post, but I picked 18 games to begin the season (I have alibis that would state such). I tend to do better at the beginning of the year with picks so I decided to load up.

Vanderbilt (+3.5) @ Miami. Anytime an SEC time as an underdog against a MAC team, I take it. Vandy didn’t disappoint. I liked the option from Nickson, and DJ Moore lived up to his hype. I didn’t expect such a whipping though, 34-10, ‘Dores.

Virginia Tech vs. East Carolina (+10). It was only a 10-pt. game last year and VT’s offense is awful. I didn’t think ECU would win (27-22), especially via Beamer ball.

Bowling Green @ Pittsburgh (-13). I saw LeSean McCoy and the return of WR Derek Kinder, Pitt’s #1 receiver. I also took into account the better recruiting talent of Pitt and forgot that Coach Wannstedt isn’t a coach.

Hawaii @ Florida (-33.5). Last year, June Jones called Tebow a system QB when comparing Colt Brennan and the Heisman winner. Then, he left Hawaii with the departing Colt Brennan, leaving a deflated Hawaii to play a motivated UF team. SEC 97, Hawaii 20. Hopefully, that’s the last we hear from Hawaii again (I said the same thing after Georgia demolished Boise State, but the Blue Broncos beat Oklahoma the next year).

USC (-19.5) @ Virginia. I wanted to go to Charlottesville with some friends to see the game. It’s not too often that you get to see the most dominant team of the decade play. Southen Cal looked good in a romp with plenty of depth (52-7).

Oklahoma State (-7) @ Washington State. OSU has a potent offense; Wazzy is a complete unknown with a new coach and a new QB. OSU in a romp.

Tulsa (-13.5) @ UAB. Apparently, some thought the departure of QB Paul Smith would affect OC Gus Malzahn’s system. Apparently, some thought UAB HC Neil Callaway could coach. Both were apparently wrong. Tulsa runs away with it.

Northern Illinois @ Minnesota (-8.5). I know the Gophers suck. I know they sucked last year against non-BCS and MAC foes as well. As much as I knew, I believed in the Mighty Golden Gophers in year 2 of Tim Brewster, at least against to what’s supposed to be an awful Northern Illinois team. The Gophers pulled it off late, though, to secure a 31-27 win.

Louisiana-Monroe @ Auburn (-26). My theory was that Auburn’s two QB’s would be battling it out for the starting role and would put up a ton of points trying to outplay one another. After 85 yards of passing, it wasn’t so much the offense as much as the defense in a 34-0 shutout. All the same, Auburn covers.

Memphis @ Ole Miss (-7.5). Ole Miss is one of my sleeper bowl teams and Memphis is just bad. I know it’s a rivalry, but Memphis has been terrible since Deangelo Williams left for the NFL.

Florida Atlantic (+24) @ Texas. Texas has a young secondary. Texas also has a new stud DC in Muschamp. Muschamp won out over QB Rusty Smith and FAU’s huck-and-chuck offense.

Arkansas State (+19) @ Texas A&M. Javorskie Lane was hurting; Arkansas State has been making some strides; TAMU has a new coach. I don’t care. This is a terrible loss and a huge upset. I thought this was too many points but didn’t see an upset.

Boston College (-9.5) vs. Kent State. 21-0 shutout. BC has a good defense but a new QB.

Alabama (+4.5) vs. Clemson. Clemson’s weaknesses were OL, DL, and LB’s. Bama has weak LB’s, DL, and skill position players but a dominant OL. I picked on SEC lines and a belief that Bama had the better OL and DL. I did not know that Bama’s OL and DL were that much better.

Illinois vs. Missouri (-9). I didn’t believe in Juice, and I thought that the loss of J. Leman would affect the Illini D. Juice impressed but Mizzou covered. Mizzou looks to be a little overrated at this point in the season and needs to toughen up the defense otherwise I think they’ll trip up in the Big 12 North where only Iowa State is a gimme this year.

Washington (+13.5) @ Oregon. I want to believe in Willingham and Locker. Oregon played their 3rd or 4th string QB. What an embarrassment. Willingham needs to beat ND to save his job at this point.

Colorado State (+11) @ Colorado. Double digits in a rivalry game seemed a bit much. Good for the Buffs. RB true freshman Scott looked decent, and I expect big things throughout the year.

Today’s Games (season to date = 11-5):

Fresno State (+5) @ Rutgers. I see no reason other than the home-field that Rutgers should be favored. Fresno State is a sleeper to sneak into the BCS and has played several BCS teams successfully over the past several years.

Tennessee (-7) @ UCLA. UCLA has a new coaching staff and new QB. Tennessee has the better talent and Crompton is a capable QB for a seasoned offense. Look out for Gerald Jones, Arian Foster, and Lennon Creer on offense. Will Berry play on both sides of the ball? I question UT’s front 7, but the secondary is fast and athletic. I don’t understand why more people seem to talk about South Carolina than Tennessee. UT has the talent to win the SEC East if things break their way (see Alabama in the SEC West). I like Norm Chow but still question Neuheisel as a coach going back to his CU tenure. UCLA has all the makings of a sleeping giant, but it will not awake this year. Vols roll.

Shout Outs:

Congrats to Chad, by the way, for what I believe was an 0-3 performance against me this week. Silver, I'm disappointed that you had no faith. Then again, if my team lost its home opener two years in a row, I wouldn't have much faith either. James, if you had the exact same roster as last year, there's a decent chance that you could win the ACC. Ben, I'm beyond words how you went to Athens and didn't get in the game. If James and his girlfriend can get into an SEC bout, I don't see how you didn't make it in against a 1-AA team (I know you have an excuse and am waiting). I apologize if I'm a bit surly, UGA has now lost its best o-line and d-lineman after only one game. It could still be a great year but UGA has a lot to overcome. Oh, and I was stuck in Connecticut through it all for what turned out to be not much of a family reunion (my parents were the youngest in attendance besides my sister - 21 - and me). Miserable. Finally, I said I wouldn't let the football season suck me in, and here it is, week one, and I can't look away.

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