I'm pleased to move past last week, and now the focus shifts to FIU, and that big showdown with Maryland still looming on the schedule. I don't know how to react to that JMU game; you never know quite how a team will respond to that kind of scare. It's funny...for weeks, if not months of talking up FIU, now I need to pop the bubble a little. A mid-major keeping pace with a top team for a quarter or a half happens all the time. Yardage wise, the game wasn't even that close in the first half. Admittedly, FIU's star playmaker T.Y. Hilton did break a big return. Rutgers wins that one by double digits. A few points:
1. No one knows anything. At all. Yesterday saw tons of near upsets (UNC/UConn, NW/EMU, Fresno/UW, Weber/CSU, Maryland/JMU, BG/Mizzou, JSU/FSU), and plenty more of the genuine article (Notre Dame, although I'd argue they were far overrated and played to their precise talent level, and others like Houston). UGA/South Carolina was supposed to be a defensive slugfest, and turned into a shootout. Pittsburgh and Iowa were supposed to prime upset candidates, and rolled to easy victories. I guess this kind of uncertainty can make you wary of FIU, but it's also a cause for optimism. Maybe teams just plain do have bad games every now and again. There's always a remote possibility that strange upsets will occur. This level of chaos has been the rule for the past several years, and shows no sign of fading away any time soon.
2. It's the year of the freshman at quarterback. Matt Barkley and Tom Savage already have the requisite NFL measurables. Tate Forcier is suddenly making Rich Rodriguez look like a genius again. He's polished, accurate, and most importantly; mobile. Which are exactly the attributes necessary for the ideal spread option QB. It wouldn't be much of a surprise to see a lot of glowing articles about this trio over the next several months, with maybe a comparison or two ro the NFL's parallel trend of suddenly being gung-ho about throwing rookie gunslingers into the fire. Let's just hope that the world's top scientists are working day and night to cure Reggie Ball disease.
3. All in all, not a terrible day for the Big East. Can't complain too much about the ACC and Big Ten (minus Michigan and Ohio State, who fared well) struggling, and taking away the wrong kind of spotlight for the next week. A few impressions from fast forwarding through the 360 replays and looking at stat lines:
Pittsburgh may have had the best day overall. Dion Lewis must be something else if he's keeping Ray Graham off the field. Jonathan Baldwin is gets my obligatory "FREAK" mention in all caps, although they don't get him the ball nearly enough. One interesting wrinkle is that Dorin Dickerson might have had a breakout game. He's sort of their Mason Robinson (although, more of a WR/TE than WR/RB), being a really good athlete who's bounced around between positions. I was really hoping that Robinson would have that breakout game at some point for us too. Wait till next year.
You know, before this year Jarrett Brown seemed to get most of his action against Rutgers, and I always thought that he was a good passer. Much better than Pat White even, although lacking the latter's scrambling prowess. I haven't seen Matt Grothe yet this year, but Brown is better than last year's model in Tampa. And for the love of God, why does USF continue on with their ugly gold helmets, when the white ones looked a thousand times better in their bowl game last year?
Cincinatti and UConn pretty much are who I thought they were. Cincinnati is legit. No questions about it. UConn is no pushover. Their tailback Todman has a quick first step, and they're as stout on defense as ever. Problem is though, no passing game. None whatsoever. I watched about five minutes of this game earlier, and had to turn it off in favor of the Pitt highlights. I know that UNC was down a couple linemen for this one, but I admittedly probably gave them too much credit for the Butch Davis factor. Def a team that will score a few upsets though. Rutgers can beat them in East Hartford, but it won't be a picnic. Either UNC is really good at blocking punts, or the Huskies are awful at protecting them.
4. Man, am I psyched about the NFL kicking off today. My Giants are in action, there are the Jets too, Ray Rice, mmm. What Britt did on Thursday, and what pretty much everyone is expecting Rice to do today just goes to show that there's absolutely no substitute for landing with a quality organization in the NFL. I mean, could you imagine Britt on the Raiders? Instead, he arguably benefited from falling (too far, considering his talent level) all the way to the bottom of the first round. That allowed him to land with a winning organization in Tennessee, who already have their veterans in place, and won't necessarily ask him to be Superman from day one.
"I made some rookie mistakes,'' Britt said. "This game moves fast, and the veterans are helping me out. They're keeping me in the game and keeping me focused.
"One thing they stress to me is to just go out there and play, because when you're on the field you're not a rookie any more. They kept my head in the game and made sure that I know where I am.''
Maybe he'll have to wait a year, like Rice did with Baltimore. Neither was drafted to sit on the bench though. Rice looked good (but not this good) in practices last year, but struggled to find carries in Baltimore's three-headed monster of a backfield platoon. Willis McGahee has a lot of wear on his tires though, and will increasingly cede touches. Everything worked out far better over the long haul.
I'll be watching Westerman today (it'll be interesting to see whether he's pushing Gholston for reps, or seeing more time inside). Rice is on at one too, although L.J. Smith is once again injured. If anyone does watch Rams/Seahawks for some reason, Gary Gibson is the starter in St. Louis.