Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What We Learned From Opening Weekend

Ahhh, college football. We all woke up Saturday morning with a giant grin on our faces. We set our breakfast up in front of the tube and watched College Game Day on ESPN. Herbstreit's caked on make-up and "expert" predictions were dead on as usual. I think he scored 50%. The Old Sunshine Scooter got the crowd hyped up with his catchy, "Not so fast, my friend." It never gets old. And Fowler, with his monotone voice and stoic demeanor, was more entertaining than the both of them. Oh, and don't forget about Desmond...

We marveled at the thousands of already intoxicated students hopping around with signs that read, "Julio For Jeisman." Super clever with the soft 'J' alliteration. You'd never guess it came from an Alabama student/fan.

Ahhh, yes, college football has returned. Even though it was 98 degrees in Tampa, I seriously felt the cool chill of Fall as a crunchy, brown leaf wafted past me. Wait, what was I doing outside?

So, what did we learn from the colleges I'm covering?

It's too soon to say we learned anything from UF and USF as they both beat up on vocational schools, but both teams need to sharpen up.

Florida had multiple dropped passes, which was something that bothered Meyer during summer camp. It's not the end of the world and it's easily correctable, but it's also something you don't want lingering. I expect it to be fixed by Tennessee weekend, but look for Meyer to start younger kids or guys with less experience if the starters don't shape up.

USF played well, but their run defense concerns me. Wofford ran the football at them with success. I know, I know, what am I talking about? Wofford averaged 3.5 a pop. Yeah, but their starting back, Eric Breitenstein, had over 9 yards a carry and 121 rushing. That's not going to get it done against teams that live by the run such as Pittsburgh and West Virginia.

Now, onto Florida State and Miami...

What an epic battle that was. That looked like some old-school FSU-UM slug fests.

Offensively, both teams look sharp. Ponder and Harris have definitely done their homework in the off-season and it shows. Neither team had much of a running game, but there were signs of life from the backs on occasion.

The defenses from both squads are awful. FSU was concerned all summer with their defensive backs and it showed. Mickey Andrews defense is dated and doesn't work the way it used to back in '93. The bump-and-run blitz package only works sporadically or with teams that have inferior offensive lines. You cannot constantly leave your corner on an island with no safety help. It'll be a 6 and 6 season for Bobby and his boys if they don't correct that problem.

Miami broke in a new defensive scheme, so they may get a pass. UM mixed man and zone, but not well enough. Zone only works if the front 4 produces pressure and Ponder kept clean, finding the open spaces. FSU's receivers were beating UM's corner's with double moves on man coverage. At least Miami's new D coordinator knew to leave a safety back at all times and that seriously might've saved UM during this game. Their D should gel better throughout the season. If not, they will have a losing record.

And, people, leave Forston alone. That young man played a hell of a ball game and doesn't deserve the criticism he's receiving. There are at least 20 more plays and/or reasons the 'Noles lost that game. Give the 'Canes credit too. Those kids played with a lot of heart.

There we have it. College football is back and I, for one, am going to enjoy every single game this season. I don't care if it's Youngstown versus Prairie View, I'm going to sit back and admire the emotion and purity of this extraordinary game. I hope you all do too.

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