SEC, college football opens with several questions - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Hot Reads: College FB is in trouble, 'The Waterboy' needs to help

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Clemson's Tajh Boyd (10) and Georgia's Aaron Murray (11) will run right smack into each other's paths when they open their season Saturday night. (Source: Clemson University Athletics/University of Georgia Athletics/Rob Saye) Clemson's Tajh Boyd (10) and Georgia's Aaron Murray (11) will run right smack into each other's paths when they open their season Saturday night. (Source: Clemson University Athletics/University of Georgia Athletics/Rob Saye)
Georgia is enjoying a high ranking and a lot of praise for its offensive talent, but it's a safe bet Alabama will have a lot to say about how far the Bulldogs go. (Source: Alabama Athletics Communications) Georgia is enjoying a high ranking and a lot of praise for its offensive talent, but it's a safe bet Alabama will have a lot to say about how far the Bulldogs go. (Source: Alabama Athletics Communications)

(RNN) - We don't know where you are, but here in Hot Reads country the weather just turned a tick cooler.

That only means one thing: young men with bodies more mature than their minds throwing themselves at each other with brute force while wearing armor-like molded plastic and foam rubber.

It sounds better when you just call it college football. Plus, it's easier.

'Johnny Foosball'

If you've ever watched The Waterboy, you get that reference. If you've never watched that movie, what in the world is wrong with you?

Rent it immediately. Brian's Song, Rudy and Any Given Sunday are great, but nothing will get you in the mood for football season like watching Bobby Boucher channeling his medulla oblongata and opening up a can of "you know what," Captain Insano style. Confused? Watch. The. Movie.

What were we talking about again? Oh right, college football's most notorious player.

Kevin Sumlin was mum on whether Johnny Manziel would play Saturday, and then news broke that Manziel would sit the first half of the Rice game.

So just maybe it's possible Manziel adapted the advice of Mr. Coach Klein and said to himself: "What the NCAA don't know won't hurt 'em."

In a just world, Bobby would chase Manziel around the field for 60 minutes, stopping only to swig some high-quality H2-O on the sideline.

Seriously, people, watch the movie.

Life exists outside the SEC?

It's almost unfair the number of non-conference matchups this weekend. Auburn-Washington State looks particularly compelling.

That was a joke. The final score might be as well.

As much as I'll be tempted to turn the channel, I'll keep most of my attention Saturday night focused on the happenings in Death Valley.

We'll be looking at the exact same team, only in different uniforms.

If Georgia holds Clemson's offense to less than 450 yards and 35 points, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham deserves immediate consideration for the next open head coaching position. He's shuffling a deck that includes a suspension to his top player (safety Josh Harvey-Clemons), two freshmen starting at cornerback and multiple injuries.

Oh, and 90 percent of his starters left to play professionally and what not.

The No. 8 Tigers have two legitimate Heisman contenders on offense in receiver Sammy Watkins and quarterback Tajh Boyd (who should have been a no-brainer finalist last year).

Fifth-ranked  Georgia counters with Aaron Murray, who will own a ridiculous amount of records by January, and conjoined twins at running back named Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall.

But Clemson's defense isn't exactly impressive, either. The unit ranked 63rd in total defense last year, and the secondary is also considered its weak spot.

Anyone willing to ignore the rankings for a minute will realize Clemson has more to reap from this game and season as a whole. The Tigers are on the short list of teams in America that can challenge the SEC's dominance in the BCS title game.

Georgia still has to get through South Carolina and Florida in its own division plus Alabama and, umm Alabama, in the West. Georgia's season is riding on how quickly that defense matures, and until they show us something there is no reason to consider this team a threat.

By the way, Georgia teams under Mark Richt are 0-2 vs. top-10 ranked opponents in season openers on the road.

SEC vs. SEC

Ole Miss at Vanderbilt - Thursday, 9:15 Eastern

The NFL Lite game of the week is one that fuels the passions of two optimistic fan bases still smart enough to be wary, and for good reason.

Vandy is 3-14 when its opening game is against an SEC team, but it's been nine years since Ole Miss won its first SEC contest of the season. The Rebels are 6-0 all-time in the month of August (throw that tidbit around while you're tossing 'em back with your friends), and the Commodores are 3-4 in Thursday night games.

Moving to information that matters, the matchup that deserves the most attention is up front.

Everyone's dying to know how freshman pass rusher Robert Nkemdiche will help last year's leaky defense. Hate to tell you, but probably not much, at least not this game.

Vandy left tackle Wesley Johnson blocked Jadeveon Clowney 1-on-1 several plays in last year's opener, and he handled that duty very well. A three-year starter, Johnson has given up six sacks his entire career, so he won't get embarrassed by a freshman who was behind the curb in preseason.

If the Rebels' front seven doesn't create pressure, that patchwork secondary will fall apart. Nkemdiche's size will undoubtedly help a team that was respectable against the run last season, but Vandy has at least three running options, including quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels.

On the flip side, we'll see if Bo Wallace can repeat last season's 400-yard passing job on Vanderbilt's secondary. Odds are he won't.

Safeties Kenny Ladler and Javon Marshall can lock down the middle of the field, Andre Hal is a playmaker on the corner and only Alabama and Georgia gave up fewer passing yards last season.

Vandy will need that safety blanket. Ole Miss has an offensive line that is reloading not rebuilding, and there is a playmaker at every skill position.

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