GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 03: Quarterback John Brantley #12 of the University of Florida Gators attempts a pass during a game against the Florida Atlantic University Owls at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 3, 2011 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
The Gators opened the season with a convincing 42-3 win over FAU. Though Florida Atlantic is nothing to write home about, the Gators needed to break the recent trend of letting lower-level competition hang around. While the offense seemed revitalized under Charlie Weiss’ more conventional system, it was the defense that was especially impressive. Will Muschamp has been known for his ability to field aggressive, attacking defenses that rely on zone blitzes a la his mentor, Nick Saban. UF’s defense gave up a meager 137 yards On offense, UF put up 468 yards of offense, with 236 coming from John Brantley’s arm and 184 coming on the ground from Jeff Demps/Chris Rainey. The Gators featured a bevy of new starters on the line that included a redshirt freshman, two redshirt sophomores, a junior and a sixth-year senior. After spending the offseason worrying about the OL, Muschamp said in an interview that he felt very comfortable with the line after last week’s performance and wouldn’t be mixing things up too much. UF takes on the Blazers of UAB at 6 p.m. on FSN Saturday.
South Carolina 1-0
While the preseason gurus were fapping relentlessly to the thought of Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery on the same side of the ball, East Carolina was preparing to crush some SC souls in true Pirate fashion. However, SC escaped a turnover-ridden game with a 56-37 comeback win that saw them go down 17-0 in the first quarter. On the defensive side of the ball, SC was led by Antonio Allen, a hybrid LB/S/Freak who collected 16 total tackles, forced two fumbles, recovered two more and broke up two passes. If he hadn’t been playing, SC loses. Period. Offensively, the Gamecocks played horribly with Connor Shaw at QB, but turned it around with Stephen Garcia at the helm. SC’s line, which lost 3 starters from last year’s unit, was led by Rokevious (srsly?) Watkins who graded out at 87 percent and had four pancakes in his 15th start. USC heads to Athens to take on UGA at 3:30 on ESPN.
Insert heartless Ray Charles joke here. Mark Richt is feeling the heat after what amounted to a mediocre effort put forth from Georgia against Boise State, as the real Dawgs fell 35-21. Georgia’s D looked incompetent against Kellen Moore, who was 28-34 for 260 yards and 3 TDs. To boot, UGA lost its best defender in Alec Ogletree to a broken foot. On offense, Georgia didn’t do much and didn’t look particularly sharp. That doesn’t bode well for them as they take on South Carolina and Marcus Lattimore, who had his coming out party last year against UGA when he rushed for 182 yards. I would have more analysis of UGA, but they just really stunk it up in week 1, so there’s not much else to say. USC-UGA, 3:30 on ESPN.
The Volunteers took Montana to the woodshed Saturday, defeating the Grizzlies 42-16. Tyler Bray’s back tattoo threw for 293 yards and three tubs, all while he pointed to his head and spun his hands to indicate how crazy that shit was. UT’s offensive line looked rather shaky, giving up three sacks and helping the Volunteers rush for just 124 yards. Defensively, UT didn’t look bad, but didn’t dominate either. They gave up around 350 yards to an FCS school, so I don’t really know whether that was just first game jitters, or the young squad will legitimately have defensive troubles this season. Saturday, UT takes on Cincinnati at 2:30 on ESPN2.
James Franklin’s first game saw Vandy defeat Elon, 45-14 despite being outgained 323-309. Larry Smith looked terrible, going 13-27 for 125 yards. Franklin went for it on fourth down three times and the Commodores had to rely on three turnovers from Elon, while they Vandy did not commit any…sound familiar? Connecticut heads to Vandy for a 6:30 meeting, and unless you have a family member playing there and ESPN gameplan, don’t worry about this one.
Kentucky can thank Vanderbilt for giving them company in the "Who watches our games?" department. The Wildcats downed the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky 14-3 in a sloppy, mind-numbingly boring game. UK was outgained 234-190 (they had 115 yards in the 4th quarter) and their heralded QB Morgan Newton was equally unimpressive, going 7-18 for 97 yards and 3 interceptions. Had it not been for DB Winston Guy’s pick that set up Josh Clemons’ 14 yard touchdown run, the Wildcats could have very easily lost this game. Kentucky’s defense wasn’t too impressive either, as they relied on WKU’s inability to hit a receiver in the endzone on three separate occasions to sneak out of Nashville (game was in the TN Titans’ stadium). Central Michigan heads to Lexington for an 11:00 a.m. kickoff on ESPNU.