This post continues our series recounting some of the best plays of 2011. Last time, we talked about Connor Shaw's TD pass to Nick Jones against Kentucky. Today, we're looking at Stephen Garcia's first TD run against East Carolina. Here it is (watch the first play; I couldn't find a particularly good video of just the play itself):
Carolina vs ECU Highlights (via bmoctb)
Why It's Here: A few reasons. First of all, it was the first TD of the season. Second of all, it was a huge momentum-changer in a game that wasn't going Carolina's way at the moment. Lastly, although I've never been a particularly big Garcia fan, I felt compelled to include one of his plays on this countdown. Love him or hate him, he contributed a lot to the program during his time in Columbia, and really, this was one of the more impressive plays of his career. It was an excellent option read (notice how Garcia recognizes the strong-side end and linebacker completely sell out to stop Lattimore), followed by a nice cutback that turned what would have been a good gain into a highlight-reel TD.
Why It's Not Higher: At the time, this seemed like a more momentous play than it ended up being. With Steve Spurrier treating the opener against ECU as a tryout for his two quarterbacks, this play seemed to be Garcia's statement that he was going to be guy in his senior season. Unfortunately, things didn't work out that way, and Garcia struggled throughout the first part of the season before eventually losing his starting job and then being dismissed from the team. In retrospect, the play seems like something of a tease, even if still a pretty play to look back on. The other reason this play isn't higher is that, while a key momentum-changing play, this game didn't end up being decided by a TD or less, with Carolina dominating the second half and winning fairly easily. The plays I'll be ranking highest will come from tighter games.