Thursday, September 3, 2009
Three-point stance: Top-25 D, upsetting Ole Miss, freshman QBs
Posted by ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel
1. Opening Day, at long last, is here, and brings with it the matchup of No. 14 Oregon’s offense against No. 16 Boise State’s defense. ESPN beancounters tell me that the Broncos defense led the nation last season in 3rd-and-10 (or longer) with a conversion rate of 7.9 percent. Three starters in the secondary, led by corner Kyle Wilson, return. Oregon doesn’t always wait until third down. The Ducks finished last in the Pac-10 in time of possession last year at 25:18 and scored 41.9 points per game. How? Oregon had 77 plays of 20 yards or more.
2. Honesty 7, Cliche 0: Memphis coach Tommy West, on what it would mean to upset No. 8 Ole Miss. “I guess you're supposed to say, ‘It would be one win, we'd be 1-0, it would be a good start,’” West said. “But... these are games that if you can win 'em, you can really kick yourself off in a good way. Probably could be bigger than what coaches act like. I don't want to make too much out of it because we're a 17-point underdog. Obviously I'd be pretty stupid to build it up real big.”
3. Matt Barkley of USC isn’t the only true freshman starting at quarterback on Saturday. He isn’t carrying the same load as Trent Steelman of Army, the first plebe to start an opener in the post-World War II era. Steelman is learning to play college football while taking chemistry, computing, calculus and dealing with the struggles of plebedom. If Steelman survives all of that and leads Army to a victory over Eastern Michigan, he’s well on his way to being the kind of leader that West Point is supposed to produce.