I spend every Saturday flipping through games to catch some of my favorite match ups and play callers, and this weekend, there are a few coordinators making important debuts that have my attention.
Every year there are new coordinators making their debut in college football, but this year's week 1 of games has some really intriguing match ups worth touching on, and reminding folks of.
From Bill O'Brien to a batch of new guys at Texas, LSU, and Mike Yurcich at Penn State, here's the big coordinator debuts I'll be keeping tabs on tap Week 1.
The debut of the former NFL head coach as Nick Saban's new offensive coordinator is going to be must-watch-TV this weekend as Bill O'Brien takes the reigns of the Tide offense.
O'Brien and the Tide will be breaking in a new quarterback in Bryce Young, who threw just 22 times in nine games of mop-up action behind Mac Jones last year, and he will be surrounded by the type of playmakers you expect at Alabama.
Under Steve Sarkisian last season, the Tide had a record setting offense and produced a Heisman Trophy winner in Devonta Smith, so O'Brien has some big shoes to fill, and will have to do so against a top 15 team with a defensive minded head coach in Manny Diaz, who has taken over the defensive play calling responsibilities heading into this fall.
I fully expect for Alabama to not miss a beat and keep rolling on offense, what I'm really interested in watching this game is the interactions between O'Brien and Saban, who have both well known for getting heated and not mincing words on the sidelines.
This is an intriguing opening game for Teas as Steve Sarkisian and his new coordinators face off against one of the most impressive Group of Five programs of the past several years under Billy Napier.
Kyle Flood followed Sarkisian from Alabama, while Kwiatkowski was lured to the Lone Star State after serving as the defensive coordinator at Washington. Offensively, Sark will be very involved in the game day play calling process, so my eye will be on the defensive side of the ball to see if Kwiatkowski and Sark need a game or two to get on the same page, because if that's the case, this opening game is going to be a challenge.
Not to be overlooked, Banks is the country's first ever special teams coordinator to make six-figures, so while the expectations are already high at a place like Texas, they're arguably even higher knowing that.
The Ragin Cagins bring back a veteran squad on both sides of the ball and Napier has turned down interest from some impressive head coaching openings the last few years, you have to wonder if this is going to be the year they make some serious noise, and there would be no better way to do than to knock off the Longhorns week 1.
This will be UCLA's second game after they blew out Hawaii last week, and will be the very important debut for two first-time coordinators in Peetz and Mangas. The two fresh faces to the LSU staff were essentially hired by Ed Orgeron because they know and worked closely with former LSU offensive coordinator Joe Brady with the Carolina Panthers for a season, and will face a ULCA squad that a lot of folks are expecting to make some noise for Chip Kelly in a critical fourth season for him in Westwood.
Mangas was an analyst that LSU national championship staff, and has prior experience as an offensive coordinator at the FCS level at William & Mary (VA), and Peetz
The two will face a veteran defensive coordinator in Jerry Azzinaro at UCLA who (along with co-defensive coordinator Brian Norwood) led an impressive turnaround from one of the worst defenses in college football in 2019 to middle of the country in most defensive categories last season. This will be a big test for them.
Yurcich is going to have his work cut out for him taking a new offense and a unit that underachieved significantly last year into Camp Randall Stadium to take on the Badgers.
The good news is Yurcich is one of the best play callers in college football. He's had stops at Oklahoma State, Ohio State, and Texas, and while in Stillwater his units ranked among the top 10 nationally in scoring, passing yards per game, and total offense for six straight seasons.
Since 2013, no Power Five offensive coordinator has averaged more yards per play or per completion than Yurcich led offense. Also, in half the games he's called at the Power Five level, Yurcich has put up over 40 points. That is a remarkable feat.
James Franklin saw Tom Herman get let go at Texas and knew that he couldn't let an opportunity to add a play caller like Yurcich, who has Pennsylvania roots dating back to his time as the offensive coordinator setting records at Shippensburg, and Franklin has admitted that couldnt let the opportunity pass by. So he made the difficult decision to part ways with Kirk Ciarrocca, who he hired away from Minnesota after their special 2019 season, after just one year.
On the other side of the ball, Yurcich is facing Badgers defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard, who is widely considered one of the brightest defensive coordinators in college football. That match up alone makes this one game I will surely be flipping to.
NORTH CAROLINA OC PHIL LONGO
vs. Virginia Tech
Longo is one of my favorite guys to watch call a game because of his creativity, and his team's penchant for pushing the ball vertically down the field with an extremely efficient 10 and 11 personnel run game. He's known to take less than 30 plays into each game, and the Tar Heels will have a Heisman caliber quarterback in Sam Howell pulling the strings which will make this one fun to watch.