Snap Judgments III: Empires’ Sunset Edition
Highlights (and lowlights) from the late shift of Week 1 games:
• No. 12 South Carolina 56, East Carolina 37: Here’s a fun scenario that could’ve unfolded with the greatest of ease: Connor Shaw, as threatened by Steve Spurrier, suits up as QB1 for the Gamecocks’ season opener against the Purple Pirates. Shaw puts on a masterful performance against an East Carolina defense that casual onlookers forget regularly gave up over 40 points a game in 2010. Shaw remains in the starting role for the Cocks’ Week 2 trip to Athens, where he’s suddenly and painfully brought to earth by a Todd Grantham defense experiencing an “on” week.
Neither of those things is particularly possible, but especially the part about Shaw, who stayed on the field just long enough to remind his coach and a disinterested viewing audience that, like every quarterback operating under Spurrier since Danny Wuerffel, he is not Danny Wuerffel. Shaw went 3-of-9 for 20 yards, and ran for 31 more, losing a fumble somewhere along the way.
Enter Stephen Garcia, a college student with the temerity to enjoy beer. His first pass, on South Carolina’s first play from scrimmage in the second quarter, fell incomplete. Knowing Spurrier, no one would have been at all surprised to see Garcia benched again on the spot. His second pass, however, netted a 20-yard gain with Marcus Lattimore, and a minute and a half later, Garcia himself broke free of ECU’s ne’er-do-well defense, lumbering downfield for a 32-yard rushing touchdown.
At that point, the Gamecocks trailed the Pirates, 17-7. No matter. Garcia would finish 7-for-15 with 110 yards, 56 rushing yards on five attempts, a passing touchdown and two rushing touchdowns. Lattimore displayed the promise that captivated a division last season with 112 rushing yards, 33 receiving yards and three scores. Special teamer Ace Sanders scored South Carolina’s final points with a 68-yard punt return early in the fourth quarter. (And there’s still no way anybody can say for certain who will start under center in Athens next Saturday.) (RECAP | BOX)
• No. 1 Oklahoma 47, Tulsa 14: G.J. Kinne’s undeniable offensive skill-set will have to wait to be put on proper display for a week when he’s not being sacked thrice and intercepted once by another terrifying Sooner D. (RECAP | BOX | HIGHLIGHTS)
• No. 22 Florida 41, Florida Atlantic 3: A bleak start to Howard Schnellenberger’s farewell tour, but a performance that certainly augurs better for the Gators than did last year’s scrape with the Miami RedHawks. SEC East opponents, twitch in familiar dread: Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps combined for 184 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, plus another 65 yards on six catches and a score from Rainey in receiving capacity. Sometimes six plays is all you need, man. (RECAP | BOX)
• Texas 34, Rice 9: Would it depress you to hear the Longhorns and Owls were tied 3-3 at the end of the first quarter? Never fear, the game’s presence on the Longhorn Network means it’ll scarcely be remembered in Monday’s national discussion. (RECAP | BOX)
• Washington 30, Eastern Washington 27: If you’re a Washington fan, it’s probably best you don’t focus too much on eking out a win against Eastern Washington, particularly when that win depended entirely on intercepting an Eastern Washington pass in the end zone with under a minute to play. Moving right along! (Eagles: Nice job hanging 504 yards on a Pac-12 outfit. Now, about those four turnovers… ) (RECAP | BOX | HIGHLIGHTS)
• No. 9 Oklahoma State 61, Louisiana 34: Mike Gundy shrugs at your “defensive gameplanning,” sirrahs, and can probably keeps right on shrugging at least until the Tulsa game in Week 3. (RECAP | BOX | HIGHLIGHTS)
• Iowa State 20, Northern Iowa 19: Similar teeth-gritted good wishes to the Cyclones, who shouldn’t feel too bad, as Northern Iowa went 7-5 in 2010 but still managed to win the Missouri Valley Conference. No, really. Gutty, respectable win there, you guys. ‘Clones QB Steele Jantz (STEELE JANTZ!) threw three interceptions, a fact you need to know because his name is Steele Jantz. (RECAP | BOX)
• Texas Tech 50, Texas State 10: This isn’t funny until you dig into the box score, notice that 41 of the Red Raiders’ 50 points came in the second half, realize that means they trailed Texas State 10-9 after the first two quarters, and come to the inevitable conclusion that Tommy Tuberville was skinned at halftime and a former Leach acolyte was secretly bustled in, wore that skin onto the field as a disguise, and pulled out the win. (RECAP | BOX)
• UTEP 31, Stony Brook 24: It’s all for the best, really. Had the Miners been upset by the Seawolves, they might have also stormed back in Week 2 to knock off SMU. It’s the UTEP way. This is a new and diabolical scheme for Mike Price; beating teams he’s actually supposed to beat is the last thing anybody would expect. (RECAP | BOX)