Every week during the season my plan is to condense some of my weekend observations from College Football and the NFL into an easy to digest format for gambling nuggets useful going forward. Let’s see if we can all make each other a bit smarter this football season.
Everyone needs a Hooker
I’m not sure what Josh Heupel sees in Joe Milton to keep him as QB1. Milton’s accuracy is a legitimate problem. His legs are a weapon but it’s one of two plays in the playbook; QB run or everyone go deep. We didn’t expect much from the Vols this season (Win total closed 6 shaded under) however Hendon Hooker appears to be more dynamic Tennessee is going to flirt with a bowl birth.
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John Donovan runs offense that was antiquated in the 90’s. Through two games, the Washington Huskies offense is as fraudulent as Milli Vanilli. Washington lacks receiver depth (dressed 4 scholarship wideouts) but you can’t consistently put your quarterback in known passing situations. Washington needs to shake things up or the program will crater faster under Jimmy Lake than anyone in the college football world could have imagined. Through two games this season Washington averages 4.46 yards per play (a full yard under the national average) and is coming away with 1.9 points for each trip to the green zone. Blaming Dylan Morris is one thing but this is an entire system failure.
Greg Schiano has the Rutgers Scarlet Knights off to a perfect start. However, there is nothing perfect about the offensive display we’re seeing from the state university of New Jersey. Through 2 games Rutgers is averaging 3.73 YPP while surrendering 4.15 (net YPP of -.42). Rutgers has a big play rate of 6% and an explosive drive measure of 3.45%. The Knights are also gaining 2 first downs on less than 40% of their drives to start the 2021 season. These numbers suggest a regression is looming when the schedule stiffens.
Holy hell Aztecs; where did that come from? San Diego State struggled to move the ball in a Week 1 win against New Mexico State before breaking out against Arizona. The Aztecs accumulated more than 340 yards of offense in a half on the road against a Power 5 opponent (kind of). Most impressively, they accomplished the feat with a nearly balanced attack, creating a touch of optimism that Jordon Brookshire keeps opposing defenses honest in 2021. Let’s see if they sustain this success against Utah; I’m not so sure they can.
Ohio State has problems. I’m not sure how quickly they’ll get fixed against above average offenses. The Buckeyes defense surrendered 30+ points for the 2nd straight week. We knew OSU was vulnerable over the top already. Anthony Brown was serviceable in the passing game for Oregon going 17 of 35 for 236. What we didn’t know is that the Buckeyes run defense was a sieve getting gashed by a Duck’s ground game that averaged more than 7 yards a pop. It appears that right now the entire defense needs a total overhaul. Thankfully for Buckeye nation Tulsa’s offense might provide the perfect tonic for at least one week.
Iowa’s defense is Big Ten championship caliber. Iowa’s offense will keep them from national relevance. The Hawkeyes stop unit went on the road in Jack Trice stadium and spearheaded a 27-17 win. Iowa held their hated in-state rivals to less than 5 YPP and continued a dominant run that began last season of suffocating opponent attacks.
For as well as the defense performed the offense is still a major concern. Iowa’s yards per point average is under 10 through two games suggesting a massive regression looms. Stephen Petras is 24 of 48 for 251 yards this season with just 1 TD pass through two games. The Hawkeyes gained 22% of available yards on offense in the CyHawk showdown, amassed 308 hidden yards, and generated a YPP of 2.88. Those kind of numbers, even with an elite defense and buttoned up special teams, won’t allow you beat top tier competition.
Seat at the table
Kudos to the FCS; those boys can play too. For the 2nd straight week we had multiple FCS dogs of 20+ win outright against their FBS big brothers. Duquesne went into Athens Ohio and knocked off the Bobcats catching 29 and Jacksonville State found a way to erase a double digit deficit late slipping by FSU on the game’s final play as 27 point pups. Letdowns are real and if you’re not going to bring the lunch pail every week someone will smack you in the mouth regardless of the helmet color or name on the jersey.
The Minnesota Vikings gave us reason to be concerned given lackluster preseason efforts. Their lack of discipline carried into the season opener with 10 accepted penalties in the first half. They went out of their way to shoot themselves in the foot. Early penalties created a two touchdown deficit and even after a furious comeback, a costly fumble in overtime from Dalvin Cook sealed their fate. This isn’t a roster devoid of talent or upside but it will be interesting to see how they perform going forward. We see a definite change in perception with their price against Arizona and this Sunday could be a litmus test for the team going forward.
Birds of Prey…or pray
It will take us time to know what’s true (Falcons defense stinks or Eagles offense is underrated) but Philadelphia burst on the scene. Eagles averaged 6.5 YPP and showed remarkable balance en route to racking up 32 points and 434 yards of offense. Eagles passing game showed pop (27 of 35 for 261) while the ground game offered the proper compliment (31 for 173). Much was made about the Eagles demise this off-season. While beating the Falcons isn’t a season defining result, it is a reason for optimism in the wide open NFC east. Also lets keep an eye on 1st time head coach Arthur Smith and the learning curve required to excel at head coach in the NFL.
There were two statistical feats accomplished during the late slate on Sunday. New Orleans became the first team since 2000 to put together back-to-back 15 play drives that resulted in touchdowns. Jameis looked the part of a capable pivot leading Sean Peyton’s offense. Meanwhile in New York, Teddy Bridgewater joined an elite class of company in Denver. His 86% completion percentage in the first half placed him 4th on the franchise’s all-time list behind only hall of famers John Elway and Peyton Manning.
The scoreboard showed a 20-16 win for the Chargers; the stat sheet showed the game was an absolute blowout. Los Angeles finished with the following statistical edges in their 4 point win: +29 plays, +155 yardage, 70%+ 3rd down conversion rate (14 of 19), and more than a 12 minute edge in time of possession. All of this happened despite a -1 turnover differential. It is worth noting Washington’s turnover occurred inside their five yard line and led directly to the Chargers game winning touchdown.
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