The Spread Offensive: Overreaction vs. Reality

The Spread Offensive: Overreaction vs. Reality

This article is part of our The Spread Offensive series.

We're all guilty of it. Don't deny it. The knee-jerk reaction following the first week of any season. It's easy to overreact after seeing one game. We want to make blanket, conclusory statements about the entire season from a very small sample size. Here are a few statements you might hear at the water cooler during the week:

A. TCU is overrated. They couldn't move the ball against a Minnesota team that won eight games last season.

B. Auburn can't win the College Football Playoff under the direction of quarterback Jeremy Johnson.

C. The only thing scandalous at Penn State is the play of its quarterback, Christian Hackenberg.

D. I wish Mack Brown was still coaching at Texas.

All of these statements are blatant overreactions, particularly the last one.

Here are some tenets on how to rationalize some of the bizarre results, poor performances and colossal blowouts.

1. It's the first game of the season.
This is not a cop out. I'm not completely excusing teams or players who played poorly in Week 1. I'm merely saying that this is a statement of fact: Every team that played last week was playing its first game of the season.

I forget which announcer said this Saturday, so I'm just going to steal it: there's no preseason in college football. This is the first live game action for many players together. Different quarterbacks are under center. A new year brings new coaches, new receivers, new schemes, new girlfriends. You get

We're all guilty of it. Don't deny it. The knee-jerk reaction following the first week of any season. It's easy to overreact after seeing one game. We want to make blanket, conclusory statements about the entire season from a very small sample size. Here are a few statements you might hear at the water cooler during the week:

A. TCU is overrated. They couldn't move the ball against a Minnesota team that won eight games last season.

B. Auburn can't win the College Football Playoff under the direction of quarterback Jeremy Johnson.

C. The only thing scandalous at Penn State is the play of its quarterback, Christian Hackenberg.

D. I wish Mack Brown was still coaching at Texas.

All of these statements are blatant overreactions, particularly the last one.

Here are some tenets on how to rationalize some of the bizarre results, poor performances and colossal blowouts.

1. It's the first game of the season.
This is not a cop out. I'm not completely excusing teams or players who played poorly in Week 1. I'm merely saying that this is a statement of fact: Every team that played last week was playing its first game of the season.

I forget which announcer said this Saturday, so I'm just going to steal it: there's no preseason in college football. This is the first live game action for many players together. Different quarterbacks are under center. A new year brings new coaches, new receivers, new schemes, new girlfriends. You get the picture. Some teams get cupcake matchups and look electric (Ole Miss, Georgia Tech). Other teams face stiffer competition and look sluggish (Arizona State, Wisconsin). One game does not a season make. Who would have picked Ohio State to win the CFP after losing to Virginia Tech in Week 2 last season? Patience, grasshopper.

2. This is not last season.
This ties in with the first tenet. That TCU squad that averaged 46.5 points per game last season? The Horned Frogs are supposed to be even better this year, but what if they aren't? We'll know more in a few more weeks. However, away games against power conference opponents are never easy, particularly during Week 1. I'm not concerned about Trevone Boykin and company.

The same goes for Jeremy Johnson and Auburn. Auburn beat a very talented Louisville squad despite Johnson tossing three INTs. Starting running back Roc Thomas also left the game early due to injury. Since this is a fantasy site, I'll offer at least some reward for reading my ramblings. Do yourself a favor and play Peyton Barber this weekend against Jacksonville State. You're welcome.

3. We live in a society at the height of hyperbole.
"That was the best movie I ever saw!" "Nobody will ever make a better catch than Odell Beckham, Jr.!" "Taco Bell makes the best burrito on the planet!" Even though I may believe the second statement but do not believe the third statement at all, the point is there. Everything is in the extremes nowadays. College Football is not immune to this phenomenon.

So let's reevaluate the initial four statements with these more rational, logical points in mind.

Overreaction:
TCU is overrated. They couldn't move the ball against a Minnesota team that won eight games last season.

Reality:
It is difficult to win anywhere on the road in college football. It was the first game of the season and the TCU offense was not in rhythm. Minnesota's coach, Jerry Kill, was the best man at the wedding of TCU coach Gary Patterson. I did not make that up. They coached together at Pittsburg State from 1985-87. For all you scholars, that's Pittsburg in Kansas, not Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, by the way. Arizona Cardinals wideout John Brown went to Pittsburg State. So did actor Gary Busey, who went there on a football scholarship. The more you know. In any event, the coaches were extremely familiar with each other.

Overreaction:
Auburn can't win the College Football Playoff under the direction of quarterback Jeremy Johnson.

Reality:
It was Johnson's first start at quarterback. He lost his starting running back to injury. He did not have his star wide receiver, D'haquille Williams, for half of fall camp due to suspension/injury. Louisville is not a patsy. At the end of the day, this is a stellar win on paper for the Tigers. They still have a daunting SEC slate, but Johnson is going to learn from his mistakes and mature. Johnson must play better, but this contest should not dissuade those pundits who liked Auburn before the season started. Remember, you still don't know anything about new quarterbacks who played cupcakes in Week 1 (I'm looking at you, Chad Kelly).

Overreaction:
The only thing scandalous at Penn State is the play of its quarterback, Christian Hackenberg.

Reality:
Hackenberg was sacked 10 times by the vaunted defense of the Temple Owls. Thanks for the help, O-Line. There's video of one of the sacks floating around the interwebs where Temple rushes two D-linemen against five for PSU. Oh, there's also a running back in the backfield. Yet, Hackenberg still goes down. It's appalling. No quarterback can make throws when he's constantly under pressure, or worse, when he's on his back. Hackenberg is not a mobile quarterback either; he was recruited by former coach Bill O'Brien to run a pro-style offense. He shouldn't be expected to run around like Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M. It's a scheme/play-calling/personnel issue more than anything else.

Overreaction:
I wish Mack Brown was still coaching at Texas.

Reality:
Speaking of Johnny Football, Mack Brown recruited both Manziel and former Baylor QB Robert Griffin III to play cornerback in college. Yes, you read that correctly. Brown had tremendous success for a time, coaching the Longhorns from 1998-2013, including winning the national championship in 2005 with Vince Young at quarterback. Any coach who can get Vince Young to read a playbook, or at least pretend to read a playbook, certainly gets some respect from me. However, after nine consecutive seasons with double-digit wins, Brown reeled off four straight seasons that were less-than-stellar. Did I mention HE TRIED TO GET HEISMAN-WINNING QUARTERBACKS TO PLAY CORNERBACK? The game had passed him by; he was let go in 2013.

Under the direction of new head honcho Charlie Strong, the former coach at Louisville, the Longhorns got absolutely pasted by Notre Dame in the season opener Saturday, 38-3. It's a bad loss, no way around it. But Strong is only in Year 2, he's trying to build a perennial powerhouse program his way, with fans that simply cannot tolerate losing at all. It's easy to forget that Texas A&M and Baylor have become monsters in recruiting in recent years; Brown really only had to deal with fending off Oklahoma during his early years. Circumstances have changed; the Texas name was enough on its own back then. That's not the case anymore.

Also, Notre Dame is good? Notre Dame is good. Malik Zaire is going to win the Heisman! Said every Irish fan after that game. Overreactions aside, Zaire picked apart the Longhorns and quickly made Irish fans forget about Everett Golson, completing 19-of-22 passes for 313 yards and three touchdowns. It's not like Texas got spanked by lowly Texas State (a team that incidentally lost to Golson and his new squad, the Florida State Seminoles). Texas looked awful, but Notre Dame is a highly ranked squad with championship aspirations (even after losing starting running back Tarean Folston for the season with an MCL tear).

It takes time to build a program. The Miami Hurricanes are still letting Al Golden attempt to build a program in his fifth season. I'm not necessarily a Charlie Strong supporter, but at the very least he deserves a chance.

The moral of the story? Let's wait a little while before jumping to conclusions. At least until Week 2.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jesse Siegel
Siegel covers college football, college basketball and minor league baseball for RotoWire. He was named College Sports Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.
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