Observations– 30 August 2012

South Carolina 17- Vanderbilt 13

South Carolina’s offensive and defensive lines were dominant.  Jordan Rodgers was under pressure all night and Vanderbilt’s defense just couldn’t get a stop.  QB Shaw and RB Lattimore led the attack for the Gamecocks who overpowered their way to an early season, nailbiting win.  It’s interesting to see Spurrier ‘just win’ games.  It seems like he is content to win ugly, which is completely necessary in the SEC.  The SC defense certainly passes the eye test but it will be itneresting to see if the offense can produce against the better SEC teams.

In an unrelated note, Connor Shaw reminds me of Forrest Gump when he runs.

Jordan Matthews looked good.  The SEC has graduated a lot of receiving talent in recent years (AJ Green, Julio Jones, Alshon Jeffery, Randall Cobb, Rueben Randle) and it will be interesting to see who steps up to be among the SEC’s best receivers.  Da’rick Rogers (Tenn) was the obvious choice but with his recent transgressions it looks like an open race.  Matthews flashed in the second quarter after hauling in a mid range pass and turning on the jets to take it for a touchdown.  He hauled in 8 balls for 147 yards and 1 td, but had a drop on a critical 3rd and long play.  For Vandy fans, the game will be most remembered for the non-call on an obvious pass interference play involving Matthews late in the game.

The ‘Dores proved that they’re headed in the right direction.  After falling behind 10-0 early, it would have been easy to go away quietly.  They held tough, took a lead, and were a play or two from pulling the huge upset of #9 ranked South Carolina.  Kudos to the job that James Franklin is doing.

BYU 30- Washington St 6

Washington State looked out of synch all night.  The pace of play was slow in the early going and they never seemed to get into a rythm.  Once they fell behind, BYU’s offensive and defensive lines just wore them down.  Wazzu does have some players, but overall they’re too thin, especially where it counts; in the trenches.

Riley Nelson is completely average.  The 25-36, 285 yds, 2TDs line looks great, but Nelson had a clean pocket all night and a helpful running game.  I was curious to watch him because BYU has had a good string of quarterbacks in the past decade.  However, Nelson’s 2011 season graded outside my top 40 QB ratings for last season and this game proved why.  Against a team with a better defensive line, BYU’s offense will struggle.

Friendly reminder:  Because BYU players often go on mission trips and then come back to play football, they have guys that are 23-25 years old starting for them, which gives them a few extra years to physically mature.  Their lines looked overpowering last night.

What is BYU’s motivation?  They’re not Notre Dame, but they made the choice to go independent last season.  I don’t think they’ll ever be a national title contender.  They have no conference and no place.  They’re a nice team, but I can’t help but wonder in what framework their goals exist.