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TGS EXTRA!!! WEEK ONE CFB REPORT: THE GOOD, THE BAD...AND THE UGLY
by Bruce Marshall, TGS EXTRA!!! Editor


The Following is the headline story in the Extra Points College Fotball feature in this week'sedition of THE GOLD SHEET EXTRA!!!, available now! Try the combination subscriptions with THE GOLD SHEET, CKO, and/or Friday Update...best values!

Following is a quick recap (which will recur often on these pages this fall) of the best, the worst, and the truly hideous of the past weekend in college football.

Good: Alabama...If boxing rules would have applied to last Saturday’s opener against Michigan at Jerry Jones Stadium in Arlington, the Crimson Tide would have been awarded an early TKO. Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide physically manhandled the Wolverines, and we often forget about the unsung Bama stars along the offensive line who allowed the Tide to control the action in last January’s BCS title game vs. LSU; four starters are back along that robust forward wall that pushed around Michigan’s front seven all night in Arlington. And despite the loss of several NFL draftees from the defense, the Tide simply seems to reload these days on the stop end. The introduction of touted frosh RB T.J. Yeldon into the attack was a smashing success, as the do-it-all newcomer picked up where he left off in the spring game by gaining 111 yards on just 11 carries vs. Brady Hoke’s overmatched “D” on Saturday; so much for the Tide missing Trent Richardson. Let’s also not forget that A.J. McCarron is the only active QB in college football (Matt Barkley included) who has won a BCS title game. We would be surprised if the Nick-tator’s latest creation doesn’t get back to the January national championship game in Miami.

Bad: Houston...Looks like they might be missing HC Kevin Sumlin and QB Case Keenum after all in Houston, as the Cougars were listless on attack behind new QB David Piland in a 30-13 embarrassment at Robertson Stadium vs. Dennis Franchione's Texas State Bobcats. Piland completed only 17 of 44 throws and is now 2-7 as a starter for the Cougs, having relieved an injured Keenum for much of the 2010 season. Recent UH successes are looking way back in the rear-view mirror at the moment as the Tony Levine era gets off to a slow start.

Good: Oregon...Who says the Ducks were going to miss departed QB Darron Thomas? Much like two years ago, when all Oregon did after Jeremiah Masoli’s unexpected departure was reach the BCS title game with Thomas at the controls, the Ducks unveiled a worthy successor on Saturday night vs. Arkansas State in mysterious RS frosh Marcus Mariota, who (due to HC Chip Kelly’s closed-practice policy) was only seen once before by Duck backers in the spring game but looked better than predecessors Masoli and Thomas put together when piloting a breathless Ducks offense to seven TDs in the first quarter-and-a-half vs. the Red Wolves as Oregon was on a 125-point pace before Kelly called off the dogs.

Bad: Oregon (huh?)...Despite the Mariota-influenced fireworks last week, it looks like the Ducks could have the same tendency as a year ago when they had problems covering huge numbers at Eugene. Kelly went so quickly to his bench after the Ducks ran up that 50-3 lead that momentum was lost before halftime, and the Oregon reserves only scored one TD thereafter as the Red Wolves ended up easily slipping inside that five TD-plus impost. That’s now six straight times that the Ducks have failed to cover a double-digit spread at Autzen Stadium.

Ugly: Middle Tennessee...If HC Rick Stockstill wasn’t on the hot seat already, he is now after an opening night 27-21 loss to lower-level, Southland Conference rep McNeese State at Murfreesboro that wasn’t even as close as the score indicated. Blue Raider QB Logan Kilgore continues to be unconvincing as the pilot for Stockstill’s spread, and top RB Benny Cunningham had to leave the game due to a shoulder injury. Hard to believe that just two years ago Stockstill was regarded as one of the hottest coaching commodities in college football.

Good: Tennessee...Last Friday vs. NC State in Atlanta, the Vols finally looked like many thought they should have a year ago when injuries (especially to QB Tyler Bray) limited effectiveness and put HC Derek Dooley on the hot seat after a 5-7 record. The dismissal of big-play WR Da’Rick Rogers didn’t end up costing the Vols as much as many thought since touted juco Cordarrelle Patterson stepped into the breach with two long TDs (via a run and a pass from Bray) in the first quarter of an eventual 35-21 win over the Wolfpack. The Vols, loaded with speed and plenty of athletes, suddenly look like a contender in the SEC East, and the heat is temporarily (but not completely) off of Dooley in Knoxville.

Ugly: Florida Atlantic...Lots of ugly to go around in the Sun Belt last week. The debut of new HC Carl Pelini (Bo’s brother) as Owls HC was almost an unmitigated disaster as another lightly-regarded, lower-level foe, Bob Beckel’s alma mater Wagner from beautiful Staten Island, had FAU down into the 4th Q before the Owls pulled out a 7-3 win. So much for the new, no-huddle spread that Pelini believed would inject life into the dormant Owls offense; QBs Graham Wilbert and Stephen Curtis passed for only 163 yards vs. a modest FCS-level foe. Do the Owls really think they are ready to jump to the Big East (as the school is pushing) with Pelini, whose only experience is as a head coach at the high school level (and even then he wasn’t too successful), as their coach?

Bad: Colorado...Those whispers in Boulder regarding HC Jon Embree being in some trouble have become more audible after a painful 22-17 opening-day loss to nearby Colorado State in Denver. New Buff QB Jordan Webb was ineffective as the heat was just turned up several degrees on Embree, whose CU sides are now a poor 3-10 SU since last season.

Good: Vanderbilt...Never mind that the Dores lost to South Carolina in the opener. The 17-13 scoreline was more than respectable, as was the effort by Vandy, which was hardly outmanned by the powerful Gamecocks and even prompted Steve Spurrier to comment that “it’s not the old Vanderbilt” after the game. The Dores held their own in the pits vs. Carolina and were in position to pull a significant upset deep into the 4th Q. QB Jordan Rodgers is going to damage plenty of defenses this season, and wait until electric true frosh RB Brian Kimbrow becomes a bit more settled. Longtime SEC sources suggest this is the most homerun ability they have ever seen on a Commodore offense. Oh, yes, Vandy is also now a perfect 8-0 vs. the spread at home since HC James Franklin arrived last season.

Bad: Rice...The Owls have been hampered by suspect "D" for years, and this year’s stop unit could be bad enough to jeopardize the future employment of HC David Bailiff. Small and slow is a bad combination and the Rice “D” was exploited ruthlessly by UCLA’s new offense in last Thursday’s 49-24 Bruins romp. Bruin QB Brett Hundley and RB Johnathon Franklin were hardly touched in three long TD runs.

Good: Notre Dame...The matchup vs. Navy proved favorable for the Irish last week in Dublin, but what had to impress Domers everywhere was how the offense was able to indoctrinate the big-play abilities of Theo Riddick and George Atkinson into the flow. The pair combined for 30 touches and each produced a variety of big plays, which coupled with the impressive debut of versatile QB Everett Golson helped provide some new-found snap to the Irish offense. Now we’ll see what HC Brian Kelly does this week at QB as former starter Tommy Rees returns from his one-game suspension.

Bad: Stanford...The post-Andrew Luck Cardinal looked a lot like the pre-Andrew Luck Cardinal in what turned out to be a desperate performance against San Jose State in last Friday’s opener. The play-calling of Stanford o.c. Pep Johnson was completely uninspired and contributed to the Tree converting just 2 of 13 3rd-down opportunities as new QB Josh Nunes was constantly placed in difficult situations. More concerning was the fact Stanford’s OL (now minus a pair of NFL draftees, David DeCastro and Jonathon Martin, from last year’s forward wall) was not able to establish dominance at the line of scrimmage. It took the veteran Cardinal defense to come up with the big plays to save the win over the Spartans, but the play-calling and offensive execution must upgrade immediately or the Cardinal could have more problems this week vs. Duke, even before the September 15 showdown game vs. Southern Cal.

Good: UCLA...See the advantages of a mobile QB? The Bruins haven’t had one since Cade McNown made UCLA a national contender in the late ‘90s, but RS frosh Brett Hundley opened plenty of eyes with a breathtaking debut against Rice, passing for 202 yards and running once for a 72-yard score on the Bruins’ first series of the game. It was only Rice, but it was encouraging nonetheless for the Bruins’ new spread looks implemented by o.c. Noel Mazzone, who is running the same offense in Westwood that he did a year ago at Arizona State. We’ll find out more about how far UCLA has progressed with this week’s game vs. Nebraska, but early indicators are positive for the new Jim Mora regime.

Bad: Maryland...If things weren’t going bad enough for the Terps, who dropped their last eight games a year ago, HC Randy Edsall lost starting QB C.J. Brown to a knee injury in fall camp, forcing true frosh Perry Hills into the lineup. And the opener vs. lower-level William & Mary was almost a disaster, as the mistake-prone Terps (who committed four giveaways) were being blanked into the 4th Q before a late TD salvaged an ugly 7-6 win.

Ugly: Pitt...So much for all the hullabaloo about new HC Paul Chryst and the Panthers ready to take the "next step" after Todd Graham's departure to Arizona State. Pitt was handled easily by lower-division Youngstown State at Heinz Field, 31-17, with QB Tino Sunseri struggling again and the "D" having little success slowing the Penguins' spread. Perhaps the departure of Graham and d.c. Sal Sunseri to Tennessee will be a bigger negative than many envisioned.

Good: BYU...Veteran West Coast observers were highly-impressed by BYU’s 30-6 romp past Washington State last Thursday, marveling mostly at how Bronco Mendenhall’s troops dominated Wazzu in the pits, prompting some to say that they had never seen such a physically-imposing BYU team. The Provo bunch might have also established itself as the top contender among the possible “BCS Busters” as usual candidate Boise State (a future foe of BYU’s on September 20) was beaten at Michigan State.

Bad: Rocky Long...Someone ought to provide the San Diego State HC with a refresher course on PATs and late-game strategy. Two-point conversion etiquette suggests going for a one-point conversion when the margin can be cut to eight points in the fourth quarter, which makes it a one-possession game. Yet by going for two and missing with the score 21-12 midway through the 4th Q last Saturday night at Seattle vs. Washington, Long left the Aztecs two possessions behind the Huskies. Then, when down 21-12 and faced with a 4th down at the U-Dub 10, normal strategy would dictate a field-goal attempt to cut the margin to six points, making it again a one-possession game. But Long inexplicably went for the TD on 4th down and missed, leaving the score at 21-12. When did Long forget about basic football strategy, anyway?

Bad: Idaho...Robb Akey’s shaky job status took a shot to the solar plexis in the opener vs. Big Sky Eastern Washington, which entered the Kibbie Dome as a slight underdog but strode out an easy 20-3 winner last Thursday night. Ex-SMU QB Kyle Padron passed for 260 yards for the FCS Eagles, who had no trouble with the Vandals and their starting QB, Logan Bushnell, who completed only 10 of 24 passes before giving way to jr. Taylor Davis, who had played in relief of graduated starter Brian Reader a year ago. The peripatetic Dominique Blackman, a candidate for the starting QB role, was suspended for the first game and his status for this week at Bowling Green remains unknown. Idaho could only gain 73 YR vs. an FCS-level defense, a chilling prospect with trips to highly-ranked LSU and revived North Carolina in September.


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