Following yet another abysmal performance under center by Stephen Garcia, Steve Spurrier strongly hinted that a change at the position could be coming sooner rather than later.
Monday evening, the hint became a reality as Spurrier announced he has pulled the trigger on another quarterback change, with Connor Shaw replacing Garcia against Kentucky this weekend. And, barring injury, Spurrier’s intention, at least for now, is to allow the sophomore to go the distance against the Wildcats.
“This is his game, it’s his opportunity to go play and we think he’s ready,” Spurrier said in quotes distributed by the team. “We’re going to find out Saturday. Connor had a good practice tonight and, as most everyone knows, our quarterback play has not been as good as we hoped. We’ve got to do something. Maybe some other positions we’re looking at also.
“We’re looking forward to the game against Kentucky. I just ask all the Gamecock fans to give Connor your support the same way you have all the others players here. I think he’s ready to play well. It wasn’t that hard a call. At some point we have to do something to shake up this offense and this is the first step. We’ll see how it goes. It’s Connor’s game. Unless he gets hurt, this is his game.”
Shaw started the opener this season, but was replaced by Garcia after the Gamecocks fell behind East Carolina. Garcia, who had been the starter for the past two-plus season, started each of the next four games, but struggled mightily, throwing just four touchdowns versus nine interceptions. He’s 109th in the country in passing efficiency.
As ineffective and mistake-prone as Garcia has been, Spurrier had no choice but to go back to his Game 1 starter.
“It’s an opportunity I’m willing to take advantage of,” said Shaw. “I think I’m ready to play. I’m excited and we’ll see how it goes this Saturday. I feel confident and I feel like I’m ready to play.”
Boise State did just about everything they could to give the game away. BYU did their best to take it too.
In the end the Broncos survived a whopping five turnovers and blocked a last second field goal to escape with a 28-27 win over their regional rivals.
Tailback Jeremy McNichols scored on the third play of the game on his way to a 140 yard, one touchdown night on the ground to go along with an impressive 109 yards and a touchdown through the air. Wideout Thomas Sperbeck had 109 yards and a score as well and became the school’s all-time leading receiver while doing so.
Quarterback Brett Rypien put up some big numbers with 442 yards passing and three touchdowns but did throw two pick-sixes as part of a wild second quarter that kept BYU in the game.
That stretch also included a potentially disastrous fake punt from the Cougars own end zone on 4th-and-19. The attempt was stuffed at the goal line but the defense held Boise State to a field goal attempt that was eventually shanked to cause no harm on the scoreboard.
BYU was without the services of tailback Jamaal Williams, who became the school’s all-time leading rusher last week against Mississippi State but was held out with an ankle injury he aggravated during warmups. In his place, Squally Canada ran for 88 yards on 21 carries.
Quarterback Taysom Hill had a rough night passing (21-of-42 for just 187 yards) but nearly rallied his team for a game-winning score with under two minutes left.
The win keeps Boise State undefeated and in the driver’s seat for the lucrative Group of Five bid to a major bowl game at the end of the season. While a loss would not have completely derailed their chances at making to the New Year’s Six, it would have made things interesting given the number of other candidates for the spot.
After a turnover-filled outing and nearly blowing a second half lead for the second week in a row, you can bet that the Broncos will look to regroup over the coming days and get back on track ahead of their trip to Wyoming.
The Pac-12 has reprimanded and fined Washington State coach Mike Leach a whopping $10,000 for his comments this week about Arizona State stealing signs.
“Conference rules prohibit Pac-12 member institutions from disparaging each other and discrediting other institutions,” commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. “Information or accusations relative to rule violations must be handled by institutions filing those concerns with the Conference office through a formal process, and institutions must refrain from discussing those concerns publicly.”
Leach accused the Sun Devils and head coach Todd Graham of stealing signs last season and brought the subject up again at his Monday press conference ahead of the Cougars trip to Tempe this weekend.
“We’ll have to keep an eye on it. That’s certainly the reputation. And I think they have a certain amount of technology and expertise on the subject which if they ever go to a different conference or something I’d certainly like them to share it with us,” Leach said. “You’ve got to keep an eye on it because they’ll steal signs and they’re pretty clever about it. And it’s like breaking the enigma code with them… I think they ought to do a full on investigation to see how they’re doing it and make sure it’s within the rules.”
The Pac-12 noted that it is not against NCAA rules to observe an opponent’s signals but a school cannot use any audio or video equipment to record them.
Graham defended his program earlier in the week from the accusations and denied that they used any equipment to record signals.
This isn’t the first time this subject has come up so you can bet that the pre-game talk — and post-game handshake — between the two head coaches might be a little chilly on Saturday given all the words flying back-and-forth between the two.
A late night game involving regional rivals BYU and Boise State on the blue turf figured to get weird.
That it did early — and often.
The Broncos quickly got out to a two score lead and saw the Cougars storm back in the second quarter on a series of fluke plays. Eventually the home team found some late magic just to hold on and take a 21-17 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Under the radar Heisman Trophy candidate Jeremy McNichols jump-started the scoring in the first minute of the game when he raced past a BYU linebacker to score from 76 yards out on a nifty catch and run. Quarterback Brett Rypien followed that up with a quick strike to Thomas Sperbeck on the ensuing drive in a game that looked like they were going to turn into a blowout.
That’s when the wheels started to fall off for Boise State however.
After entering the red zone and threatening to score another touchdown, the Broncos opted to kick a field goal, which was blocked by Dayan Lake and returned by Kai Nacua to midfield. That setup the Cougars’ first score on a field goal and seemed to flip momentum.
On the very next snap for Boise State, Rypien was picked off by BYU safety Fred Warner. He then returned it for a touchdown in one of the most incredible pick-sixes of the season as he tight-roped along the sideline for 59 yards.
Bizarrely, BYU followed that up by running a fake punt on the next possession from their own end zone — on 4th and 19 — and got crushed just steps away from the goal line. Luckily they came away unscathed after Boise State drew a personal foul to back them up 15 yards and then missed an ensuing field goal attempt.
As if that wasn’t enough, Lake then recorded the second pick-six of the ball game off of Rypien on the ensuing drive to give BYU an improbable lead.
Eventually the Broncos offense regrouped (and held onto the ball) as they drove 69 yards in 66 seconds to head to the locker room with a four point lead thanks to long touchdown pass. It was the only positive drive of the second half for the team and might have been something to build on going forward.
Makes you wonder what both teams have in store for the second half though given how many swings of momentum there was in the first.
Virginia Tech turned up the pressure on defense and made an underutilized offensive weapon into the star of the show on Thursday night as they blasted Miami 37-16 to keep pace in the ACC Coastal race.
Fullback Sam Rogers had a huge game from out of nowhere to get the Hokies’ offense going with several big plays. His first came halfway through the second quarter when he snuck out of the backfield and rumbled 52 yards just short of the goal line to set up the first touchdown of the night.
He saved his best for the second half however as he actually threw a touchdown to all but seal the victory on a bit of trickeration, rolling right before finding fellow fullback Steven Peoples on a wheel route.
Quarterback Jerod Evans threw for 259 yards and two scores while rushing for 98 and a touchdown on the ground as well. Sophomore tailback Travon McMillian also chipped in 131 yards on the night for a lofty 7.3 yards a carry.
The story of the night for Miami was just how under siege the offense was as Bud Foster’s defense pressured quarterback Brad Kaaya on nearly every dropback and wound up with eight sacks. The Hurricanes signal-caller did throw for over 300 yards and two scores while tossing a few NFL-caliber passes but it just wasn’t enough with the game resting squarely on his shoulders. The ground game never got going as they rushed for under two yards a carry.
The win allows Virginia Tech to keep pace in the ACC Coastal as they pull even with North Carolina at 3-1 in the conference but take first place in the division on account of their head-to-head win. The Hokies remain in the driver’s seat for an ACC title game berth as they take on Pitt next week.
For Miami, the loss was their third straight on the year after dropping a heartbreaker to Florida State earlier in the month. The Hurricanes continue to deal with injures and lost several more players on Thursday as they head back to South Florida looking to regroup after a rough outing against the Hokies.