Boom or Bust, or Something In Between

(Photo: al.com)

(Photo: al.com)

Today Will Muschamp was named the 34th head coach in the history of University of South Carolina football. Over the course of the last few weeks my thought process regarding Muschamp has gone a little something like this:

  • What a ridiculous idea, but it’s not gonna happen so I’m not worried
  • Holy cow he’s moved into the top 3 this is worrisome
  • What do you mean all signs point to Muschamp?
  • We’re really going to hire Muschamp where’s the key to the liquor cabinet

To a certain extent I was being a lemming, following the anti-Muschamp crowd crowing about what a disaster he was at Florida (and he was, that’s still valid). But adding to my dismay was the complete cluster the coaching search was (which is a story for another day), which made the hire feel that much worse.

There are two things that have us concerned. The first and most important is his tenure at Florida, where he inherited a team that had won two National Championships in the previous four years. Muschamp guided them to a very average 28-21 record over his four years, and that included an 11-2 record in 2013. He fielded top 10 defenses and pulled in top 10 recruiting classes every year he was there, but his offenses were anemic, and that ultimately led to his ouster. Sure, there were injuries, and there were problems at the quarterback position, but this was Florida, a place where it shouldn’t be hard to roll the ball on the field and win 9-10 games per year.

The other concern is his demeanor. He’s known as a guy who easily loses control of his emotions, which is not a great quality as to have as a head coach. Photos and videos of his angry face and tirades have permeated our Twitter timeline for weeks now. He was and is still the butt of jokes nationally for his failure at Florida.

But the fact is Muschamp is well-respected in the coaching community. When Gus Malzahn hired him at Auburn last year he called Muschamp “the best defensive mind in football, not just college football.” By many accounts he had several coaches and former players advocating for him to Ray Tanner. He was a coaching superstar just a few years ago, rising to head-coach-in-waiting at Texas under Mack Brown. When he was offered the Florida job it was simply too good to pass up, and he was going to be a can’t miss replacement for Urban Meyer.

Unfortunately for him, he did miss. Big time.

A little after 11 a.m. this morning my mood started to change. As Will Muschamp spoke what I saw was that coaching superstar from a few years ago at Texas. I saw a tireless worker (unlike our previous HBC) and a guy passionate and excited about his new job. I saw a man who believes recruiting is the lifeblood of college football, and you better be damn good at it. I saw somebody who knows, at the tender age of 44, that this could be his last chance to be a major college head coach.

For the first time, I saw a guy I liked. I saw a guy that I’m glad to have on my side.

I have no idea what the future holds for Will Muschamp at the University of South Carolina. He might boom, he might bust. The odds say he’ll probably fall somewhere in between.

Either way, it’s time for all of us to stop bitching (especially me) and support Will Muschamp. After all, he’s a Gamecock now.

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TRC Unleashed 86 – Kornblut Talks Coaching Search

On TRC-U 86 the boys discuss the Clemson game and welcome Sportstalk’s Phil Kornblut to the show to discuss the South Carolina coaching search. Who’s it gonna be? Is Tom Herman in play? (Probably not, but we talk about it anyway.) Will we settle for Will Muschamp? (Probably, and it’s depressing.)

We also take your Twitter questions, which are mostly about the coaching search too. WE’RE SO SICK OF THE COACHING SEARCH.

Here’s the iTunes link for you hipsters.

You can also stream here or by clicking the graphic, and enjoy!

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The Case (Forgive Me Lord) Against Mark Richt

Mark-RichtAfter listening to Mark Richt speak one day after his dismissal as head coach at Georgia, there are a number of things I’d like for him to do, including but not limited to: teach my Sunday School class, be the executor of my will, come to our family Christmas dinner, accompany me on a trip to an orphanage in Kenya, have a long talk with my kids about the importance of character, and so on.

There is one thing I do not want him to do: become the head coach at the University of South Carolina.

That’s kind of hard for me to say because, as we know, Mark Richt is one of the finest people we have ever encountered in the world of college football sports life. I frequently tell my kids that at the end of your life what you did is much less important than who you were. Richt epitomizes that.

But while he would be great to have around our football program, he is still not the right head football coach for South Carolina. The reason is that it is highly doubtful he could replicate his success with the Gamecocks.

When Richt came to Georgia as a young man, the program was in disarray. They had two failed regimes after the legendary Vince Dooley retired – Ray Goff and Jim Donnan. Richt realized the potential at UGA quickly, winning the SEC Championship in 2002 and 2005, and capturing six SEC Eastern Division titles. The Bulldogs also came up one play short of playing for the National Championship in 2012.

But Richt could never break through that ceiling at Georgia and put his team among the national elite year in and year out, which in my opinion is where they belong. While he won consistently, there were mind-boggling blowout losses by teams considered to be his best. Georgia fans will argue that while he won a lot the Bulldogs always seemed to lay an egg when the stage was biggest.

Now understand, he did all of this while at the helm of a program that has no excuse to not be Alabama, or Florida, or LSU, or Auburn. In other words, teams that have national championships in recent years. Georgia is in the middle of one of the most fertile recruiting bases in the country, and they capitalize on it every year with elite recruiting classes. They have a rabid fan base, a national brand that can help pull top-ranked players from places as far away as Texas and Washington state, and practically all the resources they need to have a national championship program.

Yet, they have no national championships in 15 years under Mark Richt.

Now, let’s deal with some uncomfortable truths about the South Carolina job. We do not have a national brand. When it comes to recruiting, we typically get the leftovers that the SEC elites didn’t have room for. We have very little tradition or championships to speak of. Our brands the last 15 years have been Holtz and Spurrier, not the South Carolina Gamecocks, and we can attribute our recent successes more to our coaches than to our program’s awesomeness.

The conclusion is, if Richt couldn’t win enough at Georgia, what makes you think he could win at South Carolina? If his ceiling at Georgia was an average of 9-10 wins per year, at USC it would probably be somewhere around 7-8. Given what I wrote in the paragraph above some of you might say “sign me up”, but I’m not among that crowd.

You’re also probably asking “then who CAN get us to that next level?” I’m afraid I don’t know the answer for sure, but there’s a very short list of people I’d rather see try than Mark Richt.

For once in my life I’m advocating for the devil we don’t know, as opposed to the saint that we do.

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Snap Judgments – 2015 Clemson @ USC Edition

Farewell Pharoh (Photo: thestate.com)

Farewell Pharoh (Photo: thestate.com)

Finished. As the game ended against Clemson yesterday a feeling of relief washed over me. This miserable season is finally over, and as a mild bonus we played the number one ranked team in the country to the wire. I appreciate the effort of the players and coaches yesterday, and to be competitive for 60 minutes was more than a little surprising after the debacle against The Citadel last week. But if any Clemson lurkers think we’re chalking it up as a “moral victory” you’re dead wrong. Losing to the Tigers sucks no matter the circumstances.

So now we move on to the coaching search, which I’ll get into below. We’ll also start looking up and down the roster to find out who will attempt to fill the shoes of Pharoh Cooper, who we know we’re losing, and Skai Moore, who seems likely to leave as well. If anything, close losses to the likes of Texas A&M, Tennessee and Clemson tell me we might not be that far away from respectability. After losing to the likes of Missouri and Kentucky early, and then having our head coach ride off into the sunset mid-season, Shawn Elliott and Co. held it together and mostly fielded an undermanned but competitive team (Citadel notwithstanding).

Over the next few months our wish list should include:

  • A new, young head coach who is a dynamic recruiter and innovative offensive mind (the latter my wish, not necessarily that of the administration).
  • A quarterback not named Perry Orth, although I thought he did a really good job under difficult circumstances. On the roster we have Lorenzo Nunez – who is a good runner but has not proven he can throw the ball with consistency yet – and Connor Mitch, the most talented QB on the roster, but a guy I’m not convinced will be at USC next year. The wild card is commitment Brandon McIlwain, provided we can hang on to him through the coaching change. He has the tools to come in and start right away, but that’s a lot to ask of a true freshman quarterback.
  • A dynamic wide receiver or two. Pharoh’s departure leaves a gaping hole in the roster. Deebo Samuel finally returned from injury last week and yesterday showed us what we’ve been missing all season with five catches for 105 yards and his first career touchdown. DJ Neal showed flashes, and we redshirted Jerad Washington, Jalen Christian and Christian Owens. I’m guessing Deebo becomes the number one guy, but out of the other four we’ll need considerably more production than we had out of our 2 and 3 guys this season.
  • A difference maker at running back. With the very average duo of Brandon Wilds and Shon Carson graduating, that leaves the very average David Williams and a pair of redshirt freshmen in AJ Turner and Mon Denson. Either Williams needs to live up to his potential or one of the other two has to turn heads in the spring.
  • SEC caliber DBs. I look up and down the roster and at our recruiting class and wonder where these are going to come from.

No matter how all of this plays out, we’ll be depending on a lot of unproven players in 2016. I just hope the unproven players next year are better than our unproven players this year.

Broken record. I feel like I’ve said this every week, but when you start walk-on at quarterback, most of the time you’re going to get the production of a walk-on. Perry Orth has been more good than bad for most of the season, but yesterday his inconsistency hurt us. It will be good to have his experience and leadership on the team next year, but as stated above I hope it’s as a back-up.

No ball skills. The touchdown from Deshaun Watson the Deion Cain to put the Tigers up 14-0 was about as maddening as it gets. Al Harris, Jr. had excellent coverage all the way down the field, then as the ball was dropping he started to fade under it as if to catch it. This would be fine if Cain hadn’t been between him and the ball. Harris made a last gasp attempt to swat at the ball but by then Cain had him beat to the inside. We can blame scheme for the 15-yard cushions we gave receivers all year, but the bigger problem is our DBs never made plays even when they were in position to do so. (see: Chris Lammons)

FUMMMMBLLLLE. The fumble that wasn’t a fumble was a fumble.

Shawn of the Dead. Kudos to Shawn Elliott. Despite only winning one game as a head coach at South Carolina, he said and did just about everything the right way. He brought energy, professed his love for the university and his players, and even changed up the uniform combinations a few times to the delight of the players and fans. He won’t be remembered for winning games, but he will be remembered for being a damn good guy.

Coachwatch ’15. As I was writing this I got the news that Mark Richt has been fired at Georgia. This could definitely impact our pursuit of Kirby Smart, as the former UGA player has long been mentioned as a replacement for Richt. But UGA is a top 5 job in the country, and I have a hard time seeing the Bulldogs replace Richt with a defensive coordinator. I think they’ll be aiming higher.

As far as we go, it sounds like Tom Herman is not completely out of the running, but another name that has gained traction in the last week if UNC’s Larry Fedora. I know that won’t make many Gamecock fans happy, but with all the jobs open this fall we might be running out of options.

Loose lips. First of all, in the interest of full disclosure, we like the guys at Sportstalk a whole lot. Kevin McCrarey was a guest on our podcast a couple of years ago, and he and Phil Kornblut had us on their radio show back in the spring. Besides being genuinely good guys, Kornblut is a radio legend in the state of South Carolina, and McCrarey was the 2014 Sportscaster of the Year in the state. In other words, they know what they’re doing.

So we’re biased, but we can’t understand all the vitriol being thrown at Kornblut over his Tom Herman report last week. In case you missed it, Kornblut reported that a Herman deal was imminent with USC, and that a handshake deal had been reached. The story goes that Herman was “furious” that word got out, and later supposedly withdrew his name from consideration for the job. Many people are blaming Sportstalk for blowing it with Herman.

So, a couple of things here. First, Phil Kornblut and Sportstalk have no obligation whatsoever – NONE – to protect or ensure that South Carolina hires the right football coach, or the coach they want. They also have no obligation to “keep a secret”, unless their source(s) specifically ask that the information they are giving not be published. It would be dumb for Sportstalk to publish information they were told was off the record because they would more than likely lose that source forever. I know Phil and the rest of the team at Sportstalk are men of integrity. You don’t last in the business as long as they have by publishing ill-gotten information.

Second, we’re talking about a major, major life change here for Tom Herman, his family, and his assistant coaches. Do you really think he would back out a deal with USC because that information leaked? If that’s what he says (and to my knowledge HE has not actually said that) then it is a smokescreen. There is something more going on behind the scenes, like he has a bigger, better job he’s after.

If you want to lay blame, then it should be with the administration and the folks conducting the coaching search. You sometimes leak information on purpose during coaching searches, but it has to be the right information at the right time. Information that can benefit your search. One of two things happened – either they misjudged what the right information or the right time was, or somebody talked about something when they shouldn’t have.

Either way, blaming Sportstalk is simply misplaced anger.

 

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TRC Unleashed 85 – Hire Tom Herman’s Wife

Because we don’t really want to talk about the stuff that’s going on on the field, we devolve into coaching searches, Tom Herman’s wife, and our undefeated basketball team and how far they can go.

You can listen via iTunes here.

Or click here or the graphic to stream, and enjoy!

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Gamecock Football 2015: Yes, This is the Worst

The winless 1999 Gamecocks and Squeaky Watson.

The winless 1999 Gamecocks and Squeaky Watson.

This football season? It’s the worst. The absolute worst.

When I say that, I know what’s coming. I know what some of you are thinking – “Yeah, but…”

You’re going to remind me of 1998-1999, aren’t you? You’re going to remind me of 1-21.

“The WORST, man. It’s never going to get worse than that. How can it, we won ONE game in TWO years!”

I hear ya. And I respect your opinion. But I’m telling you the 3-9 we’re going to finish with this season is worse. By a fairly wide margin.

At the beginning of the 1998 season we had one bowl victory in our history against eight losses. The bowl victory was in the gloriously-named Carquest Bowl, and lifted us to a 7-5 final record. The greatest season in school history was a strange blip in 1984, and we still managed to lose to Navy and blow our bowl game against Oklahoma State. Gaining bowl eligibility was a stretch goal for us most years.

There were brief moments of hope early in the Brad Scott era, but in retrospect something along the lines of 1-10 shouldn’t have been hard to see coming. Scott used talent recruited by Sparky Woods (never thought you’d ever read that did you) and parlayed it into the bowl win and a couple of very average seasons. But at the end of 1997 the signs were there – we were in trouble.

The year 1998 was hard, but we were an SEC program that was a half-step better than Vanderbilt and that was about it. Was it so unreasonable for us to believe we could go 1-10? The next year brought Lou Holtz and lot of excitement and anticipation, but by mid-season we knew a winless slate was possible. After all, Holtz was left with the burned out shell of a ’72 Nova by Scott.

Another factor that can’t be overlooked is there was no social media in 98-99. The failures of the Gamecocks weren’t necessarily in your face every day like they are today.

My personal recollection of those two years is numbness. There were no expectations, so there was no real disappointment. It was embarrassing for sure, but not shocking.

Fast-forward to the first game of 2014. We were coming off our third consecutive 11-2 season and a program-best 4th-place finish in the polls. And the year before that run we had won our first and only SEC East title. We had turned the corner. We were a top team in the best conference in college football, with fantastic resources, a hall of fame coach and very good recruiting classes lining up. There was no going back to the program we once were.

Or so we thought.

The Texas A&M game was merely a precursor to what has been a spectacular fall from the top of the SEC. We were competitive last year, but blew fourth-quarter leads and limped to a 7-6 finish.

Steve Spurrier seemed to be rejuvenated heading into this season. He had a new defensive coordinator and a spring back in his step. He assured everyone this team was going to be different and we were going to bounce back.

The second week of the season we lost to Kentucky and the spring was gone. That’s when I first knew it was over for Spurrier. Then we got drilled by Georgia, and the rest of the fan base started to catch up. He wasn’t turning this thing around.

Spurrier then resigned, or quit, or whatever you want to call it. You can be mad about the way he left us, but I’m more mad about what he did to us before he left us. He didn’t think he had to work hard any more, especially on the recruiting trail, and it killed us. We noticed the lack of talent early last year, and then he made the infamous “two year” comment and recruits ran from us.

Shawn Elliott has tried, but we’ve still suffered through difficult losses in games where a play or two could’ve made a difference. Each loss was more painful than the last, until yesterday. Losing to the Citadel is unacceptable even under the worst of circumstances.

To cap if off, in 1998-99 we had to deal with decent Clemson teams, but they were not national contenders like they are today. Going through a miserable season like we are right now while watching our hated rivals have their best season in 35 years is the ultimate salt in the wound.

To think about where we were less than two years ago and to see where we are today is the biggest gut punch in Gamecock sports history. You can invoke 1998-99, but to me it isn’t close. This is much, much worse.

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Snap Judgments – 2015 The Citadel @ USC Edition

hindenburg-copyWords are not sufficient, so I won’t write any.

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Snap Judgments – 2015 Florida @ USC Edition

Kelvin Taylor breaking through, and breaking out backs. (Photo: palmbeachpost.com)

Kelvin Taylor breaking through, and breaking out backs. (Photo: palmbeachpost.com)

Some quick, barely researched, not fully-formed thoughts from South Carolina’s 24-14 loss to Florida:

We’re Number 14! Back in the spring, the day before the Garnet and Black game, we had the privilege of being on Sportstalk with Phil Kornblut, Kevin McCrarey and Tom Hayes. We had long discussions about the spring game and the upcoming season. Part of the conversation centered around the record Gamecock fans would “sign up for” prior to the 2015 season. I was comfortable with 8-4, even 7-5 with a win over Clemson. I think I even laughed and said I might sign up for 6-6 with a win over Clemson.

Not long after, a local Atlanta radio host came out with his way-too-early SEC bowl projections. He projected South Carolina to the Pinstripe Bowl in New York City and asked on air if we would be all right with that. I don’t remember who the opponent was, because I immediately dismissed it as poppycock. “No thanks,” I tweeted to the radio host, “we’ll take our chances”.

What an idiot I was.

After yesterday’s oh-so-predictable 24-14 loss to SEC East champion Florida, we are guaranteed record-wise to be the worst team in the SEC. (Missouri will likely lose their last two and finish 1-7 in conference as well, but since they beat us they get the tiebreaker. Congrats Tigers!) Oh sure, you can argue we’re not the worst team in the SEC, since we would probably beat Kentucky and Missouri if we had another shot at them. Add that to the Vandy victory and we would finish a semi-respectable 3-5 in conference.

But why would you waste your breath? Does in really matter when you finish anywhere from 10-14 in the SEC? Nobody has ever lifted a 12th-place trophy with any amount of pride. We might as well get a participation trophy, it would be just as worthless.

Just about 22 months ago we were celebrating a number four finish in the polls, the best in school history. We were 33-6 over three seasons. We were a program on the rise. Here to stay. Top 10 program. #HereSC.

Now it’s all gone. The standings have been flipped, and we’re at the bottom of the pile. USC fans haven’t really cared much about the last three games since Steve Spurrier resigned, and I don’t get the sense many people care much about the next two. We just want to know who is going to come in here, sweep up the ashes, and start a new fire.

Offensive. South Carolina had zero points and a grand total of 44 yards on 30 plays through three quarters against Florida. Somehow Perry Orth and company figured out who to move the ball against a stout Gator defense, but by then it was little too late. A lot of people were throwing G.A. Magnus, Orth, and the rest of the offense under the bus for most of the game without acknowledging that Florida has NFL talent across the field on defense. Sure, the totals were nothing short of embarrassing for most of the game, but give credit where credit is due. This was a simple case of men against boys.

All or nORTHing. Orth was simply getting buried for most of the game. At times he held onto the ball too long, and he was a step too slow against this Gator D to make anything happen with his legs. But most of the day he didn’t have time to look beyond his first read.

I know it was frustrating, and it’s easy from our couches to call for him to be benched. But seriously, do you think Lorenzo Nuñez or Connor Mitch would’ve done any better? Nuñez had one good game against possibly the worst team in the country, and completely crapped the bed against an elite defense in Missouri. Florida would’ve eaten him alive. Meanwhile, Mitch hasn’t seen live action in two months, and the time he did play he didn’t exactly invoke memories of Steve Taneyhill.

As we said in this space last week, barring injury Orth will get all the meaningful snaps for the rest of the season. Even if they’re meaningless.

Ride the Hurst. Gman said on last week’s podcast to look out for Hayden Hurst, he thought the kid had a good future for us. It looks like the future is now. Based on his number of targets yesterday, Hurst appears to be our number two wide receiver.

Oven mitts. Our defense was good at times yesterday, but couldn’t come up with the big play when the opportunity presented itself. One such opportunity was missed by Chris Lammons, his fourth missed opportunity in two weeks, when he whiffed on an interception of Treon Harris that resulted in a Florida touchdown. I think Lammons will be our best cover corner next year, but Lord have mercy I hope he learns to catch a football over the summer.

Machine gun. Sean Kelly averaged 46.7 yards on punts, including a long of 69 against the Gators. I don’t keep up with SEC punters, but I have to think he’s in line for some all-SEC honors. (But please stop saying Kelly is the Gamecocks’ MVP, even if you’re being facetious. It’s an insult to say a guy who plays about six plays a game is our MVP over a guy like Pharoh Cooper.)

New lids. I didn’t love the new helmets. I didn’t hate them. I do think it would’ve been better if more of the Gamecock had been featured on the decal. Seemed kinda weird to just have the rooster’s ass.

Coachwatch ’15. In the showdown we’ve all been waiting for, Tom Herman and Houston defeated Justin Fuente’s Memphis club 35-34 in a really fun ball game. Two schools are going to get really good coaches in these two guys. I just hope we’re one of them. But if not, there’s always Kirby Smart, whose Alabama defense is currently reaching into other teams’ chests and pulling out their hearts and showing it to them.

Regarding Herman, the talk of him coming to South Carolina heated up significantly this week. That’s exciting to hear, but it’s also the type of thing we heard about Will Muschamp becoming our defensive coordinator after last season. Right now rumors are just that – rumors. And unless we hire someone who is not currently coaching, which seems highly unlikely, we will not officially know who our next head coach is until December 6 at the earliest.

Now I’m going to go try to sleep until then. Wake me up when it’s over.

Go Cocks!

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TRC Unleashed 84 – Helsinki Syndrome

 

Buck, Tbone and the Gman discuss the Tennessee game, coaching changes, and the possible differences between Stockholm and Helsinki Syndromes (?). The also take your Twitter questions and twist them into unrecognizable answers. As always, it’s a really good time.

Click here for the iTunes link.

Or click here or the click the graphic to stream:
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Snap Judgments – 2015 USC @ Tennessee Edition

Jonathan Walton celebrates an offensive (!) touchdown. (Photo: greenvilleonline.com)

Jonathan Walton celebrates an offensive (!) touchdown. (Photo: greenvilleonline.com)

Some quick, barely researched, not fully-formed (and very late) thoughts from South Carolina’s 27-24 loss to Tennessee:

Due credit. We, along with many other Gamecock fans, have been highly critical of Lorenzo Ward and/or Jon Hoke since the beginning of the 2014 season for obvious reasons. While the offense has not been totally blameless over the last two years, it is easy to point to numerous games where the Gamecock defense has given up an unacceptable number of yards and points, or has failed to come up with a defensive stop with a close game on the line. The blame? Poor tackling, bad alignment, awful positioning and good old-fashioned getting whipped by the guy across from you were all candidates at various times. But in the end it all came down to the guys in charge – Ward and Hoke.

So when Tennessee ran 14 plays for 142 yards (10 yards per play) and two touchdowns on their first two possessions on Saturday, it felt like the same old same old for present-day Gamecock football. USC was on the verge of being humiliated by the surging Volunteers. But South Carolina held the high-powered Tennessee offense to only 266 yards on 61 plays (4.4 yards per play) for the rest of the game, including one touchdown and two field goals. Considering the way the game started, and the way the defense has performed over the last 22 games, that was quite a turnaround.

The credit for the momentary prowess on defense? Quite simply, we corrected many of the bad things we’ve been doing since the start of 2014. For the first time in over a year and a half we looked like an SEC defense. And if we’re going to blame Ward and Hoke for our failures, then I believe we need to tip our cap to those guys for the way we played on Saturday.

With offensively challenged Florida and FCS program The Citadel on the horizon hopefully we’ll be able to keep this trend going. But the true test will come in three weeks against #1-ranked Clemson. If we can slow those guys down enough to stay in the game for four quarters, then ‘ll personally come to Columbia and buy Lorenzo Ward and Jon Hoke the beverage of their choice.

Orth and goal. A lot of people were calling for Perry Orth to take a seat on the bench very early in the Tennessee game. Let me tell you why he didn’t get benched, and why, barring injury, he will take the vast majority of snaps over the next three weeks.

One – the kid has intangibles that have endeared him to his teammates. Call it guts, call it moxie, or think of your own Orthian cliché. All the other players know his story. They know he lacks the raw talent of Connor Mitch and Lorenzo Nunez. But he’s been able to go out and lead this offense down the field by any means necessary. It hasn’t always been pretty, or even effective. But given the situation into which he has been thrust I personally feel like he’s done an admirable job.

Two – There is currently no one on the team who can run the offense better than Orth. Mitch hasn’t played a live snap in eight weeks, and Nunez is still a baby deer running around out there not quite sure what to do. Perry Orth gives us our best chance to win, which is why we’ll ride or die with him in November.

Adams Family. Hang in there Jerell, you’ll get a chance to redeem yourself.

J-Train. I didn’t know Jonathan Walton played running back in high school. But after seeing how good he looked on his touchdown catch and run against Tennessee, I’d like to see him play it in college. Granted, it was the only play he touched the ball, so I know I should temper my enthusiasm and not overreact. But with Brandon Wilds graduating, I’d love to see 28 get some carries to see what he can do. If he runs the ball the way he tackles people, he could be a nice, bruising addition to the backfield in 2016.

Affirmations. So yeah, a lot of positivity coming out of Snap Judgments after a loss, I know. But as I stated last week, what good is being a Debbie Downer going to help at this point. We are what we are, and I’m personally looking for some nuggets to give me a shred of hope for the future. The good news is I’m finding a few. I even said to some folks last week (prior to the Tennessee game) that I thought Florida was a good matchup for us and we would give them all they could handle. Of course, I also said Tennessee would beat us by three touchdowns, so what do I know.

Coachwatch ’15. Top-ranked Tom Herman defeated Cincinnati 33-30. Number two ranked Kirby Smart dominated LSU 30-16. Third-ranked Justin Fuente suffered his first loss of the season against Navy 45-20.

The good news from the weekend is Georgia righted the ship against Kentucky, so maybe they’ll hang on to Mark Richt and we’ll have one less open job to compete with. The other good news is that the three guys on our list are not necessarily being looked at as closely by other schools with open HC jobs. Virginia Tech is reportedly zeroing in on Rich Rodriguez, while Mario Cristobal has emerged as the top candidate at Miami. Southern Cal seems likely to hire a west coast guy (maybe Utah’s Kyle Whittingham) or someone who has “family ties” to the Trojans. I believe we have the clear advantage over all the other schools looking for a head man.

Have a good week and Go Cocks!

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