7 observations from week No. 3 of college football

Posted by: Pete Roussel on Sunday September 15, 2013

It was another terrific Saturday of college football.

Here are seven things I noticed.

1. Having watched the Stanford-Army game on Saturday, I think it will become more apparent over the next month, starting this weekend against Arizona State, that Stanford misses former running back Stepfan Taylor.  Though starting running back Tyler Gaffney rushed for 20-104 against San Jose State and 20-132 against Army, Gaffney is not as difficult to tackle as Taylor and as the season progresses, will not provide the short yardage effectiveness as Taylor did.  Statistics show the Cardinal are averaging 5.33 yards per carry, which is more than the average of each season over the last four years (4.44, 5.29, 5.19, 5.28), but it’s early in the season.  Stanford has only played two games, against San Jose State and Army.  Still, over the next month, I think it will show that Stanford’s running game will not be as consistent as in the past.  Arizona State will take Stanford to the wire this coming weekend.  The way I see it, quarterback Kevin Hogan did not look particularly sharp against Army – finishing 11 of 18 with 3 TD, 1 INT, and 2 sacks.  Hogan appeared to hold the ball a little long in the pocket several times and if Army defenders had better ball skills, Hogan would have have thrown two more interceptions. Keep in mind, Hogan doesn't add much in the running game as Andrew Luck did.

2. Does anyone in college football finish runs better than Burton Burns’ running backs at Alabama? Regardless of the back, it’s clearly a reflection of Burns, who has developed the likes of Glenn Coffee, Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, and TJ Yeldon.  But it’s also the down-the-line running backs.  How about Burns inserting sophomore Kenyan Drake on Saturday? Drake ran the ball 7 times for 50 yards, despite not being listed as one of the top 5 running backs on the depth chart heading into the game. 

3. Have you noticed that Oklahoma State has scored 15 touchdowns in 15 red zone opportunities this season? We all know the Cowboys have played the likes of Mississippi State, UT-San Antonio, and Lamar, but plenty of offenses wouldn’t go 15 of 15 against a scout team.  Offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich’s idea to add the element of the option to the Cowboys’ offense may pay dividends throughout the season.

Read this -- Review time: 10 stats to know about week No.3 of college football

4. Ole Miss co-offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach Dan Werner said during August camp that he felt quarterback Bo Wallace had a much better understanding this season of his arm strength, which would hopefully reduce the number of interceptions this season.  A year ago, Wallace led the nation by throwing an interception once every 22 passing attempts.  A big reason was because Wallace felt he could zip passes into tight windows, only to find out that his arm strength isn’t that of Sam Bradford or Matt Stafford.  Through three games this season, Wallace has yet to throw an interception in 87 attempts.  Yes, a couple of passes have been dropped by defenders, but by in large, Hugh Freeze and Dan Werner must be delighted by the way Wallace is leading the offense and understanding his limitations in the heat of the moment.  It’s a huge reason why Ole Miss is 3-0 and one of three teams in the country to have notched two road wins. 

5. Ohio State fans showed up in full force in Berkeley on Saturday.  Check out the crowd of Buckeye fans on-hand to watch OSU vs. Cal. (credit @CoachVrable50) 

6. In July, I listed the 12 teams in college football that I thought had the best off-season.  I tabbed LSU as No. 3 in large-part for the hiring of Cam Cameron and the impact I felt he would bring to the LSU program.  After three games, it’s obvious the significant improvement of the LSU offense and quarterback Zach Mettenberger under Cameron.  Mettenberger has thrown 9 TD / 0 INT, his completion percentage has jumped from 58% to 65%, and he’s only taken 2 sacks.  A year ago, Mettenberger was sacked 32 times, which shows you that his understanding of the Tigers’ offense has improved vastly.  None of us understand the RAW QB rating, but Mettenberger’s rating has jumped from 39.3 to 91.6.  In other words, the Tigers are going to be hard to beat. 

7. If you can coach, you can coach.  Kliff Kingsbury and Bryan Harsin, the third and fourth youngest head coaches in the country, defeated teams led by veteran head coach Gary Patterson and Larry Blakeney this week.  The best example, however, might be Akron offensive coordinator AJ Milwee.  Milwee is 27-years old, but he was one play away from notching a major upset in the Big House on Saturday against Michigan, whose defensive coordinator Greg Mattison has been coaching for 37 years.

Pete Roussel is a valuable resource for coaches, athletic directors, NFL front-office personnel, and college football enthusiasts. A former college football coach, Roussel shares insight on coaches 365 days a year and is recognized as the most trusted expert on coaching transactions. Follow @CoachingSearch on twitter and send your feedback to pete@coachingsearch.comtest