The greatest opening week of college football is behind us, and it’s time to overreact to what we saw.
Tennessee has no shot at winning the East
It’s no secret that the Volunteers came out flat against Appalachian State Thursday night, and for the life of me I don’t know how. Growing up in North Carolina, college football doesn’t come first at most schools in the state, but up in Boone it means everything, similarly to the SEC. App State is most notably known for the 2007 upset of Top 5 Michigan, at the Big House. What has been mostly forgotten is the three-consecutive FCS national titles won in the late 2000’s. Given all of those facts, how the hell did Tennessee overlook a program with that kind of winning culture that was coming off an 11-2 season, with 17 returning starters?
It’s Week 1 so I’ll cut the Volunteers a break with their overall performance. Where I will draw concerns is with their offensive line. The Mountaineer defensive line, that was severely undersized compared to the Vol front, dominated for the majority of the game limiting the Vols to 127 yards rushing. Josh Dobbs has gained a lot of criticism since Thursday, rightfully so, but it’s hard to blame the guy when he faced pressure all night long. Tennessee is 1-0 and that’s all that matters, now, but if that offensive line doesn’t improve by time Florida comes to town, then we can worry about where the Volunteers may stand in the East.
Kevin Sumlin’s job is safe
Texas A&M has done a masterful job at fooling the nation with impressive early season wins. In 2014, the Aggies boat-raced a then Top 10 ranked South Carolina team, only to fall apart late in the season and watch their thought to be rising star quarterback Kenny Hill transfer. Last year, the Aggies won against another Top 25 opponent in Arizona State, who like South Carolina turned out to be fraudulent, only to fall apart down the stretch, while again losing two quarterbacks.
I do appreciate the way A&M’s defense played, limiting UCLA to only 125 rushing yards. The continued production under second year DC John Chavis will make or break the Aggies season and determine Sumlin’s fate. The leadership that Trevor Knight provides is also something to like, but I’ve seen this story before and I’m not quite ready to buy in.
Gus Malzahn has lost all touch with the offense
Watching Gus Malzahn rotate quarterback after quarterback on Saturday night was a ghastly sight. The thought that he no longer knows what he’s doing offensively is a little much. It’s very clear that Malzahn’s offense works best when he was a quarterback capable of stretching the field with his arm and legs. Jeremy Johnson is not that option, based on his inability to protect the football. John Franklin III appears to be a better option than Johnson, but clearly doesn’t have the confidence of the coaching staff. Sean White was named the figurehead starter for the Clemson game and had the greatest impact on the game, particularly in the passing game.
White obviously is not Cam Newton or Nick Marshall athletically, but it’s fairly clear to me that he has to be the starter. Malzahn’s quarterback carousel isn’t something my stomach can handle, but I’m hard pressed to believe that all of a sudden he’s a bad offensive coach. Let this be known, if Malzahn takes Auburn to a bowl, behind what appears to be a revitalized defense and is fired, then the Auburn job is impossible to succeed at without winning the West every other year.
Les Miles has to go at LSU
This is one that’s going to be hard to convince an LSU fan otherwise. Miles has preached all offseason about how he was going to open the offense up and that he refused to be one-dimensional. Miles even had the audacity to tell us that quarterback Brandon Harris was improved. All of this came across as a flat lie on Saturday at historic Lambeau Field. LSU struggled mightily offensively, failing to score an offensive touchdown until 4:21 left in the 3rd quarter.
Thankfully, the defenses performance was up to par, but not enough to overcome a 12-for-21, 131 yard, one touchdown, two interception performance from Harris. The loss hurts LSU’s perception, for now, and doesn’t bode well to Miles’ standing within the fan base, but it’s just one week. Looking at the national landscape across college football after Week 1, a two loss team has been rumored to have a chance at the playoff this year. More importantly, it’s gonna take a lot to keep out a two-loss SEC champion in LSU.
The SEC is no longer the best conference
I don’t know where the pride in ones conference came from or why it started, but it’s become a major talking point in college football. Even more so, now that the playoff is around. The SEC finished the weekend 7-7, 6-6 if you ignore the South Carolina-Vanderbilt mockery from Thursday night, thus bringing about scrutiny from conference opposition. The conference suffered losses to a Sun Belt team with Mississippi State falling 21-20 to South Alabama; and a Conference USA team after Kentucky collapsed after leading Southern Miss 35-10.
LSU’s loss to Wisconsin didn’t aid to the leagues perception, nor did the poor quarterback play seen throughout the weekend from Missouri, Vanderbilt and Auburn. One thing to keep in mind, is that the leagues top team in Alabama looked to have not skipped a beat from last season. Texas A&M also gained traction by knocking off PAC-12 South favorite UCLA. Compare that to Clemson’s sluggish performance at Auburn and one might think that the championship trophy should have a good chance at staying within the league offices in Birmingham.