College Football: Why To Take Week 1 With a Grain Of Salt

McLeod NealeAnalyst IAugust 31, 2008

It is really funny to see all of the people out there that are trying to justify putting USC, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, or Ohio State over all of the other teams at this point.  Do you really think that you can tell how two teams will play against each other based on their performance against cupcake teams?  There are a few things can be learned from week 1, but what we know at this point is very limited.  So when I say take week 1 with a grain of salt, I am not talking about losing games because that is a big deal.  What I am saying, though, is that it is a fool's errand to forecast the entire season for a team based on one game.  The first couple of weeks are the hardest weeks to make predictions and draw conclusions from.  That is for a couple of reasons:

  1. New Teams: Teams are not the same as last year.  Players and coaches come and go, and players and coaches are always trying to do things in order to improve.  Players will gain or lose weight, and put a countless number of hours studying in the film room in order to better understand the game.  It is very hard to know which players will be significantly improved, and which ones won't.
  2. First Game Jitters: Making judgements about a team from their first game of the year is very risky.  Some teams may need to brush the rust off, and, unfortunately, for some teams that may take an entire game to happen.
  3. Saving The Best For When It Matters Most: The third reason is that major conference teams often play very weak opponents, and they want to save the best that they have to offer for the defining moments of the season.  There will be lots of blowouts, and coaches often try to keep their cards close to the vest.  So this means that   They want to keep their best offensive schemes and plays secret until the most important games of the season.  This becomes even more important if coaches have schematically changed the way that they will play offense or defense this season.  The idea here is to give the opposition as little help as possible, and revealing the sets and plays that you will go to during the clutch points of the season is helping the opposition.  Coaches may also hold their best players out of the game in order to save them for the important games.  Be sure to take that into account as well.
  4. New Coaches and Coordinators: As is normal for every offseason in college football, there will be new coordinators at lots of schools.  If those coordinators come from smaller schools that fly under the radar, it will be very tough to plan for those teams.  Those teams could appear to be better early in the season, due to the fact that teams that appear later on the schedule will have additional film, which will translate into better game planning.