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The Buck Sweep – Week 1

100% soon? Please? (Photo: gogamecocks.com)

100% soon? Please? (Photo: gogamecocks.com)

Random thoughts from the first weekend of college football:

The Gamecock Blues. Two days removed from writing Snap Judgments I still don’t feel much better about this edition of the Gamecocks. At the same time, every season has wild swings from “we’re gonna win it all” to “oh God we need to disband the program”. It’s just been a while since we’ve had such a case of the blues after week one. I remain annoyed at many things from Saturday, one of which is…

Mike Davis. Note I said I’m annoyed at the “thing” and not the person. Some players are simply injury prone, and it doesn’t necessarily reflect on the player’s heart or desire, neither of which I question with Davis. When Steve Spurrier announced today that Davis is questionable for Saturday against East Carolina, my frustration level hit a new high. As Davis literally sprinted to the head of the pack in SEC rushing the first half of last season, I thought we were quite possibly watching the best USC running back since George Rogers. Now it appears he might miss the first two games of the season, if not more (6 carries for 15 yards against TAMU notwithstanding). And for all the talk about our deep stable of running backs, there is no one on the team that impacts a game the way Davis does, unless we’re hiding David Williams’ brilliance from the world for some unknown reason.

I’ll be happy to see Williams will get some carries Saturday, because as much as I love Brandon Wilds, he is no better than a serviceable second string SEC running back. And Shon Carson? I’m thoroughly convinced he will never be a major contributor to this team. He’s had many, many chances, and has used the vast majority of the them to run directly into tacklers. This really stung as I watched…

Georgia’s stable of backs. Holy mother of all that is good and holy. First, give Todd Gurley the Heisman, simply based on last night’s performance against Clemson, which included 293 all-purpose yards, a Bulldog record. When Gurley needed a breather all they did was trot out Nick Chubb (almost a Gamecock), who proceeded to rip off a 47-yard touchdown run. Need a change of pace? Then let’s go with Sony Michel, who added another 53 yards rushing and receiving combined. Oh, and let’s not forget former five-star recruit Keith Marshall, who might slip to fourth on the depth chart until his surgically repaired knee is completely healed.

We have for years made fun of Georgia declaring their latest running back recruit the “next Herschel Walker”. Well, Gurley might finally be that guy. And the bad news for us is Chubb or Michel might be the next Todd Gurley. I have to admit though, it was fun watching them run all over the…

Clemson Tigers. The Schadenfreude was sweet and savory as we watched the Tigers fall by the same margin as we did on Thursday. Although if we’re honest with ourselves, Clemson was in their game against UGA much longer than we were in our game against TAMU. Until Gurley put UGA up by two scores with a TD run at the 10:26 mark of the 4th quarter, the game was up for grabs. Well, theoretically it was up for grabs. Clemson’s millionaire offensive coordinator was having trouble dialing up first downs, and even if “The Chad” would’ve had another several quarters to play there is no guarantee they would’ve scored. One thing is for sure, they were no…

Auburn Tigers. Auburn’s offense looked downright scary yesterday. Scary good for them, scary bad for us. The addition of Duke Williams at wide receiver for them gives them one more weapon they didn’t necessarily need. t don’t know if they’ll win it all, or even win the SEC West, but I do know I’m dreading our trip to The Plains later this season. But before we can start to worry about he rest of our SEC slate, we need to focus on…

East Carolina. As I wrote before the last time we played them, the ECU Pirates scarred me during the ’90s. They’ll bring one of their better teams into Columbia Saturday, running a similar offense as TAMU, so I’m sure we’ll be a trendy “upset alert” pick this weekend. Honestly I think we’ll win this one fairly easily, and regain some of our lost confidence heading into the showdown with Georgia. One thing is for certain though, after a sample size of only one game…

We don’t really know what we have. Was our defense that bad? Was TAMU’s offense that good? Will our defensive backs play like freshmen all year? Will our defensive ends be non-existent every week? Will Dylan Thompson settle down and get to a more reasonable 60% completion rate? Will we find a durable, dependable running back if Mike Davis continues to struggle with nagging injuries? Will we find out who Shon Carson has naked pictures of and get someone else to return kickoffs? Those are the types of questions that get answered all over the country the next few weeks for all football programs. Like every year, the teams you see week 1 will be much different come week 12.

Since I don’t have a good segue and have one more topic then something something…

NFL Gamecocks. It was black Saturday for Gamecocks trying to make NFL rosters. Getting cut were Connor Shaw, Kelcy Quarles, Victor Hampton, Jimmy Legree, Travian Robertson and Ryan Succop. Chaz Sutton had been cut earlier in the week by Tampa. The good news is Quarles was picked up by the Patriots and added to their 53-man roster, and Robertson and Legree have made the Falcons and Cardinals practice squads, respectively. Our sources close to the situation tell us Shaw will be added to the Browns practice squad at any time (and our sources were correct!). Succop is a good, veteran kicker who will more than likely have an NFL job on opening day.

This leaves us with the cautionary tale of Victor Hampton. I feel bad for Vic. He obviously received some bad intel about his draft position, and/or his nightclub “incident” in New York with Sutton and Quarles was taken into consideration much more heavily by NFL teams than we realized at the time (likely, since Quarles, also a projected mid-round pick, went undrafted). Steve Spurrier is notoriously hands-off with kids who decide for forego their remaining eligibility to enter the draft. I, for one, would like to see that change in the future. I don’t want him to become Dabo by any stretch, telling EVERYBODY to stay, but I would like him to step in with the kids who are borderline draft picks and make sure they understand how hard it is to make an NFL roster.

See you folks next week. Go Cocks!

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Snap Judgments – Texas A&M @ USC Edition

What now coach? (Photo courtesy of thebigspur.com)

What now coach? (Photo courtesy of thebigspur.com)

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.

 

 

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.

TRC-Unleashed-Button

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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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 Papajohns.com 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!

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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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Buckshots: 2007 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 2007 Gamecock football season started off fine enough – 6-1 through seven games with a win over 11th-ranked Georgia. But we knew something was wrong in the second half of that North Carolina game. You know, kind of like when your car starts to rattle in an odd way but you choose to ignore it because it might cost you money and then you wind up losing to Vanderbilt at home 17-6. Yeah, just like that.

From that point on the car was not only rattling, the wheels were coming off and the engine was in flames. A five-game losing streak to end the season had us scratching our heads at where this whole Steve Spurrier thing was going.

It was not a pleasant time, but again, it was a season that molded and shaped us into who we are today. (I think I’ve used that line on my kids maybe?)

Click here or click the graphic to hear all the gory details, and (try to) enjoy!

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