10 things I learned from the opening weekend of college football

Price1The opening weekend of college football produced little in the way of exciting finishes. But there were some moments. Oh yes, there were so fun finishes with many more to come when the games get better and more meaningful.

In the age of social media, we’re all instantly quick to judge our teams, players and coaches and after just one game, quarter or even a single series. However, there’s still a lot of things we learned from the opening weekend of college football.

While the sample size is too small to make sweeping predictions and judgements, there are several things that clearly stood out.

Locally…

1. New defensive coordinator Jon Hoke’s impact on the South Carolina defense is undeniable. The Gamecocks stymied a high-powered UNC offense in Charlotte thanks to three important turnovers. Hoke’s unit limited the Tar Heels to just 13 points despite giving up 440 total yards. While Steve Spurrier’s offense has a lot of work to do, Hoke’s defense was solid, in position to make plays and should improve ash and every week.

2. Clemson’s Deshaun Watson is worth the Heisman hype. The sophomore returned to the field after offseason knee surgery and was crisp throwing the ball downfield. Regardless of the opposition, Watson showed no signs of rust and seemingly picked up where he left off last year.

3. Injuries to key players will have an effect on respective teams moving forward. Despite an abundance of depth and talent, Mike Williams was the one receiver Clemson doesn’t have an immediate replacement for due to his size, length and ability to go up and get jump balls.

Nationally…

4. More major injuries. Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright is out for several weeks after a minor knee operation that will likely sideline him for a big showdown against UCLA and possibly a huge road game at Stanford. Meanwhile, Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi’s first season just got exponentially tougher with 2014 ACC Offensive Player of the Year James Conner lost for the year with a torn MCL. Syracuse, Notre Dame and others were also “bitten” rather hard.

5. If there was any doubt why Everett Golson left South Bend, it’s now crystal clear. Irish signal caller Malik Zaire sliced and diced Charlie Strong’s defense with precision passing (19-for-22, 313 yards, 3 TDs) and displayed he’s much more than a just a running threat. And yes, I know about Golson’s FSU debut, but Texas and Texas State are night-and-day quality opponents.

6. Speaking of Notre Dame, provided the Irish get thru their next-three games unscathed (at Virginia, No. 16 Georgia Tech, UMass) and Clemson escapes a tricky Thursday night game at Louisville, Saturday Oct. 3 could be the return of ESPN’s “College GameDay” to the Upstate. The biggest competition that day will come from Athens when No. 9 Georgia hosts No. 3 Alabama.

7. Everybody’s crowing about the Pac-12’s weekend (7-5) and rightfully so. But how about the Big Ten? The league went 8-6 but only two of those wins were against Power 5 teams (Ohio State and Northwestern). SEC haters gonna keep hatin’ after a 12-1 weekend with four wins over the Power 5.

8. We were long overdue for a Hail Mary…and we got one Saturday afternoon in Lincoln (watch below). Thanks or the fun BYU!

9. Ugly uniforms are back! Which ones took the cake this weekend? Louisville’s “Uncaged Cardinal Primeknit” threads with the Olde English font on the back, resembling something closer to a UofL medieval history class. Virginia’s “faded” helmets made no sense and were best described by SB Nation: “Golf Hat Sunburn Tanline.”

10. Braxton Miller the next Randall Cobb?


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