Happy Labor Day to everybody! A lot happened on this first weekend of college football. So what did we learn?
1. Georgia must get better play at quarterback. It would be foolish to lay Georgia’s 24-10 loss at Oklahoma State at the feet of senior quarterback Joe Cox. It was a team loss if there ever was one. The kid was sick and deserves the benefit of the doubt. But here is the reality of playing in the SEC. The defensive coordinators around the league are going to look at that video tape. They will see Georgia’s first possession and how the Bulldogs just blew Oklahoma State off the ball. Then they will see the adjustments Oklahoma State made to put the pressure on the quarterback. At most SEC schools, if the defensive coordinator does not want you to run the ball, it is going to be difficult to run the ball. Ellis Johnson of South Carolina is one of the best defensive coordinators in college football. And trust me when I tell you that South Carolina’s defense is better than Oklahoma State’s. Somebody—Joe Cox, Logan Gray, somebody-is going to have to throw the ball down the field with consistency and find No. 8 (A.J. Green). Green is the best football player on the field. He has to get more touches.
2. The Sam Bradford injury changes a lot. Bradford suffered a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder during Saturday night’s 14-13 loss to BYU. He was scheduled to have an MRI on Sunday to determine the real extent of the damage. He might get back for the Texas game on Oct. 17. Suddenly the national championship race, the Heisman Trophy race, and the Texas-OU game look completely different now. Now BYU (1-0) has to be in the national championship mix. The Cougars have Florida State, TCU, Air Force, and Utah at home. If BYU goes 12-0 against that schedule, they are going to be in the mix for the BCS national championship. And after such a ruckus was raised because undefeated Utah didn’t get a chance to play for the title last season, it might be hard for the voters to keep the Cougars out. Just keep it in mind.
3. We’ll find out about Tennessee this week. If I’m a Tennessee fan, I’m encouraged by the 63-7 win over Western Kentucky. It’s not just the final score that was impressive. It was the array of weapons that Tennessee showed on both offense and defense. We understand that Western Kentucky is not very good, but when Jonathan Crompton completes 21 of 28 for five touchdowns-after throwing only four TD passes all of last season-you have to be encouraged. With two running backs over 100 yards and 380 total yards of rushing, there is reason to be optimistic. We’ll learn a lot more about the Volunteers on Saturday when UCLA comes to town. The Bruins, who opened with a 33-14 win over San Diego State, are better than a year ago. But I will say this: The Tennessee-Florida game on Sept. 19 looks a little different right now.
4. It was not a good weekend for the ACC. Virginia Tech is really good. But the loss to Alabama was a bitter one for the ACC. For three quarters Virginia Tech played toe-to-toe with Alabama. The Hokies were just as fast and hit just as hard. And quarterback Tyrod Taylor was playing pretty well. But Alabama just wore Virginia Tech down and dominated the fourth quarter to win 34-24. The ACC really, really, wanted this with win. The league certainly has balance because it sent 10 teams to bowls last season. But Virginia Tech, which was ranked No. 7, was probably the ACC’s best shot at a BCS championship contender. A lot can happen. Maybe Georgia Tech or Florida State plays their way into the discussion. But I think the ACC’s national championship hopes probably ended Saturday night at the Georgia Dome. FYI: Don’t be surprised if Virginia Tech wins the rest of its games if it can find a way to win at Georgia Tech on Oct. 17. With losses to Richmond (by Duke), William & Mary (by Virgnia), Baylor (by Wake Forest), California (by Maryland), South Carolina (by N.C. State), and to Alabama (by Virginia Tech) it was not a good weekend for the ACC.
5. Georgia Tech has a lot of weapons. They really do. Everybody knows about Jonathan Dwyer. Everybody knows about Josh Nesbitt and WR Bay-Bay Thomas. But you throw in Anthony Allen (26 yard TD catch), Jerrard Talent (68-yard punt return), Morgan Burnette (11th career interception) and you’ve still just scratched the surface on the guys who can make a difference. It’s going to be interesting to see how Clemson’s defense, with new coordinator Kevin Steele, tries to account for all of these weapons.
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