Friday, May 25, 2018
Colleges

Your enjoyment guide to college football week 1

Here's the Baker's Dozen for week 1 of the college football season:



Five debuts to watch

West Virginia QB Will Grier: UF's former quarterback of the future received a one-year drug suspension, then transferred. His first game for the Mountaineers will be Sunday's top-25 matchup against Virginia Tech.

FSU RB Cam Akers: It's unfair to call anyone the next Dalvin Cook ... but the five-star freshman might be the next Dalvin Cook.

UF RB Malik Davis: The Jesuit High alum and Hillsborough County's all-time leading rusher probably won't start, but he'll have a larger-than-expected role with Jordan Scarlett suspended.

Miami QB Malik Rosier: Not technically a debut (he was an injury fill-in starter in the miraculous win at Duke two years ago), but the Rosier era officially begins against Bethune-Cookman.

Texas coach Tom Herman: The offseason's biggest coaching hire makes the leap from Houston and shouldn't have trouble against Maryland.



Viewing guide

Lamest time window: Noon. All the cupcakes you can eat.

Noon: QB Kelly Bryant eases in as Deshaun Watson's replacement for No. 5 Clemson against Kent State.

3:30: If No. 17 Florida can upset No. 11 Michigan despite 10 suspensions, it'll be the clear highlight of the Jim McElwain era.

3:45: If the Gators game gets ugly, Troy-Boise State is a matchup of two top Group of Five teams that could challenge USF for a spot in a New Year's Six bowl.

7:30: Louisville QB Lamar Jackson is always worth watching. Even against Purdue.

8: No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Florida State meet in the most anticipated opener ever.

9:30: No. 13 LSU begins its first full season under Ed Orgeron in a nice non-conference nightcap against BYU.



Local of the week

FSU WR Auden Tate (Wharton High)

It's always risky taking too much away from the spring game, but Alabama's secondary looked susceptible to deep balls (13 passes of at least 20 yards). If that holds true, then the 6-foot-5 Tate has the size to take advantage of downfield passes on the biggest stage of his career.



Eye on the NFL draft

Wyoming QB Josh Allen doesn't get many chances to play tough competition, so the likely first-round pick needs to make the most of today's game against a traditionally sound Iowa defense. NFL scouts will be breaking down his performance for months.



Stat of the week

Courtesy of ESPN's Heather Dinich (Twitter: @CFBHeather): "NO team has won a national title after losing its season opener since Miami in 1983. Good luck."



'GameDay' breakdown

'Bama amassed a nation's best 54 sacks last season. FSU allowed 36 (tied for 17th most). It's this simple: If FSU doesn't protect QB Deondre Francois better, 'Bama linemen Da'Shawn Hand and Da'Ron Payne will dominate and end the Seminoles' chances at victory.



Three Wolverines to know

It's hard to get a read on Michigan because of its roster shenanigans and the fact that it returns only five starters. But here are three players you should know:

1. OL Mason Cole: Coach Jim Harbaugh calls the East Lake High alumnus "one of the most versatile offensive linemen I've ever been around." The senior captain has gone from left tackle, to center and back to tackle.

2. QB Wilton Speight: Harbaugh (to no surprise) hasn't officially named Speight the starter, but he was the team's top passer last season (2,538 yards, 18 touchdowns, seven interceptions).

3. DL Rashan Gary: The country's No. 1 overall recruit in 2016, Gary could be ready to dominate alongside Maurice Hurst.



Feleipe Franks scouting report

UF's new starting quarterback is big (6-5, 227) with a very strong arm, and he's a better athlete than many realize. His physical traits have gotten him into trouble by forcing mistakes, but he seems to have a better grasp of the offense in his second season. His last real game was a 37-34 loss in the 2015 Class 5A state championship, and he'll be the first redshirt freshman quarterback to start UF's opener since Kerwin Bell (1984).



By the numbers

11 Quarterbacks UF has started since Tim Tebow left, including today's latest addition, Franks

3 — Consecutive losses by Nick Saban without Lane Kiffin as offensive coordinator

27 — Consecutive season-opening wins for UF (tops in the country)

9-1 FSU coach Jimbo Fisher's record against the SEC

10-0 Saban's record against former assistants since joining 'Bama



Déjà vu

No. 19 USF (1-0) opened the Skip Holtz era with a 59-14 win over Stony Brook in 2010. This isn't Charlie Strong's debut, but it is his first home game at Raymond James Stadium. Don't be surprised if it's even more lopsided than the victory seven years ago.



Heating up...

Either UCLA coach Jim Mora or Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin will lose in their matchup Sunday night. That's unfortunate, because both could be on the hot seat thanks to years of underachieving. The key will be Bruins QB Josh Rosen — a top-10 talent on his third offensive coordinator in three seasons — against an Aggies defense that returns seven defensive starters (but not No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett).



ACC-SEC showdowns

It's not just FSU-Alabama. ACC Atlantic sleeper N.C. State will take one of the nation's best defensive lines to Charlotte to try to wreck Will Muschamp's Gamecocks and promising young QB Jake Bentley. Georgia Tech dismissed top RB Dedrick Mills two weeks ago, and No. 25 Tennessee has had all offseason to prepare for the triple option. Tech has three consecutive wins over the SEC East; a fourth Monday in Atlanta would turn up the heat on Vols coach Butch Jones' seat.

Contact Matt Baker at [email protected] Follow @MBakerTBTimes

     
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