Good Day/Bad Day: New coaches experience mixed results in 1st games
Every year there seems to be massive coaching turnover at the college football level, with each school thirsty for fast results to get their program back to the top.
This offseason was no different with some Power 5 openings being filled by some big name talents. With Saturday marking the first full day of action on the college football calendar, these new coaches were making their debuts with their new programs.
Here's how the seven most noteworthy hires fared in Saturday's action.
Willie Taggart's debut with Oregon got off to the best start possible with a 100-yard return for the touchdown off the opening kickoff. That was a sign of things to come as the Ducks scored their most points ever at Autzen Stadium in a 77-21 drubbing of Southern Utah. Royce Freeman and Kani Benoit combined for 257 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground for the explosive offense in the dominating showing.
Points have never been a problem for the Ducks, it's preventing them that got Mark Helfrich fired, and Taggart's first big test comes next week with Nebraska coming to town. Through his first full game as Oregon coach however, Taggart is a rousing success in Eugene.
(Photo courtesy: Getty Images)
Taking over from the legendary Bob Stoops at Oklahoma won't be easy for Lincoln Riley, but with Baker Mayfield back, it should be business as usual in Norman this season. Riley built his reputation as an offensive genius and that was on full display with his quarterbacks on Saturday, as Mayfield and backup Kyler Murray combined to go 29-for-31 for 478 yards and four touchdowns in a 56-7 win over UTEP. It's about to get real for the Sooners with a Week 2 road trip to Ohio State awaiting, but Riley showed in his first game that the Big 12 outfit will still be a team worth watching in 2017.
Coming off a 5-7 season and losing prolific quarterback Davis Webb to graduation, Cal was expected to go through a rebuilding campaign in Justin Wilcox's first year with the program. The former Wisconsin defensive coordinator got things started early with a huge road win over North Carolina in Week 1. The Tar Heels are also undergoing a roster overhaul, but the Golden Bears coming across the country and knocking off a Power 5 opponent is extremely impressive for the program. Ross Bowers threw for 363 yards and four touchdowns in the win, and showed that the Golden Bears offense should be fine without Webb.
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Jeff Brohm didn't win his debut as Purdue coach against Louisville, but the former Western Kentucky frontman showed that his explosive offense will follow him to the Big Ten school. The Hilltoppers led the nation in scoring offense last year, and Purdue looked like a much improved passing team against the Cardinals. David Blough and Elijah Sindelar combined for 293 yards and four touchdowns under center, and scared Lamar Jackson and Louisville until the final minute of the game. The Boilermakers didn't get the win, but after only nine wins total in the past four seasons, the program has to be thrilled with Brohm's first showing.
Matt Rhule made his name as a hard-nosed defensive coach at Temple, but it appears the new Baylor coach has already adjusted to the free-wheeling, "defense optional" style of the Big 12. In his first game with the Bears, the defense gave up an astonishing 585 yards and 48 points to 34-point underdog Liberty in a 48-45 loss. The win marked the Flames' first ever victory over a Power 5 team and its first win as a FBS school. Rhule inked a seven-year deal to turnaround the Baylor program, but couldn't have had a worse start to his tenure. Look on the bright side Baylor fans, there's nowhere to go but up, right?
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"Texas is back" has become a common rallying cry whenever something good happens to the Longhorns in recent years, but Saturday's performance in Tom Herman's debut shows it may be a long time before the historic program returns to prominence. The Longhorns were stunned 51-41 by Maryland at home, an embarrassing start to the former Houston coach's tenure. While many will say the school needs to be patient with Herman's rebuild, they didn't give him a monster contract to take his time with the transformation. The offense looked solid under Shane Buechele, but the defense has a ton of work to do before Texas can be taken seriously again.
Temple faced a tall task heading to Notre Dame in Geoff Collins' first game as head coach, but the former Florida defensive coordinator can't be happy that his team allowed 49 points in a blowout loss. The Gators' defense was among the best in the country under Collins' leadership but Josh Allen, Dexter Williams, and Brandon Wimbush gashed the Owls for a combined 391 yards on the ground. It gets easier with Villanova on the schedule next week, but Collins certainly will be concerned with the Week 1 performance.
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