What Did We Learn From Our First Week of Independent Football?

So thanks to Hawai’i, we’ve got four teams to talk about, but six games worth of information. That said, it’s probably best if we digest this one team at a time.

Army is younger and has more growing to do than we thought

Lots of folks were in a tizzy after Army fell to Duke on the road by a 34-14 final. This would have been a very tough game for the Black Knights to win considering how much Duke had coming back and how much they didn’t.

Those calling for heads to roll or anything like that are getting way ahead of themselves. Kelvin Hopkins completed some nice passes, the running game showed some positive signs and the defense tightened up as the game progressed.

The team can still sneak out 10 wins despite this game, and maybe even because of what they learned. Don’t get too wild yet, Army fans.

New Mexico State is also a lot further behind the offensive eight-ball than anticipated

We knew the Aggies would be just fine defensively (in the relative sense) as losing their top tackler would be offset by not losing anybody else from the defensive two deep.

Then Cedric Wilcots II was suspended for the first two games for academics.

Then Malik Demby, Leon McQuaker and Javahn Fergurson all missed the Minnesota game with injuries.

Then the offense came out looking like they’d never played together. They played again and had more success, but still struggled too much in establishing a rhythm.

Things will continue to improve, and a repeat of last season is still probably their floor, but the offense needs to start living together if they’re going to gel sooner than later.

UMass is in peak Jekyll-and-Hyde form already

Our other “two games in because Hawai’i” team has been all over the place already. The Minutemen opened the season at home with an absolute pasting of a Duquesne team that looked amazing in their uniforms but were outclassed in every other way.

That was followed by a road trip to Boston College where everything occurred in reverse of the first game. UMass was dominated wire to wire.

Now a matchup with Georgia Southern should finally give us some information that’s meaningful towards the rest of the season.

The Eagles are nowhere close to either Duquesne or Boston College on either side of the ball, and the ability of Mark Whipple’s squad to produce against a more evenly matched opponent will tell us a lot about how 2018 will go.

Liberty looked like a Power 5 team for a week

We already knew all about the Flames writing a $1.38 million check to Old Dominion in order for the Monarchs to make the short road trip as the first FBS team to play Liberty on the road as an FBS opponent.

Well, Liberty not only treated the Monarchs like a money game with their bank accounts, they did it with their on-field performance as well.

The rest of the season will say more about whether Liberty’s 52-10 whooping was more of an indictment of ODU’s lack of progress or Liberty’s offensive superiority, but it definitely gives Flames fans a lot more to get excited about if that game was an accurate indication of what’s to come

What to look for next week

Liberty and Army will square off in Michie Stadium, and the Flames defense will get a much stronger test in this one. We’ll find out very quickly if Stephen Calvert and company are for real, and just how much passing the Knights really intend to do.

I already mentioned UMass hosting Georgia Southern, and New Mexico State will have a rematch of their NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl victory over Utah State, but now will face a Zombie Aggies team that nearly knocked off Michigan State in their opener

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