Terry’s Takeaways From Week 1

I know there are still a couple of games to play in week one, but let’s look back at what transpired on the gridiron this weekend.


  • Yes, Ohio State is a Big Ten and national championship contender. While it wasn’t perfect against Navy, the Buckeyes showed that they have what it takes to challenge for a championship this fall.

  • After a slow start, Georgia’s defense proved that it will be among the top units in the country this year. The UGA “D” absolutely dominated the second half, holding Clemson to just 15 yards and 1 first down over the final 30 minutes. Considering that the Tigers finished in the Top 10 in total offense in each of the last two seasons, that’s quite a showing.

  • I’m in the minority on this one, but I think Florida State’s win over Oklahoma State shows that the ‘Noles have the making of a championship team. Despite what critics are saying, the FSU defense did a pretty good job stopping the ‘Pokes offense, limiting them to just 364 yards (84 fewer yards than it averaged in 2013). It also came up with a big play when it needed, forcing a J.W. Walsh fumble in the fourth quarter to set up the game-icing TD.

  • Don’t read too much into UCLA’s lackluster performance against Virginia. Yes, it wasn’t how Jim Mora wanted to open this season, but at the end of the day, the Bruins escaped with a “W.” As long as that continues to happen, UCLA’s name will remain in the national championship discussion.

  • Texas A&M’s offense will be just fine without Johnny Football this fall. Sure, losing a player the caliber of Manziel doesn’t make the unit better, but after Hill shattered Manziel’s record with 511 yards passing in his first start – an SEC road game – there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic about the Aggies’ chances this fall.

  • While everyone was talking about Kenny Hill’s record-setting performance on Thursday night, Ralph Friedgen’s debut with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights went largely unnoticed. In his first game as offensive coordinator, Rutgers’ offense was noticeably more explosive, producing seven plays of 20 yards or longer, with five of them going for more than 30 yards.

  • More impressively, the Scarlet Knights’ offense was practically unstoppable in the second half, scoring on four of its final drives, including an eight-play, 50-yard drive that gave them the lead for good.

  • Colorado State can win the Mountain West this season. The two-headed monster of Dee Hart and Treyous Jarrells is going to cause all sorts of matchup problems for opposing defenses. It’ll be interesting to see how they fare this weekend against Boise State, which held Ole Miss to just 71 yards on the ground.

  • I know that many critics will argue, “it’s just Appalachian State,” but Doug Nussmeier’s offense looks like a great fit for Michigan’s personnel. Quarterback Devin Gardner looked incredibly comfortable throwing the ball, connecting on 13 of his 14 passes for 173 yards and 3 TDs. He found a weapon in Devin Funchess, who had all three TD grabs and 95 yards receiving.

  • Blake Sims will be the guy for Alabama this fall. Although he wasn’t flawless against West Virginia, he did complete 24-of-33 passes for 250 yards, while adding 42 more yards on the ground. That’s hardly the clunker some in the media are making it out to be.

  • Still not convinced? Ask yourself this question: if there was any doubt in Saban’s mind that Sims was the right guy to lead the team, why wouldn’t he have turned to Jacob Coker when the game was still in doubt?

  • Auburn has a more interesting quarterback situation. While Nick Marshall is the unquestioned leader of the team, Jeremy Johnson’s stellar performance (12-for-16 with 243 yards and a TD) is going to make it difficult to keep him on the sideline.

  • Similarly, LSU’s defense will make the Tigers a contender to win the SEC this year. Looking a lot like the unit that propelled the Tigers to the SEC championship in 2011, the Bayou Bengal defense took over the game over the final quarter and half, forcing three punts and two interceptions.

  • It also held Wisconsin quarterback Tanner McEvoy to a mere 8-for-24 passing total.

Notable Defensive Performances

Photo Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Here are a list of notable defensive efforts that weren’t listed above:

  1. UL-Monroe – The Warhawks held Wake Forest to just 94 yards of total offense, including minus-3 yards rushing. In addition, safety Mitch Lane returned an interception for a touchdown.

  2. Temple – The numbers tell the entire story: four sacks, four fumble recoveries, and three interceptions. Tavon Young was especially impressive, recording two of the three picks.

  3. UTSA – Serving as the catalyst for the Roadrunners’ upset over Houston, the defense forced six turnovers while limiting the Cougars to just 208 yards, including minus-26 on the ground.

  4. Texas – The Charlie Strong era at Texas began with a bang, as the Longhorns held North Texas to just 94 yards of total offense. While that doesn’t seem like a big deal, remember that the Mean Green did win its bowl game last year.

  5. UCLA – The Bruins’ best offense was its defense, which scored three TDs against Virginia

Notable Offensive Performances

Photo Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

As you can see from the “Takeaways” section, there were a lot of absolutely awesome performances on offense in Week 1. Here are a few you may have missed:

  1. Brandon Doughty– Bowling Green had absolutely no answers for Doughty, who went 46 of 56 for 569 yards and 6 TDs.

  2. Marlon Mack, South Florida– Coaches preach all the time that players need to be ready to play. Making his first collegiate start because of an injury to Darius Tice, Mack toted the rock 24 times for 275 yards and four TDs.

  3. Keevan Lucas, Tulsa – Tulane had absolutely no answers for Lucas, who caught 13 passes for 233 yards and three TDs. The yardage total set a new AAC record.

  4. Todd Gurley, Georgia – Even though he only carried the ball 15 times, Gurley still ran for 198 yards and three TDs. If he can put up these type of numbers against South Carolina, he could jump to the top of the Heisman list.

  5. Braylon Heard, Kentucky – This is not a misprint: 2 carries, 118 yards, and two TDs. Had an ankle injury not ended his afternoon, he easily would have eclipsed the 200-yard barrier.

About Terry P. Johnson

Terry Johnson is the Associate Editor for The Student Section. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation.