The Top Ten Coaching Observations from the Weekend
First of all I'd like to publicly thank the football gods wherever you are for blessing us all with a wonderful Week 1 of college football. Great games throughout the weekend. One request going forward, take it easy on the injuries please.
Top Ten - Coaching observations from the weekend
1. I watched a good bit of Kliff Kingsbury's opener at SMU. One observation that I kept noticing was how much fun the Texas Tech players appeared to be having on the sideline. Smiles and laughter, all the time. Kliff works them hard but clearly he teaches his players to have fun and stay loose. On the field they appear locked in (and produced results, to the tune of a 41-23 victory) but once on the sideline and helmets are off they sure do seem to be enjoying the game. Didn't see that at a lot of places.
2. I went to the Ole Miss-Vanderbilt game Thursday night. The place and fans on both sides were loud. Yeah, this isn't your parents' Vanderbilt. I had the pleasure of speaking with some Vanderbilt players' parents before the game. They love the impact James Franklin has had on their sons. Franklin is totally invested and is great for his program, his university and for college football. Take a look at the excitement he shows when Vanerbilt scored to take the lead with 1:30 to play.
I thought both coaching staffs did an excellent job in game, good game plans and smart adjustments throughout. At the end of the day, playmakers win football games. Vandy is getting their fair-share but right now, not many are attracting more top tier talent than Hugh Freeze and his staff, notably Chris Kiffin. Both of these programs are headed in the right direction and have good men at the helm.
3. FCS had quite a weekend. The FCS took seven games from the FBS this weekend, and North Dakota State's Friday night takedown of the defending Big 12 champions may have been the least surprising of the bunch. Eastern Washington raced to 625 total yards and 49 points in defeating No. 25 Oregon State. McNeese State blew out South Florida, and Eastern Illinois walloped San Diego State. Towson pinned Connecticut to the mat for a full 60 minutes. And we haven't even mentioned the close calls - Southern Illinois came within three yards of tying Illinois in the final minute, and William & Mary gave West Virginia all they wanted for 60 minutes.
4. Have to mention the great job being done by Samford defensive coordinator Billy D'Ottavio. With head coach Pat Sullivan out for a while, Billy D stepped up and led the program to a big win over FBS opponent Georgia State at their place. Happy for Billy D, a great coach who doesn't get enough acclaim (except for from those that have worked with him).
5. Washington thumped Boise State. Thumped them. Sark's staff had both sides of the ball playing at a high level. Sark called an up tempo no-huddle attack and Justin Wilcox's guys were in the right places Saturday night in the opening game of new Husky Stadium. Washington is a great university with all of the resources to be a consistent contender. It would be good for football and the Pac-12 if Sark's team can continue to play at this level all season long.
6. Dave Clawson and Bill Blankenship have both done an excellent job at their respective universities over the past few seasons (and somehow not everyone has noticed). I didn't expect either team to blow the other out, but Clawson's team flexed their muscles this weekend. Expect Bowling Green to receive more attention as the season progresses with games at Indiana and at Mississippi State (plus the full MAC schedule and a battle with Murray State). Who knows where this leads.
7. McNeese State, located in Lake Charles, La., for those that aren't familiar, went to South Florida at just donkey slapped the Bulls in Willie Taggart's first game as head coach at USF. It was 40-7 early in the third quater and wound up 53-21. Defensive coordinator for the Cowboys? Yeah, its Lance Guidry, who was Taggart's DC at Western Kentucky. Haven't checked the video, but I'm pretty sure he was smiling as they left the field Saturday night.
8. It took 28 minutes to get there, but Major Applewhite's first game behind the wheel of Texas' revamped offense was a smashing success. The Longhorns actually fell behind New Mexico State 7-0 with 2:28 to go in the first half, but responded with eight touchdowns over their final 10 possessions. Texas ran 72 plays for a school-record 715 yards (356 passing/359 rushing) and scored touchdowns from 54, 66, 24, 55, 74, 25 and 38 yards out.
9. All things considered, Matt Canada may have had the finest weekend of any offensive coordinator in college fotoball. Canada's first game as N.C. State's play caller got off to a perfect start as starting quarterback Brandon Mitchell hit on his first three passes for 93 yards while leading efficient touchdown drives (a total of 140 yards on 12 plays) on the Wolfpack's first two drives. Then disaster struck, as Mitchell was forced to lead the game with a broken bone in his foot. Only, it wasn't a disaster at all. Pete Thomas stepped in and hit on 15-of-27 passes for 212 yards and helped N.C. State pile up 26 points over the final three quarters en route to a 40-14 win. Great job of getting both quarterbacks ready to play and adjusting on the fly. A look at the final stats... 9-18 3rd down conversion, 305 yards passing, 237 yards rushing, 40 minutes time of possession and averaged 6.2 yards per play.
10. Mike MacIntyre's debut has to have the people in Boulder smiling today. The Buffaloes beat in-state rival Colorado State 41-27 on Sunday afternoon and dominated the stat sheet in the process, out-producing the Rams in passing yards, rushing yards, first downs and on third down. This is but the first step in what is still a long journey ahead (the Buffs are actually 3-1 against the Rams since 2010, and 7-27 against everyone else), but it's a very important one nonetheless.