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Three Things We Learned From Week One Conference USA Football

It was most definitely not all hugs and puppies, though there were a whole bunch of wins.

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

1) Ron Turner and/or Steve Shankweiler will directly cost their team a win at some point.

They would have already done so last week had UCF's coaches not outdone them at the very end of the game. With more than nine minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Panthers scored to cut UCF's lead to 14-9. The decision was made to attempt a two-point conversion.

This is the wrong decision; yes, if you are down by 11 points, you will need to attempt a two-point conversion so that a field goal can tie the game. But it was the third quarter; there's no reason to be playing strategies as though your goal is to erase an 11 point deficit that couldn't possibly change over the next 25 minutes of game time.

To nobody's surprise, the attempt failed. The other reason the conversion attempt was a poor choice was that most of the offensive success FIU was having to that point was on plays that needed time and space to develop - plays tht don't work when you're trying to gain two yards.

Of course, because of that initial failed attempt, whenever the Panthers scored again early in the fourth quarter, they now had only two choices - successfully convert a two-point attempt to make it a one-possession game, and every other possible outcome. They failed again, for the same reasons, and were left to needing UCF out-coaching themselves into an impossible field goal attempt in order to pull out a win.

Not a great start, guys.

2) FAU won't survive if they repeat their fourth quarter against Tulsa.

Florida Atlantic looked poised to join the string of big wins for C-USA in week one, only to see a 10-point lead dissipate in the fourth quarter and had to settle for a field goal in overtime. Not only did the Owls surrender its, at one point, 38-28 lead, but they also won the turnover margin 4-0, and held the ball for nearly 15 and a half more minutes than the Golden Hurricane did, only to be out-gained 618 to 563.

While, sure, a lot of that fourth-quarter collapse screams "opening game against equal non-conference competition," the Owls won't survive in conference play if such slippage continues late in the game. It's a small sample size, but based on what we saw from preseason top-tier opposition (the Owls face Marshall, WKU and MTSU during C-USA play this year), it's going to be an already-difficult path through the year - allowing teams back into games won't make it any easier.

3) Old Dominion has found a suitable replacement for Taylor Heinicke in Shuler Bently.

For the Monarchs, Heinicke was the perfect quarterback to help usher in the FBS era of ODU football. He was reliable, a fan favorite, and a guy that anyone from outside of ODU fandom could like and pull for. And, oh yeah, I guess throwing for over 3,400 yards and 30 touchdowns in his senior year wasn't too bad either.

But, on Saturday, another new era began in true freshman Shuler Bently and...he wasn't bad. Bently went 18/32 passing for 184 yards and a touchdown, without a turnover and was only sacked twice. It's also easy to step into an offense with a veteran running back (Ray Lawry, who rushed for 223 yards on 28 touches and four touchdowns) and returning receivers like Nick England and Jonathan Duhart, both of which were key to help instrument a comeback.

The game winning drive for ODU took only four plays and while, yes it was a 45-yard Lawry run that scored the winning score, it was set up by a Bently-to-England pass for 30 yards to set up the winning rush. ODU opens its home schedule against Norfolk State before facing N.C. State at home, giving Bently one more crack to get comfortable - and his first chance to play in front of his home fans - before the meat of the schedule begins.

Bonus) Woah, is Southern Miss going to be...good?

While it may not have been the best game of the CUSA week one slate, one of (if not the) most enjoyable games of the weekend was Southern Miss hosting Mississippi State. Not just because it was the big, bad SEC in a CUSA venue, but because the game was actually pretty damn good and enjoyable. The only reason the Eagles scored 16 points is because they got too aggressive at the goal line on fourth-down situations, which in a big game to open up the season, most everyone in the conference will do. Southern Miss showed up and it was awesome to watch. Hopefully the confidence they had against the Bulldogs carries over, and USM is a fun team to watch all year.