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Preseason #Nuggets: It's go time for big-name coordinator hires and new head coaches

Fried chicken is all the rage on the Internet these days, so we thought we'd serve you an appetizer portion of Nuggets ahead of Week 1. Enjoy.

1. Big name coordinators hit center stage. They've been on staff for eight or nine months now, conducted 15 spring practices, countless hours in the film room, a month of training camp and now, at last, the stuff will hit the fan.

While this weekend's games are merely Chapter 1 in a 12-part saga, but there's no impression like the first one, particularly when you're installing a new offense.

Just ask Willie Taggart, where on Labor Day night of 2018 Florida State was prepared to ring in a new era of Seminoles football with a nationally televised party, except that party ended up going something like this.

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Taggart, of course, hired Kendal Briles to remake an offense that finished No. 113 in scoring, and right off the bat he's expected to beat Boise State on national TV. The Seminoles, coming off a 5-7 season, are 5-point favorites over the Broncos.

Welcome to the job, Coach. Go win your opener or it's well, it's this all over again.

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While Briles is definitely the coordinator under the biggest microscope in Week 1, he's not the only one.

Graham Harrell will debut the Air Raid against the defending Mountain West champion Fresno State and its defense that gave up all of 14.1 points a game a year ago, while Josh Gattis unfurls No. 7 Michigan's hurry-up, up-tempo attack against Middle Tennessee.

Saturday's games won't tell us the whole story, but they'll tell us the first part and when the first part is all you have, it feels like a lot.

2. Two new head coaches are swimming in the deep end immediately. I haven't done the research so I can't say this definitively, but it's hard to imagine a new coaching staff -- a Power 5 team, at least -- dealing with a more difficult opener than Geoff Collins and Georgia Tech.

Not only are the Yellow Jackets breaking in a brand-spanking-new scheme -- they'll be in a pro-style attack, and every player save the true freshmen were recruited to run the triple option -- they'll do it against No. 1 Clemson, on the road, at night.

Clemson is a 36-point favorite.

One staff that has little sympathy for Georgia Tech is Scott Satterfield and Louisville. The Cardinals, coming off a 2-10 season (0-8 ACC) in which their average conference game ended 50-20 in the wrong direction, open on Labor Day night against No. 9 Notre Dame.

Notre Dame is a 20-point favorite.

Collins, Satterfield and their staffs will probably be successful in reimagining their respective programs, but don't expect the turnaround to start immediately.

3. Dana Holgorsen begins with a great opportunity at Houston. In the Bob Stoops/Lincoln Riley era of Oklahoma football, the Sooners are 17-3 in openers. See if you can find a common thread in the three losses:

  • 17-10 to TCU in 2005
  • 14-13 to BYU in 2009
  • 33-23 to Houston in 2016

Other than the fact that Oklahoma scored fewer points than their opponents, all three foes happened to be top-of-the-line Group of 5 programs (TCU was in the Mountain West at the time). Houston happens to be a top-of-the-line Group of 5 program, and one that can score points in a hurry. The Cougars averaged 47.8 points a game in D'Eriq King's 11 starts; King threw for 2,982 yards and 36 touchdowns and rushed for 14 more scores last season.

In case you don't recall, Oklahoma's defense was quite bad last season.

Alex Grinch was hired to fix that, but Houston represents an intriguing challenge for a team breaking in a new defensive scheme, a new starting quarterback and four new offensive linemen.

Admit it, can't you close your eyes and picture King streaking into the end zone to give the Coogs a 21-7 early second quarter lead as millions of "Yo, you seeing this??" texts are fired off around the country?

4. With all this talk of new head coaches, here's the opening game for each new hire. All 27 (well, 26 since Miami already played) of them.

  • Tom Arth (Akron): at Illinois (noon ET, BTN)
  • Eliah Drinkwitz (Appalachian State): vs. East Tennessee State (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
  • Scott Loeffler (Bowling Green): vs. Morgan State (7 p.m. ET Thursday, ESPN3)
  • Jim McElwain (Central Michigan): vs. Albany (7 p.m. ET Thursday, ESPN3)
  • Will Healy (Charlotte): vs. Gardner-Webb (7:30 p.m. ET Thursday, ESPN+)
  • Jamey Chadwell (Coastal Carolina): vs. Eastern Michigan (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
  • Mel Tucker (Colorado): vs. Colorado State, at Denver (10 p.m. ET Friday, ESPN)
  • Mike Houston (East Carolina): at NC State (noon ET, ACC Network)
  • Geoff Collins (Georgia Tech): at No. 1 Clemson (8 p.m. ET Thursday, ACC Network)
  • Dana Holgorsen (Houston): at No. 4 Oklahoma (7:30 p.m. ET Sunday, ABC)
  • Les Miles (Kansas): vs. Indiana State (noon ET)
  • Chris Klieman (Kansas State): vs. Nicholls (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
  • Hugh Freeze (Liberty): vs. No. 22 Syracuse (6 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
  • Scott Satterfield (Louisville): vs. No. 9 Notre Dame (8 p.m. ET Monday, ESPN)
  • Mike Locksley (Maryland): vs. Howard (noon ET, BTN)
  • Manny Diaz (Miami): L, 24-20 vs. No. 8 Florida
  • Mack Brown (North Carolina): vs. South Carolina, at Charlotte (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • Thomas Hammock (Northern Illinois): vs. Illinois State (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
  • Ryan Day (Ohio State): vs. Florida Atlantic (noon ET, FOX)
  • Rod Carey (Temple): vs. Bucknell (3 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • Jake Spavital (Texas State): at No. 12 Texas A&M (8:30 p.m. ET Thursday, SEC Network)
  • Matt Wells (Texas Tech): vs. Montana State (4 p.m. ET)
  • Chip Lindsey (Troy): vs. Campbell (6 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
  • Walt Bell (UMass): at Rutgers (7:15 p.m. ET Friday, BTN)
  • Gary Andersen (Utah State): at Wake Forest (8 p.m. ET Friday, ACC Network)
  • Neal Brown (West Virginia): vs. James Madison (2 p.m. ET)
  • Tyson Helton (Western Kentucky): vs. Central Arkansas (7:30 p.m. ET Thursday, ESPN+)

5. Oregon really, really needs to beat Auburn. Like, really. If you were to build a schedule from scratch with the sole purpose of maximizing your College Football Playoff chances, you'd play one big non-conference game, two big conference opponents and nine games of filler in between. Kind of like how Alabama, Georgia and Clemson do it.

You'd basically do the opposite of the Pac-12, where you may not play a single top-10 team but you'll definitely play nine, or 10, or 11 games against teams 20 through 60.

This is why Oregon really needs to beat Auburn, because they're almost certainly not running through the Pac-12 unbeaten. It's too difficult. The Pac-12 is the week-to-week grind the SEC pretends it is, so a loss to Auburn probably ends the Ducks' Playoff push before it begins.

Astute readers will recall I wrote nearly the exact same thing before Washington's game against Auburn, and the Pac-12 was a complete non-factor in the national championship race. In fact, the entire conference didn't have a team ranked higher than No. 8 in any of the six CFP weekly rankings.

6. The Super 16. The Nuggets is once again honored to vote in this year's FWAA-Super 16 poll. Here's this week's ballot.

  1. Clemson
  2. Georgia
  3. Alabama
  4. LSU
  5. Ohio State
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Notre Dame
  8. Texas
  9. Michigan
  10. Utah
  11. Penn State
  12. Washington
  13. Texas A&M
  14. Cincinnati
  15. Syracuse
  16. Oregon

7. Odds and Ends

a. Remember when Will Muschamp was Mack Brown's head coach-in-waiting? Remember when head coach-in-waiting was a thing? Both sides seemed to regret that arrangement as soon as it was announced, and now they can laugh about it at midfield in Charlotte as the head coaches of South and North Carolina.

b. FCS over FBS upsets to watch: Indiana State at Kansas, UC Davis at California, James Madison at West Virginia, Wagner at Connecticut

c. Colgate played in the first Division I game of 2019, a 34-14 loss to Villanova, last Saturday afternoon. The Raiders visit Air Force at 3:30 p.m. ET, which means they'll have two games in the books before dozens of other Division I teams even kick off their respective seasons.

d. No conference challenges itself in non-conference play like the Pac-12. We've already mentioned Oregon's trip to Dallas to play Auburn and USC's date with Mountain West champion Fresno State, but on top of that you have Arizona visiting Hawaii, Stanford hosting defending Big Ten West champion Northwestern, UCLA visiting 10-win Cincinnati, Utah visiting rival BYU, Colorado leaving home to play rival Colorado State, and Oregon State hosting Oklahoma State. And that's just Week 1.

8. And finally...

This begins my 13th consecutive season working in college football in some form or fashion and my eighth season writing for this website. I couldn't do what I do without your readership, so thank you lending me your time and attention, and here's to another season of fun, tension, controversy and wheels-off crazy that makes college football the best sport in the world.

Let's get started.