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.