What a weekend! I traversed the state of Texas and put in an unprecedented number of hours sitting in traffic as I kicked off my fan career with 3 big-time football games. This week, and every other week going forward, I plan on writing a segment called “TD’s Takeaways.” In this weekly segment, I will review whatever game I attended that week, as well as my other thoughts on the college football scene throughout the nation. So, without further adieu, here are my takeaways for what was a spectacular opening week.
Not Playing Sucks.
I’ve been mentally preparing for this day for a very long time. The first time I had to sit and watch “my team” play a game. Mentally, I was very much prepared for it and had accepted the fact. My mind knew I wasn’t playing, but someone forgot to tell my body. I experienced what I would characterize as a conditioned response in the build-up to the game. I won’t go into all the chemicals involved, but I could feel myself amping up for action on the way to the stadium. I’ve been doing this for so long, my body just took it upon itself to go ahead and get me ready to play. By the time kickoff came around, the adrenaline rushing through my system was overpowering, and I really thought “This must be what it feels like to have a heart attack.”
Work to do for the Sooners
Obviously, I know that a great many of you reading this blog are primarily concerned with what happened in Houston. Personally, I can tell you it was absolutely excruciating to have to watch that happen without being able to have any impact on the game whatsoever. At one point, I retreated to the end zone by myself so I could analyze what was going on and be a psychotic has-been in solitude.
I’m not going to go into great detail as far as game analysis goes. I’ll be talking about that tonight on The Huddle, as well as all week long on the Franchise. In a vague overarching statement, I would say that a lack of execution cost us the game. Offensively, we were not balanced at all, and we have to be able to throw the ball down the field with rhythm and timing. Defensively, we tackled poorly, didn’t get consistent pressure, and allowed them to convert long third downs through stupid penalties and improvised plays.
The game has been over for three days. What is important now is how the team responds. As we all know, in this College Football Playoff system, if you are gonna lose, you better lose early. This is not the end of the road for these Sooners. Last year, after a significantly more embarrassing performance against Texas, the team used the loss as fuel and came to work Monday through Friday with an intensity and purpose that was unmatched. If the Sooners truly do learn their lesson, this game could be the best thing that ever happened to them. But if that is going to happen, it’s going to be all about leadership. The chip has been restored to the shoulder, and if the team recaptures the same edge that we played with the back half of last year, watch out! Personally, I have a great amount of faith in the players and coaches, but I will admit that I’m biased. On to ULM!
Bama…. I’m So Sorry.
I picked USC to upset Alabama. I picked Tennessee to win the SEC. I picked LSU to win the SEC West…. And all I can say is that I’m sorry. Alabama was DOMINANT against a USC team that I thought was pretty good going into the game. Their depth of talent is incredible. They just wear people down over the course of the game. Even when USC was playing with them in the first half, I could see the signs of the oncoming Bama onslaught. There are very few teams that will be able to hang with this team for four quarters, but, that being said, they are beatable. It will just take a special effort. And to be clear: I hate Bama. I despise their dominance, though I can’t help but respect it.
Texas is back!!!! (Maybe)
I witnessed the Longhorns upset of the Fighting Irish firsthand, and I walked away very impressed. I thought their defense, led by future 1st round draft pick Malik Jefferson, was much improved. I thought that their OL had also improved considerably, evidenced by their strong running game. The most impressive aspect of their gameplan was their management of the two QB system. I have never been a believer in playing two guys, but the Longhorns pulled it off. Freshman Shane Buechele was impressive is his collegiate debut in the way that he managed the game and took care of the football, while flashing considerable talent as a thrower and surprising capability as a runner. Swoopes entered off the bench and made his impact felt. The hijacked “Bulldozer” package will be tough to stop for all of the Big 12.
I am a notorious Texas hater, but I believe a good Texas Longhorn football team is actually better for everyone. It’s good for college football. It’s good for the Big 12. It’s good for OU. Playing a stellar Texas team in the Red River Rivalry in the Cotton Bowl adds a lot to the experience of both the players and the fans. Additionally, we play Texas better when they are good. When they suck, we tend to play to their level. Case in point. I was 2-2 against Texas. The two Texas teams I lost to were worst Texas teams I played. The best Texas team I played (2012) was the only one that we beat badly. Basically, we actually have a better chance at beating the Horns when they are good.
That being said, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. This was one game, and we do not know how good Notre Dame truly is yet. But don’t worry, because we will find out soon! I think this Texas team could possibly be the real deal, but I hesitate to jump to conclusions after a single game.
Freshman QBs Impress
I talked a lot last week about how I was skeptical about lofty expectations for teams with unproven quarterbacks, especially freshman quarterbacks. Well, like all of my other predictions, this one proved to be false. Freshman QBs were the stars of the weekend! As I already noted, Shane Buechele of Texas looked very good, and did not make typical “freshman mistakes.” Jalen Hurts shined in Bama’s demolition of USC, and I am very interested to see what added dimension he can bring to what usually is a very conservative, traditional Alabama offense. Lastly, fellow Orlando-area native Deandre Francois overcame a rough start to lead FSU back to an impressive victory over a very good Ole Miss team. I was particularly impressed with Francois because of the way that he stood in the pocket and drove the ball down the field even while getting consistently hit as he released the ball. Especially for a freshman, the resiliency to overcome a first half in which the Seminoles were dominated by the Rebels speaks volumes about his maturity and character. These young stars will be fun to watch all year, but be prepared for them to have their “freshman” moments as well!
Those were my takeaways for week one! Check back in tonight after The Huddle for my Front and Center topic of the week: Identity Crisis.