Snap Judgments – Texas A&M @ USC Edition

What now coach? (Photo courtesy of

What now coach? (Photo courtesy of

Some quick, barely researched, not fully formed thoughts from South Carolina’s 52-28 defenestration at the hands of Texas A&M:

Garbage. And by garbage, I mean our defense. TAMU sophomore Kenny Hill, IN HIS FIRST CAREER START, completed 44 of 60 passes for 511 yards. Overall the Aggies gained 680 total yards. It was USC’s worst defensive performance in terms of yardage in our history. In our HISTORY. Those are video game numbers, and unfortunately this was real life.

We forced them to punt twice, and I’m not sure how we did it, because most of game they were picking up double-digit yardage with ease. That’s saying a lot, considering some of the defenses we fielded in the Brad Scott era, and that we’ve given up 59 and 63 points in games at home in the last 25 years.

In retrospect, TAMU might have been the worst matchup possible for us. The Aggies had a quick passing game that negated any type of pass rush (not that we got any push at all against their veteran offensive line), and big, strong, experienced wide receivers. Nobody saw Kenny Hill coming, IN HIS FIRST CAREER START, but throwing his brilliant game into the mix against our young corners and below average defensive line spelled complete disaster. And oh yeah, almost forgot, we missed a TON of tackles, which calls into question Spurrier’s practice of limiting contact during spring and fall practice.

We had a discussion with Connor Tapp of Garnet and Black Attack about whether or not Lorenzo Ward would be gone next year after taking a head coaching job somewhere. Well, unless this defense gets better, and gets better fast, he might not be here next year and it will have nothing to do with a head coaching job.

Team Thompson. I have no idea why people piled on Dylan Thompson throughout the game. As we have talked about many times on this blog, he is a completely different quarterback than Connor Shaw in that he is a high risk, high reward guy. You have to take the good with the bad.

What I saw was a little bit of bad, but a lot of good too. He was obviously amped at the beginning of the game, throwing hard and high on some early attempts. He had one bad interception on a horrible play call on 3rd and 1 when we still had a glimmer of hope in the third quarter. But look at his final numbers: 20-40, 366 yards with 4 touchdowns and the 1 interception. His wide receivers didn’t always help him out either, with Nick Jones dropping a TD pass just before half. (Yes, Jones got popped, but he has to hang on to that ball.)

People bringing Connor Shaw up in conversations about this game, just stop. He’s gone. He was great, and he’s gone. He also would’ve had very little impact on the outcome of the this game. Maybe we would’ve lost by 17 instead of 24. But maybe we would’ve lost by 31 instead of 24. Either way, let it go and get behind Dylan. He’s our man.

The Rocket. It’s time to get genuinely concerned about what we have with Mike Davis. He was banged up the last several games of last season, has battled nagging injuries all offseason, and had a whopping 6 carries for 15 yards tonight before leaving with a rib injury. Talk of him being in the Heisman race or leaving early for the NFL are worthless if he can’t stay on the field.

Little Nicky. Despite the aforementioned drop, Jones had a great game with 5 catches for 113 yards and 2 TDs.

Tight Ends Rising. The tight ends showed up tonight, with Busta Anderson and Jerell Adams combining for 5 catches for 92 yards. If we can get that kind of production out of them consistently, our offense will be much more difficult to stop.

The HBC. Maybe I’d be a little harder on him if I wasn’t still high from watching “The Believer” last night and hadn’t already been busy heaping praise on him the last three years. He made a couple of questionable decisions tonight – punting the ball back to an unstoppable TAMU offense on 4th and 14 in their territory, and later going for the deep ball on 3rd and 1. He also had a couple of his usual timeout gaffes. But again, the outcome of the game would not have been affected.

The most concerning thing is this was not supposed to be a step back year, a rebuilding year. Most Gamecock fans were quietly thinking this might be THE year. Even without Shaw we’d have a high-powered offense. If we could patch together a defense and win the close games, we could make a return trip to Atlanta for SECCG and maybe make the college football playoff.

But now? We’re out of the conversation completely. We have to hope and pray this was, as mentioned above, just a horrible matchup for us. That we’ll be better next week, and the week after, and the week after that.

Because looking ahead to next year? Next year IS a rebuilding year.

SEC Network. Don’t worry, nobody will remember the first game ever on the SEC Network. But if it’s any consolation, the stadium and all the surrounding areas looked fantastic on TV. All that made for a great commercial for the University of South Carolina.

Unfortunately the game did not.

Next Week. 24 hours ago we saw East Carolina as a trap game. Now it’s much, much more. It’s a must win, and game in which our young defenders need to get some confidence back.

Go Cocks.



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‘Boning Up on TAMU

Head coach of Texas A&M or Sumlin like 'at.

Head coach of Texas A&M or Sumlin like ‘at.

Well, we made it.

When the game clock in Orlando hit triple zeroes on New Year’s Day last, we entered a dark time without Gamecock football. A dark, dingy, flophouse of time, with only vague practice reports and you tube videos to keep our baying hunger for college football in check.

But now months have given way to weeks, weeks to days, and days to creeping hours. Soon, gentle reader – so very, very soon – the waiting will be over.

And the frenetic worrying energy will crescendo with an actual live football contest.

In the meantime, some background on our week one opponent: The Aggies of Texas A&M.

Remember, these are actual colleges with actual students:

Texas A&M is a coeducational land-grant university located deep in the Louisiana part of Texas. A relative youngster compared to Carolina, the college was founded just yesterday. Yesterday being a relative term and denoting a crisp autumn morning in 1876, of course. The school boasts an enrollment of nearly 60,000 students (almost exactly TWICE our size) and includes a corps of cadets within its larger student body. The Aggies, as they are called, put the corps front and center of almost everything they do, which is a good thing I guess, except for . . .

 The weirdest thing about them:

I don’t know what to say.  Except it seems . . . .well, off somehow.  It ain’t SEC, that’s for sure.   Cheerleaders are supposed to look and act like cheerleaders, even the male ones.  These guys seem like that overzealous guy in your fraternity that got a little too into the songs and the ceremonies.  You know the one.

You don’t?

Ugh. Then it was you.

 Moving on:

The Aggies’ head man is Kevin Sumlin, a genial and well-respected young coach with blood lines that run back to Joe Tiller at Purdue.  He played college ball on the defensive side of things, but after exposure to Tiller’s passing attack, as well as tutelage under Mike Leach and Mike Sherman, he’s become something of an offensive guru.  Expect a version of the AirRaid offense – with quick passes out of the spread being their bread and butter.  Sumlin likes to get his playmakers out in space.

One wrinkle to watch for this year:

The above-described tendency notwithstanding, look for Sumlin to open with a surprisingly large barrage of running plays.  He’s starting a red shirt freshman in his first road game, and he graduated his top wide receivers.  The Oline is supposed to be a strength, so I’d wager they attempt to pound our Dline, at least at first.  Something to watch for, anyway.

That player you are going to hate:

Aggies Tight End Cameron Clear.  He’s gonna be in the slot.  He’s gonna run block at the line.  He’s gonna set up at Hback and block in the running game.  He’s big, he’s strong, and he supposedly has great hands.  You’re gonna hate him.

 The Enigma:

The Aggies are like every other team in college football nowadays; they have a kid they describe as “The Next Jadeveon Clowney.”  He’s true freshman Myles Garrett, a highly ranked defensive end out of Arlington, TX.  I don’t think he’s starting the game, but look for him in early and often as TAMU tries to rattle Dylan Thompson.

 The Ingenue:

Coming out of spring practice, Aggieland was all atwitter over true freshman wide out, Speedy Noil.  The number one rated WR out of high school last year, Speedy sprinted right past his own senior prom and streaked to the top of the TAMU post-spring depth chart.

 The thing that will tell the tale:

Which defense is able to slow down (even a little) the other offense?  The Aggies have struggled on the defensive side of the ball as of late, but they believe a new crop of top rated recruits are going to show improvement.  We’ve got our own players to replace, and we are insisting on moving a senior strong safety over to corner this year, which is never a good sign.

If one defense can find a way to throw the opposing offense off, even for a couple of series, then you might see a lead of two or three scores develop.  That makes the offense press harder, and pressing leads to mistakes.

William Carlos Williams explains further:

so much depends

a big ol’

can he create

and disrupt the

I forgot to mention:

Johnny Manziel in a TAMU discussion.  Aw crap, I just did.

OK, consider yourself all ‘bonzed up on Texas A&M.  Happy College Football Eve!

TRC Unleashed Episode 67: The 2014 Season Preview

TRC Unleashed is back like a bad rash, itching and oozing all the way to game time. Buck, Tbone and the Gman give you a preview of the 2014 Gamecock football season, complete with:

  • Banter about the offense and defense, but not special teams, because we all know it’s not really a third of the game right?
  • Disagreement over the type of season Dylan Thompson will have: great or super great
  • TAMU predictions, including a shocker
  • A speed round, featuring game by game predictions – two predict and SECCG appearance
  • The Spurrier banner, and legacy since January 2010
  • An explanation of what a Shepard Fairey-style Grand Moff Tarkin is
  • How many days it has been since Clemson last beat South Carolina

All this and so much more. Welcome to the 2014 college football season!

Click here or click the graphic to listen, and enjoy.


Buckshots: 2013 Gamecock Flashback

13-fb-mg-cover-300x388OK, you’ve been waiting all summer, and finally, HERE IT IS! No, not the trailer for some new comic book movie you nerd, it’s the 2013 Gamecock Flashback.

After doing 25 flashbacks covering 26 seasons last summer, Buck had all summer to work on one flashback, and we’re somehow certain there will be statistical errors and/or misrememberings and/or horrible edits. But, we’re the only ones doing flashbacks, and you love Gamecock football, so it will still be a good time. (Buck even added some of Todd and Tommy’s best calls from the season to break the monotony of his droning.)

Some highlights:

  • Lofty preseason expectations
  • The making and breaking of Jadeveon Clowney by ESPN
  • The emergence of Mike Davis
  • The heroics of Connor Shaw
  • The inability of ANYONE ELSE to beat Missouri
  • A fifth straight win over that team in the upstate

So click here or click the graphic below, and enjoy!



Buckshots: 2012 Gamecock Flashback

Last year we did an audio review of every Gamecock football season since 1987. Due to popular demand, we will be re-running the series this summer leading up to kickoff against Texas A&M on August 28.

Well, here we are. The end of a long, laborious journey that will leave us the same today as the day we started. What? The end of DL Moore’s career you say? No, that was last year. I’m talking about the end of Buck’s series of Gamecock Flashbacks from 1987-2012.

The year 2012 was another memorable one for the Gamecock football program, with a blazing start and a return to the top 5 around mid-season. Things would wobble at LSU, then we’d completely fall on our faces at Florida to temporarily derail things. A devestating injury to Marcus Lattimore against Tennessee put a damper on the season, and cast a pall over the entire Gamecock Nation.

But the team rallied and finished the season with a rousing Dylan Thompson-led victory at Little Death Valley, and then a last second victory over Michigan in the Outback Bowl. There weren’t any memorable plays from the Outback Bowl, but hey, a win is a win right?

Click here or click the graphic to listen to the 2012 Gamecock Flashback…

…and enjoy!


Hey #TAMU, the phone’s ringing . . .

Buckshots: 2011 Gamecock Flashback

Last year we did an audio review of every Gamecock football season since 1987. Due to popular demand, we will be re-running the series this summer leading up to kickoff against Texas A&M on August 28.

After a long-awaited breakthrough year in 2010, the question for the 2011 Gamecock football team was whether it could match or surpass the previous team’s accomplishments.

Despite falling short of an SEC East title, the 2011 team became the first ever USC squad to win 11 games in a season. They also gave us many exciting moments, including the greatest special teams play in the history of the program, and win streaks over Georgia and previously (seemingly) unbeatable rivals Florida andTennessee.

A season-ending knee injury to Marcus Lattimore put a damper on the season, but with victories over Clemson andNebraska to close things out, we finished with our first top 10 finish ever.

Listen along as Buck takes us through all the highs and lows of the 2011 season. Click here or click the graphic below to listen, and enjoy!


Buckshots: 2010 Gamecock Flashback

Last year we did an audio review of every Gamecock football season since 1987. Due to popular demand, we will be re-running the series this summer leading up to kickoff against Texas A&M on August 28.

On the heels of the commitment of Marcus Lattimore, USC’s National Championship in baseball and the launch of The Rubber Chickens blog, 2010 was setting up nicely to be a big year for Gamecock football. Which it needed to be, as the Steve Spurrier era had been average at best through 2009.

After a season-opening win over the fighting Larry Fedoras, Lattimore took over the annual battle against Georgia with perhaps the greatest single-game performance in school history. A tough loss at Auburn preceded a monumental win over #1-ranked and streaking Alabama…but then Kentucky.

Fortunately that game didn’t derail our march to the SEC East title, which was clinched with our first ever win in the Swamp. A ho-hum victory over Clemson came right before our first SEC Championship Game, which was a tremendous experience despite the lopsided outcome.

Relive all the magic from 2010 with Buck in this edition of Gamecock Flashback. (Bonus: Justin King videos from the season are here and here.)

Click here or click the graphic to listen, and enjoy!


Buckshots: 2009 Gamecock Flashback

Last year we did an audio review of every Gamecock football season since 1987. Due to popular demand, we will be re-running the series this summer leading up to kickoff against Texas A&M on August 28.

The 2009 Gamecocks sprinted out to a 5-1 start despite a schizophrenic offense that managed only seven points in the opener against NC State and 37 in game two against Georgia. USC pulled a Thursday night upset over fourth-ranked Ole Miss, and a young, non-gas-pumping wide receiver named Alshon Jeffery announced himself to the world in a tough win over Kentucky.

After losing four of five during their standard October-November swoon, the Gamecocks rebounded with asatisfying win over Clemson, the first of four (plus?) in a row.

Thoughts and hopes of a Music City or Chick-fil-a Bowl appearance slowly faded away over the next couple of weeks, and we were left in a frigid Bowl against Connecticut. Nothing about that trip was pretty, and left us wondering if we were ever truly going to turn the proverbial corner under Steve Spurrier.

Buck takes us through all the highs and lows of 2009 on this edition of Buckshots, so click here or click the graphic to listen, and enjoy!


Buckshots: 2008 Gamecock Flashback

Last year we did an audio review of every Gamecock football season since 1987. Due to popular demand, we will be re-running the series this summer leading up to kickoff against Texas A&M on August 28.

The 2008 Gamecocks had a more than respectable 7-3 record after their first ten games, with the three losses coming by a combined total of 21 points. They then proceeded to lose their final three contests by a total of 88 points. That’s EIGHTY-EIGHT humiliating points:

  • By 50 to eventual National Champion Florida (like saying “eventual National Champion” makes us feel any better.)
  • By 17 to hated rival Clemson, a second straight loss to them, this one while they’re being coached by a grown man named “Dabo”. Thank goodness that hasn’t happened again.
  • By 21 to Iowa in the Outback Bowl, a game in which we never should have been, and by a final score that wasn’t nearly as close as it sounds. As if a 21-point loss could sound close.

There was more to the season than those three games, and Buck covers them all in the 2008 Gamecock Flashback.

Click here or click the graphic to listen, and enjoy!



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