College football started off with a bang last weekend. Wins by Purdue and Notre Dame were impressive despite lackluster competition. They'll challenge one another on Saturday, sparking a brief but passionate split between my brother-in-law and me.
Oh, IU won, too. It sort of counts.
Now, we're ready for something even more exciting. As the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys kick off the NFL football season, I'm thinking about the Indianapolis Colts.
What a strange off-season.
Peyton Manning gone. Jeff Saturday. Dallas Clark. Joseph Addai. Gary Brackett. Melvin Bullitt.
This all seemed impossible.
I've watched the preseason games. I've seen it with my own eyes--Peyton Manning is gone. He will not line up under center this weekend. I'll watch a rookie quarterback named Andrew Luck try to fill Manning's shoes.
An impossible feat, surely.
What will we see from the Indianapolis Colts this weekend? We've got a coach who values the running game and defense, and although those principles were given their requisite lip service during the Age of Polian, everyone knew Peyton would put up 30 points and throw for 300 yards.
I don't know if the running game will be a factor this year either. The Colts have a talented group of backs, but no one is "the guy." The Colts haven't had a true force at running back since sending Edgerrin James packing.
It took two running backs to replace him.
The running game has been as bad as usual, but it's hard to say if that's because the Colts can't run or because they wanted to see how their new hot rod would handle.
I like what I've seen from Luck...but so has everyone. His preseason debut certainly qualified as "magical" (at least in preseason terms). I loved how he bounced back against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who pretty much punched him in the mouth.
Preseason is usually meaningless, but Colts fans needed to see what they saw from Andrew Luck. This is the kid who's so good, the Colts cut Peyton Manning. If he'd come out throwing passes into the turf and generally looking incompetent, it would've been an embarrassment for the franchise and Jim "the Mad Tweeter" Irsay.
They say Luck's "the guy," but we won't know until real football starts.
We won't know until Luck faces down Brian Urlacher and the Chicago Bears and absorbs a few hits. We won't know until he walks to the line of scrimmage, makes a few dummy calls, and hits Reggie Wayne on a comeback route.
We won't know.
It should be fun getting to that point where we do know.
I don't expect a great season from the Colts, but I can say that a 2-14 record won't be as bad as last year's 2-14 record.
This time, there's hope. That things can get better. That things will get better.