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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Week 1

Week 1

Bwhaaaaa!!! Week one is finally upon us! It’s here! Let the celebrations began! Now of course at this point, everything is based on expectations, hopefulness and faith. Not hope, because hope is a very poor military strategy. All teams have questions, all teams have issues that must be worked out, all teams have new players that need to step up, whether they do or not will be put to the test starting this weekend. Now according to the talking heads, the powers that be and maybe the Oracle of Delphi, have spoken and declared their top teams. Alabama is the clear favorite (as they should be), followed by Clemson, and then Ohio State, everyone of them have to break in a new QB ssssooooo….we’ll see. Then Georgia comes in at number four, followed very closely by Texas A&M! And people question if the SEC is the number one conference, what a bunch of chowderheads. To be fair, there are some that have voted Oklahoma in the top five, which is a legit vote, but that just moves Texas A&M to six instead of five. On a side note, the Aggies being ranked this high, with this much expectations, has kicked the Daughter’s anxiety into high gear. Most of the games will be cupcake games, but there are some serious games as well. So let’s take what we know, which isn’t much, and apply our beliefs to what we think will happen.

Alabama vs Miami-  The Crimson Tide lost three Heisman finalist, one of them was the winner, plus three other first round picks. That’s the bad news, the good news is Alabama is still Alabama. Bryce Young will be the new leader on the offense, he only got to play in garbage time last year, so experience is not on his side. However he’s had a full year to learn the offense and work with returning players who did get considerable field time last year. Brian Robinson Jr. will be leading a fully stocked backfield and John Metchie III will be the leading receivers. The offensive line experienced a bit of a shake up with some players being moved around to make room for some more talent to step up. Where Bama will be the strongest is on the defensive side of the ball, which is way it should be. The defensive line all returns and the linebacker corps which became a strength last year returns which will also include Henry To’o To’o transferring in from Tennessee. The secondary is very deep and in the past when an Alabama defense is this stacked, this deep and this strong, they usually end up raising yet another Natty Banner.

The Hurricanes desperately want to return to 1990’s glory, at times at the beginning of the season they thought they might be on the threshold of reaching that brass ring once more only to have those hopes take a nose dive, mainly in November. Last year they got those hopes dashed much earlier with a drumming by Clemson 42-17, but not to let November slip by without an embarrassing loss they accomplished that against North Carolina completely folding 62-26 and then lost again in the Cheez-it Bowl to Oklahoma State. D’Eriq King elected to come back for another year and last year he did have moments, unfortunately they were at the expense of lesser matched teams. But this year he’ll have a returning supporting staff, the receivers got an upgrade with the transfer of Charleston Rambo. In the Backfield Cam’Ron Harris and Jaylon Knighton return and the best  part is that the entire offensive line returns. The defensive has nine players returning but the Canes got transfers such as Deandre Johnson from Tennessee, who will want to start as well. Even though the defensive has plenty of starters returning, this is still their biggest question. When they were tested, it became obvious they had been weighed in the balances and found wanting. So much so that Head Coach Manny Diaz has taken over Defensive Coordinator duties. This is just a CSF observation but when a head coach has to take over for a coordinator its never a good sign.

What to expect- Well Head Coach St. Saban always says every year is a new team and can’t be judged by last year. The truth is Alabama expects to contend for a National Championship every year, and if they don’t get it the year is a loss. There is a lot of pressure on this team, they can’t afford to lose this one even though its an out of conference game. If they do the rest of the SEC will smell blood in the water and pounce. Not only that but new Offensive Coordinator Bill O’Brien must prove that he is worthy. Alabama is going to come out of the gates determined to win, not only win but make a statement. Miami can afford to lose, they’re not expected to win, BUT if they want a spot on the elite podium this is the game to start that climb, and the best part is they don’t even have to win to do it! It would be a serious statement game if they did win, but all they have to do is go toe-to-toe with the Tide. Keep the game close, make the Bama fans sit on the edge of their seats with worry and they can leave the stadium with their heads held high. Get blown out and they fall right back where they were last year. Alabama is going to win, and their going to win big.

Georgia vs Clemson – What? Clemson isn’t starting off with Furman or Southwest Arizona State School for the Blind? You can bet Dabo Swinney wasn’t a part of that decision, but he’s got to deal with it. Clemson has built itself into the undisputed leader of the ACC, they’ve won six consecutive ACC titles and staring down their seventh. Not completely sure there’s a team on the east coast that can challenge them, maybe North Carolina but that’s a big, like a YUGE maybe. D.J. Uiagalelei got to start in two games last year when the Hippie wanna-be QB Trevor Lawrence was out with the Chinese-laboratory-manufactured virus and he did pretty well. They beat Boston College but lost to Notre Dame, and even though he threw for 342 yards against BC and over 400 against the Irish, the team never appeared to be whole. They weren’t completely in sync, but now that he’s gotten to work with them, that might have changed. The Tigers also lost all-star running back Travis Etienne,  who Lyn-J Dixon will be the next one up, although he doesn’t have the job wrapped up as Kobe Pace is pushing for the starting role. All the receivers return so look for Uiagalelei to throw a lot. The defense was mainly on cruise control throughout the season and they never learned how to kick it into high gear and it cost them in the playoffs against Ohio State. They need serious help. DC Brent Venables is still there and they return the entire D-Line but that may or may not be a good thing.

Georgia started off last year with one hand tied behind their back as JT Daniels couldn’t play until mid-season, but once he was on the field the entire team played better. This year they return seven starters, with a loaded backfield full of dynamic stallions. Zamir White, James Cook , Kenny McIntosh and Kendall Milton are all going to get playing time as HC Kirby Smart loves to rotate the backs and keep them fresh for the fourth quarter. The biggest strength of the offense just might be the O-Line where they return three starters but all the back-ups got plenty of game experience. The wide receivers were going to be a force but George Pickens tore his ACL and dropped them down to questionable. They have others but they’re not proven all-stars, good…yes, but not all stars. The defense is stacked, as all of the front seven return. The secondary is questionable but they’re talented and just need time to gel.

What to expect- Everyone and their uncle is picking Clemson to win. Tigers, Tigers, Tigers….however it is highly possible that they will lose this game, and it all boils down to the Battle in the Trenches. When Clemson got stomped by Ohio State it was because their offensive line could not protect the hippie wanna-be and they couldn’t open up any holes for the rushing game. In 2019 they averaged 6.4 yards per rush, in 2020 that dropped to 4.5 and in the CFP playoff game they struggled mightily. Some might say they “Clemsonized.” Dabo hates that term. The defensive side gave up big play after big play and couldn’t stop giving up the big plays. IF they start this game off slow, UGA is going to chew them into the ground. QB Daniels is a proven play maker and he has the superior supporting staff. The Tiger’s defense is still looking for their identity while the Dawgs know who they are. This is going to be a very close game. Watch the lines where UGA has the advantage, QB Uiagalelei is not the runner that the Hippie was, if the Tigers can’t protect him and give him enough time to throw, then Georgia will pull the first big upset of the year.

Short Smokes

Ohio State vs Minnesota- (Thursday night) The Buckeyes better be ready cause the Gophers are going to row that boat as hard as they can.

Tennessee vs Bowling Green – The Vols might struggle, its in their nature.

North Carolina vs Virginia Tech- This could be a heck of a game. The Tar Heels want to challenge for the ACC and VA Tech needs to prove they’re not mediocre.

Michigan State vs Northwestern – Oh how the Spartans want to be big and bad again, Northwestern wants to be known for more than an egg-head school.

Penn State vs Wisconsin – This is going to be a great game, both want to challenge for the Great White North Conference and both of them can, great way to start the season and great way to start the day!

Stanford vs Kansas State- Don’t sleep on the Wildcats, don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it

Army vs Georgia State – The Black Knights going rolling along! With a high High HEY the Army’s on its way!

Fresno State vs Oregon – The Ducks are the leading candidate for the PAC-12 North so they can’t drop this one, but they could, they won’t, but they could.

Fordham vs Nebraska – After the mistakes the Cornhuskers made against Illinois this is not a sure hit winner.

Indiana vs Iowa – Last year the Hoosiers started off the season taking down Penn State, can they pull a repeat?

Iowa State vs Northern Iowa- Come on Cyclones, you’re ranked pre-season 7th, you’ve got to start off better than this.

Louisiana vs Texas- The Ragin Cajuns are going to challenge the Longhorns, they’re not going to win, but they’ll challenge them.

Akron vs Auburn – I will laugh long and hard should the Tigers lose this one….Like App State did when they beat Michigan

LSU vs UCLA – The SEC travels out to the West Coast, this has a history of not going well for the Left Coast team

Kent State vs Texas A&M – This game will not affect The Daughter’s anxiety or any other Aggie fan

Notre Dame vs Florida State (Sunday) – If the Irish don’t take this game seriously it’ll cost them because here at CSF we have faith that the Seminoles are coming back and what a great way to prove it!

Louisville vs Ole Miss (Monday) – both teams might score 60 as neither one knows what a defense is for.

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