Well, another season is upon us. Forgive anyone who forgot there were two games played in the Palmetto State this week—ESPN has been a bit preoccupied.
Seriously though, the world could cave in when we are once again reminded tonight that Jadeveon Clowney has teammates. We’ve been convinced otherwise for the past few months, but as the hype machine gives way to actual play on the field, narratives based on fiction become frustrating.
As we approach the opening kickoff of the season, here are a few things to watch out for in tonight’s proceedings:
1. Don’t chalk up the line of scrimmage to Clowney just yet. North Carolina might have something to say about the Rock Hill native’s Heisman campaign. The Tar Heels have a starting left tackle, James Hurst, who is held in high regard by NFL scouts. I won’t be surprised if this game looks much like the Tennessee and Michigan games last season, when Clowney was held in check for most of the action by outstanding individual talents at tackle.
Still, don’t be stunned when Clowney makes a game-changing play. He certainly has a penchant for doing just that.
2. The Gamecock defense might give up a bunch of points in this game. This is not a reflection on the South Carolina defense, but it is more of a reflection of the difficulty of stopping a team like the Tar Heels—a fast-paced, spread, quick release offense—in the first week of the season.
I think the Gamecocks will ultimately prevail in a close game, but I also suspect a few shaky moments for a defense playing a tough matchup without D.J. Swearinger and Devin Taylor. Plus, the Tar Heels return Bryn Renner at quarterback and a host of talented wideouts who can make plays in space.
3. Keep your remotes handy. I know, I know—that first game is the most important. But this is the time of year when the remote control becomes my favorite toy in the box.
In all, five different channels will be broadcasting games, in addition to the host of contests available online on ESPN3. Since college football is new again, chances are high I’ll sample most of them.
4. Remember when the SEC used to be clean? Okay, that’s a trick question. But there are some programs that used to represent at least some modicum of honor, class, and dignity within the conference.
I’m not sure Ole Miss ever did, but Vanderbilt sure as heck used to be more concerned about looking good than about playing good. (Yes, I know it should be “well”, but the analogy just fits the way I wrote it.)
James Franklin is in a bit of hot water despite winning games and creating a positive vibe around the football team. Maybe if his players stopped raping girls—allegedly—the Commodores would be viewed a little better in the eyes of many.
Oh yes, and expect Vandy to win by double digits tonight. Ole Miss’ best 20 players on the payroll—yes, I do mean that—are all freshmen.
5. Fox Sports 1 picked a good game to start its college football coverage. Utah-Utah State isn’t super sexy, but it is an in-state showdown that should have high drama and intrigue.
The Utes are a power running team that will try to impose a physical style of play. The Aggies are a spread team with quarterback Chuckie Keaton leading the way. I’ll be watching, at least for a little while.