What was supposed to be a great weekend didn’t really yield a lot of drama as all the big games were blowouts. But what did we learn?
1. Georgia, Georgia Tech have a lot of work to do: I know, it’s one of those “No Duh!” comments. Here is what I saw from those two road losses:
Georgia got pushed around on both sides of the ball at South Carolina. There was no mystery to that game. Georgia should have been able to run the ball but could not. Georgia did a lousy job tackling freshman Marcus Lattimore but you know what? That guy is is going to make a lot of defenses look bad. He is what everybody said he was–an elite player. Georgia went with a conservative offensive game plan to protect Aaron Murray and that is the smart thing to do. But they’ll have to take the training wheels off Murray on Saturday against Arkansas.
Now the Arkansas game becomes a MUST win for Georgia.
Georgia Tech’s effort was really disappointing. Too many bad penalties. Too many missed tackles. You gotta get SOMETHING out of the passing game to make the rest of it work. Is it possible that Georgia Tech, the defending ACC champ, was overconfident going to Kansas? A team that lost four NFL draft choices was overconfident?
2. It was a bad weekend for the ACC: I’m sure other conferences have had worst weekends. But I don’t know of one worst than what the ACC just went through. In two high profile games–Florida State at Oklahoma and Miami at Ohio State–the ACC pretty much got their doors blown off. The Miami score was very deceptive as the ‘Canes got two kick returns to keep it close for a while. Jacory Harris, who I like, had four interceptions (at least two were bad plays by the receivers.) You cannot be an elite quarterback if you don’t take care of the ball. He had 17 interceptions last season.
Chris Dimino said this on our radio show last week. All of us have shown Miami some love but when the ‘Canes get on a big stage away from home it doesn’t seem to go well. The old Miami teams would play and beat you anywhere. They didn’t care. The tougher the situation, the more they liked it. I don’t see that mental toughness in this team.
I can’t believe Florida State did not even compete at Oklahoma. And it was all capped off by Virginia Tech’s loss to James Madison, a very good Division I-AA program.
Bottom line: The ACC had five teams ranked in the preseason Top 25 (Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Florida State). As of Saturday night all five had losses. Ouch!
3. Boise got hurt by VT loss: Boise State opened the week with a huge win over Virginia Tech in Landover, Md. The Broncos were going to use that high profile non-conference win as the hook to claim that they deserve to be in the BCS championship game if they go undefeated. Boise can still get there but Virginia Tech’s loss to JMU doesn’t help. Some will use it as evidence that Boise’s signature win will not be a quality one. Boise had better hope that Virginia Tech rights the ship. But just a word of caution for those who are ready to just dismiss Boise because of the VT loss. Better let the season play out.
4. Alabama’s No. 3 (Trent Richardson) is pretty good: How many teams could play a high profile game without their Heisman Trophy winner (running back Mark Ingram) and the defensive MVP of the BCS Championship game (Marcell Dareus) and dominate? Alabama did and never slowed down in beating Penn State 24-3. Trust me when I tell you that the game was not that close. Nick Saban took it easy on Joe Paterno out of resect for him. Alabama averaged almost eight yards per play as Richardson ran for 144 yards, the fourth best total against Penn State’s defense since 2005. Ingram is a great player but Richardson is a special, special talent as well. He’s too explosive not to get the ball at least 10 times a game, even when Ingram returns.
5. Denard Robinson is the man: If I had to fill out a Heisman ballot today I would probably put Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson at the top of the list. Robinson had an incredible 502 yards of total offense (258 yards rushing, 244 passing) and scored the winning touchdown with 27 seconds remaining in a 28-24 win at Notre Dame. In two games against Notre Dame and UConn Robinson has 885 yards of total offense. The only question I have is how much pounding can Robinson take from Big Ten defenses. He has already run the ball 57 times in two games. Michigan has UMass and Bowling Green before starting the Big Ten schedule at Indiana on Oct. 2.
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Programming note: On today’s “Barnhart and Durham Show” (10 a.m., 790 The Zone) we will welcome Florida State coach Bobby Bowden. Bowden will be in town Monday to speak to the Touchdown Club of Atlanta. We will also have former Georgia assistant Mickey Matthews, now the head coach at James Madison, the team that upset Virginia Tech on Saturday. You can listen on www.790thezone.com.