Monday morning thoughts: Wild weekend was fun, but now Auburn comes calling
|Monday, September 4, 2017, 8:03 AM- -|
What a weekend of college football.
It’s just past 11:30 p.m. on Sunday night, and what started with Ohio St. and Indiana Thursday night continued all weekend and ended with two compelling games late Sunday night – Virginia Tech’s win over West Virginia and UCLA’s epic comeback win over Texas A&M.
One more game tonight (Ga. Tech and Tennessee) and the first full weekend of college football will be over. And it was quite a weekend. Here are some quick thoughts (we have an early morning with interviews in the WestZone, and it’s Auburn week).
*Kent St. took the money and ran. Clemson paid Kent St. $800,000 for the chance to come into Death Valley and be a sacrificial lamb to open the season, and while no one expected the Golden Flashes to pull off the upset, I expected them to at least try to be competitive.
I was wrong. It became painfully obvious early that Kent St.’s game plan offensively was to milk the clock, throw as few passes as possible and get the game over as quick as possible. They took the play clock down under five seconds on most plays and ran off-tackle on what seemed like every play.
Interim head coach Don Treadwell alluded to that fact after the game.
"Ball control was certainly a thought going into the game," said Treadwell. "You have a dynamic, explosive offense on the other side, and we wanted to utilize the clock as much as we could in our favor today."
This is a school that was content to go through the motions and tried to escape without a major injury. I’m not blasting them – this program has seen a lot of turmoil over the last few years, and made the trip to South Carolina without their head coach, who is taking a medical leave for a few weeks.
But Saturday was little more than a glorified scrimmage, and it’s hard to tell anything about either team. Hopefully, we don’t see Kent St. on the schedule again. Ever.
*The news that FSU quarterback Deondre Francois will miss the rest of the regular season had to come as a jolt to the Seminoles. They are thin at quarterback, and you had to wonder going into the game if their porous offensive line could keep Francois upright and healthy. They did neither, and now the entire narrative of the ACC changes.
The Seminoles were picked by the media to win the ACC, and if they had escaped Atlanta and the game against Alabama with Francois intact that might still be the case. Without Francois, however, head coach Jimbo Fisher will turn the offense over to a skinny freshman with no game experience. You better believe the rest of the ACC thinks they have a chance to pounce.
FSU showed glaring holes not only on the offensive line but at wide receiver. They have a gimme next week against Louisiana-Monroe, but Miami waits in two weeks followed by N.C. State.
Clemson now stands as the favorite to win the ACC Atlantic, right? But the Tigers have a road game at Louisville (which struggled with Purdue) and a road game at Virginia Tech (beat West Virginia) before the end of the month. The ACC could be a war of attrition this season, but head coach Dabo Swinney and the Tigers have the most talent, top to bottom, in the league and a bunch of players who have won a lot of games.
*As for the rest of the ACC – N.C. State did what N.C. State does and had a train wreck of an opener. The Pack outgained South Carolina and ran up and down the field on the Gamecocks’ woeful defense, but made enough mistakes to lose in heartbreaking fashion. They are still a tough out for anybody, but Saturday proved they have holes.
Louisville struggled for most of the game with Purdue, but shouldn’t have. They lost two fumbles inside the Boilermaker five and had enough mistakes for an entire season in one game. But that’s the hallmark of some of Bobby Petrino’s recent teams, and Petrino has been lucky that quarterback Lamar Jackson is so talented he can bail them out. Repeatedly. But they still have offensive line issues and they have to find somebody other than Jackson that can make a play.
Virginia Tech looks to have a playmaker in freshman quarterback Josh Jackson. He made mistakes to be sure, but he also showed toughness in the win over the Mountaineers. The Hokie defense is quick, and that game in a few weeks will be yet another tough test for the Tigers.
But all of that is down the road – first up is Auburn and new quarterback Jarrett Stidham. The SEC Tigers ran roughshod over Georgia Southern Saturday, and they have a running backs group as good as almost anyone in the country. There’s no GameDay- they elected to stay with the Ohio St. and Oklahoma annual promotion tour – but Saturday night in Death Valley will be special.
Now that Kent St. is out of the way, the fun really starts. Let the fun begin.