The opening week of the college football season was quite a hectic one, and I am not just talking about the action on the field. I started a new job as a contributor to College Football Talk last week, and together with some other assignments and responsibilities I just could not find the time to sit down and sort through the mailbag. Fear not, I have worked out a way to keep it in my schedule and will (hopefully) not miss another Football Friday Mailbag for the rest of the season.
Some good questions to get to this week asking my opinions on the opening weekend of the season as well as a few looking for something to look forward to this weekend. I have a letter opener in hand, so let’s get started…
Is Johnny Manziel going to misbehave on the field all year or were his actions against Rice a preview of what’s to come?
As much as I am inclined to suggest what we see is what we get from Manziel, I am not totally confident in that belief. One thing I have to remember and urge others to keep in mind is Manziel is still just a 20-year old sophomore. I would like to guess that he will develop some more maturity as time goes by given the unique situation he is in not only as a leader on Texas A&M’s roster but also how he is viewed nationally. This is not me suggesting he needs some better parenting, but somebody does need to calm him down a little bit if Manziel has any care for how people genuinely view him. Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t. I don’t know, but that’s his choice.
I will say this. Manziel drew plenty of criticism for how he acted on the field against Rice and much of it was deserved. But it also looked as though there were Rice players looking to get under his skin as well. Did they get to him? Possibly, but he will have to prepare for plenty of that the rest of the year, especially once the Aggies get in to SEC play. I would watch to see what happens this weekend with Sam Houston State. Will Manziel tone it down at least a little bit?
Which team had the most impressive performance in week one? Anyone take you by surprise?
The most impressive performance was probably turned in by Clemson, just based on the fact they beat a top ten team from the SEC and did so the way they did. Tah Boyd accounting for five touchdowns proved he is capable of putting the team on his back on offense and the defense came through when they needed to the most in the second half. Playing at home may have helped give Clemson an advantage but to me Clemson put everyone on notice that they could play with some of the top teams out there. Clemson’s biggest challenge will be finding a way to play at that level every week to avoid an upset bid later on, and I am not even talking about Florida State or South Carolina yet.
In retrospect I should have given Bowling Green much more respect given how much they bring back this season. Having 19 starters back from a team that went 8-5 is nothing to overlook, and I did. They also had a favorable match-up by hosting Tulsa in the season opener with just three returning starters on defense. If this game happened to be played later in the season or in a bowl game I would probably still consider picking Tulsa but Bowling Green showed no mercy in their mini-statement game in week one.
Is Jameis Winston already a Heisman candidate or is it too soon? Looked great against Pitt Monday night in the ‘Burgh.
One thing I always caution fans is that one game at the start of the season is ridiculously too early to get too excited about any one team or individual. That said, boy did Winston look good against the Panthers. Completing 25 of 27 pass attempts for 356 yards and four touchdowns may have said more about Pittsburgh’s defense than Winston’s skills but those numbers do not happen by accident. You would have a tough time arguing any quarterback had a better 2013 debut and now the bar has been set high for Winston and the Seminoles. Before we get too carried away, I will remind you this was just one game and I would not expect any player to continue being that effective on a regular basis. Let’s see a few more games with Winston before throwing him in to the Heisman conversation. He certainly has my attention though.
If Georgia should lose to South Carolina this weekend, how hot does the seat get for Georgia head coach Mark Richt?
It seems Mark Richt’s seat has been on fire for years now. I’m surprised it has not melted at this point. If Georgia happens to lose this weekend, a very realistic possibility, I can’t imagine how much hotter his seat can get. Georgia came within yards of playing for a BCS title last season and entered this year with lofty expectations. An 0-2 start was certainly not how many people may have drawn this one up of course and no team will play a tougher first two games of the season. An 0-2 start may pretty much eliminate Georgia from the BCS picture, but I’m even a bit reluctant to rule it out. It would be a real uphill battle but if Georgia drops to 0-2 they could still end up playing for an SEC Championship and maybe even play their way back in to the BCS conversation. It would take winning ten straight games in SEC play and then cap it with a victory in the SEC Championship Game and some help around the country, but is that an impossible scenario to cook up? I don’t think it is.
If Penn State has another better than expected season, will Bill O’Brien’s name be thrown around as a potential NFL head coach in the offseason?
The Bill O’Brien question always seems to pop up for me, and every time I will say the same thing. It is my belief that O’Brien will end up in the NFL at some point in the future as long as he finds a way to keep Penn State’s head above water. Eight wins last year was deemed a tremendous success. A winning record this year would go a long way to enhancing his profile as well. It is O’Brien’s ability to develop quarterbacks that has some excited and his offensive philosophy that has others tuned in. O’Brien has an NFL mindset and to me he just feels like an NFL coach. If I had to bet, I would say O’Brien is coaching on Sundays before the end of his current Penn State contract as long as Penn State continues to develop under his watch.
The 1AA saw a bunch of upsets of 1A teams last week. Any we should pay attention to this weekend?
First of all, it is technically FCS and FBS but I get the point. There are a handful of games worth watching closely if you are rooting for more FCS upset bids. The top two on my radar will be James Madison at Akron and New Hampshire at Central Michigan. James Madison took down Virginia Tech a few years ago, albeit in horrendous weather conditions, but they travel to Akron this week. The Zips may be the worst FBS team in the country right now, with the possible exception of some of the newer FBS programs like Massachusetts, South Alabama and Georgia State. I could definitely see James Madison scoring the victory there.
New Hampshire is ranked No. 11 in the FCS this week and can put together a good fight in the right match-up. Central Michigan is a decent team but got destroyed last week by Michigan. I think the Chippewas take care of New Hampshire, but it would be unwise to let them hang around. One other game to keep an eye on may be Central Arkansas at Colorado. Colorado won last week, but if they are not careful the No. 6 Bears could walk in and leave with an upset.
What do you think the chances are for Western Kentucky against the Vols? Can Bobby Petrino go 2-0 against the SEC?
I think Western Kentucky has a very good chance this weekend against Tennessee, but I’m on the record of saying the Vols pull this one out. I think Bobby Petrino is in an excellent position with Western Kentucky right now and after watching them take care of Kentucky a week ago I see a team that is confident in what they are doing on offense. But I am also a fan of Butch Jones and I am optimistic about the job he will do with the Vols. I do not think Jones will be the guy that gets Tennessee back on top of the SEC, but I certainly feel he is a guy that will get them back on track to compete regularly in the SEC East. If Tennessee is going
to prove they are on that track, this is a must win game. It is rare that an SEC team is in a position to make a statement against a Sun Belt program, but that is very much what this can be for Tennessee if they can shut down the Hilltoppers and win this one in convincing fashion.
SEND YOUR QUESTIONS ANYTIME
Thanks for reading the first installment of my mailbag. This will be a regular post every Friday from now through the end of the college football season. Feel free to send me your questions at any time on Twitter and Ask.FM. You can also use the contact page to email your questions. I will focus on college football but can have some fun with this as well. Other topics of interest may include the NFL, old NES trivia and other 90′s nostalgia and whatever else comes to mind.