College football’s return produced plenty of positives for the AAC. Sure there were negatives, but you’re going to have that in Week 1. We learned a lot about every team in the conference (some more than others). A few teams confirmed what we though, while others surprised us. We tried our best, and narrowed down three things we learned from this conference in Week 1.
We all assumed the Green Wave would be good this year, but no one knew for sure. After one game, Tulane’s looking like a competitor. We won’t tab them as an official competitor yet, but they certainly looked like one against FIU. They were effective running the ball (350 yards), and Justin McMillan was efficient passing the ball (14-for-18, two touchdowns, zero interceptions). We’ll get a clearer picture of how good this team can be when they face Auburn next week, but they’re looking good after one game.
Jonathan Taylor for Heisman
We knew Jonathan Taylor would be an elite back this year, but we didn’t know he’d be this efficient so early in the season. We also didn’t think USF would struggle this much. No one expected the Bulls to win (or at least no one should have), but this game exposed many of USF’s flaws. Taylor himself gave the Bulls all they could handle.
The Badgers junior rushed 16 times for 135 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged 8.4 yards per rush, and sat out for most of the second half with the Badgers up big. Taylor dominated on the ground, but also showed his abilities in the pass game. He caught two passes for 48 yards and two more touchdowns for Wisconsin. The offense did work against USF, but the Badgers defense also showed up to play. That group allowed USF to produce just 157 total yards in the game, giving Wisconsin a great team performance. For USF, they need to bounce back really quick.
Memphis is the same but different
Someone tell me what Mike Norvell’s saying at halftime to his team, because it’s not working. Memphis jumped out to a 13-0 lead heading into halftime against Ole Miss on Saturday, and the offense wouldn’t score again. A sack by Bryce Huff gave the Tigers a safety for their final score in the 15-10 win over the Rebels. It was Memphis’ 12th win in the rivalry. While the offense struggled at times, it was the defense that stepped up.
Memphis’ defense seemed to be the biggest question coming into this year, but those concerns were eased slightly with Saturday’s performance. This group let up just 10 points, 173 total yards, and produced that safety. New defensive coordinator Adam Fuller brings a new approach that led to this success. It’s still early in the season, but Memphis might have a complete team.