By tonight’s end, the first week of college football will be in the books for DI schools. With that, here are a few observations. Enjoy.
Observation 1: Alabama = ….just…damn.
Everyone in the country knew Alabama probably wouldn’t drop off too much from last season, but the defense was one area of concern entering this season in part because seven players from the Crimson Tide’s defense went in the 2017 NFL Draft, according to SaturdayDownSouth.com.
Everyone got their answer Saturday in the Tide’s 24-7 win over No. 3 Florida State. This was the fourth straight year the Crimson Tide recorded three sacks in their season-opening game. The most recent two were against the No. 20 teams in the nation.
That doesn’t bode well for Alabama’s next opponent, unranked Fresno State. Neither does the fact that the Tide haven’t slowed down off those performances, winning their last three week-2 matchups by a combined score of 116-20.
Week two should be a cakewalk for Alabama. In case you somehow thought Fresno State had a chance before…
Observation 2: Texas is too inconsistent to predict, both now and for the next two-to-three years.
In his Monday press conference, first-year Texas head coach Tom Herman said “We’re in this for the long haul.”
Herman was equally as candid about the depth of work needed in the program immediately after Saturday’s 51-41 loss to Maryland.
“If we all thought that we were going to come in here and in nine months, sprinkle some fairy dust on this team and think that we’ve arrived, then we’re wrong,” Herman said after the game.
Last year, the famous quote that came from broadcasters during Texas’ 2OT win over Notre Dame to start the season was “Texas, is, back folks.”
First, Texas isn’t.
Second, I’m not sure we’ll know in any one second when they are.
I don’t think that when Texas actually is “back,” there will be one defining moment when we know. I think we’ll look back at maybe a season, or a couple of them in a few years year, and realize “OK, Texas can legitimately contend this season.”
That’ll only happen if Tom Herman gets time though, something Texas fans and regents have historically been reluctant to allow. Still, looking back statistically at previous seasons, there really aren’t a lot of scoring trends that point to simple conclusions like “Texas needs to play better defense” or “They need to score more points” to be able to armchair-quarterback Texas to success.
Realistically, Texas just needs to play better.
If they give Tom Herman time to make the cultural-shift he’s curating work, then they’ll be back at Alabama’s level before long.
But it will take two to three years.
For now, I wouldn’t bother trying to predict what they’ll do until they do it, because Texas is just too unpredictable at the moment, and it’s impossible to say how long that will last.
Observation 3: Oklahoma’s offensive line might be a real vulnerability this season
This morning, I watched the replay of the first half of the game Saturday between UTEP and Oklahoma.
My opinion: Oklahoma kind of got away with one in that game.
Who knows, maybe I’ll eat what I’m about to say next week. Maybe Oklahoma will come out, drop the hammer against No. 2 Ohio State in the Horseshoe.
But watching that replay, the part before OU quarterback Baker Mayfield came out, that Oklahoma offensive line did not look very good. Here are some statistics to back that up.
UTEP had a sack and five tackles-for-loss against the Oklahoma offense. OU, ranked No. 7 in the nation going in, had a sack, and four tackles-for-loss against the UTEP offense.
Same number of sacks.
UTEP had more Tackles for loss.
OU had more points and got the win.
In the half I watched, UTEP got fairly regular pressure on Mayfield, who started off 16-16 passing and ended up going 19-20.
Still, this was the first time since 2014 Oklahoma has had fewer sacks than an opponent in a season-opening game, and won.
Last year, they were out-sacked 5-2 by No. 15 Houston, who pulled out the huge upset under the guidance of then-head coach and now conference-rival Tom Herman. Two weeks later hosted No. 3 Ohio State, losing 45-24 and again getting out-sacked, this time 3-1.
Now, Oklahoma only gets a week to prepare for a road-game against an Ohio State squad fresh off beating Indiana 49-21 behind senior quarterback J.T. Barrett, who had 150 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions on 14-20 passing last year against Oklahoma.
Maybe it won’t matter. Maybe this week, the Sooners players will get a lot better from week one to week two just like many teams do after they’ve tasted actual gameplay for the first time in a season.
But I’m predicting Ohio State will win by at least 14 points, largely because their defensive line will rock Oklahoma’s offensive line.