September 12, 2011
Adjusting to the weekend's new realities.
• Texas moves on. I never thought I'd see the day a Texas fan could honestly describe a one-point, comeback win over BYU in Austin as a "gutty" performance, at least not in a good way. Then again, after the last year, the second half Saturday night was about as good as it's been in Austin since roughly 8:25 p.m. Central time on Jan. 7, 2010, when then-freshman Garrett Gilbert took his first meaningful snap as a UT quarterback. By all appearances, an incomplete pass in the second quarter Saturday may have been his last.
At that point, the Longhorns trailed 13-0 and had gone three-and-out on three of their first five offensive possessions; Gilbert had been picked off on both of the other two, leaving him 2-of-8 passing for eight yards and a pass efficiency rating of negative-16.6. Enter Case "Yes That McCoy" McCoy, younger brother of Gilbert's sainted predecessor, and a long-awaited dose of actual optimism: After the half, McCoy and true freshman David Ash led the 'Horns on two sustained touchdown drives and a third march that milked more than six minutes off the clock before stalling out on fourth-and-short at the BYU 14-yard line. Clinging to a 17-16 lead following a late Cougar turnover, the baby 'Horns picked up a pair of third down conversions, vaporized the final four minutes on the clock and left with a legitimately hard-earned victory. McCoy was 7-of-8 passing for 57 yards; Ash was 2-of-3 with 33 yards rushing.
Still, in this case, the how isn't as important as the who: With McCoy (a sophomore who only took a handful of garbage-time snaps behind Gilbert last year), Ash (a true freshman), leading rusher Malcolm Brown (a true freshman), leading receiver Jaxon Shipley (a true freshman) and an offensive line that features three sophomores and a redshirt freshman in the regular rotation, the offense is the best endorsement yet for Austin's claim as a "green city."
• Iowa State finds new hope. Quick: Name a great Iowa State quarterback. Okay, name any Iowa State quarterback. If your list made it past Seneca Wallace, you're either a diehard Cyclone fan or you probably need to get out more. (In fact, if you happen to be a diehard Cyclone fan, you probably need to get out more, anyway.) It's not a position that tends to draw a lot of attention to itself, is what I'm saying.
However: Even non-Cyclone fans may have reason to take note of one Steele Jantz, an actual person who stepped off the pages of a comic book* to throw four touchdown passes in Iowa State's 44-41, triple-overtime upset over rival Iowa. Jantz's 304 total yards and late heroics made him the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week, and put ISU very much on pace for a possible bowl bid at 2-0.
• Boston College abandons all hope. Boston College hired a new offensive coordinator from the NFL after bottoming out in 2010 with fewer yards and points per game than any other attack in the ACC. After two games in 2011, things are looking even worse: Playing without their leading rusher and leading receiver, the Eagles stunk it up from start to finish Saturday in a 30-3 loss at Central Florida, finishing with a grand total of 86 yards and four first downs after driving for a field goal on the first possession of the game. BC's final ten chances with the ball all ended in a punt or a turnover, each one knocking the Eagles' chances of digging out of an 0-2 hole little further into the distance.
• Washington's Price is alright. Washington quarterback Keith Price passed for 315 yards, four touchdowns and a 222.6 pass efficiency rating Saturday in the Huskies' 40-32 win over Hawaii, a better line in his third career start than departed first-round pick Jake Locker delivered in 40 career starts — Locker went over 300 yards passing three times as a Husky, but never approached an efficiency rating over 200. Then again, he also didn't throw many interceptions returned the length of the field for a touchdown, as Price did in the second quarter of an otherwise brilliant effort, so don't start calling up general managers yet.
McEntee is now UConn's starting quarterback, and against actual competition he is … not so accurate. In the Huskies' 24-21 loss at Vanderbilt Saturday, McEntee hit just 10 of 27 passes for 99 yards with four sacks, zero touchdowns, a fumble and three interceptions, the last of which was returned 50 yards for a touchdown by Vandy's Casey Hayward to tie the game at 21 in the fourth quarter. (The Commodores added the winning field goal a few minutes later.) UConn's only two touchdowns in the loss came via returns on a blocked punt and a fumble.
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* Though Jantz claims to hail from the "City College of San Francisco." Scant evidence exists.