Philadelphia, PA – It has been a long eight months since the end of the 2012 season, but all is forgiven, as the 2013 campaign is officially underway.
There were plenty of statements made in week one of the FBS season and not all of them were good.
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY?: The FBS season started last Thursday and the eyes of the college football world were squarely fixed on South Carolina All-American Jadeveon Clowney. Regarded as the top player in college football should he enter the NFL Draft in 2014, Clowney failed to deliver in the season-opener (three tackles) and was quickly criticized for what looked like a lack of conditioning and effort in the Gamecocks' 27-10 win over North Carolina.
It is unfair to think that Clowney will make the type of defining plays like the one in the bowl game against Michigan last year, but that is what people expect on a regular basis from him. It's a long season and Clowney will make plenty of plays that showcase his enormous talent. He may not be able to live up to all the hype thrown on him, but that isn't his fault. He is a game- changer on the defensive side of the football and a rare athlete at his position. There will be far more productive outings than non-productive ones in his immediate future.
COLLEGE STATION CONUNDRUM: Johnny Manziel has had a tough off-season. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner does not shy away from media attention and that has brought out the sharks, as the slightest bit of blood in the water starts a feeding frenzy. To be fair, Manziel has brought most of the attention on himself, what with the constant social media updates and the offseason autograph scandal and subsequent NCAA investigation.
He hasn't handled the negative attention as well as he has handled the positive over the last year and therein lies the problem. Sure he is only a 20-year old kid, but he is starting to prove to be a selfish player with no regard for his teammates and a real concern for head coach Kevin Sumlin going forward.
Case in point were his antics against Rice this past weekend, where after serving a half game suspension, he appeared to mimic signing an autograph (he just doesn't get it), flashed money signs and pointed to the scoreboard in taunting some of the Owls, resulting in an unsportsmanlike penalty and subsequent benching by Sumlin.
You could say that A&M and the NCAA as a whole have created this problem and must now reap what they sow, but really, what is Sumlin's options at this point. He can immediately sit Manziel for the team's next game (they won't need him against Sam Houston State) in an effort to show him that the team comes first, but there is no way to keep him out of the Alabama game which follows. Manziel should listen to those trying to steer him down the right path, but unfortunately, his head might be so far up in the clouds, that he can't hear anything at this point.
THESE TIGERS HAVE BITE: Dabo Swinney has built a winning program in Death Valley. Clemson was a good team prior to Swinney's arrival, but has become a feared one since. Just ask the Georgia Bulldogs, who couldn't match score for score with the electrifying Tigers this past weekend. A lot of that had to do with the play of Heisman hopeful Tajh Boyd, as the senior signal-caller torched the Georgia defense for 270 passing yards, with three TD passes and another two scores on the ground.
Clemson has clearly jumped over one hurdle and is becoming more and more a threat to bring the SEC's national title reign (seven straight seasons) to an end. The Tigers still have issues to resolve on the defensive side of the football, but the schedule only has a couple of obvious obstacles the rest of the way, in a home date with Florida State in mid-October and the regular- season finale at South Carolina to close out November.
TEMPO MEANS EVERYTHING IN THIS GAME: Clemson proved that an up-tempo offense is a formidable weapon this week against Georgia. The Oregon Ducks have been preaching that mantra for some time now and piling up the victories as a result. Others are catching on and implementing an offense at mach speed as well. The newest addition to the group is the Washington Huskies. Having faced Oregon on a regular basis in the Pac-12, Steve Sarkisian has finally given into the notion that if you can't beat them, join them.
The Huskies christened the new Husky Stadium by rolling up 592 yards of total offense on a whopping 85 offensive plays, gashing Boise State both with the run (268 yards) and the pass (324 yards), en route to a 38-6 rout. More impressive was the fact that Washington's offense wasn't at full strength, with All-American tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins sidelined with an injury. Still, the increased tempo on offense was infectious, as the UW defense played with a sense of urgency as well and in the end, limited Boise State to just 346 total yards, while holding the Broncos without a touchdown in a game for the first time since 1997.
It remains to be seen if Washington can do it on a regular basis, but with the resounding win over Boise State, the Huskies may have just served notice that the Pac-12 won't be decided so easily.
FCS IS PROVING TO BE A TOUGH OUT: Every year there is a small group of FCS schools that are competitive in their early season showdowns with FBS competition. That number seems to increase with every season and 2013 is no different, as there were eight FCS upsets of FBS programs this past weekend. The highlights of the weekend had to come in Corvallis, where Eastern Washington knocked off nationally-ranked Oregon State (49-46) and in Manhattan, where two-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State edged out Kansas State (24-21).
Scheduling FCS opponents has long been viewed with a skeptical eye, especially for FBS programs that are supposed to be among the nation's elite. However, it has proved to be buyer beware of late, as the notion that "Any Given Sunday" may translate to Saturdays as well.
KEEPING UP WITH THIS JONES: Finding different ways to win has not been something that Alabama has had to do a lot of. The team in Tuscaloosa has long been a running football team with a devastating defense. However, against Virginia Tech in the season-opener in Atlanta, the Crimson Tide needed wideout Christian Jones more than any other player. The electric junior scored three touchdowns in the game, a 100-yard punt return, a 109-yard kickoff return and a 47-yard TD reception. In all, Jones finished the game with 256 all-purpose yards, clearly one of the top performances of the week.
Alabama's defense was once again suffocating, limiting the Hokies to a mere 212 yards of offense, but the Tide had problems on the offensive side as well, finishing with a mere 206 yards and just seven first downs. Things will have to change in a hurry, if a successful defense of their two straight national titles is in the cards for the Tide. However, with a weapon like Jones on the field, anything is possible.
TOP PERFORMERS: Jones wasn't the only player in the country with an eye- popping performance in the opening week.
Quarterbacks who had big games include the aforementioned Boyd (270 yards passing, 5 TDs), Fresno State's Derek Carr (470 yards, 5 TDs), Texas Tech's Baker Mayfield (413 yards, 5 TDs), East Carolina's Shane Carden (447 yards, 5 TDs), California's Jared Goff (445 yards, 2 TDs), Oregon State's Sean Mannion (422 yards, 3 TDs), Illinois' Nathan Scheelhaase (416 yards, 2 TDs), Maryland's C.J. Brown (281 yards passing, 3 TDs, 105 yards rushing, 2 TDs), Wyoming's Brett Smith (383 yards, 4 TDs), FLorida State's Jameis Winston (356 yards, 5 TDs), Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater (355 yards, 5 TDs), Rutgers' Gary Nova (348 yards, 5 TDs), Texas' David Ash (343 yards, 5 TDs) and Colorado's Connor Wood (400 yards, 3 TDs).
Running backs off to fast starts include Miami-Florida's Duke Johnson (186 yards, 1 TD), Rutgers' Paul James (182 yards), Indiana's Tevin Coleman (169 yards, 2 TDs), Washington's Bishop Sankey (161 yards, 2 TDs), Ohio State's Jordan Hall (159 yards, 2 TDs), Middle Tennessee's Jordan Parker (156 yards, 1 TD), UCLA's Jordan James (155 yards, 1 TD), Georgia's Todd Gurley (154 yards, 2 TDs), Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon (144 yards, 1 TD) and Arkansas' Jonathan Williams (151 yards, 1 TD).
Top outings by wide receivers include Colorado's Paul Richardson (10 receptions, 208 yards, 2 TDs), UAB's Jamarcus Nelson (10 receptions, 199 yards, 2 TDs), Oregon State's Brandin Cooks (13 receptions, 196 yards, 2 TDs), Southern Miss' Rickey Bradley (7 receptions, 193 yards), Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews (10 receptions, 178 yards, 1 TD), Ball State's Willie Snead (9 receptions, 164 yards, 2 TDs), East Carolina's Justin Hardy (16 receptions, 191 yards), California's Chris Harper (11 receptions, 151 yards, 2 TDs), Fresno State's Davante Adams (14 receptions, 148 yards, 2 TDs), Boston College's Alex Amidon (13 receptions, 146 yards, 1 TD), Rutgers' Leonte Carroo (4 receptions, 124 yards, 3 TDs), Wisconsin's Jared Abbrederis (2 receptions, 122 yards, 2 TDs) and North Texas' Brelan Chancellor (6 receptions, 135 yards, 1 TD).
SNEAK PEEK: Top-25 matchups for week two are few and far between, with only sixth-ranked South Carolina against fifth-ranked Georgia and 14th-ranked Notre Dame against 17th-ranked Michigan on the docket. Other action of particular interest includes 10th-ranked Florida at Miami-Florida, third-ranked Oregon at Virginia, seventh-ranked Texas at BYU, West Virginia at 16th-ranked Oklahoma and San Jose State at fourth-ranked Stanford.