I spent the better part of the best years of my life writing about college football (and for that, they pretty much turned out to be the most unhappy years of my life), so like it or not, I’m subjecting you to my thoughts from each week’s action. DEAL WITH IT.
Games I Watched
Notre Dame 50, Navy 10
- After years of working as a credentialed beat writer covering Navy athletics, I’ve come to mentally cringe every time Navy plays in a game on national television (read: not CBSCS.) Like the Army-Navy game and every ESPN game, the attention paid to the Navy football team bordered more on what it represents than what it is. We all know the clichés about hard-work and physicality and being great student athletes and Americans; but can we actually talk about what’s going on on the field?
- What was going on on the field was about what I expected. Scratch that, it was worse. I somehow forced myself to watch the entire game, but between seeing the Navy defensive front give more ground than the Polish cavalry against the Blitzkrieg and Trey Miller taking snaps from the shotgun, I nearly lost my sanity.
- If Navy can’t find a way to commit to running the actual triple option with, key phrase, the first option (fullback dive) being established, it’s going to be a long season. After hearing all about him all summer, it was disappointing to see that Noah Copeland was a complete non-factor.
- Gary Danielson said some absolutely stupid things during the broadcast, but he hit the nail on the head when he summed up how the Navy coaches handled the end of the first half. Try’s fumble killed any spark the team might have been able to recover, and not taking a time out to give Miller a breather wasted a gutsy performance from first-year starter.
- If I’m a Notre Dame fan (and I am, kind of) I am feeling pretty good. I know most Navy fans hate the Irish, but as a Catholic and as someone who enjoys the play of real or semi-real student athletes, I can’t help but pull for the school against most opponents. Not Navy, mind you, but pretty much everything else. I thought the Irish O and D-lines were dominant, and hope Saturday wasn’t all on Navy just sucking.
Ohio 24, Penn State 14
- The people I discuss college football with tend to think Penn State’s football program should be banished like those dudes in the floating mirror in outerspace from that one Superman movie, but my thoughts are more conflicted. Seeing Beaver Stadium on Saturday, and seeing the emotion in the eyes of the Penn State athletes, I’d be lying if I said a part of me was not pulling for them.
- Of course, I was also pulling for Ohio, which I like for no other reason than the combination of Tyler Tettleton and Beau Blankenship. What can I say? As a short white dude myself, I tend to have a politically incorrect tendency to pull 5-foot-8 white running backs. SUE ME.
- Looking at some of the other MAC teams which played major BCS opponents Saturday (and looking at their collapses) I attribute Ohio’s success to one factor; coaching. Frank Solich is the kind of guy who can keep a team of 21 year-old cool and collected. Even when down, his plauers knew they could win the game, and didn’t press. Lucky bounces, I think, often go towards the team which stays composed. And a composed, well coached team can make some serious noise later in the season.
Utah State 34, Southern Utah 3
- I don’t think anyone who closely follows USU — not the least of whom is this former Aggie Sports Editor — was surprised at the play of Joe Hill. We Aggie fans have been spoiled with Robert Turbin and Michael Smith for the last four years, but any one keeping an eye on the pipeline knew their was talent behind them. Kerwynn – we called him ‘Hey Arnold’ when I was in Logan because they teased him for having a football shaped head – was solid, and both he and Hill will keep the Aggie ground game humming. Both are fast, shifty, and have great vision, but their surprising power will catch teams off gaurd all year. Oh yea, Chuckie Keeton was pretty swell, too, and don’t overlook that offensive line.
- Matt Austin might just be the most fundamentally sound wide receiver in the country when it comes to body country and sideline awareness. And no, that’s not a homeristic statement.
- I was worried how the offense would look in terms of tempo and design with Dave Baldwin moving on to Colorado State, but Matt Wells seems to have everything under control. The thing I love about the “power spread” and the way USU runs it is it keeps other teams so off-tempo. Baldwin used to tell me the offense ”is complex, not complicated,” and I like the way he describes it. With all the different packages and formations, it makes defenses play off-balance, and imposes a north-south but also east-west hurry-up style of play on you. The most important thing for USU moving forward will be ball control. If that can be maintained, there’s no reason this offense can’t be Xbox good this year.
FOX: Gus Johnson calls every game like it’s March Madness. Pair him with Charles Davis, who might just be the most intelligent play-by-play guy in all of college football commentary-dom, and you’ve got the most underrated announcing duo this side of the Joe Tessitore effect.
Nebraska’s running game: Ok, so it was Southern Miss. But the 278 yards (6.2 per) on the ground was impressive given the fact that Heisman candidate Rex Burkhead took to the sideline after only three carries (albeit, one for along touchdown). Ameer Abdullah showed some toughness between the tackles, but most of all, Taylor Martinez looked like he actually knew what he was doing with both his feet and his arm. And later in the season, with Burkhead back and hopefully healthy, you’ve got to think the latter part of that statement will open up thinks for the run game.
Turner Gill: When he was back at Buffalo, Turner Gill was the first FBS head football coach I met and interviewed. At the time, my credentials were that I had graduated high school and had once written a blog about Navy football. Yea, impressive stuff, I know. Yet the man treated me like a veteran, and at that Buffalo practice I attended, I saw first hand the kind of program that Gill looked to create. Most people know he struck out at Kansas, but few know he just coached his first FCS game. And while his Liberty Flames came up a dropped pass short of upending Wake Forest in week one, something tells me the efforts of first-time starter Brian Hudson will have Liberty staying near the top of FCS competition.
ESPN: I think I saw an Obama commercial between each TV timeout. Never mind for a second that I’m a conservative and consider this; isn’t the beauty of the college football season the fact that we can (kind of) ignore this politics stuff? Way to spoil a Saturday, ESPN.
Savannah State: I’m sure it’s a fine place to go to college and all, but how would you like to be the kid who has to respond to “yea, the team that was blown out 84-0 by Oklahoma State” when explaining where you go to college? Week One games are usually ugly. Like Battle of Hoth ugly. But this was the equivalent of the Death Star blowing up Alderaan.
Navy’s Use of the Shotgun: Did I mention how much I sincerely dislike it?
Coming tommarow…Week One Football Eats