It’s a Byrd! It’s a Gator! It’s … Week 0 off college football? Last night featured two games that were fun in their own ways. The marquee matchup of Miami versus Florida was a physical slugfest where Florida eked out a win against a scrappy Miami team. A few thousand miles away, The Rainbow Warriors upset Khalil Tate and the Arizona Wildcats in an exciting, high scoring affair. Each game had an outcome teetering on razor’s edge and in those close calls, you need standout performers to push you over the finish line.
Florida’s win was made possible by a dominant night for their defensive front. Miami’s freshman quarterback was sacked TEN times by the Gators. Florida always loads the trenches with athletes but no one stood out more than Jabari Zuniga. Not only was the senior defender a handful on passing downs, he was in rare form defending against the run. For a smaller edge defender (under 250 pounds), Zuniga flashed impressive physicality and anchor as an every down defender. While some could chalk up his great night to overall dominance by the unit, it is a hell of a way to kick off the season for the first round hopeful.
Pac-12 After Dark never disappoints. Arizona kicked off a season with high hopes, only to be upset by a high flying Hawai’i offense. The Rainbow Warriors big win would not be possible without Cedric Byrd II’s 14 catch, 224 yard, four touchdown performance. That’s right, four touchdowns including the go ahead score to win the game. Byrd played in the shadow of John Ursua last season, but looks poised for a monster season. The 5’9” receiver is all speed, sharp route running and soft hands. He is perfectly built for Hawai’i’s offense and this will not be the last we hear of him this season.