1. Oklahoma wasn’t a National Championship contending team with QB Landry Jones.
Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones looked like he would pick up right where former quarterback Sam Bradford left off. As a sophomore in 2010, Jones threw for 4,718 yards, 38 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He also completed 65.6 percent of his passes that year. Oklahoma fans thought of the success he would have in his junior and senior years. Surely, he’ll keep getting better and maybe win a Heisman trophy or National Championship!
His junior year came and his numbers dropped sharply. He only had 29 touchdowns and his interceptions rose to 15. His yardage dropped to 4,463. The most important thing that happened during that season, however, was that his biggest weakness was exposed. He disappears against competition. Against Florida State, Baylor and Oklahoma State(three of the five ranked teams OU played in 2011), Jones had a combined one touchdown and five interceptions. He became a quarterback that dished out yards, but not points. He became a quarterback that made his team settle for field goals when the competition was scoring touchdowns.
One year later, his production has dropped even more. After three games, Jones has 772 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. That puts him on a pace to finish the season with 3,088 yards, 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions. That’s a far cry from the expected National Championship run. His team has already lost to Kansas State, a team Oklahoma beat by 41 points last year, and is already seemingly eliminated from the national title race. There is certainly time to fix this season, but the fact that his stats are this average after playing UTEP and Florida A&M as two of his first three games is disconcerting.
2. Florida State’s path to the National Championship will be paved by its offense, not its defense.
Florida State allowed just a field goal in its first three games, which included ACC foe(and annual nuisance to FSU) Wake Forest. The FSU defense had the luxury of playing Savannah State, but holding Wake Forest to 126 yards was very impressive. This team appeared to live by its defense, just like it has for years, due to a lacking offense(although in former quarterback Christian Ponder’s case, it was due to injuries). FSU quarterback EJ Manuel has been a capable quarterback for his career at FSU, but his passing has always been suspect. Anytime Florida State faced a good team, Manuel’s passing seemed to disappear and he’d develop a tendency to hold the ball too long. Last year, Manuel was sacked 33 times, which averages out to roughly three sacks a game. That’s ridiculous.
At this point in the season, it is obvious that every prediction that could be made from the last paragraph is wrong. The vaunted FSU defense was shredded for 37 points by a team that mustered only 26 points against Auburn(1-3) and 41 points, roughly the same amount FSU allowed, against Furman(an FCS school). On the other hand, Manuel is passing on a Heisman level with 905 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception. Manuel is also completing over 73 percent of his passes and his passer rating of 180.2 has him ranked eleventh in the country. FSU running back Chris Thompson is also averaging more yards(10.8) per carry than other running back ranked in the top-40. This is a potent offense that ranks second in the nation in points per game and would be scary for any defense to go against. Funny sidenote: Both Florida State and Oklahoma State(the first-ranked team in points per game) played against Savannah State, who is thought by many to be the worst team in the FCS and has won only four games in the last three years.
With a schedule that features one ranked team in its remaining eight games, Florida State is expected to finish the year undefeated. Its postseason hopes will be at the mercy of the other undefeated teams because FSU’s schedule will lose in almost any comparison to an undefeated SEC or Pac-12 team. With EJ Manuel’s newfound passing ability and an easy schedule, FSU could potentially make a run at both a National Championship and a Heisman trophy this year. Florida State’s defense may not be the smothering entity the country has been accustomed to, but the offense is fine with that.
3. LSU is not a top-five team.
The LSU Tigers squeaked by with a 12-10 win over Auburn, who was 1-2 and lost to Mississippi State by 18 points. Even worse, Auburn gave up 28 points to Louisiana Monroe, a team from the Sun Belt conference, and had to go to overtime to win. LSU is not even the third best team in the SEC, much less the entire conference. In all honesty, Mississippi State has a strong claim to be ranked higher than LSU, and that’s not even counting Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida. The fact that LSU received a first place vote in both the AP and Coaches Poll shows what kind of imbeciles decide who the best teams in the country are. Don’t believe me? Look for yourself here and here. LSU is lucky to be in the top-10 and they certainly are not of the five best teams in the country as the season stands now. LSU will have plenty of chances to prove it deserves its ranking starting two weeks from now when it plays the eleventh-ranked Florida Gators.
Agree? Disagree? Do you have another “Thing We Learned?” Let me know in the comments!
-Marty F. Nemec