The NCAA football season has finally arrived. Now, it’s about time we got to the things this blog was named after: takeaways! I’ll be posting these the day after the last game in a given week. In this article, we’ll discuss several of the key topics that transpired during this week’s games. Unless something really notable happens involving an FCS team, we’ll mostly be sticking to the FBS (Division I-A). When possible, we’ll touch on the NFL draft elements of the college season, and we’ll definitely get into CFP scenarios and implications.
For our first week, I tried to not make sweeping conclusions because it takes time for teams to jell and really hit their strides. New coaches are implementing their systems, the transfer portal has led to more new players than ever for various teams, and underclassmen are replacing departed seniors and NFL draftees. So let’s do it! Here are my week 1 takeaways for the 2022 college football season.
Game of the Year in Week 1?
I was expecting to write something in awe of the Notre Dame-Ohio State game, but here I am talking to you about UNC vs. Appalachian State. This game was WILD. App State opened with a 21-7 lead, but UNC found their rhythm and scored 34 unanswered points to take a 41-21 lead heading into the 4th quarter. At that point, neither defense could get many stops, with the Mountaineers climbing all the way back to 49-49. UNC scored once more with 2:50 remaining, but App State answered right back with a TD, bringing the score to 56-55 before the PAT with 31 seconds on the clock. The Mountaineers went for 2 to try to win in regulation, but despite a perfect play call, QB Chase Brice missed an open receiver in the end zone with a poor throw. The subsequent onside kick was so bad that it was almost perfect. The ball didn’t go 10 yards and actually bounced right to a UNC player, who took it to the house. If App State couldn’t recover the kick, having UNC score was the next-best thing because they couldn’t kneel on the ball. Somehow, with 28 seconds left, App State led ANOTHER TD drive, but this time they had to go for 2 just to tie. Brice couldn’t convert on a failed rushing attempt. This game had a bit of everything. If you love defense, you probably wanted to gouge your eyes out, but if you enjoy shootouts, this game was like a dream.
QB Devin Leary Struggles in Season Debut
Multiple news outlets have hyped up NC State’s Devin Leary after an excellent 2021 season. Mel Kiper ranked him as his #8 QB for the 2023 draft, and he was also selected as the ACC’s preseason player of the year (I consider Miami’s Tyler Van Dyke to be better, but I digress). He did not live up to that hype in week 1. Leary looked out of sync for most of the game, going 17-33 for 211 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT against ECU. He also lost a fumble that went out of bounds. His INT was particularly costly, as it gave ECU a short field for a game-tying drive. NC State only won because ECU’s kicker missed a PAT and a game-winning FG attempt. Leary has plenty of time to improve and play up to his potential, but I wouldn’t call this a very good start.
New QBs, New Places, Mixed Results
This offseason brought a ton of QB movement in the transfer portable, some of which started off more successfully than others. Bo Nix’s debut in Oregon was about as ugly as one could’ve imagined, with 2 INTs and only 3 total points. Kedon Slovis looked decent for Pitt, topping 300 yards and playing a clean game. Ben Bryant had 325 yards and 2 TDs, but he also committed two awful turnovers that dragged a Bearcats team that lost only once last year (in the playoff semifinals) to an 0-1 squad that will likely be out of the rankings already. Dillon Gabriel was efficient for the Sooners, but he really didn’t have to do much against UTEP; he’ll be fine in that comical offense. John Rhys Plumlee, who had to convert to receiver at Ole Miss, had 308 passing yards, 86 rushing yards, and 5 total TDs in his first game as UCF’s QB. Caleb Williams exhibited pinpoint accuracy in his first start with USC, showing that his connection with fellow Sooner transplant Lincoln Riley remains intact. Spencer Rattler did not play well for South Carolina (1 TD, 2 INT) despite their comfortable win over Georgia State. Jaxson Dart had an uninspiring game (154 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) in his attempt to replace Matt Corral at Ole Miss. Jayden Daniels did almost nothing for 3 quarters before playing exceptionally in the 4th; he would’ve tied the game if not for a blocked PAT. With all of these divergent outcomes to start the season, let’s keep an eye on how these new QB-program matches play out to see if they change fortunes or end in disaster.
Georgia’s Title Defense Starts Strong
When Dan Lanning left his role as Georgia’s DC to take the head coaching position at Oregon, I don’t think he expected this much of a gap between the two teams. Georgia completely demolished Oregon 49-3, looking a lot like defending national champions. The Bulldogs were in midseason form, with Stetson Bennett scoring both through the air and on the ground (no turnovers) and the team winning the total yardage battle 571-313. Georgia’s suffocating defense never let the visitors get comfortable, showing that losing 8 defenders to the NFL draft wasn’t going to stop them from dominating once again. They treated the #11 team like they were an FCS squad being used for record/stat fluffing. I don’t know how good Oregon is going to be yet, but Georgia clearly made their capabilities known. Unfortunately for them, so did Alabama.
In Battle of Top-5 Teams, Defenses Shine
All eyes were on (2) Ohio State hosting (5) Notre Dame, but not many gave the Irish a chance. Those people were right, but ND actually held a 3-point lead at halftime before being shut out for the entire second half. Neither team could move the ball well, but both teams’ QBs avoided critical mistakes, resulting in a 10-7 game at the half. The Buckeyes added a TD in each of the final two quarters, and that was all the scoring. OSU ended up winning 21-10, but it was not the offensive fireworks display that was predicted. With returning stars such as CJ Stroud (QB), TreVeyon Henderson (RB) and Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR), the Buckeyes were expected to move the ball at will. That really didn’t happen; Smith-Njigba had just two catches for 3 yards, and though Stroud’s final numbers (24-34, 223 yards, 2 TD) looked solid, they don’t represent how much of a struggle the offense faced all night long. Still, a win is a win, and they’ll look to build on it in the coming weeks, while the Irish regroup and try to figure out how to score at all. However, the first point goes to Bryce Young in the predestined Heisman duel.