Snap Judgments – 2018 Georgia @ USC Edition

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Some quick, barely researched, not fully formed thoughts from South Carolina’s 41-17 loss to Georgia.

Chasers. When we woke up on November 29, 2015, Kirby Smart was the odds on favorite to become the next head football coach at the University of South Carolina. Athletic Director Ray Tanner had courted Houston’s Tom Herman, reportedly come to an agreement in principle, and then was turned down. Smart, the defensive coordinator at Alabama under Nick Saban for eight years, was the next logical choice. He was interested in becoming a head coach, and it seemed like a matter of time before he would be introduced in Columbia.

By the end of that day things had changed dramatically. Mark Richt was fired by Georgia, fresh off a 9-win regular season. The Bulldog brass were frustrated with the lack of championships despite Richt consistently keeping Georgia among the top 10-15 teams in the country and winning five SEC East titles and two SEC championships. It was clear when they fired Richt they had only one coach in mind to run their program – Kirby Smart.

It was an easy decision for Smart to return to his alma mater and take over a 10-win team with more than enough talent to compete in the SEC. South Carolina hired Will Muschamp a short time later.

I bring this up not to say we’d be better off with Smart than we would Muschamp, there’s no way to know that. No matter who took over at South Carolina, he was going to have a significant uphill battle, and Muschamp has done a more than adequate job to this point. I bring this up because it appears for the first time in 30+ years Georgia has the right man at the helm of their program, and that’s terrible news for South Carolina.

Georgia has had everything in place for years to be an ultra elite program but has been unable to put it together consistently on Saturdays. With Smart at the helm their recruiting, which was excellent to begin with, has gotten better and their play on the field finally looks like that of a consistent SEC and national championship contender.

Let me put it this way – Will Muschamp took a 3-9 Gamecock team to six wins in his first year, nine wins in his second year, and has vastly improved recruiting and the overall culture around the program. And during that period we LOST significant ground to Georgia.

I have no idea what the answer is now that the sleeping giant in Athens has been awakened. I sure hope Will Muschamp does.

Whipped. The first half of yesterday’s game was somewhat encouraging, and was pretty close to what I expected to see from the two teams. It was clear that Georgia was the more talented team, but aside from a flukey pick six and a shanked punt the Gamecocks had scrapped their way to a pretty even game.

The second half was a completely different story, and is what you often see when a supremely talented team go up against an average team. The average team can scratch and claw to keep the game close, but eventually talent and depth is going to take over. That’s exactly what happened as Georgia carved up the Gamecocks on their first three drives of the second half,  covering 75, 75 and 86 yards in a display of brute force and lightning speed.

On that second 75-yard drive it was clear the Gamecock defense was whipped. I saw quite a few people on Twitter use the word “quit”, which is a really lazy and disrespectful take unless you’ve had experience with 6’6″, 330 lb. offensive linemen shoving you around for 60 minutes. Our guys were still playing hard, they were just physically and mentally beaten.

Speed Kills. Georgia’s first touchdown of the second half was a great example of the talent discrepancy between the two teams. Mecole Hardman, a former 5-star recruit, took a simple swing pass that put him one-on-one with former walk-on Steven Montac. Montac didn’t take a great angle to begin with, but still had a chance to at least draw even with Hardman and push him out of bounds. Instead, Hardman turned on the jets and blew by Montac, shedding his attempted tackle and cruising in for the back breaking TD.

Gameplanning. Opening the first two series going empty backfield and no huddle was a very strange decision. Also, it was obvious we were hell bent on getting Deebo the ball, while Georgia was hell bent on letting anyone but him beat them. We waited way too long to start trying our other options. We have too many offensive weapons to focus so much on just one.

Bentley Takes. Hoo boy the Jake Bentley takes over the last 24 hours. The one I probably agreed with the most was the most basic:

It’s not the way we want to describe our QB after 22 games as the starter, but it’s hard to argue otherwise. He’s not awful, but he’s also not a guy you can trust to put the offense on his back and lead to victory against a good defense. He’ll make some great throws (touchdown to Edwards yesterday) but he’ll also make some mind-numbing decisions (pick six against Clemson last year).

I get the “wasn’t his fault” arguments, there are definitely some of those. But you can’t point to very many big game performances that make you confident that he’s going to have more big game performances. After 22 college games you usually know what your guy is, and for Bentley that is average. I’ll give you slightly above average if you push me.

He can certainly improve, and he’s easily the best we’ve got. But for this team to exceed expectations, Bentley has to start to exceed personal expectations.

Hype. Let me make one thing clear – nothing the South Carolina media team does has any impact on the football team’s performance on the field. That said, until we start winning some of these big games I’d like to see us tone down some of these over-the-top uniform reveal and hype videos. It’s borderline embarrassing when you have a day like yesterday.

Also, no script helmets for a while. Bad memories.

What’s Next. Our chance to win the SEC East is gone, and in retrospect never really existed in the first place. I believe we can still win eight, maybe nine games if we can not let yesterday’s game beat us twice. That game needs to be flushed, and we need a good performance against Marshall to re-instill some confidence.

Clemson is a loss, don’t @ me. Besides that we have a couple of wins on our schedule and a whole bunch of toss-ups. Buckle in. Hopefully we won’t have any more performances like yesterday in our bag.

Go Cocks.

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TRC Unleashed 98 – Georgia Preview 2018

Guess who’s back? That’s right, TRC Unleashed but minus Tbone and the Gman. Tbone is on permanent vacation, while Gman was pushed to a third set tiebreaker in his senior league tennis match last night and couldn’t make it.

Thankfully Connor Tapp from 247Sports was able to fill in to review the opener against Coastal Carolina and preview the upcoming tilt against Georgia. Take a listen, we think you’ll enjoy all the hot takes and breaking down of things.

Link to iTunes here, or stream below, and enjoy!

 

Snap Judgments – Coastal Carolina @ South Carolina 2018 Edition

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Rico……Suave (Photo: AP/Sean Rayford)

Some quick, barely researched, not fully formed thoughts from South Carolina’s 49-15 season opening win over Coastal Carolina.

Beached. It’s a running, unfunny joke among South Carolina fans how we struggle to dominate “paycheck” games against teams like Wofford, Furman, Western Carolina and the like. The lone exception appears to be Coastal Carolina, whom we have now beaten 119-25 in two lifetime meetings after today’s victory. It’s nice to be able to relax in the second half of games and get the backups and their backups some live snaps. We all need more Coastal Carolinas in our lives.

McOffense. The focus was definitely on coordinator Bryan McClendon and the new-look Gamecock offense, and they didn’t disappoint. USC was crisp and sharp, and McClendon’s play calling played to our strengths and utilized just about all of the skill talent we have. The 49 points were the most in the Will Muschamp era, and the 557 yards were the second most.

We can debate how much of the playbook we showed, or if we held back on the offensive tempo, but one thing is for sure – this looks a hell of a lot better than Kurt Roper’s offenses so far.

Subdued. Nobody is really talking about it, but Jake Bentley looked like a different guy today. Statistically he had perhaps the best day of his career – 22/29, 250 yards, 4 TD and 0 INT. But the really encouraging sign is he seemed emotionally under control the entire time he was in there. One of the knocks on him in his first two years was he came out too amped up and he often missed easy throws, especially early in games. But today he looked calm and relaxed from the opening bell, and his play reflected that. Maybe he’s matured. Or maybe it’s his new haircut.

Oh snap. On the down side, the slow and low shotgun snaps from Donnell Stanley were noticeable in the first series of the game, and they never got any better. With the game out of hand, backup center Chandler Farrell came in and his snaps were much better. Problem is he’s not nearly the blocker Stanley is.

After the game Muschamp said it was something they noticed and would work to get corrected. My question is, has he been snapping like this in practice? And if so why has it not already been corrected?

Scripted. The helmets were badass.

Doppelgänger. Some guy who looks just like Will Muschamp went for it on two fourth downs in one series this afternoon. One was on OUR SIDE of the field. The real Will Muschamp is going to be pissed when he finds out.

Welcome back. Deebo Samuel and Rico Dowdle both missed large parts of the 2017 season with broken fibulas. Both returned with a vengeance today. Deebo had more than 100 total yards from scrimmage and a highlight-reel, one-handed touchdown catch. Rico rushed for 105 yards and had one rushing and one receiving touchdown, and looked trimmer and quicker than he was last year.

Other stars. As mentioned above, it’s a really good thing to run a lot of plays, because we have a ton of playmakers. Shi Smith, Bryan Edwards, Ty’Son Williams, Kiel Pollard, Randrecous Davis and Slade Carroll (!) all had noteworthy moments today. Also worth mentioning, the second team offensive line looked really, really good.

No name defense. The defense was solid today, holding Coastal to 238 yards. But no players really stood out after DJ Wonnum went down with an ankle injury. Particularly in the secondary, we have a lot of guys who are a lot of shapes and sizes and seem to move easily from corner to nickel to safety and back with ease. The d-line and linebackers were heavily rotated today. It will be interesting to see who makes it into the primary rotation as we move into SEC play.

Firsts. There were quite a few firsts today – freshman Jaycee Horn had his first career sack on a corner blitz. Pollard and Davis had the first touchdown catches of their respective careers. Twelfth year senior Michael Scarnecchia also had his first touchdown pass.

Hell on earth. I was watching from the comfort of my home, but it sounds like today was one of the hottest home games anyone can remember. Saturday games in Columbia at noon in September should be outlawed. I know we’re at the mercy of the TV schedule, but Ray Tanner needs to put up a fight to prevent it from happening again, for the safety of our fans.

Tom Tom. Elsewhere, almost former Gamecock head coach Tom Herman and his Texas Longhorns lost their opener to Maryland for the second consecutive year. Remember when everyone was so upset at Phil Kornblut because they thought he cost us our shot at Herman? I tell you what, people who believed that should be sending Korn thank you notes today.

Go Cocks, beat Georgia.

2017 Gamecock Flashback

The 2017 season started with an impressive win over a good NC State team and ended with a comeback win over a good Michigan team in the Outback Bowl. In between was a mostly ugly brand of football that featured good, bad and ugly moments, but ultimately ended with nine wins and a positive vibe coming out of Columbia for the future of the program. Buck takes you through all the important moments in the 2017 Gamecock Flashback.

Click to stream below, or listen on iTunes here. And enjoy!

2016 Gamecock Flashback

The 2016 Gamecock football season was the first of the Will Muschamp era, and began with the exciting prospect of a new hotshot freshman quarterback leading the offense, and ended with a DIFFERENT hotshot freshman quarterback leading the offense.

In between there were some exciting moments (most notably a win over 18th-ranked Tennessee) and some low moments (most notably…ah I can’t even talk about it.) The season ended with a loss in a thrilling bowl game, but gave hope for the coming years.

So join Buck as we recap 2016 Gamecock football. You can listen on iTunes here, or stream the episode below. Thanks, and enjoy!

 

2015 Gamecock Flashback

The 2015 Gamecock football season began with cautious optimism that Steve Spurrier could rebound the team from a  disappointing 2014 season and get back in the hunt in the SEC East.

Unfortunately, everything went downhill fast after a season opening victory over North Carolina. Losses began to mount and shortly after a historic natural disaster in the the state, Spurrier came to the realization that he wasn’t the man to lead the Gamecocks back to prominence, so he left mid-season.

Shawn Elliott tried his darnedest, but after a 1-0 start to his head coaching career, his team suffered through tough losses to good teams, and then an embarrassing loss to FCS The Citadel. A close loss to Clemson brought to a close one of the most worst seasons in South Carolina football history.

Sound like fun? Hell no it wasn’t fun! But Buck is here to recap every game for you, and remind you to cherish those good times, because they don’t always last. Here’s how to listen:

Stream it here or click the graphic below

iTunes link here

Enjoy!

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2014 Gamecock Flashback

Buck takes us through the 2014 Gamecock football season – a season with historically high expectations, major disappointments, and a few bright spots mixed in along the way.

You can listen via iTunes here

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/trc-unleashed/id985866000?mt=2

You can also click here or click the graphic to listen, and enjoy!

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2013 Gamecock Flashback

This blog post and the accompanying audio were originally published Aug. 21, 2014.

OK, 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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2012 Gamecock Flashback

This blog post and the accompanying audio were originally posted prior to the 2013 season.

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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2011 Gamecock Flashback

This blog post and the accompanying audio were originally posted prior to the 2013 season.

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 and Tennessee.

A season-ending knee injury to Marcus Lattimore put a damper on the season, but with victories over Clemson and Nebraska 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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