Last week against FIU he broke lose for 177 yards and three touchdowns but that doesn't tell the whole story. Conner lost two fumbles early in the red zone and the Panthers trailed FIU 16-0 at the end of the first quarter. Unfazed, Paul Chryst never lost faith in Connor and continued to give him the ball. Chryst was rewarded for his faith in the sophomore running back. Connor responded with 3 second half touchdowns of 41, 11, and 3 yards as Pitt held off FIU 42-25.
Connor is a true sophomore and has plenty of holes in his game, the most obvious being ball security. That being said, his upside is scary. Looking at what he has done so far this season plus last year's Little Caesar's Bowl (229 rushing yards, 1 TD) it's hard not to imagine this kid as the next great Panther running back (Tony Dorsett, Curtis Martin, LeSean McCoy).
This performance reminded me of EA Sports NCAAF. Whenever I beat Chip's ass at NCAAF I like to lock in on one dominant receiver and put up crazy numbers with that guy. Chip starts bitchin' and says things like, "Man that's bullshit, you adjusted his attributes, nobody is that good!" or, "This is fake video game garbage." and, "Why can't I be as handsome and as magnetic with the ladies as you?" Chip, Mark Stoops feels your pain brother.
Demarcus Robinson silenced the question as to which player was going to step up and be the guy in Kurt Roper's new offensive system. Florida QB Jeff Driskell had 25 completions for 295 yards and 3 TDS. Robinson caught 15 of those passes for 216 of those yards and 2 of those touchdowns. I'm not good at math but thats like 85% of Driskell's production on the day. It will be interesting to see how Nick Saban and the Tide game plan to stop Robinson this week in Tuscaloosa.
Coming into the game Valles was used as an edge rusher. He sacked UCLA Heisman Trophy Candidate Brett Hundley twice in week one and had 1.5 sacks against Richmond in week two. It's not a stretch of the imagination to think Petrino game planned to stop Valles the "pass rusher". So Jon Tenuta threw a new wrinkle in his scheme and used Valles as a drop back cover linebacker. This allowed Virginia to bring pressure up the middle in the form of Henry Coley who had a sack and two tackles for a loss. Valles was also able to swat 4 of Will Gardner's passes, two of which came on third downs and another one came on the first play of the Cards' final drive when all they needed was a field goal to win. The Cards would go three and out on that drive and never touch the ball again.
Valles versatility allows Tenuta to incorporate different blitz packages which makes Virginia's defense hard to scheme against. UVA takes on BYU this saturday. It will be interesting to see how the Cavaliers prepare for BYU's balanced zone read attack. I would imagine that Valles will be used in the same "spy" capacity considering BYU QB Taysom's dual threat capabilities. Should be a good game even though Vegas has BYU winning by 14. I think Virginia can cover that spread.
If Gardner doesn't turn it around soon, the Cards are in danger of getting blown out by FSU, ND, and Clemson this season and possibly falling to giant slayer Boston College in Chestnut Hill and god forbid, Kentucky at Papa John's stadium.
You came back out and continued to struggle in the second half but you persevered. You led two gutsy 4th quarter TD drives and tied the game up 21-21. But just as you thought your dream would not be deferred, something out of your control happened, your defense let Shane Carden and Cam Worthy go right down the field in 1:04 to win the game.
But fret not! You are merely a junior, the ride is not over for you young man. You certainly won't be going pro next year so you have this whole year and next to soak up as much undergrad heaven on earth that you can. Enjoy it, love the losses because they make the wins and the win beers taste that much better. There is still the hope of a bright future of millions and fame. However, that loss sunday is a glimpse into the future for most of us. It was a wake up from the beautiful dream that was the Ohio State upset. Two Sundays ago you were on the white sands of Costa Rica, with Shakira rubbing sun screen on your back muscles while you sipped on Ron Diplomatico. This Sunday you woke up as a 38 year old divorced father of two with an "I'm never drinking again hangover" and Cheeto dust on your finger tips and in your beer belly button. Good Luck against Georgia Tech buddy. They're 3-0 and still sipping that Diplomatico. Stay thirsty.
4th Quarter. Game Tied. Underdog Kentucky has the ball. Patrick Towles drops back, has time, delivers a beautiful spiral down the middle of the field, Timmons is open, it hits his hands, bounces off of them, into the waiting arms of Florida safety Keanu Neal. Florida would go on to win the game in triple overtime much to my and everyone in my home's dismay. Can't blame this one entirely on Ryan Timmons, plenty of blame to go around, but that play will always beg the question, what if he caught it? Timmons is Towles' favorite target. He caught 10 passes against Ohio and has shown flashes of being that trusted possession receiver desperately needed in Neal Brown's system. That drop was a heart breaker Ryan. Let it motivate you.