Patience please: Some good, some bad from new starting quarterbacks

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John Brantley was no Tim Tebow, though Auburn's Cameron Newton, who was once a Gator, did a pretty good imitation of the former Florida star.

Texas didn't want Garrett Gilbert to have to carry the offense the way Colt McCoy used to, but the Longhorns' new starting quarterback might have to.

Taking into account the opposition, Michigan's Denard Robinson was probably the best of the first-time starting quarterbacks this weekend.

But before anyone declares Newton or Robinson a Heisman Trophy candidate or Brantley a bust, remember that two games into last season it was Tate Forcier who looked like the future of Michigan football. Now he's a third-stringer.


The unveiling of a new starting quarterback is a lot bringing home a new puppy. Everybody is excited about the new addition and then you realize how much work it takes to get the little fella to do what you want.

Florida and its fans seemed confident that while Brantley might not become an all-time great like Tebow, he would be a more than adequate replacement for the Gators' Golden Boy.

Instead, Brantley made a mess of the Swamp in his first start. Florida's lousy offensive performance in a 34-12 victory against Miami (Ohio) was in no way all his fault. Brantley had a tough time just getting a clean shotgun snap from center Mike Pouncey.

Still, he couldn't get the ball down the field and settled for dinks and dunks that amounted to a totally unacceptable 4.5 yards per attempt.

"I'm not embarrassed at all," Brantley said. "It was one those days, I guess you could say."

While it's too early to panic, the junior will need to take a big step forward next week when Florida faces South Florida at the Swamp.

If not, well the backups are freshmen, so let's just say Florida needs Brantley to come through to make another SEC title run.

You can bet that there were at least a few Florida fans watching Newton's spectacular Auburn debut and wondering, 'Can we get that kid back?'

Newton began his college career in Florida, but was kicked off the team after he was arrested and charged with stealing another student's laptop. The charges were dropped after he completed a pretrial intervention program for first-time offenders.

After a year in junior college, Newton transferred to Auburn to run Gus Malzahn's spread offense. Against Arkansas State, Newton looked like the perfect fit. He ran for 171 yards and threw for 196 on only nine completions in the Tigers' 52-26 victory.

"He is the best player I have ever seen live," Arkansas State coach Steve Roberts said.

High praise. Newton and Auburn travel to Mississippi State on Thursday, then play Clemson and South Carolina at home in back-to-back games. By then we'll know if Newton is for real and if Auburn is a threat to Alabama in the SEC West.

Robinson was even better than Newton, accounting for 383 yards, including 197 rushing — most in Michigan history for a QB — in the Wolverines' 30-10 victory against Connecticut. It was hard not to think about former West Virginia star Pat White while watching Robinson slickly run coach Rich Rodriguez's spread offense.

Robinson faces another quarterback coming off his first career start when Michigan goes to Notre Dame on Saturday.

Dayne Crist was efficient and interception-free for new coach Brian Kelly, going 19 for 26 for 205 yards in a 23-12 victory against Purdue.

Efficient was a good way to describe Gilbert's performance in his first start. He went 14 of 23 for 172 yards in a 34-17 victory against Rice.

The Longhorns ran the ball twice as many times as they threw it, making good on their vow to revive the running game this season and take some pressure off the sophomore. But even against the Owls, Texas averaged a so-so 4.3 yards per carry. Tre Newton scored three touchdowns but it's still fair to wonder if the Longhorns have a true No. 1 tailback on their roster.

With a game at Texas Tech only two weeks away, Texas coach Mack Brown might not be able to protect Gilbert. In fact, he might have to hope that Gilbert grows up fast, because the young quarterback has the potential to be the best part of the offense.



Mississippi State's 49-7 victory against Memphis might not seem like a big deal. The Tigers aren't very good, so what's the big deal about an SEC team thumping them.

Well, Mississippi State hasn't been much better — and sometimes worse — than Memphis over the past decade.

In coach Dan Mullen's second season, the Bulldogs might be ready to take a significant step forward. The former Florida offensive coordinator used two quarterbacks (Tyler Russell and Chris Relf) and Mississippi State rolled up 569 total yards, 27 shy of the school record.



Week 2 is one of the best of the season. Miami at Ohio State; Penn State at Alabama; Michigan at Notre Dame; Oregon at Tennessee; Georgia at South Carolina; Florida State at Oklahoma; and South Florida at Florida.

Get your popcorn.