Booms and Busts: Week Zero




 

Welcome back!

Ahh, Week Zero. A personal favorite. Some of that is because the idea of calling something the zeroth week of the season tickles the funny bone, but most of it is because I just missed college football. It's a good sport. I hope you give it a try sometime.

We got two entertaining games on Saturday; entertaining in very, very different ways. Here's a look at the standouts from Miami vs. Florida and Arizona vs. Hawaii. We'll go back to the normal Booms and Busts' format next week.

Florida 24, Miami 20

Florida QB Feleipe' Franks -- 257 yards passing, two touchdowns, two interceptions; one rushing touchdown: When Franks was at his best, he looked like a signal-caller of a Top Ten team. There were a few outstanding throws, and he also made a few plays with his legs. There were also too many plays in this one -- albeit against a Miami defense that looks like it's going to give some folks trouble -- that caused pause. Franks isn't really battling anyone for the quarterback job for the 2019 season, but if Florida is going to compete against some of the other quality clubs in the SEC, the senior signal-caller is going to have to play better than he did on Saturday evening.

Miami QB Jarren Williams -- 214 yards passing, touchdown: So, there's a few things we have to keep in mind here. First, this was Williams' first ever start, and it came against a Florida team that is (probably) going to win a lot of football games. Second of all, the fact that Williams is still standing is pretty amazing. He was sacked 10 (!) times in the loss, and hurried five more. There were some quality throws made when he did have time to operate, and he didn't turn the football over. It was far from perfect, but it's not hard to see why Williams one this quarterback battle. Things should get much easier for him over the next few weeks.

Miami RB DeeJay Dallas -- 95 rushing yards, touchdown; four receptions, 37 yards: Yes, 50 of the yards came on one play, but it was a heck of a play where he made several Florida defenders missed, and Dallas looked like the best player on offense for most of the game. With Travis Homer off competing for a roster spot in the NFL, Dallas has a chance to be the bellcow in this offense, and it's reasonable to expect the junior to have between 15-20 touches for the remainder of the 2019 campaign.

Florida WR Josh Hammond -- four receptions, 93 yards: Somewhat surprisingly, it was Hammond that led the Gators in receiving, and not someone like Tyrie Cleveland, Van Jefferson and Trevon Grimes. Not that it comes completely out of nowhere; Hammond had 369 yards receiving with four scores last year, and flashed several instances of big-play ability. This is very likely a committee wideout group, but it's certainly possible Hammond ends up the go-to target for Franks in 2019.

Miami TE Brevin Jordan -- five receptions, 88 yards, touchdown: Dallas might have looked like the best offensive weapon at times for the Hurricanes, but Jordan gave him a run for his money, and showed why so many were so high on the highly-recruited sophomore last year. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound tight end caught the only touchdown on the contest, and Williams looked to Jordan early and often in this one. Teams are going to have to scheme the talented tight end, and that should open things up for players like KJ Osborn, J.F. Thomas the rest of the Hurricane wideouts. Miami needs Jordan to have a big, big 2019 season if they're going to compete in the ACC.

Hawaii 45, Arizona 38

Hawaii WR Cedric Byrd -- 14 receptions, 224 yards, four touchdowns: Oh me oh my. To the surprise of absolutely no one, Byrd was Cole McDonald's -- and later Chevan Cordeiro's -- favorite target, but favorite target is an understatement. Last year's top target John Ursua is in the NFL (interestingly enough, both Homer and Ursua are with the Seattle Seahawks), and with all due respect to players like JoJo Ward and Jared Smart -- among others -- Byrd is the one defenders have to fear. Playing in the pass-happy Warriors' offense, the senior could be in for a monster season in the Mountain West Conference.

Arizona QB Khalil Tate -- 361 yards passing, three touchdowns, two interceptions; 108 yards rushing: This was not the best game we've seen Tate play -- far from it, lest we forget the ridiculous numbers he put up over his sophomore season -- but all things considered, it was a pretty good effort and a reminder of that 1,400-plus rushing season he had in 2017. He also struggled with accuracy often in this one, but it's week zero; we've seen lots of players struggle in their first contest(s). Tate is a flawed player, but he's a heck of a lot of fun to watch when he's able to go full speed, and he should keep Arizona in the majority of their contests.

Hawaii QB Cole McDonald -- 378 yards passing, four touchdowns, four interceptions: Where to start. First, McDonald made some brilliant throws and checks into plays -- the most noticeable of these being the first touchdown throw to Byrd in the first quarter. He also made some disastrous decisions, and he easily could have thrown two-or-three more picks before he was replaced by Cordero. Arizona's defense is awful and never really came up with a plan to slow down Byrd or the Warriors' passing attack, but because of this system, McDonald is going to have a chance to pile up monster numbers the year after throwing for 36 touchdowns. He's going to have make smarter decisions with the football if he's going to keep this job, however.

Hawaii QB Chevan Cordeiro -- 58 yards passing, 34 yards rushing, one passing touchdown: After McDonald was benched, Cordeiro came on and did an admirable job. He doesn't have McDonald's passing prowess, but he's a better running with the ball in his hands, and he didn't turn the ball over. We wouldn't call this a quarterback controversy yet; McDonald has earned the right to show he can take better care of the football, and there were certainly good moments for the senior signal-caller. That being said, Cordeiro looks ready to contribute, too, and the Warriors know they have a competent replacement if necessary.

Arizona RB J.J. Taylor -- 67 rushing yards, rushing touchdown, 13 receiving yards: Our good friend gameflow was unkind to Taylor. The fact he was able to get this many carries is somewhat impressive considering Arizona was down for almost all of this contest, and much of it when they were down by two scores. The takeaway here is that Nathan Tilford had just one carry in the contest -- although it was for a touchdown -- and Taylor should remain the top tailback in the Wildcats' system after rushing for an impressive 1,434 yards in 2018. Expect the redshirt junior to be more involved in two weeks against Northern Arizona.

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