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John Middlekauff’s College Football Week One Takeaways

Posted by John Middlekauff On September - 3 - 2013
"Marcus Mariota"

USA TODAY Sports

Maybe I have no life, or maybe I am just addicted to the game of football. I would like to think it’s the latter, but that being said – I watched an unhealthy amount of football over the weekend. It feels good to be back, and I think there is a lot to digest. What teams are headed in the right direction, which ones make me nervous, and what players will NFL front offices start zeroing in on. This has the makings of one of the best college football seasons in years. There is no true dominant or lock national championship team, there is lots of parity at the top. Any number of teams could win it, which truly gives the college football season a weekly March Madness feel.

My top 10

1-      Oregon: 

Chip left a loaded roster; this may be the most talented Oregon team ever.

2-      Alabama: 

They played bad and won by 25, in Saban I trust!

3-      Clemson: 

Dabo talks the talk and his team backed him up by walking the walk.

4-      South Carolina: 

The defense is their strength, and Clowney is not even in shape yet.

5-      Stanford: 

Despite having the week off the roster is still loaded with future pros.

6-      Ohio State: 

Schedule is WEAK, Urban could go 24-0 in his first 2 years.

7-      Texas A&M: 

If Johnny plays like that he deserves some cash.

8-      Louisville: 

Teddy Heisman sure looked good.

9-      LSU: 

Les doesn’t rebuild, he just reloads. QB looks much improved.   

10-   Florida State: 

EJ Manuel who?

Player of the Week

It just happens to be three QB’s who all should end up in the first round. After Derek Carr, Fresno State’s Senior QB and NFL prospect went (52-73) for 456 yards and 5 touchdowns against Rutgers –  I thought he was a lock for the award. Then Tajh Boyd hit the scene on Saturday night with a 5 TD performance, three throwing and two rushing. He showed up big when the lights were brightest. But not to be out done Teddy Heisman, I mean Bridgewater who let everyone know why scouts have been singing his praises all off-season.  Teddy eviscerated an over matched Ohio team by throwing for 355 yards and five touchdowns. While Carr is fighting an uphill battle when it comes to the Heisman because of the school he attends, these other two QBs could be battling it out all season long. When it comes to the NFL I would not be shocked to see all three of these QBs end up in the top 20. They all have the talent, and temperament to succeed at the next level.

Freshman QB’s

Too often college coaches are conservative and go with more of a seniority based system. But Penn State’s Bill O’Brien, Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury, and Cal’s Sonny Dykes all rolled the dice with true freshman QBs. Penn State’s Christian Hackenburg looks like a can’t miss NFL prospect, and he is 18. He was (22-31) for 278 yards and two TDs. One coach who was involved in the game told me he’ll be a top 10 pick one day, mark that down with a sharpie. Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury may not just be the coolest guy in college football, but we may call him the QB whisperer before long. To start a walk-on true freshman QB is one of the craziest things I have ever heard of at the division one level, especially at a BCS school. Well Baker Mayfield quieted the critics pretty quickly going (43-60) for 413 yards and threw four TDs. I mean has he signed his scholarship papers yet? And last but not least Sonny Dykes freshman choice Jared Goff looked primed for the big stage. Despite throwing two pick sixes, that were both tipped by the way, I felt he looked to be the best Cal QB since Aaron Rodgers. He went toe to toe with a top defensive head coach – showed moxie, poise, and high level decision making. I am buying early stock in him. All three of these programs have a BRIGHT future. 

My Goats of the Week

This award must go to all the FBS teams who lost to FCS programs. In the day and age of paying coaches millions of dollars, the constant building of facilities, and the endless TV contracts – you can’t afford to lose to these teams. This list is WAY too long: No 25 Oregon State (Eastern Washington) Kansas State (North Dakota State) San Diego State (Eastern Illinois) South Alabama (Southern Utah) UConn (Towson) USF (McNeese State) Georgia State (Samford),  and Iowa State (Northern Iowa). Can’t imagine the day after staff meeting was enjoyable – especially for Kansas State.  I’m sure Bill Snyder was one ANGRY old man.

Hot Seat Tracker

Lane Kiffin – His offense looked lifeless, QB situation looked in peril, and they didnt look to have chemistry on offense. They needed four INTs from their defense to struggle to beat a team that could conceivably not win a game in 2013. Despite playing the weakest SC schedule in years, they better improve quickly or this could be a LONG year. His lack of charisma and refusal to ever smile will not help his cause if things don’t turnaround quickly. Lets just hope Pat Haden was not on twitter during the game, because it sure wasn’t pretty Saturday night.

Mack Brown –  I guess a BCS level team wasn’t available so Texas had to play a high school team, I mean New Mexico State. It was nice to finally see a blowout, and we may not really know what Texas looks like until they play Ole Miss week three. If he can win that game the critics will quiet for a short period of time before the Red-River rivalry. Brown’s season may come down to how he plays against Oklahoma, who has embarrassed his program the last couple of seasons.

Steve Sarkisian – If his chair was really as hot as some were saying, the Boise State win alerted the fireman who showed up and hosed off his entire office. Easily one of, if not the biggest wins in Sark’s time in the Pacific Northwest. The talent that he has been accumulating finally looked to be on the same page, but the main reason the Huskies look to be a potential force was the play of QB Keith Price. If he continues his high level of play – this could be a potential sleeper team and Sark may even get an extension instead of a pink slip.

Team to keep an eye on

"Brett Hundley"

Kirby Lee – USA TODAY Sports

Jim Mora has UCLA looking like a legitimate contender in  2013 – they have a star QB in Brett Hundley who accounted for four TD’s and is dynamic as any in the country. He also has a star defensive player in OLB Anthony Barr, who will be a top draft pick in 2014. Beside the top end talent on the roster – this team is as deep with freshman as any in the country – 15 true freshman made their college debut against Nevada Saturday. Led by the ever polarizing and former Notre Dame commit –  Eddie Vanderdoes who had six tackles and two TFL’s.  This team might not only factor into the national discussion in ’13, but be a factor for years to come.

Scout Buzz

While Teddy Bridgewater was outstanding and Clowney looked to be sucking wind like me on a treadmill, there was one name that I continue to hear buzzing in the scouting community: Sammy Watkins. Watkins has a unique blend of size, speed, athleticism and the big play ability that NFL teams covet. I have talked to multiple scouts who have seen him this season at practice and came away uttering the same word – WOW. He is quickly establishing himself as the number one WR in the country while opening eyes in the NFL facilities around the country. I would be shocked if he falls out of the top 10 if he stays healthy.

Games the NFL will be watching

Florida vs Miami – This game feels like old times, a game that was once a pseudo NFL game. Florida is loaded on the OL with the likes center Jonotthan Harrison and guard Jon Halapio. The defense is led by arguably the most serious/angriest player in the county in Dom Easley protected by a big time athlete in the backfield with corner Jaylen Watkins. Miami is not hurting for talent either – led offensively by QB Stephen Morris who is protected by tackle Seantrel Henderson and gaurd Brandon Linder. Miami’s DL is not bad either – they have prospects like David Gilbert and Luther Robinson.  Would imagine they’ll be waves of scouts in south beach come Saturday and it has nothing to do with the nightlife.

San Jose State vs. Stanford – Stanford is loaded with NFL talent on defense – from OLB Trent Murphy, DE Ben Gardner, ILB Shane Skov, and FS Ed Reynolds. These are names you will hear called within the first two days of the NFL draft.  But San Jose State has themselves a polarizing QB, David Fales, who I have heard anywhere from a second to fifth round grade in NFL circles. Fales will have a chance to put himself near the top of the senior QB list with a high level performance against a top defense. I will be in attendance and I can’t wait to see what this QB has in store.  

  • Bex_R1986

    LOVED this article. Really well structured and punchy, a great summary for week 1! Hope this will be a feature every week, cheers John =)

    Derek Carr, damn that was something to see!

    Moment of the week: The pure outlet of emotion by Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews, breaking down in tears at the end of what was one of the most thrilling games of football I’ve ever seen. Really summed up a crazy, unforgettable game by two teams on the up and packed with guys who are quite simply great fun to watch. Truly encapsulated the cliché of “neither team deserved to lose”.

    Enjoy the San Jose State-Stanford game!

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