TRANSCRIPT: Kirk Herbstreit Previews No. 11 Texas at No. 3 Alabama – College Football Blockbuster Matchup Airs Saturday Night on ESPN

College Football

TRANSCRIPT: Kirk Herbstreit Previews No. 11 Texas at No. 3 Alabama – College Football Blockbuster Matchup Airs Saturday Night on ESPN

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On Wednesday, Emmy Award-winning ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit previewed this weekend’s blockbuster No. 11 Texas at No. 3 Alabama matchup on a media conference call.

Herbstreit will call the Longhorns-Crimson Tide game in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Saturday (7 p.m. ET, ESPN) with Chris Fowler and reporter Holly Rowe. (ESPN2 will also offer a special Field Pass with The Pat McAfee alternate presentation.) Also on Saturday, Herbstreit will be part of College GameDay Built by The Home Depot’s three-hour on-campus show at Alabama (9 a.m. – noon, ESPN & ESPNU) as college football’s premier pregame show travels to Alabama for the 17th time.

Herbstreit’s comments from the conference call, which have been edited slightly for brevity (Note: key topics are highlighted): 

Herbstreit: Like you guys, just kind of fired up for the season. Last week was a great start bouncing around. We were at Salt Lake on Thursday night for the Utah-Florida game and flew over to Charlotte for game day. Actually stuck around and watched that game in person from the sideline. North Carolina looked great. And then had the chance to go to Orlando and called the… really an interesting game with Florida State and LSU. So that was a fun way to get things started. And now here we go, a lot of focus on not just Texas and Alabama for obvious reasons, but with what Colorado did last week, their game with Nebraska. There just seems to be a lot of interest in that one and quite a few other games. So excited to talk to you guys and see what’s on your mind.

On whether Quinn Ewers’ deep passing ability in Steve Sarkisian’s offense is a key to this year’s game, and how there wasn’t much of this vs. Rice in week 1 …

Herbstreit: Last year, I think a lot of people wondered how that offense would do against Alabama, and I think a lot of people were, I know I was, kind of taken back in that first quarter when the ball was just flying all over the place. And Quinn, to me, he was in a real rhythm there early prior to that injury and that hit by Dallas Turner. Who knows what would’ve happened if he stayed in the game. My point is I think Sark had something going there and it would’ve been fun to see that battle throughout the whole game. I don’t personally take a lot away from the Rice game. I think when you have week two, a Behemoth, I don’t think you really do a whole lot with all due respect to Rice. I think it’s really more about getting some people out there, the depth rotating guys around, getting a lot of people to have a chance to go out and show what they can do. But you know Sark, I mean, he’s holding things back.

He’s not going to show what he’s going to do now. The line of scrimmage is a reality. I mean they’ve got to protect better, especially on third down. They don’t have the luxury of being in Austin this time around with the crowd behind them. Alabama, when their fans feel threatened, that is a really good atmosphere and very challenging on the quarterback and offensive line. I don’t know if enough people really talk about their setting, but again, they’ve had a lot of great years and when they play a team, they know they’re going to handle, maybe it’s an okay atmosphere, but when they feel that it’s a big game, they can be a difference in the game. So how they handle that for the first time, even though it’s a veteran O line and a veteran quarterback, that’ll be very different than it was a year ago. So I’m anxious to see how they handle that and see if they can get out of 3rd and seven, 3rd and eighth. What they do on first and second I think will be critical to their success this week.

On what Texas has to do to beat Alabama on the road, and if can they do it if Ewers and the offense can do what they did in the third quarter against Rice … And what happens to college football when Texas beats Alabama and Tuscaloosa …

Herbstreit: Yeah, it would be massive. I think I personally love different stories. I can just speak for myself, the guy that follows this sport pretty religiously. I think it’s like what Colorado’s doing right now. I think it’s a lot of fun. What Florida State is doing, getting that brand back, I think that’s a lot of fun watching. Jordan Travis run around and make plays. If Texas were to surprise some people. Some people think they’re going to go in there and win, but if they were to surprise some people and pull this off just because of the history of Sark with Coach Saban, the two years that he was there incidentally were the best two years offensively that Alabama ever had. And of course he had two at Mac Jones and a lot of talent around that quarterback spot, but I think they averaged 48 one year, 47 the other.

So Sark had some great times when he was the offensive coordinator there and now he’s down to Texas and he’s trying to get this thing going. And I think if you look at Texas, we keep hoping, it’s kind of like when USC was trying to come back. Those of us that like to see these big brands do well, I like to see Texas play well. I think it’s great for the sport. So if they were able to win this game, Alabama’s not out of anything. They’re still right in the thick of things, but it would definitely create some shock waves and a lot of interest in what Sark is doing down in Austin. I think, not that Texas is into moral victories, but I think their performance and how they played, it wasn’t just a score of the game, it was they took the fight to Alabama last year. If you really watched that game from the very beginning, they were not intimidated. They weren’t just putting their big toe in and just kind of easing their way in.

It was physical and aggressive and confident from the word go. And if they have any chance of going on the road, it’s very tough to do, it’s going to have to be that same mentality of going in. We’re not going to weather the storm. We’re going in there to win this game and be physical and be dominant. And if you know Sark on a personal level, you’d be surprised if that’s not how they approached it. But man, if you’re going to win this game, you’ve got to come in swinging. Not playing and coaching not to lose. You got to coach to win, just like they did a year ago. Now again, it’s going to be tougher, as I said earlier, on the road in that environment. But with a veteran quarterback and offensive line, it gives you a better chance to play to win the game, not to just hang around and find a way to win it in the fourth quarter. If you do that, you’re going to lose the game. So I think being aggressive in their approach is very important to the game.

On calling Florida and Florida State’s week 1 games and the long-term trajectory of both programs, and whether Florida State can win a national championship …

Herbstreit: Yeah, the Florida State answer would be yes, based on everybody that we watched. I try to really reserve judgment until we see these teams play for two or three weeks. I’ve learned the hard way going way back to when I first started, you see a team play once and you’re like, “Oh my gosh, this is who they are.” And then three weeks later, they’re a completely different team. So trying to keep that in mind. There’s just enough to see from Florida State, again, a team that won 10 games last year, a team that I think even their own fan base was frustrated with where the program was over the last few years until last year. And this team played with a chip on their shoulder. I expect them to play like that. It’s going to be one of these teams that achieves a big win and it’s not enough.

They’re on to the next game. I think there’s enough guys that have been in misery there that they’re not going to get caught up in the fanfare and some of the hoopla that’ll surround them. And then looking at Clemson, there’s a program that’s trying to kind of figure things out. And of course they play them in a few weeks in Death Valley. So that was the one question. If Clemson played great against Duke and they were humming, then you’d wonder about that game. But just looking at those two teams, Florida State’s got to feel pretty good about themselves as they look right now in the ACC. So I’m excited to see what they can do the rest of the year. Florida’s opposite into the spectrum. I happened to call their last two games. I had the misfortune of calling their bowl game where they had all those guys opt out and it wasn’t so much that it was just body language, the buy-in. I don’t care if we’re playing with all walk-ons, you still need to go with an attitude. You still need to show up prepared and ready to go. And they definitely failed to do that in that bowl game in Las Vegas. An entire off season, some transfer portals, new defensive coordinator, a lot of excitement. Even though you lose the best quarterback, one of the best quarterbacks in the country, you pick up Graham Mertz and it’s like, “Okay, we’ve got a veteran guy.” And let’s be honest, you watched the game, you were there, who knows if they didn’t have that 4th and 1 penalty?

And they started to pick some momentum up there, I think the score is maybe 10-7 or 7-3 or whatever it was. If they go down and score a touchdown there, maybe the game’s different, but it was the miscues and the mistakes that I think if I’m a Gators’ fan coming off that Bowl game, I would be pretty frustrated. They’ve got a week to get ready until the Vols with that up-tempo offense come to town. But Florida’s a bit of a mystery for me right now. I had much higher expectations than what I saw in that opening week.

On being a broadcaster and rooting for good stories, and citing the excitement of Gus Johnson during Colorado’s opening game …

Herbstreit: Yeah. I think if we’re guilty of anything… Again, I can’t speak for Gus, I can just speak for myself. You definitely find yourself… First of all, you don’t cheer for anybody when you’re calling a game, obviously, but you do find yourself… First of all, you don’t want to do a 45-3 game. I’ve done plenty of those. If I’m guilty of anything, I’m excited when the game’s competitive. If a team gets down by a couple scores and then they come back and tie it, selfishly speaking, I get excited. I’m not cheering for that team, but I’m cheering for a competitive game. And if you have a game going back and forth like they had in that particular game, it’s easy to get caught up in the emotion of the game. That was one of those games, it was like two or three plays, touchdown, two or three plays, touchdown, two or three… How do you not get into that?

And it was back and forth. As much as Colorado at the end of the day, got all of the attention, what got lost was, that was a great game. It was TCU’s offense going back at them. And I think broadcasters, if you love what you do, you’re a human being, it’s very easy to get caught up. That’s why we all love college football, the emotion of it and the pageantry. I didn’t hear any of that criticism or see any of that, but just speaking for me, if I’m guilty of anything, I cheer for a competitive game, but not any of the teams. 

On Bryce Young and Alabama not having him this year – and what he was like to cover …

Herbstreit: It was like talking to an NFL quarterback the first time I sat down with him. I even told him how I was taken back. I told Josh that same thing. It’s just his wiring the way he is, he’s very, very poised and composed. And even in that setting, when you have a chance to sit down with him behind closed doors, it just a one-on-one… It’s like talking to an NFL quarterback. That was his sophomore year after he replaced Mac Jones in ’20 or in ’21. I think the composure part of it… And thinking back to that game last year, that place was coming unglued and Texas was starting to believe that they were going to do this the way they started that game. They were hitting Bryce Young and putting pressure on him, and he just has a way of just making plays, creating.

And I think I would throw Billy O’Brien in there too. He’s been around so much and seen so much, and the two of them together really were a great tandem. And so now this is new for Alabama. You got a new offensive coordinator, you got a new quarterback. Not to say that they’re not capable, but it’s just until you see it, it’s new. And so how would they respond to a competitive game? And especially if the line of scrimmage, if Texas is blitzing and putting pressure on them, and the game gets into the second and third quarter and it’s close, I think we’re going to learn a lot about Alabama’s offense, this game against Texas.

On the necessary adjustments Texas will need to make this year to win this Alabama game …

Herbstreit: I think their approach to the game was right on. Most people, I’m just being honest, that play Alabama, and they see Nick Saban on the other sideline. They see him in warmups. Most teams are intimidated by that brand, by that uniform, by that helmet. I’ve seen so many teams go into that game and they’ve, “We’ll see, we’ll see, we’ll see.” And then they see him and they’re almost beat before the game starts, but they’re easing their way, because they don’t want to make a mistake. Texas did the opposite of that, and it’s probably because of Sark’s time in Alabama. He’s like, “We’re not going to be intimidated.” And they went in there with the right attitude. I think first of all, you got to match that. That’s the biggest thing, because I think that game gave them a belief that they can stand in the middle of the ring and play with Alabama because of the way that game unfolded. Even though they don’t want moral victories, that’s huge for them to come into this game. The biggest thing to me is can they take care of Quinn Ewers?

Can he have time to throw? Because I think on the back end with the receivers they have, they’re going to have a chance to make some big plays. And the way Sark is so creative, but the mystery to me going into this game is the Texas veteran O line against some new faces other than Dallas Turner and Chris Brasswell, even though he’s been more of a guy that would step in and sub in, now he’s kind of the guy, can they hold off the pressures? Kevin Steele’s going to dial some things up? He knows Sark very well. How does that offensive line… How do they do in run block, and then how do they do in protection? I think the line of scrimmage to me is really, if we look back at the end of the game and Texas either won it, or they competed or they got blown out, I think a lot of it will be dependent upon the line of scrimmage when Texas has the football.

And how they match up and how Sark takes some of the pressure off of them with his play calling and trying to get Bama a bit on their heels instead of teeing off on that offensive line. 

On Nick Saban’s success against his former assistants, and why they struggle against him …

Herbstreit: I hate to take it. I think it was Sark, I don’t know if it was this week, but Sark made a comment about look at his record against guys that didn’t ever coach for him. He’s Nick Saban, in my opinion, the greatest coach in the history of college football. And so you look at his record against anybody and it’s pretty darn good. I think there became a narrative that these guys that were coordinators under him, now they become head coaches. They maybe understand Alabama, Nick Saban better than others, and they should have somewhat of an advantage competing against him. And so everyone started to talk a little bit about the record, and then finally, Kirby had some moments where he’s been able to beat him. I just think it’s Alabama more than anything.

I happen to agree with Sark about, he does this against his former assistants and he does it to everybody else, is who Nick Saban is. I have nothing but respect and admiration for what Coach Saban has done since he’s been at Alabama. I’m not one that takes it for granted. Every year he decides to come back, I thank the football gods if we get another year of watching him coach, because I love the sport so much and I just love watching him do his thing. I think we’ve learned there’s no real advantage being a former assistant under Nick Saban when it comes to these match-ups, just like any other coach going against him. 

On how big Saturday’s game is for Texas as the Longhorns enter the SEC next year …

Herbstreit: I think the media will definitely talk about that. I think if you talk to people, I think a lot of people looked at last year’s game and thought, “Wow, Texas competed and did themselves a very good service of showing that they can compete with Alabama, which means you can compete with the SEC.” If you look at their roster right now, I think it’s pretty clear Sark in his time in Tuscaloosa, these last couple of recruiting classes, once they understood this, they’re much stronger and much deeper at the line of scrimmage. If you look at last week’s game, even against Rice, they got difference makers on that line of… And if you win in the SEC, as we all know, you better be good at the line of scrimmage. As much as people talk about the quarterbacks and as much as people talk about the quarterbacks and receivers and backs, anybody who really knows the SEC and watches Alabama and LSU and Georgia, I know as a guy that watches all these conferences, the thing that I marvel at is, wow, the SEC’s defensive line is just different than everybody else’s. They’ve made great strides in that area.

Now, on a big stage, it’s a real opportunity to show people that they’re ready, not only for Alabama, but they’re ready for the SEC. I think with Sark’s experience at Alabama, he knows what it’s going to take for them to take that step, not just Saturday, but of course next year. 

If you look at Oklahoma and you look at Texas, right now the rosters … Now, Brent Venables is a couple years behind where Sark is, but it just feels like when you look at Texas, they’re closer to being where you need to be than I think where Venables is currently. But I think he’ll be there as well because he understands it probably as well as anybody. He’ll get that program eventually there, but right now Texas, I think, is … I think they’re ready to compete. So we’ll see how it goes. 

On how important the Texas running backs will be to keep some pressure off Quinn Ewers …

Herbstreit: Yeah. As you know, covering these guys, they’re always going to have talented backs. You lose Bijan who is one of the great backs in the country. Just watching those guys, I don’t know them the way you know them. I’m watching them this week on film. Incredibly gifted, talented guys. I think that we talked a little earlier about Quinn Ewers is going to get a lot of attention and he should, but I think Sark’s system has always been about balance, and it’s always been about not abandoning the running game. A big part of what he does is run the football to set up the play action. He has so many looks on his play action and RPO game that look like they’ll run. It puts a lot of pressure on the defense. If you’re running the ball effectively, man, it really allows you to hit some big plays potentially in that pass game.

If that’s negated and you’re running into a wall, which is what Alabama tries to do with their three-four scheme, they … Not to get too in-depth, but they two-gap you, which means those big defensive linemen aren’t going to have a lot of stats, but they’re going to eat two offensive linemen up. They’re basically building a fence as you try to run the football. Then those edge guys try to keep the contain. So they’re trying to essentially build a wall against your run game. If you can run the football, which they were able to do at times last year, it’s tough to do, especially between the tackles, but if you can get that going, then I think, as I said, it opens up what Sark really wants to do is create one-on-one opportunities.

Nick Saban loves to play with two deep safeties as much as he can, and if he can get away with that and not have to get one safety down in that run support role and he can keep him back, it’s having the best of both worlds. Two safeties back to prevent the deep shots, and then also being able to hold up against the run without that safety down. If you ever see Saturday that safety start to be like, “Uh-oh, we got to get him down,” you know Sark’s going, “Oh boy, here we go. We got him where we want him. Now we can create some one-on-one chances for Xavier Worthy and some of these other guys.” That’s a game within a game, but the running game to me and the balance of Texas is essential if they’re going to go in there and win this game. 

On how much Herbstreit prepares to call and game and College GameDay when they are in the same vs. different cities …

Herbstreit: My normal week starting next week is, I have the Vikings and the Eagles on Thursday night, and then I have GameDay, and then I call game on Saturday night. Often, maybe 50% of the time, the GameDay and game I’m calling is the same. But if it’s not, I’m still rolling up my sleeves for the … not just GameDay, the location that we happen to be at, but also we’re covering the Pac-12 and the Big 12. We’re covering everything. So I try to give my undivided attention to the game that we’re at, but obviously, you put a lot of hours into the game you’re calling.

This week, it just so happens to be instead of doing a different game and putting all those hours into that game, I’m putting it all into the GameDay location for that game. Then all the coach talk, I’ll be talking to the coordinators, the players, the head coaches. Yeah. It’s a lot that goes into this one game just because of having GameDay and calling the game that night. 

On the progression of Nick Saban offenses thru the years and if you can win in today’s college football with a more balanced, more prototypical-type offense – and thoughts on Jalen Milroe …

Herbstreit: Yeah, yeah. I don’t know if he was the SEC Offensive Player of the Week, but I’m sure if he wasn’t, he was in that discussion. I remember seeing him when I did one of their spring games, and you see him as a young guy that’s raw. You’re just like, “Whoa, this guy’s incredibly big, physical, athletic guy.” I can’t wait to see them continue to work with him to see where he could go. Then we watched him in the A&M game last year on the road, and I think a lot of people thought, “Okay, is this guy going to be the guy, or are they going to open it up to someone else?” Then that’s when we got into the spring. Then you get a new offensive coordinator.

I can only go by what we saw last week, where they had an entire off-season to prepare him to be the guy compared to filling in for Bryce Young. I loved what I saw. If what Nick Saban is saying is true, if they are going to go back to being more defensive-oriented, special teams, turnover margin, field position, run the football, play smart, don’t turn it over, I still think you can win that way. 

Now, your margin of error is going to be much tighter compared to having an offense that can score in four plays and score 45 points a game. Yeah, you’re going to have to do it a different way. You’re going to have to control the ebb and flow of the game, which is where the defense and the special teams and a turnover margin comes into play.

But the kid, he showed the arm strength to go downfield. I think a lot of attention has been on that position. But for me, I’m more interested in Tommy Rees and what he’s going to bring, what Nick Saban’s going to allow him to do offensively. 

Then the offensive skill. To me, you lost what I would say is one of the most dynamic playmakers in Jahmyr Gibbs last year, not only as a runner, but as a receiver. How are they going to do in the backfield? Can guys catch the ball out of the backfield? These receivers now have some experience. We all know that they took a pretty big step back from where they were when they had those four receivers that were all first rounders. So they appear on paper and they looked good last week, but here’s their first big test. So you’re going to have to make some big plays in the pass game, and we’re all going to watch the quarterback. But for me, I want to see those backs, and I want to see how much those receivers have improved.

But to answer your question, I do think you can win the old-fashioned way. It’s just, it’s tougher to do, and it puts a lot on your defense and your special teams unit. Like I said, the margin of error is much smaller. 

On having big games to call at the start of this season when ESPN no longer has Big Ten and is a year away from the new SEC package, and with competition growing from NBC, CBS and Fox …

Herbstreit: Whether it was back in ’06, ’07, ’08 when we had every game that we would ever want, Big 10, Pac-12, Big 12, we basically just … Brent Musburger and I would just go to the Game of the Week, and no one really even thought about Saturday Night Football. It was just something that ABC did. So we had our pick. Then obviously, the competition has picked up over the years and especially now.

I guess I have a little bit of a different perspective. I like the competition. I think it speaks volumes about the sport, the interest in the sport. I’d rather have it that way than the other way, where there wasn’t any competition or there wasn’t any interest in college football. I just think it speaks volumes about how much the NFL and college football have really, about how much the NFL and college football had really separated themselves from the other sports. I mean, look at the ratings from this past week. I mean, not just the high-profile games, but you get down to that 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, the highest rated games of the week, there’s so much depth, and so much interest in the sport, so I welcome it. 

I think it’s great. I think it keeps you on your toes if you’re a competitor. I think it’s awesome to have, whether it’s the studio show, or calling games. Now, obviously, I love to call big games. That’s one of the things that, after 28 years of doing this, you look forward to this week, when you have a game like this, or last week.

And you’re right, we’re kind of in that in-between stage of leaving a conference that is near and dear to my heart, the Big Ten, and going to the SEC, which is incredibly exciting, and we’ve been around for so long. And I love that conference as well. And you bring Texas and Oklahoma into that conference. I mean, the matchups are going to be electric, literally every single week. 

So we have this year, right now, you got the 12-team playoff coming next year. We got realignment still going on. So there’s a lot going on around the sport.

But, for me, I just kind of get excited about the games that I get to call. And they will move Chris (Fowler) and I around. We’re not necessarily married to the ABC prime game this year. There’s probably going to be weeks where you’ll see us move around, depending on where the game is, and where GameDay might be. So we’re going to make the most of this year. Looking forward to having some really good games.

I think the ACC has some fun storylines. The Big 12 and the Pac-12 appear to have some incredible teams and storylines as well. So make the most of what you have, and look forward to the postseason, where we still have all those games.

On Tommy Rees’s offense at Notre Dame and his transition to Alabama …

Herbstreit: Well, I think playing a position not that long ago gives him an ability to really relate to the quarterback and communicate with the quarterback in a way that I think gives him an advantage over a lot of other coordinators. He sees the game through their eyes. I think it’s very helpful when he’s making adjustments and talking to them in between series. 

And he’s got a way about him, I’m sure you’ve been around him, the quarterbacks tend to really respect and appreciate, because he’s teaching, and he’s not yelling, or panicking, or anything like that. It’s more of teaching moments, which I think quarterbacks really appreciate. So I think that’s big.

I don’t know if he necessarily has a system. It’s like, okay, he’s bringing his system in. I think he has a system that, depending on his talent, and his skill of his quarterback, and his offensive line, the players around those positions, he’s going to call it one way. 

There are years that I would go to do games with Notre Dame, and have Tommy Rees as the OC, and there would be years where … And they were really relying on that ability to run the football. Then there were other years you would go, and it was more about, we got great quarterback play, we got great receivers, we want to spread them out, get them in space, and let’s still run the ball, but we really want to win it on the perimeter. So I think it depends on what he has to work with.

And it depends on how the defense that particular week is attacking you. Are they determined … With Milroe, he’s an athletic guy, hey, let’s load up the line of scrimmage, let’s make this guy throw the football to beat us. Let’s keep him in the pocket. Is that the approach? He’s going to have one answer for that, is it, hey, let’s sit back, let’s keep everything in front of us, let’s not give up the big play? Then he is going to have a different approach that week. 

So I don’t think you can just watch a game and say, okay, this is who Tommy Rees is. I think he’s one of those guys that’s smart enough to change his system depending on the things I just mentioned. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see a very different approach this week, from what you saw against Middle Tennessee last week.

On whether Clemson can bounce back after the loss to Duke …

Herbstreit: Well, it is too early in the year for me. As disappointing as that loss was, there’s two things that stood out to me. First of all, Mike Elko has a good football team. It doesn’t sound like it, because the history says, when you hear Duke, you think of Cameron Crazies, and great basketball teams, you don’t think of football. 

They won eight games last year. They bring a quarterback back, that I don’t think the country really understands how good he is, in Riley Leonard. They got a defense that, based on what we saw the other night, is flying around. So they’re, all of a sudden, a fun team. I’m looking forward to watching them play. That’s one takeaway: Mike Elko is a great coach.

Second takeaway is Clemson as a team, if you look at how the season finished last year, it didn’t finish the way they had wanted. It left a lot of people in the media kind of questioning if Dabo’s best years were behind him. They make the change with Garrett Riley. Cade obviously takes over as signal caller permanently, is now the guy. 

I think a lot of people had high hopes, the combination of Riley coming in to call the plays, and with Klubnik coming in to be the quarterback, that the standard was going to be back to being those years of Trevor Lawrence and Deshaun Watson. And it still could be. I’m not going to sit here and say it’s not.

But one thing that stood out, if you go back to the Deshaun Watson era, and the Trevor Lawrence era, one thing you could always say is they had receivers and tight ends that made defenses fear their skill, and running backs. And, right now, and a lot of times last year, they look good, they don’t look great. And so, while we all want to talk about the quarterback, I’m interested in seeing what Garrett Riley can do with the receivers that he has to work with, and can they become that explosive offense that they were in those years with Deshaun and Trevor? 

It’s easy to look at the quarterback, but I think with this new system, I’m confident that Cade Klubnik can run that offense, but does he have enough dynamic playmakers around him to be a offense that we expect them to be? Only weeks ahead will tell us that.

On Alabama’s CFP resume whether they win or lose against Texas …

Herbstreit: Well, obviously if they win, it’s a huge … I think Texas could have a good year, maybe a great year. So if they get into the crosshairs of a debate, should they be in or should they not, you look at the non-conference, and the committee would tell you that’s one of the things they look at, is who you play, right? So the willingness to play a behemoth, and if you beat them, it’s only going to strengthen your case, and your resume. 

Even with LSU, just a sidebar, LSU playing Florida State feels like it’s the end of the world. If they’re somehow able to regroup, and get back to playing, and eventually being the LSU that we expect them to be, even a loss like that, I think there’s respect within the committee, if you’re just strictly looking at it through that lens of the playoff.

And the same thing would be true for Alabama. If they had this game, and for whatever reason lost this game to Texas, you’d have to think Texas is going to have a pretty good year.

I don’t think teams really get penalized. Now, if you go out there and get blown out 45-3, obviously that would hurt you. But if it’s a competitive game against a top 10 opponent, and you lose it, you drop a couple spots in the poll, and by the time the college football playoff rankings come out, if they get back to winning games, it would be a hiccup, in my opinion. I don’t think it would hurt them at all. Now, that’s if they get back to winning games.


Bill Hofheimer

I oversee ESPN’s College Sports PR, while also working on ESPN soccer, Around the Horn, PTI and more. Previously oversaw communications for ESPN's Monday Night Football and NFL studio shows.
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