Football is here! Football is here! Now that I have gotten that little bit out, it is time to digest the week that was and what it means for the Tigers as the season evolves. Yes, I do realize that the first week really doesn't mean too much for the teams playing sub-par opponents, so much of this will be speculation based on some of these glorified practices. Also keep in mind that there are many over- and under-rated teams at the beginning of September, so we'll need to adjust our opinions as the season progresses. Here is how Clemson's scheduled opponents for the 2010 season performed and what it means.
South Carolina Gamecocks vs Southern Mississippi. First up is the Thursday matchup featuring our fine feathered friends. The Gamecocks came out and had the best opening day showing in years. We all got used to USC participating in low scoring, unimpressive openers that bordered on boredom for the television audience. Carolina was able to touch up Southern Miss to the tune of 41-13.
What can we learn from this one? Not too much. Sure South Carolina looked much improved on offense, but they were playing one of the nation's worst defenses from the '09 season. Stephen Garcia looked improved at times, showing the ability to put some touch on the ball at several times during the game. Garcia, who finally appeared to be on some sort of non-beer guzzling diet/exercise regimen, looked like a much more athletic player Thursday than he did in the past. I should also say that Conner Shaw came in and performed pretty well for his first game. Marcus Lattimore ran hard and showed why he was highly thought of coming out of Byrnes. Again, though, this was Southern Mississippi, so until proven against a decent defense, the verdict is still out on this offense.
Defensively, I saw a Southern Miss team that moved the ball well but could not find the endzone. A couple of turnovers deep in SC territory kept quite a few Eagles points off the board. Southern Mississippi touched the Cocks up to the tune of 404 total yards with roughly 3/4 of this production coming through the air. S Miss played the first three quarters of this game largely ignoring their best player, DeAndre Brown.
While this win was much more impressive than the last few openers, I will not get as optimistic about the Cocks as the Bachelor was on the Thursday telecast. Thus, the opinion is reserved until Carolina plays against a better defensive opponent. While the USC defense was less than impressive Thursday, I will consider them above average until proven otherwise on the scoreboard. Hence, I know little more today than I did this time last week about Carolina.
Wake Forest vs Presbyterian. Wake Forest vs. Presbyterian was another non-informative Thursday night contest. Wake was able to put half a hundred on the South Carolina-based school in Ted Stachitas'first collegiate start. Wake output over 500 yards on the night, with well over 80% of this performance coming on the ground. I did find it interesting to see PC throwing for nearly 300 yards on the night. We learned absolutely nothing new about either of our future foes in this contest. Here is a summary of what we did not learn: Wake is going to try to run the ball. PC is just a bad football team (even for a non-D1A program). I am not sold on this WF as being any sort of threat in the ACC from this performance and will be kind and refrain from commenting on direction of the PC football program.
Miami (Fla) vs Florida A&M. Yet more Thursday night magic: the University of Miami vs Florida A&M. No surprises here with Miami taking care of business in a 45-0blowout over an in-state "rival". Jacory Harris looked good in one half of play, completing 12 of 15 pass attempts for 210 yards and three td's. Leonard Hankerson had a big night, hauling in two td's and 115 yards on six catches. Miami's defense played well, limiting the Rattlers to eight first downs and 110 total yards on the night. We refuse to evaluate yet another team in Miami, and this one is easily justified. The 'Canes travel to the Horseshoe next week to face the #2 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. Miami's play in this contest will give us an excellent idea of how serious the U will be this season.
FSU vs Samford. Samford at #20 Florida State kicks off the official Jimbo Fisher era in Tallahassee. Samford is a crappy team and Florida State treated them as such, throttling Samford to the tune of 59-6. Christian Ponder threw for four TDs on the afternoon in the 'Nole's first game without Bobby Bowden on the sideline in over three decades. This cupcake win was good for Fisher to kind of ease into the job. While impressive in all facets of the game (and being my preseason predicted division champ), we get to see what this team is made of this week when they roll West to play the Oklahoma Sooners, so there is really no need to speculate too much today as we can simply wait until 3:30 Saturday and Oklahoma will test these cats.
Georgia Tech vs SC State. South Carolina State visits defending ACC Champion and 16th ranked Georgia Tech. Joshua Nesbitt had a big afternoon over a clearly over-matched State team. Georgia Tach heads out to Kansas to face the Kansas Jayhawks this week then hosts North Carolina, so the Yellowjackets will get tested early on this season. I, like most of you out there, am curious if GT can find suitable replacements from attrition from last season's championship squad.
Weber State at Boston College. Again, another joke of a game that BC was able to win 38-20. It was nice to see 2008 ACC POY Mark Herzlich completelyreturn from a fight with cancer that robbed him of playing in the 2009 football season. In typical fashion, BC was able to grind out 188 yards on the ground. I was admittedly surprisedtosee that Weber State dominated time of possession and that Boston College gave up 20 points to these guys (although it appeared as though the game was pretty much decided when Weber State did some late damage, so you never know what to take from that one). The Eagles host Kent State then play Virginia Tech September 25. We will definitely know what they have before the end of this month.
Arkansas State at Auburn. Auburn came out and put up 52 on another clearly overmatched opponent, winning 52-26 on Saturday. I am surprised that Arkansas State was able to put up 26, especially when 16 of their points came in the first half. Auburn is a talented team that is trying to build on some momentum gained last season and should not be underestimated (currently the Tigers/War Eagles/whatever are ranked 22 in the land so they have the attention of the media and other coaches). Auburn travels to Mississippi State this Thursday before hosting Clemson the following Saturday and South Carolina the following Saturday. Hopefully they will get a good look out of MSU and there won't be any surprises the following week.
Western Carolina at North Carolina State. NC State, like many other teams, got a creampuff in Western Carolina to start the season and took care of business, 48-7. The Wolfpack completely dominated this one in preparation for their trip down to play Central Florida on Saturday, September 11. The Pack then host 2009 BCS-participant and C-USA champ Cincinnati the following Thursday. We will know what to expect out of this team after this two game out of conference stretch. NC State then plays defending ACC champ Georgia Tech then meets up withVirginia Tech following their game with theJackets. Needless to say, this team is seeing a lot of quality opponents over the course of the next month.
North Carolina faces LSU in Atlanta. This one is the toughest of them all to analyze. North Carolina was without half of its defense and was playing a talented LSU squad. North Carolina hung in most of this game before a big run at the end of the contest almost took the Tar Heels to victory. This sounds extremely positive for UNC until you consider that the biggest moron in major college football was leading the LSU squad. We have discussed at length here what we really think about the mad hatter and how he has a knack of screwing things up. Take Les' inexplicable ability to make bonehead decisions (especially when it involves clock management or end-of-game management) and throw in the John Chavis "Mustang" defense (here is a pretty good overview on how the "Mustang" works, thanks to Dr. B for sharing this with me) and you really don't know what to make of UNC scoring 24 and coming extremely close to upsetting the Tigers. If you wonder what we think of ole Les, hit this one to understand how we can't understand how the mad hatter works.
The long and short of this one is that both teams in this game present a lot of questions. UNC on which players will be available over the course of the season. LSU whether the talent can overcome the stupidity shown by its coaching staff. I am not ready to throw in the towel on Butch Davis and crew, but will not crown them either. UNC has an open date, then faces Georgia Tech, Rutgers, and East Carolina before Clemson heads up to Chapel Hill.
Navy vs Maryland on Labor Day. The battery chuckers somehow won this game. Navy dominated, moving the ball up and down the field and holding the Terps at bay after the first portion of the game. Navy squandered countless opportunities to lay the hammer to Maryland, repeatedly shooting themselves in the foot deep inside UMd territory. If you did not watch this one, check out the box score to see what really happened. I will be extremely disapointed if Clemson does not dominate this team in '10.