September 02, 2011
Making the morning rounds.
• You ain't got no alibi. Kentucky went into its season opener a 34-point favorite over Sun Belt Conference doormat Western Kentucky, and proceeded to launch a full frontal assault on the basic concept of "offense" that makes it hard to believe UK will score 34 points all season. Through three quarters, the Wildcats had managed barely 70 yards in total offense, on less than two yards per snap; ultimately, half of their 176 total yards for the game — a full 250 yards below last year's season average — came on two big plays in the fourth quarter. Quarterbacks Morgan Newton and Kewaun Jakes combined to complete 14 of 39 passes with six interceptions, six sacks and a pass efficiency rating of 49.1. After penalties, both offenses netted a grand total of 217 yards between them.
Somebody had to win, and thanks to a short-field touchdown following a WKU turnover in the first half and the two big plays late, that was Kentucky, 14-3. But any game featuring as many penalties (17) and punts (15) as points is a black mark on everyone involved, including those of us who watched it. [Kentucky 14, Western Kentucky 3]
• . Following through on his standing threat to bench mercurial quarterback Stephen Garcia, Steve Spurrier has named sophomore Connor Shaw the starter for South Carolina's opener against East Carolina, ending Garcia's streak of 28 consecutive starts. Spurrier insists the decision is strictly performance-related — "I said way back we're going to have a preseason competition to see who the starter is going to be (the) first game," Spurrier said Thursday on his weekly radio show. "The guy who rated the best was Connor Shaw. He played better than Stephen Garcia. Simple as that." — but Garcia's summer-long absence from the team on the heels of his fifth alcohol-related suspension at USC obviously didn't help his cause. Spurrier said Shaw will play the first quarter, Garcia will play the second, and "we're going to see what happens after that." [Charleston Post & Courier]
• This is not what you'd call "ideal timing." USC secondary coach Wille Mack Garza abruptly resigned Thursday for "personal reasons," reportedly due to his involvement in an ongoing NCAA probe into Texas-based "scout" Willie Lyles. Lyles reportedly met with the NCAA earlier this week about his connection to multiple schools, including Oregon and LSU, and apparently revealed in that interview that he had an undefined relationship with Garza, prompting the latter's exit as soon as word got back to USC. [Orange County Register, CBSSports.com]
• I'm still here. After a couple harrowing weeks, Oklahoma defensive end Ronnell Lewis has been declared academically eligible and cleared to play in Saturday's opener against Tulsa. Lewis started the last four games last year as a sophomore and has continued practicing with OU's starting defense throughout the preseason, giving the Sooners an intact defensive line in front of a depleted linebacker corps. [The Oklahoman]
• Get well… soon? Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa, a first-team All-Big Ten pick by league coaches and media last year despite missing the Wildcats' final three games with a ruptured Achilles' tendon, is officially listed as "questionable" for Saturday's opener at Boston College. After a full offseason of rehab, Persa was still reportedly limping throughout preseason practices, casting an ominous pall over his senior season. [Chicago Tribune]
Quickly… T. Boone Pickens Wants TCU in the Big 12. … Texas says the Aggies could have gotten in the ground floor of the Longhorn Network. … Austin Box's parents aid the ongoing investigation into their son's untimely death. … Auburn puts Gene Chizik on the elevators. … Kansas State's student newspaper goes behind the mask with EcoKat. … Rob Long writes a thank-you letter to Syracuse fans for their support during his bout with brain cancer. … Miami gets a huge donation from a donor who doesn't need a background check. … And I guess I can assume it's open season on mocking New England around here.