Snap Judgments – 2018 USC @ Clemson Edition

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(Photo: thestate.com)

Some quick, barely researched, not fully formed thoughts from South Carolina’s 56-35 loss to Clemson.

The balance of power. In the fall of 2009, Clemson came to Columbia having won 10 of the last 12 games in its rivalry with South Carolina. Many of those years both teams were average and/or forgettable, but for the most part Clemson had the better teams, so it wasn’t a big surprise they went on such a run. But Clemson had something else during those years. They had an edge. They had “it” (whatever “it” is). You always had a sense they believed they were going to win, while South Carolina was just hanging on and hoping they wouldn’t lose.

In ’09 that changed. Once Stephen Garcia and company broke through that day with a dominating 34-17 victory, that orange helmet with the tiger paw wasn’t so intimidating. For the next four games the likes of Melvin Ingram, Jadeveon Clowney, Connor Shaw, Alshon Jeffery and DeVonte Holloman played for the team that was feared. When South Carolina and Clemson played from 2009-2013, it felt like Clemson had no interest being on the field with the guys in garnet and black. We were in their heads, and it showed particularly late in games. 

The balance abruptly shifted again in 2014. That year the Gamecocks had taken a significant step back in talent and wins, and the Tigers had a guy named Deshaun Watson shred them on a torn ACL in the annual showdown. Clemson was no longer intimidated by the block C. The shoe was once again on the other foot.

For the past five years Clemson has experienced unprecedented success, moving from “nice program” to “elite program”. They have a National Championship on their resume, several ACC titles, and have finished in the top four in the country the last three years. They have also had South Carolina beaten before the two teams ever stepped on the field the last few years. The Gamecocks have been outclassed by a mile in talent, but they have also looked afraid and intimidated, which are two things you absolutely cannot be on a football field.

Last night in Clemson the balance did not shift back to South Carolina, but we did see something out of the Gamecocks we haven’t seen in a while in this rivalry – fight. For the first time since 2015 (ironically our 3-9 season) we saw a team that wasn’t scared. We saw a team that took a punch, and then threw one right back.

Yes, we still lost by three touchdowns. But after the way we’ve been beaten the last two years, last night was certainly a step in the right direction to get this rivalry back on even footing. 

Rage against the dying of the light. No play better captured the effort the Gamecocks put in last night than the next to last play of the game. With about 30 seconds to go, Deebo Samuel took a 20-yard throw from Jake Bentley, turned it upfield and ran like his life depended on it. He desperately weaved through the Clemson defense in a lost cause and picked up another 24 yards before being brought down, and then popped up and sprinted to his position to get ready for another play. Bentley then completed one more pass to Rico Dowdle for another first down, and you could see Bentley run to the line of scrimmage calling for a spike so they could get one last throw to the end zone. But the referees didn’t stop the clock for a first down and the game ended. 

Even to the final second, these guys were trying to score just to stick it to the Clemson defense one more time – a meaningless touchdown that wasn’t so meaningless. 

Bravo Deebo. Samuel will leave South Carolina without a win over Clemson, but he will leave as one of the most dynamic playmakers in school history. He torched the vaunted Tiger defense last night for 210 yards on ten catches with three touchdowns. He was spectacular and will be greatly missed. 

The Snake. Jake Bentley has had some kind of year. We all know his story – preseason hype, uneven play, calls for the backup, then a resurgence. He capped off his comeback story last night by putting up video game numbers against one of the top defenses in the country, throwing for 510 yards and five touchdowns. It was the greatest statistical performance by a Gamecock quarterback in history. 

Since the first half of the Texas A&M game Bentley has been that quarterback we’ve all been waiting for. The only continued knock was his performance against elite competition. He kicked that door in last night.

There has been very little talk of Bentley possibly leaving for the NFL since early in the season. I haven’t heard anything after his performance last night, but I’m wondering if scouts will start looking at him again. Keep in mind, the NFL doesn’t value “signature wins” like fans do. They value size, arm strength, footwork, etc. – all things that Bentley has. I highly doubt he’d be able to work his way into a first round draft pick in the 2019, but if he continues at this pace he could certainly be there in 2020. 

M*A*S*H Unit. The defense gets a pass for last night (no pun intended). Clemson’s explosive offense took advantage of the Gamecocks missing their best player at all three levels, and multiple other key players. I doubt even at full health we would’ve won that game, but it sure would’ve been fun to find out. 

BMac. Bryan McClendon has come into his own the last few weeks. He continues to improve every week, and has thrown some innovative wrinkles into the offense that are fun and effective. I said before the season started that if he took the Gamecock offense into the top half of the SEC statistically it would be a minor miracle after our pitiful performance last year. Praise Jesus, BMac has done just that. 

Running it up. The controversy this morning, and you knew there had to be one, revolved around Dabo Swinney scoring a late touchdown instead of taking a knee and letting the clock run out. Let me be clear for any Clemson fan who may be visiting this site: I have no problem whatsoever with Swinney trying to score a late touchdown. The Tigers are positioning themselves for a top seed in the college football playoff. Style points matter. Beat every team by as many points as you can. I get it. 

The problem I, and many Gamecock fans had, was his explanation:

“Aw gee shucks man we was just running a basic play and they didn’t tackle him. How was I supposed to know we’d score hyuk hyuk.”

I mean, just shut up. Own the fact you were trying to score and I’d have a lot more respect for you. Don’t insult everyone’s intelligence by acting so innocent. Either take a knee or tell us you needed to score that touchdown for “insert any reason”. I could live with that. 

Then today he goes on a rant against some Clemson straw man who was apparently upset that they “only won by 21”. But Dabo being disingenuous is just, well, Dabo being Dabo. 

Onward and upward. Clemson fans are getting a good chuckle out of us claiming a “moral victory”. In the immortal words of my millennial friends – whatever. Losing sucks, but losing the way we lost last night is a lot more palatable than the way we lost the previous two years, I can tell you that. The Tigers are not happy at all that we’re taking satisfaction in punching their defense in the mouth repeatedly last night, and we can take some joy in that. 

I have no idea where we go from here, but it’s hard not to feel like the future is still bright. We need players, and a lot of them, on defense. The offense is shockingly better than I expected them to be at this point. Let’s roll Akron and then whoever we get in a bowl game, and get ready for 2019.

Go Cocks.  

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Snap Judgments – 2018 USC @ Florida Edition

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(Photo: thestate.com)

Some quick, barely researched, not fully formed thoughts from South Carolina’s 35-31 loss to Florida.

The Haunting of Will House. The tenure of Will Muschamp as head coach of Florida was an unmitigated disaster. Much of his failure was attributed to his inability to change his antiquated approach to coaching – run the ball, play good defense, grind out the victory. Now don’t get me wrong, running the ball and playing good defense are cornerstones of good football, but his style was much more indicative of a 1970’s or 1980’s brand of football. While running the ball and playing good defense are still great things in and of themselves, they mean different things in today’s world of college football, and his inability to evolve led to his ouster at Florida.

When he was hired at South Carolina he promised a more advanced brand of offense led by Kurt Roper. Roper failed, Muschamp turned to Bryan McClendon, and to us was promised an even more fast-paced, high-scoring offense. While the results have been uneven throughout the season, there is no question the offense has been more productive, more diverse and more exciting. This was no more evident than the Ole Miss game last week and the first three quarters of the Florida game today.

Then came the fourth quarter.

In the fourth quarter, while Florida was mounting a comeback and grounding our defense into a fine powder, McClendon and Muschamp decided they were going to run the ball and bleed clock like the lead was five touchdowns. Gone was the aggressiveness, and soon gone were the lead and the win. Jake Bentley, who was having a solid game, only threw the ball three times in the fourth quarter while the Gators caught and passed the Gamecocks on the scoreboard. It was a moment when Muschamp went back to his old school mentality – run clock, play defense, escape with the win.

Except we didn’t. Instead, we blew a 17-point second half lead and missed a chance at a solid conference road win against a top-15 team. It was classic Muschamp. A Muschamp we hoped and prayed was dead and gone.

But the ghost of Will Muschamp’s time at Florida still haunts us. We hired this guy, we knew what we were getting – a stubborn ol’ bastard who is going to live or die with the football principles he learned back in 1982.

I hope he has changed and this was just a blip. He has certainly grown and evolved while at South Carolina. But if he doesn’t continue to grow and evolve, and has many more moments like the one he had today, the ghost of Gainesville Will Muschamp may cause the death of Columbia Will Muschamp.

Wet paper bag. I’m having a hard time being overly critical of our defense considering all the injuries we’ve had to endure. The biggest loss came this week with the news Bryson Allen-Williams wouldn’t play against Florida (we’ve since been told he’s out for the rest of the regular season).

With that said, the way Florida ran on us today (62/367) was an embarrassment. It’s particularly embarrassing considering Muschamp’s reputation as a defensive guru. Since Muschamp has been at South Carolina the defense has been below average at best, when we were essentially led to believe “at least we’ll have a good defense” with him at the helm.

We need a serious infusion of talent and depth, and we need to get healthy before we’ll ever be able to compete with the big boys. We’ve made a significant leap forward this year on offense, we’ll need the same next year on defense.

QB1. Jake Bentley had another good day, throwing for 239 yards and two touchdowns against one interception. Today it was against one of the better defenses in the SEC, although the naysayers (fewer and fewer each week) will point out his one pick came at a time when we needed a game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter.

What they will conveniently ignore is that he was on point almost all game until the coaches took the ball out of his hands in the fourth quarter. Winning the game would not have required anything special from Bentley, it would have just required the coaches letting him do what he had been doing all game.

Deebo. It started to hit me today, we’re in the twilight of Deebo Samuel’s career as a Gamecock. He had a spectacular day, with 120 yards receiving, 78 yards in kick returns and a fumble recovery on a muffed Florida punt. I’m bummed we’ll only get to see him four more times.

Freak. One play never determines the outcome of a football game. But one play today could’ve made things a lot easier for the good guys. With USC leading 31-14 and just over three minutes remaining in the third quarter, Florida was facing a 3rd and 8 from their own 37 yard line. A stop by the Gamecocks would come close to putting the last nail in the coffin.

After a bad snap that 99% of the time results in a lost yardage play, Feleipe Franks rolled to his right and completed a pass to Trevon Grimes for the first down. On the way to the ground, Grimes obviously fumbled and it was clearly recovered by Jaycee Horn, but the play had already been whistled dead. From that point it was all downhill for the Gamecocks.

Accepting mediocrity. I saw several comments after the game today along the lines of “we have to stop accepting mediocrity.” I’m dead serious here, I’m not sure what that means. As fans there is really only one thing we can do to facilitate change in our programs, and that’s stop going to games. Am I wrong about that? I mean, if people really want Muschamp fired, or Tanner fired, or somebody else fired, don’t you hit them in the pocketbook? Don’t you express your displeasure by spending your discretionary income somewhere else? The powers that be sure aren’t going to make a change based on your tweet or your Facebook post.

Look, we’re not quite three years into the Muschamp regime. While I certainly have my concerns about the long-term prospects for the program, it is not even remotely an option to fire him any time soon. He’s taken the team to a bowl in each of his first two years and will take them to another bowl this year after inheriting a 3-win team. Because we’re going to win one or two fewer games this year than last year is not a fireable offense. (I got news for you, we might win even less next year with the schedule we have.)

I’ve been at this for more than 30 years, and I get as frustrated as anybody on days like this. I don’t know if we’re on the right track or not. But I realize I have very little control over who’s in charge.

Hang on a second, looks like Ray Tanner is calling.

Go Cocks.

 

 

 

 

Much Ado About Muschamp

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  1. Josh Kendall asked Will Muschamp about the election on Tuesday. Will Muschamp’s response has caused a stir.

2. Josh Kendall’s question was an innocuous attempt to get a quick soundbite about an important day in our country. He had no agenda. He wasn’t somehow baiting Will Muschamp. It was a softball. Josh Kendall is not an undercover agent for the University of Georgia and he is not at fault here.

3.  Despite his answer, Muschamp did actually know yesterday was Election Day.

4. I don’t know why Will Muschamp answered the way he did, but I almost immediately recognized he was being facetious. Maybe he was trying to make the point that he was solely focused on the Florida game. Maybe he was trolling Kendall. Maybe he was simply being a smartass. Maybe he was honoring his former boss.

5. Muschamp’s answer does not mean he does not care about his players. As a matter of fact there is a lot of evidence that he cares a great deal about his former and current players, and they feel the same way about him. He has actually put measures in place, including the hiring of Marcus Lattimore as Director of Player Development, to help players deal with life away from the game.

6. Muschamp’s answer is not indicative of some great systemic failure by Muschamp, the University of South Carolina, the Southeastern Conference, college football, or college sports in general to mentor and care for our kids.

7. Muschamp could’ve given an answer that was more pleasing to some folks and this whole episode could’ve been avoided. Or people could’ve taken his actual answer for what it was worth – about one grain of salt.

8. Will Muschamp is a meathead. I say that as a term of endearment. He’s a football lifer, a guy who played like a maniac and many times coaches in the same manner. He has gifs and memes making fun of his intensity. Some folks in the public eye are playing off this to make him look like a guy who chews up and spits out players and only cares about what they can do for him on the field. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

9. Despite an insane series of tweets from Bucky Brooks, Will Muschamp is not a racist and trying to discourage minorities from voting.

10. Shut up. Everybody. Please. Including me.

11. Beat Florida.

 

Snap Judgments – 2018 South Carolina @ Ole Miss Edition

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How. (Photo courtesy The State)

Here comes the sun. South Carolina entered Saturday’s game against Ole Miss with the season on the line. Saddled with three losses to top 25 teams and no particularly impressive wins*, a loss to the mediocre Rebels would’ve pushed the Gamecocks further down the SEC pecking order. With four games left, two being presumed losses at Florida and Clemson, a groan-inducing trip to Shreveport or Birmingham for bowl season was staring USC down like my wife when I tell here there weren’t any fresh avocados at Trader Joe’s.

The game itself was a roller coaster, with both offenses moving virtually at will for three quarters. Any time one of the offenses didn’t hold serve it felt like a turning point in the game. But the Gamecocks came up with just enough stops in the first 45 minutes, then clamped down on the potent Rebel offense in the fourth quarter. When the smoke cleared USC had a 48-44 conference road victory, and you can never turn your nose up at a conference road victory in the SEC.

Ole Miss is a very dangerous team, but they are not a very good team, and a loss would have been devastating to our postseason hopes. Instead, we moved to 5-3 with two home games against very beatable opponents that should get us to the 7-win mark, and a step above the entry-level SEC bowls.

In addition, that “presumed loss” to Florida doesn’t look so presumed any more after they were dismantled in the Swamp by Missouri. A team once ranked in the top 10 now looks vulnerable, and South Carolina could be catching them at the right time. That could get us to eight wins a trip back to Florida for bowl season. Given the stress this season has caused us, I think we’d all sign up for that.

*Don’t get me wrong, ALL wins are good wins. 

QB1. By just about any measure Jake Bentley had his best game of the season on Saturday, if not the best game of his career. Bentley went 22-32 for 363 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs and one rushing touchdown. Besides the gaudy stat line, he was under control, in command of the offense, and as accurate as we’ve seen him in a Gamecock uniform.

And yet, there are still naysayers who point out he was playing against the worst defense in the SEC. These are fans (much smaller in number these days) that are still calling for Michael Scarnecchia to get his shot, and fans that have completely lost the desire to see Jake Bentley do well or compliment him in any form or fashion at the risk of having to admit their opinion was wrong.

I feel like I’ve typed this before so forgive me if I’m repeating myself – Jake Bentley is still far from perfect. I expect he will struggle again at some point this season considering he will be facing a pretty good defense in Florida and (gulp) a borderline NFL defense in Clemson. Two and a half years in he is still a work in progress, but it appears he is getting better. It just hasn’t happened as fast as we would have liked.

I can’t believe I’m breathing life into this dead debate, but here’s the bottom line – Bentley gives us the best chance to win at quarterback and it is not close. Michael Scarnecchia had a legendary day against Missouri, one for which he will always be remembered in Gamecock lore. But he is also the guy who was beat out by Connor Mitch and Brandon McIlwain. So for those of you who still want to see Bentley benched, please stop, especially on the heels of his best day as a Gamecock. Celebrate and enjoy these kids when they do well, and don’t pile on when they don’t.

Adjustments. South Carolina gave up an embarrassing 600 yards of offense to Ole Miss through three quarters. The defensive line was getting very little push, and Rebel receivers were finding large pockets downfield in the middle of our zone to pick up chunks of yards. On the ground they picked up almost five yards a carry. It didn’t help that our defensive backfield has been decimated by injury.

But according to Will Muschamp, the staff decided to switch from man to zone in the fourth quarter. From that point on we looked like the ’86 Bears, holding Ole Miss to an astonishing 18 yards on 19 plays.

Why did it take so long? Playing man to man defense is more taxing to the individual DB’s over the course of 60 minutes. According to Muschamp, we simply didn’t have the horses to run man for much more than a quarter.

Punishment. A sorely underrated play in the game was actually a 15-yard personal foul on South Carolina. With under two minutes to go in the third quarter and the Gamecocks down 37-34, JJ Enagbare picked up a roughing the passer call that briefly knocked Rebel quarterback Jordan Ta’amu out of the game. He returned to the game, but was never quite the same. (It was the “I don’t really want to be here any more” look.) Later in the fourth quarter, TJ Brunson and Rick Sandidge did a number on Ta’amu that had him getting up slowly again. Never underestimate the impact of a good shot to the quarterback (although we’d prefer it didn’t draw a penalty).

Personality. Gene Chizik on the SEC Network said after the game that the Gamecocks have taken on the personality of head coach Will Muschamp – scratch and claw and do everything in your power to win, even if you don’t always look good doing it. Yep, that’s our brand.

Cardiac Cocks. Along those lines, The Big Spur tweeted today that the Gamecocks are 13-4 in one-score games under Muschamp. That’s a pretty incredible stat.

Hey Mon. Mon Denson once again proved why he is one of our favorite Gamecocks. As the third or fourth option at running back, there are times you forget he’s on the roster. But you’ve never heard a complaint, never heard a peep about Denson being disgruntled or disappointed in his playing time. He just works. And works. And works. And waits for his time to arrive.

On Saturday, with Rico Dowdle out with an injury and Ty’Son Williams slowed by one, his time arrived. All he did was respond with a career-high 102 yards on 12 carries, including a nice 69-yard run that led to the winning touchdown. Players with that kind of character combined with that level of talent are always welcome.

Pooch. Ole Miss obviously had a game plan to keep the ball away from Deebo Samuel on Saturday, they just did a very bad job executing it. The idea was to kick it short enough that an up back for South Carolina would field the ball, but the Rebel kicker kept sending the ball just a little too deep. Samuel took advantage with a 90-yard return for TD to open the game, and had a 38-yard return into Ole Miss territory in the fourth quarter that led to another touchdown.

This and that. Although our run game has been virtually non-existent for most of the season, the offensive line has been fantastic in pass protection from week to week…setting aside some inexplicable drops, has South Carolina ever had a more talented trio of wide receivers than Deebo, Bryan Edwards and Shi Smith? Going old school here, but the only ones I can think of would be Sterling Sharpe, Ryan Bethea and Danny Smith back in the mid-80s…Bentley had some fantastic throws on Saturday, but none better than the short touch pass to Josh Vann for his first career TD…it was good to see Jaylin Dickerson finally get on the field, and I must say, he didn’t embarrass himself. I hope he earned some more minutes with the coaching staff…early in the game it looked like Rashad Fenton would get dragged all over the field by all-SEC receiver AJ Brown, but Fenton shut him down in the second half.

Thanks for reading, and Go Cocks!

 

 

 

Snap Judgments – 2018 Tennessee @ South Carolina Edition

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That’s my bike, punk. (Photo: thestate.com)

This week Jorge de los Gallos (@jorhay) fills in for Buck on Snap Judgments. Jorge is a former contributor to Garnet & Black Attack, has his Master of Arts in Siqq Edits, and is the author of The Yearly Pessimist: Predictions for South Carolina Football. 

JAKEY SHAKEY START? The narrative’s established at this point: we’re a slow-starting team. Behold how each of our drives ended this game, in chronological order:

Punt
INT
Field Goal
Punt
TD
TD
TD
Field Goal
Kneel out
Not unlike my journey from “first forays into the dating scene” to “being engaged,” it started out abysmally and ended with one knee on the ground (but unlike 2018 Gamecock football, my dating life is ending with a ring on my finger ha ha ha /weeps.)
Were the early gremlins all Jake’s fault? His first half line was 8-13 for 61 yards and a pick, which are HIGHLY UNSEXY NUMBERS. However, it would seem it’s partially the result of a few things out of Jake’s control. Other than the tipped interception (which, yes, can be blamed on Jake throwing a highly tipable ball), I thought Jake was eeeeeeh fine the first half and largely the victim of our offensive strategy, a few arguable P.I. no-calls, and UT’s success in extending drives (5 of 7 on 3rd downs.)
But! Would our strategy have been so run-forward if Jake had a better first half track record? What if Deebo Samuel had not created a highlight-reel touchdown out of yet another air-mailed touch pass? And despite UT’s success on 3rd downs and being +4 on time of possession, South Carolina actually ran two more first-half plays than Tennessee. We had our cracks at a big half.
In any case, I have a harder time evoking the “same ol’ first half Jake” argument this game than I have in the past. The goal was clearly “run it down their throats”–Muschamp was open about that. And for what it’s worth, that’s what we did.
A GOOD CASE OF THE RUNS. Evidently we like running all over teams from Tennessee. We’ve gone 5+ YPC in two conference games, those being Vanderbilt (5.69) and UT (5.6). Our next-best showing was nearly a yard worse per carry.
THREECO DOWDLE. It was damn fun to watch #5 execute his craft last Saturday. This was Rico Dowdle’s 3rd 100+ yard rushing performance of the season. He averaged a cool 10 yards per carry, [Butthead voice] totally scored, [/Butthead voice] and never went negative on a run. And also he didn’t fumble nope definitely didn’t check the stats
(Now someone tell Rico to stay in bounds when the game is sealable kthx.)
SPEAKING OF THREE. That’s the number of completions Jake Bentley had in the second half of this game. That stat blew my mind but it’s true. Granted, one was a 73-yard bomb, and another was a nice red zone touch pass to Ty’son Williams off a blitz recognition. Both of those could have gone for touchdowns had the receivers maintained balance for two and one more yard respectively. If they had, Jake’s got a 3-1 TD/INT line which is what the kids call “gooder optics”.
MORE LIKE TURD DOWN EFFICIENCY.  Bad day for the defense on third down, allowing a conversion of 11 of 16 chances. But man, props to Jarrett Guarantano for making some nice reads. If he wasn’t so slick on third, Tennessee’s night would have been a lot longer.
WONNUM THERE EVERY GAME. While our defense wasn’t necessarily living in the UT backfield, DJ Wonnum made a major statement in his return, sacking Guarantano twice, including the game sealer. Shades of JD Clowney’s strip-sack of Tyler Bray in 2012.
INJURY BUG MORE LIKE INJURY SWARM OF LOCUSTS. This is purely anecdotal but it sure seemed like we had a man down after, like, every other play. I know we can’t necessarily blame Jeff Dilman for this but can we anyway? This, a spate of reviewed plays, and some oddly-placed timeouts made for what felt like a grueling viewing experience.
TURN 0-VERS. We had exactly zero turnovers this game. We’re 2nd to last in the SEC in turnovers created, and tied for last in margin at -6. Turnovers are good, and fun to see happen and frankly, we should have more of them. This is just how I feel.
REMBER WHEN UT WAS A POWERHOUSE. Me neither.
Go Cocks.

 

Snap Judgments – 2018 Texas A&M @ South Carolina

Some quick, barely researched, not fully formed thoughts from South Carolina’s 26-23 loss to Texas A&M.

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WOOPSIES! (Photo: gogamecocks.com)

Tick tock. We are now officially halfway through the 2018 football season (slightly more if we don’t get a chance to make up the cancelled Marshall game) and the game on Saturday was a perfect microcosm of the season so far. In other words, at various points during the game we were let down by the offense, the defense, special teams and coaching.

The offense was borderline putrid in the first half. Couldn’t establish the run, couldn’t throw an accurate pass, couldn’t catch a cold, and couldn’t score a single, solitary point. By the time the second half rolled around it was too late. Even though the Gamecocks battled back to tie the game, the hole that was dug in the first half proved to be too much to overcome.

I saw a lot of people praising the play of the defense on Saturday. I would like to point out they gave up 353 yards passing to Kellen Mood, and while they held to Aggies to 2.6 yards per carry they couldn’t get a crucial stop in the fourth quarter with the game on the line. A&M doubled up the Gamecocks in time of possession (which isn’t necessarily a telling stat, until it is). Yes, the defense was very good in the red zone. And I’m personally getting sick of the fact they continually have to be good in the red zone for us to have a chance. How about get some stops in between the 20s? We’ve been “bend but don’t break” every year that Will Muschamp has been here. I’m ready for our defense to play a little “don’t bend or break”.

Once, when we did get a stop, Bryan Edwards had a great punt return. Then he fumbled and gave the ball right back. Deebo Samuel hasn’t come close to breaking a kick return this year. (On the bright side, Parker White and Joseph Charlton continue to be excellent.)

From a coaching standpoint, we allowed Jace Sternberger to run free through our secondary for most of the game. Sternberger made comments after the game that “(Gamecock) safeties and linebackers kept miscommunicating about how they were going to guard me.” Muschamp denied that, saying Sternberger was simply a matchup problem. I’m not sure which is worse. Honestly, watching how open Sternberger was on most of his catches I tend to believe we were having communication problems.

This loss was a complete team effort, top to bottom. USC had so many chances to seize control of the game, but failed both mentally and physically to do so time and again. With half the season gone and still three wins needed to gain bowl eligibility, time is running out to salvage this season.

Mr. Brightside. Phew, felt good to get that off my chest. Here’s the good news – we are SO close. Even with all our problems we played a pretty darned good Texas A&M team to within 3 points. I believe Tennessee, Florida and Ole Miss are all winnable games as long as we stop making messes so big we can’t clean them up. Despite evidence to the contrary I believe the offense is going to get it going. I believe the defense is going to mature and is going to benefit greatly from the return of DJ Wonnum. The young guys we’ve been playing are going to continue to get better. The very cautious optimist in me is excited for the second half of the season.

Dropsies. You saw it, I saw it, the American people saw it. Our once proud wide receiver corps repeatedly torpedoed any chance we had to win the A&M game with crucial drops. If you haven’t already read it, Ben Breiner with The State did an excellent job of recapping all the lost yardage from Saturday. (Including Rashad Fenton’s crucial drop of an interception late.)

Red state vs. Blue state. The Jake Bentley/Michael Scarnecchia debate turned into a fierce political battle heading into the game on Saturday. Bentley didn’t help his cause for much of the first half, following his standard pattern of being too jacked up emotionally and overthrowing his receivers. When the offense did put together a promising drive Bentley ended it with easily the worst throw and worst interception of his career. Heading into halftime I even tweeted that I thought we needed to start Scarnecchia in the second half just to see if he could infuse some energy into an offense that had been shut out.

But Will Muschamp stuck with Bentley (probably because his dad is on staff I’M KIDDING PLEASE DON’T TAKE THAT SERIOUSLY) and Bentley responded splendidly. While he still didn’t always display pinpoint accuracy, he threw for 174 yards and two touchdowns against no interceptions. Again, the numbers would’ve been higher, and outcome could’ve been different without the butter fingers.

It was an impressive performance by any measure, and perhaps the most important play of the day for him was his scramble and dive for a first down in the third quarter. He was going balls out to get the win, and for the most part the anti-Bentley crowd recognized that and backed off…a little.

Boo birds. Our old pal Kevin McCrarey summed up our feelings about the booing in the first half more eloquently than we ever could.

The bottom line here is this – do your best to treat people with dignity and respect. Those guys on the football field, the folks next to you in the stands, the people you come into contact with online. I know it sounds trite and cheesy, but give it a try. Just because you wanted Scarnecchia to start and somebody else wanted Bentley, that doesn’t make them a moron, idiot, communist, and you won’t get shingles if you come into contact with them. Even though I was in the Bentley camp, each side had a reasonable argument for “their guy” to start on Saturday, and I wouldn’t have surprised or disappointed if had been 12.

But it was Bentley. And when Bentley ran into trouble his supporters didn’t “get what they deserved”, which is something I saw on Twitter more than once along with “I hope they’re happy”. We’re all on the same team here, folks. Just because you disagree over who starts a football game it doesn’t make you mortal enemies.

If that makes you mad that’s cool, I’m going to love you even more. Now come here and give me a hug.

How to win friends and influence people. I think we’re going to re-engineer this tweet and turn it into our core values for the blog.

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I’ve always thought our arrogance and inability to offer a basic level of sound analysis are two of our most endearing qualities.

Plus, not only do we have ties to the program, this is Ray Tanner’s burner account.

You folks enjoy the bye week. Go Cocks.

Snap Judgments – 2018 Missouri @ USC Edition

Some quick, barely researched, not fully formed thoughts from South Carolina’s 37-35 win over Missouri.

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Worth the wait. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

Shower power. This was a rough week to be a Gamecock fan. A demoralizing fifth straight loss to Kentucky had fans doubting everything they believed about the 2018 USC football team. A squad that was picked by many to challenge Georgia for the SEC East title had been throttled by the Bulldogs four weeks ago, then completely dominated by the up-and-coming Wildcats last weekend. The team that was supposed to take the next step towards relevance had actually regressed. To top everything off, Friday night it was announced backup Michael Scarnecchia, he of 13 passing attempts over four years, would be starting at quarterback against Missouri in place of the injured Jake Bentley.

The first half of the game against the Tigers didn’t do much to make the Gamecock faithful feel any better. Missouri ran up over 300 yards of offense in the first two quarters en route to a 23-14 halftime lead. USC certainly wasn’t awful on offense but were beneficiaries of a really dumb onside kick call that helped lead to their first TD. Honestly, at the break, it was hard to envision a path to victory for Carolina unless there was some divine intervention.

And then, to paraphrase an old Steve Spurrier saying, the good Lord smiled on the Gamecocks.

I was at home watching on TV, and when the SEC Network came back from a break they said it was pouring rain despite the sun still shining (the devil was beating his wife, for you good ‘ol southern folk). They said the rain was expected to pass shortly.

But it didn’t pass. It kept raining. And raining. And raining.

It rained the entire third quarter, and the Gamecocks took advantage of some serious stumbling and bumbling from the Tigers and ran off 17 straight points to take a 31-23 lead into the fourth quarter. It finally stopped raining and things evened out again, but USC made just enough plays and Parker White drilled a 33-yard field goal for the win.

It was one of the more bizarre games you will ever witness and I commend those of you who stayed through any portion of that rain. (I did it in the mid-90s against East Carolina with much less desirable results.) The term “must win” is overused in the sports lexicon, but beating Missouri at home was critical if this season is to have any decent level of success.

Thanks to a once-in-a decade weather occurrence, we are back on track.

Scar tissue. A week ago Michael Scarnecchia was a good-natured punch line. He was a fifth-year senior quarterback that had been passed on the depth chart multiple times over his career at South Carolina. Orth, Mitch, Nunez, McIlwain and Bentley were all deemed better options at the quarterback position than the 2-star Spurrier recruit from Fleming Island, FL.

“Put in Scarnecchia ha ha!” but we were never really serious, right? Because when it was announced on Friday that he would start, a collective “oh no” came up from the Gamecock faithful.

But now, after yesterday’s 20-35, 249 yard, 3 TD, 0 INT performance, he is cemented in Gamecock lore with the likes of Erik Kimrey. Scarnecchia was everything you would expect out of a fifth year senior quarterback. But most of the time you would expect that your fifth-year senior quarterback had thrown more than 13 passes in his career, and only ONE before this season.

In the spring Will Muschamp said Scarnecchia was unquestionably the backup to Jake Bentley, which was a little disappointing to us fans who were dying to see our shiny new Dakereon Joyner toy in action. But 12 displayed decision making, accuracy and most of all poise in ridiculous conditions, and now he’s a legend.

Beer’s on us Mike, you’ve earned it. And there’s no question you’re old enough.

Sooooo, what next? Well, we apparently have a quarterback controversy on our hands. I’ll give you my personal opinion, and I know based on Twitter comments that some of you will disagree, but here goes – if healthy, Jake Bentley is our starting quarterback.

I’ve stated in this space that Bentley has been disappointing in the fact that he hasn’t really improved since his freshman year. That said, I still think he gives us our best chance to win, and I still think he can and will improve.

What Scarnecchia did yesterday was brilliant and beautiful. But I have my doubts he can sustain it over a period of several games.

Offensive whoas. This would be a much different segment had we lost yesterday, but we’re willing to give Bryan McClendon a pass (ironically) on some of his play calling yesterday. Scarnecchia was put in a lot of difficult situations yesterday due to our unwillingness to pass the ball more frequently on first or second down. Yes, the rain was probably a factor, but we ran just as much on first and second down in the first half as we did the second. Once Scarnecchia showed us his chops, the reins should have come off.

On the flip side, the 2nd and 10 call from our own 46 on our final drive was the most brilliantly executed play of the day. The staff recognized something in the Mizzou coverage and lined up little-used Kyle Markway in the slot. Markway released down the seam on the snap uncovered, and Scarnecchia eyed him the whole way and hit him with a perfect strike for a 27-yard gain to put us in field goal range. It was football at its best.

As I said last week, BMac is still learning the job, and I hope he learned yesterday to trust his ball players.

Jaycee hut. Early in the third quarter, after USC had trimmed the Missouri lead to 23-21, Damarea Crockett broke loose for what appeared to be a backbreaking 70-yard touchdown run. Upon further review, Jaycee Horn swiped at Crockett’s feet and caused him to barely step out of bounds at the 11-yard line. A series of blunders by the Tigers led to a dropped punt snap and a blown scoring opportunity, all the result of great hustle by the freshman.

Horn has arguably been our best player on defense. He is a player and will be a mainstay on all-SEC teams the next few years.

BAWlin. When I say “arguably” above, it’s only because of Bryson Allen-Williams. BAW has finally turned into the player we all thought he would be coming out of high school, a high motor disrupter at the line of scrimmage.

Dead solid perfect. Parker White makes me feel good about placekicking again.

Onside dork. Despite Barry Odom’s denial that his first quarter onside kick attempt wasn’t really an onside kick attempt, it obviously was so I’m calling it one of the dumb coaching decisions of the year. You’ve got all the momentum, a newbie QB on the other side, and you do that? Duuuuumb.

Go Cocks, beat TAMU.

Snap Judgments – 2018 USC @ Kentucky Edition

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“HOWWWW HAVE WE LOST TO KENTUCKY FIVE YEARS IN A ROW?!?” (Photo: thestate.com)

Some quick, barely researched, not fully formed thoughts from South Carolina’s 24-10 loss at Kentucky.

This was some weekend. I’m tired. South Carolina lost. Clemson won. Georgia won. The Falcons lost (shut up Panther and Saints fans). It’s rare I ever get that “perfect weekend” any more with Clemson and Georgia’s recent success. But it’s also rare that all my favorite teams lose while all my most hated rivals win. So forgive me if I just want to put this one behind me.

With that said, I’m going to stray from my usual format and just go stream of consciousness for a while. I’m going to type my thoughts about the Kentucky game as I go, with no real organization of topic matter, mostly because I don’t have the energy to do it.

So…

Kudos to Kentucky on their fifth straight win over us. This might be the first time in those five years they have a clearly better team than South Carolina. Some of you would argue that, and some of you would be wrong. I wouldn’t have said this before Saturday night, but I believe Kentucky has the talent and the coaching to actually threaten Georgia later in the year. For some reason Georgia seems somewhat vulnerable, and Kentucky has the best team they’ve had in…I don’t know, decades? I would still be surprised to see the Wildcats win the East, but they’re a very, very good team.

Even though Kentucky is really good, South Carolina played the worst all around game I’ve seen from them in years. Fumbles, interceptions, penalties, dropped balls, missed tackles, missed assignments, kickoff returners getting blown up by their teammates. Hell even the SECN play by play guy recognized it, dropping a “our pets heads are falling off” line from Dumb and Dumber on one particularly putrid Gamecock play. Why in the world were we so bad?

It starts at the top. Will Muschamp and the coaching staff once again didn’t have their team ready to play in what we would consider a big game. It’s a disturbing trend when you look immediately out-coached and outclassed against practically every team that is supposedly better than you. I promise you we are nowhere near “fire Muschamp” territory folks, but the clock is ticking. With every missed opportunity to put a stamp on the program the seat grows a little bit warmer. People have long memories, and “remember Florida?” is lurking in all our minds.

Our offense was a complete mess.

Bryan McClendon – I want him to succeed so bad, but as I stated back in December, I never wanted to turn the keys over to a guy who had never been a coordinator. It seemed like an odd move for a head coach whose downfall has always been a lack of offense to hire a newby to do the play calling. On one series against the Wildcats we went to a modified “Emory and Henry” formation that seemed to work. The drive ultimately failed, but why did we not see it for the rest of the game? Then, down by 14 with possessions at a premium, we were running the ball on 2nd and 12. We had a TWENTY play drive late in the game that showed no sense of urgency whatsoever. We needed to score twice and were running at a pace that looked like we were trying to run the clock out. McClendon will have plenty of time to prove himself, but right now he looks like a guy who is learning on the job.

Jake Bentley is still exactly what he was two years ago at this time – a nice quarterback who makes plays on occasion, but still hasn’t made THE play, or plays, when we need them. It is absolutely true he got very little help from his receivers Saturday night, I will concede that. But the fact remains he has not played well on the biggest stages.

On the flip side, STOP CALLING FOR HIS BENCHING. Despite his shortcomings, he is easily the best QB we have on the team, and he still has all the tools to become the guy we think he can be. Michael Scarnecchia is not going to give you a better chance to win. Some are calling for Dak Joyner to play and I’m not even sure he’s the third best QB on the team. Jake is the guy, we just need to pray he becomes THE GUY.

We don’t have a game-changing running back. It’s time to face it, we have some dudes that play well in spurts, but there doesn’t seem to be a bell cow back on the entire roster. Rico Dowdle continues to shrink against the big boys (noticing a trend?), AJ Turner is a third down/change of pace back. Ty’Son Williams seems to always be in the dog house or dinged up. Mon Denson will plow for four yards but is not a game breaker.

Aside from Shi Smith the receivers have disappointed. Presumably the strength of our team, we’ve been plagued by drops and the inability to get open. Bentley’s protection was very good Saturday night, but our receivers could not create enough space. What is up with Deebo? I mean seriously, we need to talk about what’s going on with him. I admire Bryan Edwards for taking responsibility after Saturday’s game for his poor performance. Now he has to play better.

Where are our tight ends? Are we not giving them enough targets because they’re not good enough to warrant them? I’m beginning to feel we’re missing Hayden Hurst way more than we thought we would.

I like our offensive line. I think they’re doing a very nice job, but the skill guys are just not pulling their weight.

The offense is 122nd in the nation in plays of over 30 yards. We have four. That’s pathetic with our receiving threats.

The defense played well in the second half, but as has been the case since JD Clowney left, we have no star power on that side of the ball. We lack size on the line and lack playmakers at linebacker. The secondary is playing pretty well considering how we’ve had to patch it together.

As Kiel Pollard said after the game Saturday, we talk way too much. I understand there’s a culture of trash talk in the game today, but when you’re getting your ass kicked it’s best to just keep your mouth shut until you’re no longer getting your ass kicked or the game is over, whichever comes first. I hope Jaycee Horn learned his lesson.

The hit by Kash Daniel on Jacob August was complete and utter trash. It was disrespectful, dangerous and there’s no place for it in today’s game. I’m an old school guy  that used to love that kind of stuff, but with the size and strength of players these days you’re literally talking about hits that could alter someone’s life, if not end it. But then again, what do you expect from a guy named “Kash”.

I’m obviously frustrated, and that has led to me be more critical than I really like to be towards a bunch of college kids that are busting their ass every day to get better. I don’t want that criticism to overshadow the fact that I have a ton of respect for the coaches, the players and everyone on the staff. I have no idea if all that work is going to result in more wins and fewer losses, but I do know I’ll continue to be there every week to find out.

Go Cocks.

Snap Judgments – 2018 USC @ Vanderbilt Edition

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Too Shi Shi (Photo: postandcourier.com)

Some quick, barely researched, not fully formed thoughts from South Carolina’s 37-14 victory over Vanderbilt.

TCB. Listen, we don’t always win SEC games on the road by three touchdowns, so I can understand Gamecock fans being excited about and re-energized by yesterday’s win. Clinging to a slim six point lead at the intermission, South Carolina dominated the game in the second half, finishing with more than 500 total yards and holding Vanderbilt below 300. The game was far from clean, and we left a minimum of 14 points on the field, but all in all it was a nice bounce back from the thrashing we took at home against Georgia.

That said, I would describe the win as nothing more than “fine”. In the grand scheme of things, Vanderbilt is still Vanderbilt. Sure, they should’ve beaten Notre Dame at South Bend last weekend, and the entire ESPN College GameDay crew picked them to beat us. But the reaction nationally to our win was…well, there was no reaction. Nobody saw that score crawl across that screen and thought “wowwww, South Carolina is back baby!”

No, it wasn’t that. But it was a win that was vital more because a loss would’ve been devastating to the long-term outlook of this team and this season. Saturday in Nashville was nice, but at the end of the day it was nothing more than USC taking care of business, and we should all be grateful for that.

Keeping it 100. Rico Dowdle rushed for 112 yards and Shi Smith had 119 yards receiving, making them the first RB/WR duo to pull of that feat in the same game since the 2016 Missouri game (h/t @KershawsCorner).

Dowdle once again looked like himself after being bottled up and stone-handed in the UGA game. He benefited from a tremendous effort by the Gamecock offensive line, who looked as good in the run game as we’ve seen in a couple of years. Vandy killer AJ Turner and Ty’Son Williams added 64 and 48 yards respectfully, as USC put up a season high 273 rushing yards. Oh yeah Mon Denson also added a touchdown.

Shi Smith, meanwhile, has now led the Gamecocks in receiving in two of the three games this year, with a bizarre game in between where he was only targeted twice for 11 yards. It looks as if Bryan McClendon is set on using Deebo Samuel as more of a Swiss Army Knife in the offense, with pop passes, sweeps and shorter routes to get him in space. That leaves Smith and Bryan Edwards to take the lid off over the top, which they’ve both done at different times this season. Even with the possible loss of OrTre Smith to a knee injury, defenses are going to be forced to pick a poison when defending the Gamecock passing game this season.

Read and right. Jake Bentley had another solid game (19-28, 261, 1 TD, 1 INT) leading the offense. His accuracy is continuing to improve, and his deep ball touch seems to be coming along.

Bentley still needs to find a way to cut down on tipped passes and do a better job recognizing his backs in the flat. One tipped pass led to an interception and eventually points for Vandy as he failed to recognize a DE dropping into coverage. Other tipped passes are not 100% his fault as there are techniques in pass blocking that help keep defensive linemen’s hands down, but ultimately it’s up to Jake to get the ball through the lane uncontested.

As far as the backs in the flat, I’ve never seen defenses give up the RB so much space as I’ve seen in games (all games, not just USC games) this season. Getting the ball to a back one on one with a linebacker seems to be a guaranteed six yards these days.

Pace maker. Bryan McClendon has kept good on his promise to speed up the South Carolina offense. At the same time it’s a smart pace, not going fast just for the sake of going fast, and has yielded very nice results in our two wins this year. My only real complaint yesterday was throwing the ball four times after having separate 2nd-and-shorts in Vandy territory, including back-to-back low percentage fades when we had the Commodores on their heels. Run the dang ball BMac.

The Mountain. This pretty much speaks for itself, and Javon Kinlaw stands to make a lot of money next April.

Fenton Island and the Horn of Columbia. Rashad Fenton picked up his second interception of the season against Vanderbilt, and I literally did not hear the name Jaycee Horn mentioned yesterday. You know how good that is? You don’t think coordinators like to see freshmen DB’s covering their WR’s? Not these guys, they are rarely testing Mr. Horn and that speaks volumes.

BAWlin. Bryson Allen-Williams is a damn good Gamecock, and I’m glad to see him back and contributing. He was arguably the second most dominant defensive player on the field yesterday.

Cat Nip. It’s really hard to explain how Kentucky currently has a four game winning streak over South Carolina. But a few years ago it was just as hard to explain how South Carolina had a TEN game winning streak over Kentucky. That’s not a shot at either program, we’re just two middle of the road SEC football programs trying to get to that next level, right? How can one team dominate the other for such a long stretch? I don’t know the answer, football can be a strange game is all I can come up with.

That said, when I was watching Kentucky drill Mississippi State last night, I actually started to feel better about our game. The hype is on the other foot now (despite Vegas making us an early favorite how in the world) and Kentucky will come in as the ranked team with a lot of momentum on their side. We’ll have the chance to knock them off their pedestal, much like we did in 2007 when we beat the 8th-ranked ‘Cats 38-23.

I can promise you this Kentucky team is no Vandy. They are tough and confident, and have an all-American running back in Bennie Snell. It will take our best shot.

I’m ready. Go Cocks.

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.