Week 1 is in the books, and I’ve gathered a group of esteemed Campus Pressbox originals to discuss its happenings. This week’s panel:
- Kristen Botica (@KristenBotica), a former writer at Campus Pressbox, formerly @OGKristenB
- Damien Bowman (@damiEnbowman), a former writer at Campus Pressbox, the boss here at SportsHax
- Seth Merenbloom, a former writer at Campus Pressbox, former co-host of The SEC 411
- Mike Wilson (@pigskinopinion), a former writer at Campus Pressbox, senior writer at PacificTakes.com
Your thoughts on Nick Saban’s response to Maria Taylor’s question
Kristen: Let me start by saying that I can understand why Nick Saban was frustrated. But while it’s Maria Taylor’s job to ask questions like that, it’s also Saban’s job to answer them gracefully. He not only didn’t do that, but he also had a completely invalid excuse. We get it, naming Tua as the starter may cause Jalen to consider his options regarding a transfer, but naming a starter isn’t disrespectful by nature. Man up, Coach!
Damien: Non-story. Saban clearly needs Hurts more than Hurts needs Alabama and Saban is doing everything he can to ensure that Hurts is around and engaged all season. Tua looked very good, and in a lot of spots better than Hurts, but because Alabama’s third-string is lucky to be a third option, Saban has to keep everyone happy. Saban could have handled it better, but coaches and players need a cooling off period after games.
Seth: I understand why Taylor asked the question. The Alabama QB “situation” has been a burning question since the championship game last year. The question was reasonable. Now I understand why Saban would be at the end of his fuse with the question but the tone of his response was uncalled for. He’s been in this profession long enough to know how all of this works. He let his emotions get the best of him, he realized that, and to his credit, he apologized to Taylor. How sincere the apology was will depend on how he handles what he considers to be dumb questions moving forward.
Mike: Nick Saban went Nick Saban on Maria Taylor. I wasn’t shocked at all that Saban did what he did. He doesn’t like to be questioned by others, especially the press. Taylor asked a legitimate question that many other people may have had on their minds. I was surprised that Saban apologized though.
Which team’s performance impressed you the most?
Kristen: This one’s a tough one for me. On one hand, Alabama was very impressive. The offense was just as scary as the defense and that hasn’t always been the case during recent years, even while the Tide has been dominant. But it’s hard for me to choose Alabama since I already knew it’d be good. On the other hand, I didn’t expect LSU to dominate Miami the way it did. Joe Burrow wasn’t impressive at quarterback by any means, but the team as a whole did look much better than I anticipated.
Damien: I’m most impressed by Virginia Tech. Bud Foster continues to amaze me with the consistency that his defense shows. The Hokies looked good in all three phases of the game considering it was Week 1. Florida State looked uninterested and underprepared and that falls on Willie Taggart, but it made no difference, Virginia Tech was just that good.
Seth: LSU. The stat sheet wasn’t pretty. The QB play wasn’t pretty. But this team has laid some eggs in the past to open up the season and Ed Orgeron is a coach who few consider worthy of being the head coach. I mean he was considered to be in the hot seat before the season began. So, to come out and lay it on a Miami team that many think will be really good this year impressed the hell out of me.
Mike: You have to give the nod to Notre Dame. The Michigan-Notre Dame game talk was all about how good Michigan was, that Harbaugh finally has a quarterback, and how good the defense of Michigan was. Notre Dame wasn’t a bit intimidated by Michigan. Brandon Wimbush looked good with over 225 yards of offense just by himself. Could Michigan be the most overrated program in the country?
Texas or Tennessee, which one should be more worried?
Kristen: I don’t think either fan base should hit the panic button just yet. But if I had to choose one team to be more worried about, it’d be Tennessee. The offensive line was abysmal for the first few drives and then was shaky at best throughout the rest of the game. Quarterback Jarrett Guarantano looked poised, but he could only do so much without consistent pass protection from his line. On the other side of the ball, the young secondary got lit up by West Virginia’s Will Grier. What was even more surprising about the secondary getting lit up was that Coach Pruitt left a young corner in one-on-one with an All-American caliber player like Gary Jennings. You have to wonder if something like that will fly in SEC play. Spoiler alert: It probably won’t.
Damien: Tennessee. Texas has bigger guns and control of its power grid. In all seriousness, if I have to pick one, I’ll say Texas only because Tom Herman is in his second season as the Longhorns’ coach. Expectations are much higher than they need to be in Austin considering where the program is. I know losing to Maryland two seasons in a row isn’t a great look, but there’s still plenty of time to turn the ship around a compete for the Big 12 title and New Year’s 6 Bowl. Everything is fine. Also, Texas isn’t a Top 25 team right now.
Seth: Everyone knows that I’m a closet Tennessee fan. Right, Damien? But seriously… Texas should be more worried than Tennessee. Tennessee is breaking in a first-year head coach which means 2018 is one big mulligan for Rocky Top. As for Texas? Not. A. Good. Look. Especially for the wunderkind head coach. Mensa and all that. But football isn’t rocket science. Maybe Herman is doing as good a job as can realistically be expected. Maybe he isn’t. But the fact is that he’s lost to Maryland two years in a row and that doesn’t align with the expectations in Austin. And the vibe in Austin only gets worse if Jimbo gets off to a hot start at A&M.
Mike: I believe Texas should be more worried. There were a lot of people buying Texas stock coming into Week 1, but after a loss like this, I am not sure if those people still believe. I wasn’t buying into the Texas hype. They have not been relevant for a while, and they need to show me that they can win consistently over a couple of years to prove anything to me.
Is LSU that good?
Kristen: Alright, back to LSU. Short answer: The Tigers aren’t all that and a bag of chips. The defense is tough, as per usual. But the offense left quite a bit to be desired. And that offense-defense balance is key. So, when it comes to SEC play and facing off against some tougher defenses (sorry not sorry, Canes fans), I think we’ll see that LSU is good but not great.
Damien: I don’t think we’ll know much about LSU until after September 15 when they face Auburn at Jordan-Hare. LSU’s win over Miami is impressive, but I think the general expectation is that we’ll know how well a coach will fail or succeed in their second season and this weekend’s game was a good test for Ed Orgeron. I’m not sure what to make of Miami, honestly. The same second-season logic applies to Mark Richt, but I believe that the program’s best years are behind it. I think Richt and Miami’s fan base are very passionate about football, but I’m not sure it can compete with the larger programs on a year-in and year-out basis.
Seth: The Tigers impressed me but the short answer is NO. No team is as good or bad as it looks after one game. LSU still has QB issues and until that topic is solved, it will be a tough road once conference play starts.
Mike: Is Miami that bad? Miami looked like they had never played football.
Was Virginia Tech vs. Florida State a meeting of two bad offenses or two good defenses? Or both?
Kristen: I may be biased here (looking through my orange and blue glasses), but I think Florida State was bad on offense and on defense. On the flip side, I think Virginia Tech was decent offensively and decent defensively. Also, Virginia Tech had the coaching edge in my opinion. Willie Taggart is under .500 in his college coaching career. And even if he has been known to recruit well, a few coaches like him have shown us just how important that aspect of actually coaching a game is. Justin Fuente may not draw in the players Taggart does, but he’s at least proven that he can coach a tough football game.
Seth: It seems like the last time Tech was known for offense was when Michael Vick was QB. It’s been a long time. As for FSU, Francois can play and will have the offense in shape as the year progresses. This game was more about the defenses. It was also a wakeup call to the ACC. Tech can play. The team won’t be flashy but Fuente is the real deal.
After just one game, who do you think will win the Heisman?
Kristen: I feel like so many of my answers here are intertwined. In this case, I’d give the nod to Will Grier. I saw that game in person and was in awe of some of the passes he made. He has great chemistry with his receivers and he knows exactly how to hit a target. Time and time again, he put the ball in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. Those over-the-shoulder passes had me practically salivating. And on top of his talent, it’s worth noting that Grier and the Mountaineers play in a conference dominated by offense and not defense. This means he’ll have plenty of chances to rack up some pretty ridiculous stat lines throughout the season. #GrierForHeisman it is!
Damien: The Heisman is the most overrated individual award given in sports. The winner won’t be the best player in football, but likely some offensive player who plays on a very good team.
Seth: Heisman? Are we talking about the Heisman? I’ll say this; I’m confident that it won’t be Shea Patterson. Other than that, it’s far too early for front-runners. There are some decent games next Saturday against ranked opponents. Second game of the year, emotions leveling off. Back in a rhythm. If South Carolina beats Georgia, I’d keep an eye on Deebo Samuel and/or Jake Bentley.
Mike: I don’t think anybody really stuck out in Week 1. Long term, I will go with Bryce Love from Stanford.