Welcome to the Cole Garvin Era?
That final score got lopsided at the very end, but honestly it’s a more accurate depiction of how this game played out. The South Alabama Jaguars played the entire game without their starting quarterback OR their starting tailback, yet you see the final score there in the headline.
Cole Garvin, a sophomore taking his very first snaps in a collegiate game, looked very solid on the way to finishing the game 16-for-21 for 242 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He was able to get creative on a flea-flicker deep bomb for a touchdown in the second half, and his numbers (and the team’s) would look even better had his one interception not come on second and goal at the San Diego State nine yard line.
The South Alabama defense, though, was all over the place. They held Donnell Pumphrey to 151 yards and a touchdown, which normally might not be an achievement, but is in this case where he is the heart of SDSU’s generally one-dimensional offense. They were able to do just enough to stay just ahead of the Aztecs, and then this happened:
That’s the backup long-snapper launching the football over the punter’s head, which resulted in a quick South Alabama touchdown and a need for urgency from San Diego State. They slowly moved the ball down the field and appeared like they might get an equalizing score, but then THIS happened:
Notice anything odd? That’s San Diego State going for it on 3rd and two from the South Alabama 22 yard line. ot only did they not hand the ball off to Donnell Pumphrey, who again IS THEIR ENTIRE OFFENSE, he wasn’t even on the field!!
I have no idea what Rocky Long and his coaches are thinking. You have two plays to gain two yards, you have the nation’s leading rusher on the sideline, and you don’t even have him on the field on third down? You deserve to lose the game for that.
I have no idea what we’ve got in South Alabama. They’ve now defeated Mississippi State on the road and 19th-ranked San Diego State at home. They’ve also just barely beaten FCS Nicholls and couldn’t pull off a win against an extremely weak Louisiana-Lafayette either. Maybe Cole Garvin will be the spark this team needs, but playing at an Arkansas State team coming off a bye week next week is exactly the kind of game this team would lose. Who knows?
San Diego State should still be in decent shape because they enter a weak run of Mountain West conference games, but they might no longer have a complete stranglehold on the division, at least at this moment. Hopefully they start giving the ball back to Pumphrey when it matters, and this game can be a blip on a good season. Undefeated was totally doable, though, and now they can only wonder “what if”.