You're invited to a pig pickin'
Posted August 30, 2012
Updated August 31, 2012
The college football season begins this week and I have a few thoughts and things to keep an eye on while you watch the first weekend. Here's the menu for the pig pickin'.
NC State vs. Tennessee
This is a battle of 6-6 quarterbacks who can sling it.
Who will catch it for Mike Glennon? Keep an eye out for red-shirt freshmen Maurice Morgan and Hakeem Flowers who are both over 6-foot-2.
Tennessee's Tyler Bray won't have All-SEC receiver Da'Rick Rogers, which is discomforting for a quarterback. NC State's defensive backfield has been tested and they are experienced.
What happens at the linebacker position? Sterling Lucas inherits the interior where Audie Cole and Nate Irving roamed so well. On special teams, the Wolfpack won't have the speedy delivery of TJ Graham. Do they dare put pick-man David Amerson back there?
Elon at North Carolina
There has been much talk about the up-tempo that Larry Fedora wants to use on offense. His goal is 80 plays per game. I'm interested to see how that talented offensive line keeps the pace. They all packed about 300 pounds entering spring football but have shed a few pounds.
How effective will Bryn Renner be? He played well last year and that's with a bothersome right ankle that needed off-season surgery. He should be more mobile this year and will need quick feet in this offense.
Defensively, North Carolina will see one of the best receivers in college football on Saturday. Elon senior Aaron Mellette, 6-foot-4, 212-pounds, hauled in 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns last year. He played high school football at Southern Lee in Sanford and admits he grew up a Duke fan. As if he needed any bigger target for the Tar Heels to see.
Florida International at Duke
Talking with Duke coach David Cutcliffe at the ACC Kickoff, he begged for a season of health for his football team. How many coaches in the 21st century have had to endure his team being hit by the swine flu like Cutcliffe in 2009? Unfortunately, the Blue Devils will enter the opener with 12 scholarship players who will not be able to play. They don't have the depth to have that happen.
Florida International went 8-5 last year and one of those losses was to Duke. The Golden Panthers return 10 of 11 starters on defense which will challenge senior quarterback Sean Renfree or any combination of quarterbacks Duke chooses to use.
Appalachian State at ECU
ECU is facing in-state for Appalachian State in the home opener at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. What a first segment of the season for the Pirates. After the Mountaineers, the Pirates hit the road to South Carolina, Southern Miss and then North Carolina. That adds so much more weight to Saturday's match-up with Appalachian State and ECU is breaking in a new quarterback, Rio Johnson.
Scoring hasn't been a problem for East Carolina but keeping opponents out of the end zone sure has. Last year, the Pirates surrendered 32.2 points per game but players like Jeremy Grove and Damon Magazu should help reduce that stat.