Rich Rants: What To Make Of WVU & Week 3?

Rich Rants: Week 3 thoughts, musings and ramblings about the weekend.

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Just because Florida and Georgia Tech hung on this weekend doesn’t mean their respective head coaches improved their job security. In fact, Will Muschamp and Paul Johnson, respectively, continue to live on borrowed time. It was the same old Gators, needing triple-overtime to shake a Kentucky team that hasn’t won a conference game in nearly three years. Georgia Southern, which beat Muschamp’s team in 2013, almost did the same thing to Johnson’s Yellow Jackets in Atlanta. Muschamp and Johnson won games Saturday, but lost more support with administrations and fan bases that could be looking for fresh starts in 2015.

Since I’m having a tough time making sense of West Virginia, I’m going to withhold judgment until after this week’s visit from Oklahoma. I want to believe in the Mountaineers, because Dana Holgorsen is capable of entertaining. He’s got Clint Trickett playing like he could have beaten out Jameis Winston in Tallahassee, and Kevin White is an emerging superstar on the outside. But West Virginia has also flashed the erratic behavior and sloppiness of a program still trying to dig out of a two-year hole. Everyone learns a lot about the ‘eers this week, when the Sooners come to town.

The sky is blue. Water’s wet. And the ACC Coastal is a jump ball. Just when it looked as if Virginia Tech might be ready to assume its spot atop the division, it implodes in the face of East Carolina. A good ECU team, no doubt, but not one that was expected to win in Blacksburg a week after Tech shocked Ohio State. Now, any of seven teams could represent this half of the ACC. It’s entirely fitting that Pitt and Virginia, which were least likely to contend before the season began, enjoy an early lead in the race to face Florida State in Charlotte in early December.

I continue to be bullish on Mizzou. And with Georgia and South Carolina showing signs of vulnerability in the early stages of the season, who’s to say the Tigers can’t compete for another SEC East crown? QB Maty Mauk is a great fit for Gary Pinkel’s offense, the skill guys are deep and the D is outstanding at the point of attack. For a team that lost 19.5 sacks from Michael Sam and Kony Ealy, it’s regrouped remarkably well up front. Missouri showed a ton with the way it handled Toledo and UCF the past two weeks, setting the stage for a Sept. 27 trip to South Carolina that’ll be far more impactful than it appeared to be just two weeks ago.

Like it or not, Bobby Petrino might have a quarterback controversy at Louisville before the year ends. Starter Will Gardner’s numbers look okay in the aggregate, but he was ineffective in Saturday’s loss to Virginia, and his rating has dipped in each of the last two weeks. The Cavaliers are going to make a lot of opposing quarterbacks look bad this fall, but the Cards could have a solution on the bench in true freshman Reggie Bonnafon. While his snaps have been limited, he’s been poised when given a chance, and he brings much more athleticism to the position. Don’t be shocked if Petrino gives his rookie a crack at the job at some point this fall.

Regardless of your feelings about Bret Bielema, it’s hard not to respect his commitment to the run in an era of up-tempo, pass-happy offenses. The Arkansas coach is unapologetic about his approach to the game; he’s going to run it down your throat until you prove you can stop it. Texas Tech couldn’t stop the Hogs, which have now rushed for 13 touchdowns and more than 900 yards in just the last two games. Bielema has a long way to go in Fayetteville, but Saturday’s blowout in Lubbock provided proof that noticeable gains are being made and the ground floor of the rebuilding plan has been laid.

Enough already with depth issues being the convenient excuse for a USC flop. In October, possibly. But not in Week 3, when the two-deep is virtually intact and legs are still fresh. The Trojans got whipped at the line of scrimmage by Boston College, which played with more heart, passion and execution. There’s no other way to explain being outgained 452-20. The Eagles simply dragged Troy into the kind of bare-knuckle, no-nonsense game it was ill-equipped to win. L.A. teams ought to consider scratching future trips to the East Coast. UCLA survived Charlottesville in the opener, but not without three touchdowns from the defense.


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