Lots to learn from Week 1, but don't believe all first impressions
We've been down this road before with Michigan, Notre Dame and others
It'll be fascinating to see how the pollsters react to the result of Boise-Va. Tech
Can't help but wonder how good UNC would be if not for a wave of scandal
After winning his Notre Dame head-coaching debut with an inarguably solid 23-12 victory over Purdue, Brian Kelly was asked by a reporter if he felt like a "white knight."
Easy, now. It's one game. Let's not go rushing to conclusions...
Yeah, right. Who am I to lecture anyone about presumptuous analysis when, two games into last season, I gushed over Michigan quarterback Tate Forcier's potential while all but declaring Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor a bust? A year later, the latter is a Heisman candidate and the former is a third-stringer.
Oh, how hard it is to keep from reading too much into various first impressions after opening weekend. On the one hand, I feel like I learned a lot. On the other hand, I feel like I've been burned by many of the same parties before.
If Albert Einstein knows what he's talking about, you may be doomed to insanity if you've already reached the following conclusions:
Michigan has itself a quarterback
When we last heard this: Last season.
Why this might be presumptuous: See Forcier note above.
Why this time might be different: Um, did you watch Denard Robinson? The guy was a machine against UConn, rushing 29 times for 197 yards while completing 19 of 22 throws for 186 more. Just as importantly, Michigan's other parts -- most notably the offensive line -- clicked as well, and Rodriguez's spread-option offense finally evoked its West Virginia form.
The only concern is Robinson's durability. Can a generously listed 6-foot, 193-pound quarterback make it through a season running 25 times a game? He briefly left Saturday's game after a shot to the hip at the end of one run. "He probably ran more today than we'd like," said Rodriguez. "I think that's a little bit much, but at the same time, he can handle it."
There's something wrong with Florida's offense
When we last heard this:The first half of 2008 and '09 .
Why this might be presumptuous: The center snap is usually fixable.
Why this time might be different: While Mike Pouncey's repeated wild pitches against Miami of Ohio were most emblematic of Florida's offensive "incompetence," as Urban Meyer put it, the stench went far deeper than that. The Gators, playing without three injured or suspended veteran offensive linemen, flat-out couldn't move the ball for nearly three quarters against a MAC team that went 1-11 last season.
"It would be tough to win with this performance against an SEC team," said quarterback John Brantley. You think?
Mind you, Florida's offense (its running game in particular) struggled early in both of Meyer's BCS championship seasons, and like those units, this one will improve. The difference: This time there's no Tim Tebow to automatically bulldoze his way to three or four yards. Perhaps a healthy offensive line will give Brantley more opportunities to spread the field. If not, the SEC East is open for takers.
Notre Dame is "back"
When we last heard this: 2009, 2006, 2005, 2002...
Why this might be presumptuous: The Irish began last season by pitching a shutout (35-0 over Nevada) and wound up 6-6.
Why this time might be different: You could have made a laundry list of all the areas in which Notre Dame needed to improve under Kelly, and the Irish hit all of them against Purdue: offensive balance, fundamentally sound defense, more pressure on the quarterback and fewer penalties (two). Charlie Weis left behind veteran talent, and it stands to reason that Kelly, a more proven head coach, can iron out the wrinkles.
Still, it will be some time before we can truly gauge Notre Dame's progress. If the defense holds down Michigan's Robinson next weekend, we'll probably start seeing some "Return to Glory" headlines, but try not to forget that the Wolverines are themselves coming off a 5-7 campaign.
Matt Barkley is the next great USC quarterback
When we last heard this: The first half of last season.
Why this might be presumptuous: He was playing Hawaii.
Why this time might be different: He did throw five touchdowns, and looked darn good doing so. Say what you will about Lane Kiffin (whatever it is, he's heard it), but he does have a pretty long history of developing college quarterbacks. His greatest feat at Tennessee was turning Jonathan Crompton into an NFL draft pick. Whereas former offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates seemed to baby Barkley as a freshman, Kiffin showed little hesitation letting Barkley air it out in the opener.
USC's signal caller will obviously face much better pass rushes as the season progresses, and we'll have to see whether his receivers (Ronald Johnson, Robert Woods, David Ausberry) can excel when facing opponents over which they don't physically tower. The guess here is that Barkley's in for a big season. USC's defense, on the other hand...