10 notes, quotes, and quips from Week 3 of the college football season. Warning: there will be sarcasm.
Optimism is always abound before week 1 of the college football season. By the end of that week, reality has set in for the bottom tier. By week 2 more teams are realizing where they stand, but vowing to fix it.
Normally, by the end of this week, the entire OVC has returned to earth. This year, though, there’s still quite a lot of optimism, as at least three teams pick up hugely encouraging wins.
Is it too early to start thinking postseason? Could the OVC finally snap their first-round losing streak? Things are really looking up with just one week of non-conference games remaining.
1) EIU QUARTERBACK JIMMY GAROPPOLO IS THE SECOND COMING OF TONY ROMO
College Romo, not NFL-diva Romo. Great college players don’t always translate to the NFL, but I would be shocked if EIU doesn’t produce their second NFL quarterback in just over a decade. Garoppolo was 26-41 for 480 yards against ranked rival Illinois State, throwing seven touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Through three games, none of them against lower division teams, Garoppolo is hitting 63% of his passes, and has thrown 14 touchdowns against a single interception.
2) …BUT IT’S EIU’S DEFENSE THAT COULD WIN THEM THE OVC CROWN
EIU isn’t the only team that can put up big numbers on offense. But they might be the only school that can stop those other high-flying teams. The defense forced four turnovers, helping EIU score 27 unanswered points in the first quarter.
3) THE OVC MIGHT JUST BE A TWO-TEAM RACE
Through three weeks, there’s just one team that appears ready to challenge the Panthers, at least over the course of eight conference games. UT Martin won their second game against a ranked FCS opponent this weekend, holding off #7 Central Arkansas. The Skyhawks have been solid on defense, especially against the run, and they didn’t turn over the ball on offense. Dylan Favre was spectacular: 14-19 passing, and 107 yards rushing. The defense was somewhat gashed through the air, but it was a top-10 FCS team, so you expect them to generate some offense.
4) MURRAY STATE 2013 = MURRAY STATE 2012
They’re the same team! The Hatch Attack is back, it’s good, and it will need to score more than 40 points in almost every game to have a chance to win, because comparing the defense to swiss cheese is offensive to the cheese. Missouri State puts up 578 yards of offense, 366 on the ground, but they lost, thanks in part to two red-zone interceptions and a key missed field goal. The Racers will likely have more than their fair share of exciting games, but if their opponents have the final possession, I don’t think it will end well.
5) WHOEVER SAID MICHAEL GERMAN WAS THE CURE FOR TENNESSEE STATE’S OFFENSE IN AN IDI…
Oh, that was me? Are you sure? Um…that person is a smart person who was understandingly somewhat mistaken in his analysis. Yeah, that’s totally what I was going to say.
German hit just four of 14 passes in his return under center, and was bailed out by five interceptions by the Tigers defense. Tennessee State gained just 285 of total offense, showing just how important it is for your quarterback to practice with the team.
You have to think German will get back on track, but he has just two weeks before conference play begins to do so.
6) SPEAKING OF BAD OFFENSE…
Jacksonville State’s looks worse by the week. The offense put up just 311 yards against Division II North Alabama, stalling time and time against in UNA territory. Thankfully, they have a great kicker in Griffin Thomas, who hits five field goals, including three from over 40-yards, and the game winner in overtime.
The quarterbacks pose no threat: Eli Jenkins was 13-18, but it was nothing but dump downs and passes to the flat, gaining just 58 yards. The best pass of the day: running back Troymaine Pope throws a 53-yard bomb for a touchdown. The second best pass of the day: 14 yards.
7) SPECIAL TEAMS CAN’T SAVE AUSTIN PEAY
Governors Head Coach Kirby Cannon made a big deal at OVC media day about how much his team was working on special teams, and how important they were to the team’s success. In their first game against FCS competition, they weren’t impressive: just one punt return for -1 yard, (it helps when you defense can force punts) and five kickoff returns for a rather normal 107 yards. Austin Peay was gashed in the run game, which is not a good sign for the defense, and the offense isn’t a whole lot better.
8) TENNESSEE TECH’S “CHARACTER BUILDING” WIN AT HAMPTON IS TROUBLING FOR THE FUTURE
Tennessee Tech’s release from Saturday win at Hampton called the win “character building,” which is probably true. It also wasn’t impressive, especially given that Hampton isn’t a very good team, and that last year’s TTU squad, which finished just 3-8, blew past the Pirates. Last year’s game was in Cookeville, and this year the Golden Eagles were on the road, but I wasn’t wholly impressed with the win.
Turnovers were the major issue: TTU held Hampton to just 245 of total offense, but three turnovers led to 17 points, keeping the game much closer than it should have been. Darian Stone was 14-28 passing, and no rusher averaged four-yards per carry or better. A win is a win, however, and TTU gets their second of the year, just one short of last year’s total.
9) IF EKU’S RUN DEFENSE IS REALLY BROKEN, COUNT THE COLONELS OUT OF THE OVC RACE
Coastal Carolina put up 339 yards rushing on a Colonels defense known for their stout front seven. The Chanticleers averaged 7.9 yards a rush, and threw for 292 yards as well.
Eastern Kentucky put up 477 yards of offense themselves, which is far from shabby, but I don’t see EKU scoring 30-points a game. That’s not their game. If this wasn’t just a bad day for the defense, but instead the norm, EKU could easily lose three or four games in the OVC.
10) SEMO HAD A GOOD WEEK
Probably has something to do with them not playing a game.