College Football Is Finally Here!!!
The 2008 season officially kicked off on Thursday night, but the season really launches in earnest on Saturday. Saturdays in the fall are college football. Many things to look forward to. First, of course, are my Gators. The Gators feature the reigning Heisman Trophy winner — and apparently off-season circumcisor — in Tim Tebow. Tebow is the first sophomore ever to win the award that goes to the best player in Division I. Tebow is also the first college quarterback to rush for 20 TDs and throw for 20 TDs. The thing about that stat is that it really understates Tebow’s year, because Tebow really is the first QB to rush for 20 TDs and throw for 30 TDs. I do not expect Tebow to have the same statistical success this season. Mainly because I think the team has better RBs behind him this year who will take some of those carries and TDs from him. Look for RB Emmanuel Moody — the Texas high school prospect and transfer from USC — to leave his mark this season. (By the way, Moody wants to be a pastor too. Tebow and Moody would make a heckuva flag football tandem for Campus Crusade, no?)
The real key to UF’s season is improved play on defense. Based on preseason — which means virtually nothing — the UF secondary has been making plays instead of trying not to make mistakes. The result has been much improved play in scrimmages. Hopefully that translates on the field when the games count. I think the D-line will be improved too. Another season older. And bigger. And stronger. Some new ideas from a new D-line coach may help inject some life as well. So Tebow’s stats are down, but the Gators win 10 or 11 in the regular season.
I have several UGA fans who read and/or stalk this blog, so I would be remiss if I didn’t say something about their beloved pups. First, thank you for taking the #1 preseason spot — and the pressure that comes with it. Next, I’m still not convinced that Stafford is the guy. Yes, he played very well in Jax last year. But Moreno controlled that game as much as anyone. He needs to improve his completion percentage and lower the INTs to take that team where the voters think it should be at the end of the season. I’m also not listening to the … stuff … about the tough schedule either. In 2006, the Gators ran a similar gauntlet of teams on the way to the SEC title and BCS championship. If you win ’em, you’ll deserve the title. If not, well then I suspect you’ll whine about the really hard schedule and all its unfairness. Woe is you.
Can’t talk about the start of the season without acknowledging the strong possibility that Ohio State will end up in the BCS game for the third season in a row. They return almost the whole team from last year and have more than 40 fourth- and fifth-year players. That’s a lot of leadership. (Or a lot of guys who know how to choke away title games — depending on your point of view.) But let’s face it, OSU has one tough game at USC that they could win if for no other reason than USC’s starting QB is in his first year as the guy and is returning from a knee injury in preseason practice. Plus this may be the first year in this run of Pete Carroll teams where the offensive stars are not there. The stars on that team are on defense. OSU has guys on both sides of the ball. OSU’s RB, Wells, is probably better than Knowshon Moreno because he’s got one more year of experience and is bigger than Knowshon. Wells could pass 2000 yards this season if he stays healthy. After USC, I guess OSU has “tough” games with Wisconsin and Illinois. Some would argue Michigan too (well, Brent Musburger would), but this is a year when Michigan should not be an issue because RichRod is completely revamping how the Wolverines play offense.
There are many more things to touch on. Can Bo Pellini bring back the Black Shirts in Lincoln? Can Paul Johnson win in the ACC with that triple-read Wing-T offense of his? How will Tommy Bowden find a way to squander Clemson’s chance to win the ACC this year? Will ESPN ever put us out of our misery and retire Lou Holtz? PLEASE!!! Feel free to discuss these or raise a few more in the comments.
(I am watching the SMU game as I type this. Really enjoying June Jones getting waxed by the Owls of Rice. Too bad he won’t be on the visiting sideline tomorrow in the Swamp when Hawaii faces the Gators. Really wish he could see UF’s “system quarterback” shred his alma mater.)