Figuring out how to begin is oftentimes the most difficult part of the writing process. With that being said, here are some less-than-well-organized thoughts on the now underway 2019 college football season.
Clemson and Alabama
It’s difficult to talk about one without mentioning the other due to the recent history between the two programs. Both teams return multiple players who could be named Heisman winner come December — Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne at Clemson, Tua Tagovailoa and pick whichever wide receiver you want in Tuscaloosa. In the latest of what has basically become an annual high-stakes meeting at this point, Clemson manhandled ‘Bama 44-16 to win the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship. Both teams are still very good, and will be for awhile. If you’re a fan of any other team, these are the two standing in your way of a national championship.
The defending national champs are in a great spot entering this season. They lost all that talent along the defensive line, but now Clemson is looking at a full year with Lawrence under center and another year of Etienne’s consistency in the backfield. As a San Francisco 49ers fan myself, I would draft Trevor Lawrence right now to be my quarterback of the future. The Clemson offense looked different in a good way once he took over full-time last season, and all he did was complete better than 60 percent of his passes while throwing for 347 yards and three touchdown’s on the game’s biggest stage. His best weapons at wideout are back too, and let’s not forget the Tigers play in the ACC. The Georgia Tech game is less scary for now while the Yellow Jackets are transitioning out of the triple option and into a more modern offense. Texas A&M, Clemson’s week two matchup, is the biggest hurdle they’ll face until they gain re-entry into the CFP, and that game against the Aggies will be played at Clemson.
The Crimson Tide look to be as formidable as ever despite the recent loss of linebacker Dylan Moses. Yes, Saban’s team is younger on defense than it has been in some time, but the offense has all the answers. I made that joke about picking whatever Alabama receiver you want for the Heisman this year, but it’s Jerry Jeudy who’s at the top of the pack. I honestly believe he will be the best player in college football this season. That’s not to say he’ll win the Heisman. In order for him to put up the numbers necessary for the honor his quarterback’s would likely be astronomical as well, which could split the vote.
Before the Tide’s season starts though can we just come to a quick agreement? When they blow out opponent after opponent, can we please not act like it hasn’t happened every season for the past few years?
Tuesday night provided the perfect primer for the 2019 Georgia Bulldogs season as radio/TV personality Jeff Dantzler was in town to talk about the upcoming year with the UGA faithful. The annual event with the Milledgeville chapter of the UGA Alumni Association gets me hyped for the season in a way I haven’t experienced since my days of waking up and going to class in Athens each day.
Everyone is wondering if this is the Dawgs’ year. Every day I log in to social media and see some other pundit has picked Georgia to break up the Alabama-Clemson party and win the national championship. The third-ranked team doesn’t exactly have the easy road the Tigers do. The schedule is one not packed, but heavy with some solid resumé builders so both risk and reward are high.
The defense has some growing up to do, but like Alabama the offense should be good to go. A third-year starter at quarterback plus third-year contributor at running back and a massive O-line equals good news for the Bulldog Nation. Add another highly-touted redshirt freshman running back (Zamir White) and fast riser Brian Herrien, the offense should be more than able to support the defense. Wide receiver is of course the big question mark. Do you think Coach Saban will let his former protege Kirby Smart borrow one?
Former Alabama quarterback/2018 SEC Championship savior Jalen Hurts is looking to become the third straight Oklahoma QB transfer to win the Heisman. Fifth-ranked Ohio State named former Georgia part-time quarterback Justin Fields as its starter. The No. 13 Washington Huskies also have a former Bulldog under center as the program recently announced that Jacob Eason earned that job. I’ll be watching all three closely this season, especially those last two as they look for success somewhere other than the Classic City.
Games to watch
It all starts tonight when Clemson hosts the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on the new ACC Network (check your local provider) at 8 p.m. It’ll be a blowout, but it’s worth it to see how well the Tigers are clicking and how Tech operates under its first-year head coach.
Like last year, Florida Atlantic University opens up at a Top 5 opponent. This time the Owls will be at Ohio State, and the interest in this one is local. John Milledge alum Harrison Bryant starts at tight end for FAU and is getting all the right attention and notoriety. Kickoff is noon Saturday on FOX.
While UGA-Vandy is in commercial breaks, flip over to Auburn versus Oregon, a game that gives us the only ranked against ranked matchup of opening weekend.
Happy CFB season to all!