Believe it or not: Time to worry about Trevor Lawrence, Tua’s injury shakes-up SEC chase, Texas ain’t back


Believe it or Not this week looks at Trevor Lawrence’s propensity to throw picks, Tua’s injury shaking up the SEC title chase, Texas definitely isn’t back and the Pac-12 has a pulse.

The 2019 college football season is really getting interesting now. Top 10 teams are going down every week, and so are top quarterbacks such as Tua Tagovailoa. Rumors, trash-talk, and silly narratives are at a peak, so it’s time for FanSided college football experts Michael Collins, and Patrick Schmidt to dispel (or support) a few of them.

Believe it or not, it’s time to panic about Trevor Lawrence

Schmidt: Believe it.

The preseason Heisman favorite hasn’t looked like himself all year and I’m beginning to worry. Something is off with him and the turnover numbers are alarming. Lawrence threw two mind-boggling interceptions that Dabo Swinney thought were really dumb decisions. They were the type of decisions you’d expect to see from a freshman in high school make, not the football-throwing-prodigy we proclaimed after his historic freshman season.

Despite the early-season struggles, I kept defending Lawrence with the normal talk of “it’s still early” and “he’s human” but the excuses need to stop. He has twice as many interceptions (8) this year already than he had all of last year (4) and he has three multi-interception games. He has to be better.

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It would only be natural if he believed some of the hype everyone was throwing his way over the last year, but he has to stary working and preparing like he’s a walk-on trying to get an opportunity.

If Lawrence doesn’t stop turning the ball at this rate, Clemson won’t win the national championship, and that’s the only goal that really matters for this program now.

Collins: Believe it

I said prior to this season starting that Trevor Lawrence would have a “return to earth” type year, and that prophecy is absolutely holding true.

That’s not to say Lawrence is having a bad year by college football standards, but by the standards Clemson must have for him to lead them to another national championship, he’s off his game.

The doubling up on interceptions from last season only paints part of the picture. When you watch Lawrence play you don’t see a heady quarterback who is in control, reading the defense, checking down and then going through his progressions after the snap. You see a wild gunslinger who looks to be leaning on his natural ability to make any throw he wants.

I don’t care how good you are, if you throw into triple-coverage in the red zone multiple times, bad things are going to happen.

Dabo Swinney publicly coming to his defense, saying things like, “Ain’t nothing wrong with Trevor, he’s human.” isn’t helping matters. You almost get the feeling that Lawrence isn’t being held accountable for some inexcusable play.

Believe it or not, SMU is the best Group of Five team

Schmidt: Not.

What a huge success story Sonny Dykes has been at SMU. I definitely didn’t envision this type of season for the Mustangs who turned back the clock to the early 80s before the program got the death penalty. After Boise State’s loss to BYU, SMU has a shot at a New Year’s Six bowl, which would be the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. How fitting would that be for SMU to play in their hometown?

It makes for a great story. But I don’t think we’re going to see it happen. I still think Boise State is a better team when healthy, which they weren’t vs. BYU. And I think Cincinnati is a better team. The Bearcats lone loss this year is to No. 3 Ohio State in Columbus so I’m not going to punish them for having a blemish in the loss column, which SMU doesn’t have, yet.

Collins: Believe it

Last week, I would have said “not” to this statement, as I firmly believed Boise State was the best Group of Five team, until they laid a giant egg in Provo against BYU. The best teams find ways to win even with injuries, and if Boise State’s bench is that weak, then they aren’t the best Group of Five team.

But SMU? Not only is this a great story for a long-suffering program, but the way they are winning games has that team-of-destiny air. Junior quarterback Shane Buechele is fulfilling the promise that was seen in him when he was at Texas, and the Mustangs have the number five scoring offense in the nation right now at 44.3 points per game. Only Oklahoma, LSU, Ohio State, and Alabama are better, so that’s pretty good company.

We’ll definitely find out more about SMU in the coming weeks, with tough games against Memphis, Navy and Tulane. Their schedule isn’t playoff-worthy, but I think you’ll see the Mustangs in the AAC Championship game against Cincinnati on the way to their first-ever New Year’s Six bowl bid.

Believe it or not, Tua’s injury makes LSU favorites in SEC

Schmidt: Believe it.

Tua Tagovailoa suffered a high-ankle sprain in the second quarter vs. Tennessee that will keep him out of the Arkansas game on Saturday. The hope is he’ll be able to recover in time for the LSU game on Nov. 9, which would give him three weeks from the time of the injury. Tua underwent a similar procedure on his other ankle last year when he returned in four weeks for Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff.

Can Tua return in three weeks? Probably. But will he be the same Tua before the injury?

That’s my biggest concern because we saw Tua struggle when he wasn’t at 100 percent last year. I have no doubt that Tua will play vs. LSU but I have several doubts he’ll be the same quarterback when he does. LSU isn’t the same LSU that Alabama has been able to feast on the last several years. LSU actually has an offense and a capable quarterback who can put up points on an Alabama defense that isn’t the same Alabama defense we’ve seen for the last several years.

With a healthy Tua, I believed Alabama was slightly better than LSU. But with Tua injured, the playing field has been leveled. Despite the game being in Tuscaloosa, if Tua isn’t 100 percent, LSU should be the favorite.

Collins: Believe it

What we saw from Alabama against Tennessee proves two things. Bama fans have been saying for a long time that Tua Tagovailoa isn’t a “system quarterback” made to look good by the talent around him. If anything the performance against Tennessee after Tua left showed that it’s Tua making many others look good.

But, on the flip side, many outside of Alabama have been saying the Tide defense isn’t up to snuff and that without Tua Alabama is in trouble. Tennessee moved the ball well, and were it not for Jarrett Guarantano making a terrible decision at the goal line, the Volunteers may very well have been able to pull the upset of the century.

With Tua, Alabama is on par with LSU, and a game between the two with Tua and Joe Burrow spinning the ball back-and-forth would have been one of the great shootouts of all time (as both defenses are a bit suspect). Without a healthy Tua? LSU wins that game going away.

If Tua is out for any considerable length of time or if he’s hobbled in that game, LSU can take lead, because Jalen Hurts is playing in the Big 12 now.

Believe it or not, Tom Herman can’t fix Texas

Schmidt: Not.

Hey, look, eking out a win vs. Kansas in Austin is not acceptable when you’re Texas. Tom Herman would say the same thing. That said, I think it’s way too premature to say Tom Herman can’t fix Texas. There is no such thing as a quick-fix in college football. Texas football was severely broken before Herman came to town to try and bring the program back to national prominence.

There have been several positive signs of his work, including a win vs. Oklahoma in the Red River Showdown last year and a Big Ten Championship Game appearance. The Sugar Bowl win over Georgia was a win that could have catapulted them to bigger things this year, but it just hasn’t been in the cards this year. Beyond Sam Ehlinger, there are a number of holes on the roster. Texas isn’t littered with NFL prospects, but they will be eventually.

It’s still early in his tenure at Texas and it’s coincided with a stellar three-year stretch at Oklahoma, which may make things look worse at Texas. If I’m a Texas fan, I’m not thinking about replacing Herman, but I am giving some thought to why Baylor is in a better position than the Longhorns this year.

Collins: Believe it

Year three of the Tom Herman era at Texas has had…well…mixed results. The 5-2 record isn’t exactly what Texas fans were hoping to see at this point in the season, with the two losses coming against the two best teams the Longhorns have faced — LSU and Oklahoma.

While it’s easy to dismiss those losses as coming to teams who will likely be in the College Football Playoff, when do you start expecting to win those games if you’re a Texas fan?

Then you have a struggle-win against Kansas? Not good.

This is not the mess of a team Herman inherited from former head coach Charlie Strong. He’s had three years now to start getting “his guys” in there. The quick fix was improving from a sub-.500 team to getting decent bowl bids, and credit goes to Herman for that. But to say he’s going to fix Texas and truly make them a powerhouse not only in the Big 12, but in the national picture? I don’t see it happening.

Believe it or not, Oregon and Utah give Pac-12 playoff hopes a pulse

Schmidt: Believe it.

Oregon’s comeback win at Washington essentially clinched the North while Utah’s blowout win over Arizona State has them in control of the South. Look for these teams to be in the Pac-12 Championship Game in December.

The national media buried the Pac-12’s playoff hopes after Oregon lost to Auburn in the season opener and again after Utah lost to USC, which I’m still not sure how that happened. Nevertheless, both have a pulse.

It’s not a strong one, but there is a one in a million chance, similar to Lloyd Christmas in Dumb & Dumber. Total chaos needs to ensure in the Big Ten and SEC, Clemson and Oklahoma would need to lose twice and Notre Dame would need to suffer another loss. Basically, it’s theoretically possible but not plausible.

Collins: Not

While parity might be a desirable thing in the NFL to create more competition and have some exciting postseason games, in college football it can be a death sentence for a conference in terms of their playoff hopes.

The Pac-12 is the pure definition of parity right now. Four different teams have 2-2 conference records, and two teams have 2-3 records. The Pac-12 is cannibalizing itself right out of the playoff.

If Utah and Oregon are their only hope for a playoff team, then hope is lost. Oregon is potentially set up to run the table and win the Pac-12. However, a Week 1 loss to Auburn is going to weigh heavily on the minds of the playoff committee. Wins and losses have shown to matter a lot in past years.

That’s IF Oregon runs the table, but it’s clear that the Ducks are very beatable, and either USC or Arizona State could potentially topple them in their home stadiums.

What we’ve seen in the Pac-12 thus far is chaos, and chaos can only be created by the College Football Playoff committee, not rewarded by them.

Next. CFB Playoff picture: How Week 8 changed everything. dark

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