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|College Football 2019: Week 3 Preview||Friday, 2019 September 13 - 6:31 pm|
|Last week: Michigan squeaked by Army, while N.C. State and Penn State won comfortably. Next week: Michigan has a bye, N.C. State faces a shaky WVU squad, and Penn State plays pesky Pitt.|
Michigan 24, Army 21 (2OT)
Well, whew. That was uncomfortable. Michigan was error-prone against a sound and well-coached Army team, and that spelled trouble. Three fumbles, for cryin' out loud. 3.4 yards per rush, sacks excluded. Just 340 total yards.
There were systemic issues on offense. The zone read game was not working. That was partly on Josh Gattis' play-calling (Michigan didn't use enough split zone and bubble screen concepts, which were there all day), and partly on Shea Patterson's missed pre-snap and post-snap reads.
They're correctable mistakes... assuming the coaches can properly identify them. But it's a little alarming that concepts that should be fundamental to this offense were so poorly executed.
On defense, things were... ok? Army's triple-option is going to cause problems for a ton of people. While watching live I was screaming for Michigan to stop the fullback dive plays. Don Brown afterwards said he was very concerned about giving up big plays if the quarterback ran the speed option to the edge, but... Michigan has a lot of team speed, and I'd rather take a few chances on giving up some edge runs over getting hammered to death three yards at a time.
But a win is a win. This is one of those games where a cursed team would lose (cough 2007 cough), and Michigan survived.
Next week: Bye. And lots of practice.
N.C. State 41, Western Carolina 0
Not a very telling game. N.C. State cruised to victory over a clearly overmatched opponent, and lots of backups got playing time. WCU ended up with 8 yards rushing. Ouch.
Next week: N.C. State at West Virginia, 12:00 PM FS1
WVU isn't the title-contending team of old; this is certainly a rebuilding year under new coach Neal Brown. But they're a legitimate program with an accurate passer in junior quarterback Austin Kendall, who's an Oklahoma transfer.
WVU's issue is with the offensive line, who was supposed to be okay with four returning starters. But even with a stable of talented running backs, WVU has only managed to rush for 64 yards total on 56 attempts over two games. Yeesh.
WVU opened with a 20-13 win over lowly James Madison, then got blown about by Missouri. I think there are too many issues to correct for the Mountaineers here.
Prediction: N.C. State 38, WVU 10.
Penn State 45, Buffalo 13
Buffalo actually led at the half, which is alarming, but Penn State put the game away in the 3rd quarter with a 28 point explosion. Sean Clifford is really starting to look comfortable, though, and if he can maintain this level of performance against better competition, Penn State will be formidable for the rest of the season.
But attention now needs to be paid to the tailback position, where PSU has yet to find a consistent and reliable runner. Devyn Ford, who had a huge game against Idaho, was somehow only given one carry in this game.
Next week: Penn State vs. Pitt, 12:00 PM ABC
Pitt has historically given PSU a pretty good game, but it might be less interesting this year. Pitt lost big to UVA in their opener and then only managed to beat Ohio U by 10 points. There's an experienced quarterback in Kenny Pickett and there's that Pat Narduzzi defense to contend with, but I dunno man... this one has all the makings of another blowout win for PSU.
Prediction: Penn State 48, Pitt 13.
Last Week's Big Surprises
The Michigan game was a scare, but you've got to give the prize to Cal, who upset #14 Washington 20-19. That will put a serious damper on Washington's Pac-12 title plans; given the tiebreaker chaos of last year, any loss to a mid-tier squad could be devastating. Runner up: Maryland, who demolished #21 Syracuse 63-20. They're starting to look a little bit scary.
Games to Watch on TV
#13 Penn State vs Pitt and N.C. State vs WVU are both at noon, on ABC and FS1 respectively. #6 Ohio State plays Indiana on Fox. I'll go ahead and call that the Game of the Week because there's really not a lot else out there this week.
At 1:00, Air Force plays Colorado on the PAC12 network, which is only of interest to me because I'm hoping to see someone else struggle against a service academy.
At 3:30, #2 Alabama plays South Carolina on CBS, which is at least a conference opponent but probably won't be close. Stanford plays #17 UCF on ESPN. At 4:00, #18 Michigan State plays Arizona State on Fox, and I think there's a chance at an upset here. #19 Iowa plays Iowa State on FS1.
At 7:00, #9 Florida plays Kentucky on ESPN. At 7:30, #1 Clemson plays Syracuse on ABC. Florida State plays #25 Virginia on ACCN. And that's all, really? Not a lot of marquee matchups this week.
|Permalink 1 Comment
Posted by Ken in: sports
|Comment #1 from Dan (Guest)|
2019 Sep 19 - 12:32 am : #
|Hey Ken. Glad you are back for another year of college football! As always, I appreciate the insights you bring and am looking forward to reading the blogs.|
There's a lot of angst among Nittany Lion fans about not destroying Pitt and the first-half troubles we had against Buffalo. Personally, I don't get it. Neither game ever felt like we could possibly lose (unlike App State last year which had me scared to death). This is a young team, and we should expect a few struggles along the way. Wins are wins.
There are lots of positives. Our depth is better than it has been at any time since the sanctions. We finally have backups who can handle things if the starters go down. Our defense is incredibly talented. They are inexperienced and will make dumb mistakes like letting the opponent's best receiver get behind them, but those are correctable things, and this unit could be a real force for the next couple of years. On offense, the talent at WR and TE is remarkable. Sean Clifford certainly has all the tools that he needs to be a successful college QB. And, we have 4 very talented RBs fighting each other for playing time. Special teams, which were terrible last year, have become a strength thanks to the addition of new ST coach Joe Lorig and new long-range kicking stud Jordan Stout.
But there are a lot of negatives too. It starts with the offensive line. A unit that was thought to be a strength has clearly been the biggest weakness so far. They are struggling with BOTH run and pass blocking. Not helping matters is the fact that none of the 4 previously mentioned RBs have shown the ability to get in the way of a blitzing linebacker. As for Sean Clifford, for all his tools, he has been making far too many mistakes on his option reads. That should get better as the season goes on. A bigger concern for me has been his accuracy on deep balls. Even when the receivers are wide open, they have to adjust to the ball or are getting overthrown. It worries me because I'm not sure how fixable that is. There are surely mechanical things that can be tweaked, but part of deep ball accuracy has to be instinctive, doesn't it? Either you have the touch or you don't? I don't know, but if it doesn't improve quickly, the better DBs in the conference will be licking their chops.
Well I didn't mean for this to be so long. I just got on a roll I guess. Thanks again for having this blog. You will have at least one loyal reader this year.