Star Freshman and Transfers Shine and Other Week 1 Observations

My conclusions and observations after the first full week of college football. I’ll take a look at the things that I got right and the things I got very wrong. – Photos courtesy of the Montgomery Advertiser

Week 1 of the 2019 college football season is officially in the books. It all began with a sloppy and rather disappointing game between Miami and Florida. There were poor performances all across the sport in the first weekend, but there were also very surprising and memorable performances as well.

It was a big weekend for Freshman quarterbacks. Hank Bachmeier was able to take Boise State into Tallahassee and lead a ferocious second half comeback over the Noles. Bachmeier completed close to sixty percent of his passes for over 400 yards and a touchdown in Saturday’s win. Two other Freshman quarterbacks were able to lead their teams to comeback wins in week 1. Bo Nix of Auburn and Sam Howell of North Carolina did just enough for their teams as UNC beat South Carolina and Auburn took down Oregon. Howell ended with 245 yards of passing and 2 touchdowns. Bo Nix looked shaky early, throwing two interceptions, but pulled it together late and ended up throwing the game winner with 15 seconds left in the game.

We live in a time where freshman phenoms at quarterback are becoming more and more normal. Go back just 10 years or so and the thought of starting a freshman on the first game of the season would have been unheard of. In fact, coaches that would even consider it would be thought of as crazy. But now, these kids are at a completely different level coming out of high school and there are a growing number of them that are poised and confident enough to lead big time programs right away.

Big name quarterback transfers also made a statement in Week 1 for their new teams. Two former Georgia Bulldogs, Justin Fields (now with Ohio State) and Jacob Eason (now at Washington) had great games against weaker competition, each throwing 4 touchdown passes on Saturday. But by far, the biggest performance of the weekend was Jalen Hurts lighting up the Houston defense on Sunday night for the Sooners. Hurts, the former Alabama quarterback, ended up with over 500 of total offense and 6 total touchdowns as Oklahoma beat Houston 49-31.

There were also a number of surprises that took place this past weekend. No one expected Duke to hang around with Alabama, but that’s just what the Blue Devils did… for a half at least. Duke managed to hone in the Tide offense, giving up just 14 first half points. Alabama didn’t even score until five minutes into the second quarter. The second half was a different story, however, and the Tide went on to rout Duke 42-3.

#21 Iowa State was nearly the first FBS team to lose to a FCS team this season as they barely survived Northern Iowa in triple overtime. Tennessee lost their home opener to Georgia State, a program that has only existed for a decade! Tennessee had not lost to a Group or 5 opponent since 2008. Things are very rocky there in Rocky Top. And Missouri went on the road with Clemson transfer QB Kelly Bryant and lost a wild game to Wyoming, though Kelly did play well overall.

What I got right in Week 1

What didn’t surprise me this week? Those teams at the top, as the big dogs ate and they ate a lot in week 1. The Top 6 teams in the country (Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, Ohio State & LSU) all won by an average margin of 32.5 points. I had a feeling that all of those teams, and others in the Top 25, would roll this week, with most of them playing much lesser competition.

Overall, Week 1 was a solid week of football. While there were plenty of struggles and mistakes made, even by the best in the country, most teams played up to expectation. We will see how well those mistakes can get corrected as a couple of top teams get ready for marquee match-ups next week. Clemson at home vs. Texas A&M and LSU travelling to Austin to play Texas. Both are very intriguing, early season defining games.

In the SoCon, my pre-season favorite, Furman Paladins, looked really, really strong against Charleston Southern. The young quarterback Darren Grainger had a solid day, but it was the plethora of talent at running back that really showed off. Furman tallied 369 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground as a team, led by star Junior Devin Wynn. If the Paladins continue to play like they did on Saturday, they will be hard to stop this season. They will have a tough game next week against a Georgia State team that is feeling themselves after beating the Vols in Knoxville.

What I got wrong

A number of things.

I’ll stay in the SoCon real quick as Wofford and Samford both lost to teams they should not have lost to. Wofford got beat by South Carolina State, in Orangeburg, and Samford lost a double overtime thriller to Tennessee Tech. Those two opponents, combined, went 6-16 last season. Not a good look for two SoCon teams thought highly of coming into the year.

In FBS play, a couple of teams that I really liked to have big a 2019, lost this week. Oregon, who I thought was a sure Play-off contender, got knocked off in the final seconds against Auburn. Depending on how well Auburn does this year will determine how good of a loss that is for the Ducks. Not a complete post-season killer, but it sure doesn’t help.

My pick to win the ACC Coastal – Virginia Tech – also lost their opener at Boston College. A 35-28 final could have turned into a much different game had the Hokies not turned the ball over 5 times!

Florida, South Carolina and Missouri all looked bad and made it very clear that none of them are ready to compete for the SEC East and take the crown from Georgia. South Carolina made the move on Monday to turn the offense over to Freshman QB Ryan Hilinski after it was reported Jake Bentley will be out indefinitely with a foot injury. This is a move that I honestly believe is a week overdue. I thought for sure we would see the freshman in Week 1, but Muschamp decided to ride with Bentley. A move he will regret after the veteran QB threw a couple of interceptions late in the game versus UNC. Let’s see how Hilinski does against Charleston Southern next week. Maybe he can get comfortable before the Tide rolls into Columbia in Week 3.

Again I’ll say, overall not a bad first week, but some things to consider differently going into next week. Looking forward to a great slate of games next weekend.

Upstate High School

Some final scores from this past weekend here in the Upstate. Congrats to my Devildogs on a big win! 2-0 now on the season.

Southside – 17, J.L. Mann – 14

Byrnes – 40, Northwestern – 0

Liberty – 24, Berea -14

Spartanburg – 20, Greer – 12

Woodmont – 27, Palmetto – 7

T.L. Hanna – 40, Emerald – 7

Eastside – 49, Riverside – 7

Travelers Rest – 54, Carolina – 7

Greenville – 49, Wade Hampton – 0

D.W. Daniel – 51, Easley – 6

NFL

Week 1 of the NFL regular season kicks off Thursday night with a NFC North rivalry between the Packers and the Bears.

The NFL power rankings for Week 1 were released today. Carolina is ranked in the bottom half of the league at #18. The Panthers will take on defending NFC Champs the LA Rams at home on Sunday.

I don’t expect big things out of Carolina this year. Possibly a wild card contender, I believe that New Orleans is by far the strongest team in the NFC South with Atlanta not far behind. With Cam Newton getting older and a defense that has showed a major weakness on the back end, I just don’t see Carolina contending for the division this year.

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