1993 Gamecock Flashback

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

Tbone steps up to the mic to review the 1993 Gamecock football season, the last for head coach Sparky Woods. The season starts with a high: the Brandon Bennett leap in Sanford Stadium, one of the most memorable moments in Gamecock history.  But a series of lows, including a 55-3 loss to Tennessee in Knoxville and another season-ending loss to Clemson, were too much for Woods to overcome.

(Note: On the media guide cover, #86 is Matt Campbell. He had a very average career playing tight end for USC, but went on to have a solid career in the NFL from 1995-2001 as an offensive lineman.)

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1992 Gamecock Flashback

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

The year 1992 was one of the most eventful in South Carolina football history. It was the 100th anniversary of the program, our first year in the Southeastern Conference, and the team made things interesting by starting 0-5 and then winning five of their last six, including a victory at Clemson. In between several players led a “revolt” to try to have Sparky Woods removed as head coach.

Marty Simpson was a redshirt sophomore kicker on that squad, and he joins Buck to give some behind-the-scene stories on how the season played out, including:

  • The Wright Mitchell, Blake Williamson, Steve Taneyhill quarterback carousel that eventually led to Taneyhill taking over the starting job
  • What really happened in the locker room during the “player revolt”, and Sparky Woods’ reaction
  • Some significant contributors aside from Taneyhill that season, including Brandon Bennett and Toby Cates
  • How the filming of the major motion picture “The Program” impacted the team on a daily basis
  • And you know how Taneyhill famously signed the Tiger paw? Well, Marty took a piece of the Tiger paw with him

We’d like to thank Marty Simpson for joining us for this episode. Be sure to check out his website and YouTube channel.

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1991 Gamecock Flashback

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

The 99th edition of Gamecock football was quite forgettable. Really, two things happened – Brandon Bennett set a single game rushing record with 278 yards versus East Tennessee State, and we beat defending National Champion (and bad football team) Georgia Tech.

So this edition of Buckshots is rather short, but we make up for it with the 1992 review. Big time.

Plus, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch if nothing else interests you.

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

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1990 Gamecock Flashback

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

Buckshots takes a few minutes to discuss the 1990 Gamecock football season, and you’ll hear names like Bobby Fuller, Mike Dingle, Rob DeBoer, and…Everett Sands??? Yes, Coach Sands was part of the Citadel team that beat USC 38-35 and sent Buck into a deep, deep funk.

Buck talks about the AP (Colorado) and UPI (Georgia Tech) National Champions from 1990 because the South Carolina season was so devoid of action.  He also talks about a rare Thanksgiving night game for the Gamecocks.

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1989 Gamecock Flashback

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

Following a steroid scandal at USC, the disappointment of the way the 1988 football season ended, and then the tragic passing of Coach Joe Morrison in early 1989, new head coach Sparky Woods had his work cut out for him. But he guided the Gamecocks to a 5-1-1 start before Todd Ellis was lost for the season with a knee injury. A late season swoon (something we would all become familiar with over the years) and a humiliating 45-0 loss to Clemson followed.

Also covered in this edition of Buckshots – from Bugginout to Gustavo Fring, a young Steve Spurrier, and how hurricane Hugo nearly wiped out the Georgia Tech game.

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Enjoy!

1988 Gamecock Flashback

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

The 1988 Gamecock football season was one of the more eventful in our program’s history, and not for good reasons.

In a 10-day stretch our 6-0 and eighth-ranked Gamecocks lost on the road to a 1-4 Georgia Tech team, and a few days later a huge steroid scandal was exposed at USC by Sports Illustrated. The story of Tommy Chaikin can be found here, and I encourage you to read it if you never have. The future of South Carolina football was very much in doubt, in our minds if not in reality, during that time.

After a late season swoon (sound familiar?) that included a 59-0 loss to Florida State, a loss at Clemson, and a loss to Indiana in the Liberty Bowl, we thought we would have a respite from bad football news for a while. Unfortunately, that was far from the case.

Head Coach Joe Morrison died tragically after playing racquetball at Williams-Brice Stadium on February 6, 1989. Not only was this a huge blow to the University, it also happened THREE DAYS before National Signing Day. Within two weeks Sparky Woods was hired from Appalachian State to try to put the pieces back together.

I’m trying to keep these flashbacks short and concise – under 10 minutes, but this one does run long because so much happened in 1988. (Plus I bore you with a couple of personal stories.)

Oh, and on a side note, the music in each Buckshots will come from the year we are featuring. I’m sure you recognize both songs so far, 1987 was “Walk Like and Egyptian” by The Bangles, and in the this episode we have “Faith” by George Michael. (Don’t judge, I’m just trying to give you a flavor of the time!)

Click here to stream.

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Enjoy!

1987 Gamecock Flashback

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

After our discussion on the last TRC Unleashed about 80s and 90s Gamecock football seasons, I had the urge to piece together all the seasons since my Freshman year (1987). And instead of writing about those seasons, which would take years, I decided to record short recaps in the form of Buckshots (a mini-podcast idea that never went anywhere).

So starting with 1987, I’m going to try to give a pseudo-recap of each season leading up to the start of the 2013 season. The purpose is to try to recapture the mood of the program, the major players, and some important/interesting/depressing games. Most of what I’m doing here I’m going on memory, so feel free to correct my ever-eroding memory in the comments section below.

One note I left off this episode, the Todd Ellis TD to INT ratio in 1987: 10-24.  Ugh.

There are two ways to listen:

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Thank you and enjoy!

 

Snap Judgments – 2017 USC @ Georgia Edition

(Photo: AP/John Bazemore)

 

 

 

 

 

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

In a loss, progress. There are no moral victories. However, there are losses from which you can take away positive impressions of your team. South Carolina entered Saturday as roughly 25-point underdogs to top-ranked Georgia. The Gamecocks had played unevenly over the course of their first eight games, not particularly gaining (or earning) the respect of the college football public at large. Meanwhile, Georgia had steamrolled everyone in their path, sans a one-point win over Notre Dame on the road, while beating the brakes off their SEC opponents by an average of 32 points. There was very little reason to believe USC could keep this game interesting for the national CBS audience, hence the huge Vegas spread.

But the Gamecocks did keep the game interesting, trailing by a touchdown at the half and 11 points at the end of the third quarter. The game wasn’t completely put away until a Jake Bentley interception with just under two minutes left in the game. While it would’ve taken a minor miracle at that point to even tie the game, there were plenty of the Bulldog faithful holding their breath up until that play.

Georgia was clearly the more talented and deeper team. Their offensive and defensive lines were dominant, and behind future NFL stars Sony Michel and Nick Chubb they out-gained the Gamecocks by nearly 200 yards on the ground. But the Gamecocks never appeared intimidated and never lost their confidence, which can’t be said for a lot of USC teams who have faced hostile environments and/or top 10 teams in the past.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not happy with the loss. We missed some opportunities to make the game closer or even pull a monumental upset. But at the same time, I was very proud of our guys, and think this team might be closer than we thought to being pretty good.

Then again, as I said last week, maybe we will just forever be the team that plays to the level of its competition. This week against Florida will be a good test of that theory.

Muschamp 2.0. I’m not a fan of hypotheticals, but do me a favor and go through a little exercise in your head – pretend Will Muschamp’s failed stint at Florida never happened. Forget all the preconceived notions you had of him when he was hired. Pretend Muschamp was a hot young defensive coordinator at Texas that Ray Tanner was able to lure to South Carolina to rebuild our program.

He took over a program almost completely devoid of talent that went 3-9 the season before he arrived, having been abandoned by their head coach midway through the year. His first team improved by three games in 2016 and lost in overtime in a bowl game. His second team became bowl eligible before the end of October and if things go as expected will increase its win total by two more games in 2017.

No, I don’t like the fact that Muschamp will almost always punt on 4th and 5 from the opponent’s 40-yard line. No, I don’t like how he runs out the clock at the end of the half with a 1:30 to go and three time outs. No, I don’t like that he doesn’t go for a kill shot after a turnover in plus territory.

Know what I do like? Winning. And so far the Will Muschamp method has worked at South Carolina. I  can complain about his in-game decisions on occasion, but the overall results so far are pretty good. If you can get over what you remember about his Florida days, the results are damn good.

Kurt-ailed. I still don’t know what to make of Kurt Roper. Over the course of this season I’ve called for his head and I’ve called him a very good coordinator. Statistically he appears to be directing one of the worst offenses in the SEC. But he’s also been limited by injuries across the offensive line and the loss of his best player (Deebo Samuel) and his best running back (Rico Dowdle). A lot of people were hammering him again on Saturday, but I personally didn’t think he called that bad of a game against one of the best defenses in the country.

That said, there are still plenty of offensive weapons on this team, and the statistics don’t lie. Honestly I’m starting to run out of runway in my defense of Kurt Roper.

Hold your comments I might change my mind next week.

Backs to the wall. South Carolina’s run game, to put it mildly, has been the team’s biggest disappointment in 2017. Our running back situation has become pretty dire, and looking across at the other sideline on Saturday only accentuated that point. Not one tailback for South Carolina would be able to crack the four-deep on the Georgia roster. The Bulldogs have future NFL stars in Michel, Chubb and DeAndre Swift, while Brian Herrien and Elijah Holyfield would probably start at USC. Dowdle has been hurt and was not performing well prior to his injury, and AJ Turner and Ty’Son Williams have had their moments but are far from the type of game-breaking back we desperately need. We can only hope the light comes on for one of these guys or the next recruiting class brings one in. Otherwise our run game will continue to suffer.

King for a day. We thought Jamarcus King was a pretty good corner most of last season, until he had that moment. You know, the one where he got carried five yards on the back of Mike Williams for a Clemson touchdown. From that point we found multiple ways to criticize him, some deserved, some probably not.

But King has rebounded the last few weeks and is once again playing like the best cornerback on the team. Against Georgia, even when he had passes caught against him he was pretty much in the back pocket of the receiver the whole way. He has certainly regained his confidence just in time for the home stretch.

Of course, before his recent slump Rashad Fenton was being lauded by some as the best Gamecock corner ever. Just goes to show, when you play corner you’re only as good as what you do with the next pass thrown your way.

Lying in wait. Florida is a mess right now. In their first game after Jim McIlwain was ousted from Gainesville, the Gators were pummeled by Missouri 45-16 for the Tigers’ first conference win of the year. South Carolina has opened as a 9.5-point favorite at home and all signs point to an easy win for the Gamecocks. But hold up.

Remember that whole playing to the level of your competition thing? Yeah, that’s kinda our curse. Also, Florida will have had a week to stew over the humiliating performance in CoMo and will most certainly come out with more life and fight than they had last week. Despite all the Gators’ problems, I have a feeling this will be a typical South Carolina-Florida root canal game.

Worst case scenario. Clemson won the national title last year and is primed to make the college football playoff once again this year. Georgia has a cakewalk to the SEC Championship and even if they lose that game might make the playoff. The thought of Clemson back-to-back national championships or Georgia following the Tigers’ title with one of their own is enough to make me abandon the game of football altogether.

Go cocks, beat the Gators!

Snap Judgments – 2017 Vanderbilt @ USC Edition

(Photo: postandcourier.com)

6-2 (4-2). We often talk about managing expectations around here. Prior to the start of this season most people had South Carolina winning anywhere from five to eight games, with the majority of predictions coming in at 6-6 or 7-5. That seemed very reasonable considering the mess that Will Muschamp inherited, and that the majority of the talent on his team had played either one or zero seasons of college football. After Saturday’s 34-27 win over Vanderbilt, what we have experienced is probably the best-case scenario for Muschamp and the Gamecocks, having won six games before the end of October.

(Let’s not play the “could’ve been” game, because I will see your frustrating losses to Kentucky and Texas A&M and raise you a nail-biter against NC State and a semi-miracle win over Louisiana Tech.)

The downside, if you can call this a downside, is the competition has been worse than we could’ve possibly imagined. NC State is USC’s best win by far, but was proven to be no more than a “good” team after getting hammered by Notre Dame on Saturday. Louisiana Tech is a mediocre 4-4 against a mostly G-5 schedule.

When you evaluate the SEC games the Gamecocks have played, their four wins have come against four of the five worst teams in the conference. Those four teams are a combined 1-18 in their conference games. The two conference losses have come against decent teams, but teams outside of the top 25.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to bring anyone down here. I think we’re very much ahead of schedule in the Will Muschamp era with timely assists from a couple of struggling SEC programs. The Gamecocks will be favored in two games and will be heavy underdogs in two more down the stretch. Hold serve and USC will finish 8-4 (5-3) and be heading to a bowl game in a place not named Shreveport or Birmingham. That’s a major step forward in year two for Will Muschamp and Co.

What makes this coming Saturday so interesting is it will be a true measuring stick for how much further we have to go. Kirby Smart inherited a ton of talent at Georgia, and, much to my dismay, has done a great job getting that program focused and playing up to its potential. Much like South Carolina, they have had the benefit of playing in the anemic SEC East, but even with that they are currently running neck and neck with Alabama as the best team in the country.

If the Gamecocks can go into Athens and give the Bulldogs a run for their money, it will go a long way in convincing recruits this team is on the right track.

Pre-Kurt-sor. Kurt Roper was determined to get the offense going early against Vandy on Saturday, calling eight passes on the first ten offensive plays. The first drive was actually fun to watch because we got to see the team move at a pace we’ve rarely seen this season. Later in the game we mixed in a couple of run formations I hadn’t seen before. In general, the run game has been much more creative the last couple of games.

The hope is Roper is becoming more familiar with his offensive personnel and is designing the game plan around them. I don’t think we’re going to bust out and drop 40 on Georgia this weekend, but I’m happy to see our OC open up the play book a little more.

Turner the burner. AJ Turner just sits back and waits for his number to be called. For some reason as fans we seem to dismiss and push him aside in favor of the Rico Dowdles and Ty’Son Williams of the world. Then, just when we need him most, Turner gashes Vanderbilt for 121 yards and a touchdown. And he ain’t even mad at us.

Fenton PI-land. Maybe Rashad Fenton was smelling himself a little too much heading into Saturday given how well he’s played so far this year. There was a lot of talk about how teams weren’t throwing his way, but the Commodores said “screw that” and downright picked on him to the tune of two touchdowns and two pass interference calls. We’ll see if other teams follow suit in the coming weeks, and see how 16 responds.

Train Wrecks. Florida parted ways with Jim McIlwain on Sunday, and Tennessee is sure to follow suit with Butch Jones no later than November 26. Bret Bielema at Arkansas and Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M are still considered to be on the hot seat, and we know that Matt Luke at Ole Miss is not long for his coaching job. Ed Orgeron at LSU and Gus Malzahn at Auburn seem to be safe for now, but as we know that could change over the course of three hours on a Saturday. And is Missouri really going to stick with Barry Odom for the long haul?

In other words, more than half of the coaches in the SEC have been in trouble at some point this season. We could see an unprecedented amount of turnover this winter in the conference, which at least short-term could benefit the Gamecocks.

Get Smart. So far, I have been very wrong about Kirby Smart. I didn’t think he would be an upgrade over Mark Richt, but he has Georgia rolling like a freight train so far this season. To be fair, he inherited quite a number of talented players from Richt (Michel, Chubb, Thompson, Carter, Sanders just to name a few) but he has also killed on the recruiting trail so far, landing commitments from the top dual threat quarterback in the country as well as two 5-star running backs.

As you well know, Smart was probably a few days away from becoming the Gamecocks’ head coach after the Tom Herman debacle, but Georgia decided to part ways with Richt and Smart was their only candidate. Could Smart have done at USC what he’s doing at Georgia? No, definitely not. Aside from the talent gap on the rosters, selling the Bulldog program is much easier than selling the Gamecock program, especially in the talent-rich state of Georgia.

Will Muschamp will need to ratchet up the recruiting and the coaching to keep up with old pal Kirby Smart, who is off to a red-hot start in Athens.

Go Cocks, beat Georgia.

Snap Judgments – 2017 Bye Week Addition

South Carolina’s next mascot? Maybe!

Honorary Chicken and 2016 Southeast Region District 6 Pickle Ball Player of the Year Jorge (@jorhay) fills in this week to give some bye week snaps. Enjoy! 

How did the seasons get their name? Starting off with some non-football fare! We all know it’s called ‘fall’ because leaves fall and ‘spring’ because it’s when ‘spring break’ happens. But did you know winter used to be called “Fall, but for Snow, Not Leaves”? But that was too cumbersome, so they called it “Winter”, which is an acronym for “Whence It’s Now To Enter [Fall, but for Rain, Not Leaves, or Snow]” which is what they used to call spring. Summer was named for famous mathematician Euclid who was believed to be born on June 21. Mathematicians used to be called “summers”, before they discovered forms of math other than addition, so the season now bares his vocation. This is all true.

Oh and autumn came from the colloquialism “Audem”, as in “hey guys, audem leaves startin’ to fall!”

The most exciting play in football? If you ask me, there’s only one real answer: the pass.

Unsubstantiated take on a subject that is probably way more nuanced than it seems but I still think I’m right about. Official replays should take 30 seconds max. These five-minute official replay sequences are simply Refereeing Theater. “Look how thorough and careful we’re being — trust us coach, we looked at it from every angle. We should be praised for Getting It Right™.” No. Reviewable circumstances are rarely ambiguous, and if they are, then don’t overturn it because it’s Not Conclusive.

IMVHO, it should be as simple as this:

Ref: “The previous play is under review.”

[replay booth should already be watching the portion of the play in question when ref puts on headset] 

Replay booth: “Ah damn yeah, his foot was out of bounds. Ref, the pass is incomplete, actually.”

Ref: [takes off headphones] “The pass is incomplete, 2nd and 10.”

30 seconds, done.

But, but what if they have to reset the clock and the yardage?

Yes this is always the announcer’s excuse for why overturned calls take so long. And I say garbage. Just have another ref get that information during the 15 seconds the review, just in case. The information has to be readily available. It’s not rocket science.

To summarize, it is unacceptable that a replay ever takes more than 30 seconds. I have never refereed football. Do not @ me.

Food for thought. It’s likely that all the animal mascots from recent USC baseball teams are dead.

Next coach? When Will Muschamp retires in 2031 after six SEC championships and two national titles (avg. 17 ppg) who’s up next? Our list of candidates:

  • Connor Shaw Recruits his son, and invites his father to be an honorary walk-on; is now a Coach of a Coach’s Son’s Father, and the Coach-Father of a Coach-Father’s Grandson (coach’s son)

  • Bret Bielema – Out of work for a decade frankly just needs somewhere to crash.

  • Steve Spurrier – 86 years young, Spurrier (now half-cybernetic) wants to give it one more go will attempt to “blue pill” the Cock and Fire offense 😉 Will win 8 games in 2032 and promptly stop recruiting in 2033.

  • Stephen Garcia – Seconds after winning championship, players douse him in a keg of Keystone Light.

  • Whoever got fired by a powerhouse like three years ago. (Let’s face it this is gonna be what happens.)

DID YOU KNOW! 

  • Did you know Jake Bentley was supposed to be in high school last year

  • Did you know Hayden Hurst was a minor leaguer

  • Did you know Jamarcus King is actually a prince of a small Dutch protectorate in the South Caribbean

  • Did you know DJ Wonnum is right behind you

  • Did you know Ortre Smith is an anagram for Rot Hermits, which is the name of my new punk band

Kurt Roper Is Good But Also Bad. What’s the deal with Kurt, amirite? I mean the guy’s wasting our talent. Unless he’s not. After all, if the players aren’t executing the schemes it’s not his fault. Although, it’s kinda his fault if he’s calling plays that his players aren’t capable of executing. But you can’t just gut an entire offensive scheme because your guard’s not pulling fast enough…right? Then again, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. Play the hand you’re dealt! Of course, since coaches recruit the players, you’re kinda dealing your own hand. So Kurt Roper is good, but might be bad. Or the opposite of that. I need to lay down.

I just broke my tibia. I just broke my tibia.

Possible new mascot names. Ole Miss will begin to use the on-field mascot Landshark, which is an outrage because changing things is always bad (except for definitely slavery and maybe Kurt Roper) but given the political correctification of America, it’s safe to assume that every program will eventually have to adopt a zany, internet-approved mascot. Gamecocks are nefarious betting-birds, so we’re probably gonna be among the earliest to be forced to change.

Safest to go with some abstract, soccery mascot:

  • USC Stormsand

  • USC Traintraffic

  • USC No Gain on First

  • USC Stansbury Eye Center Football Team

  • USC Three Stars

  • USC Chaun Gresham

  • USC Demetra

Looking ahead. Vanderbilt is next on our schedule.

Looking behind. We played Tennessee last week.

Looking down. I’m wearing Vans.

Looking up. Will Muschamp is in the AC duct.

Looking glass. Makes it easy to read small words

Looking for a Way Out.  A great song by Uncle Tupelo

I bet you are excited for the bye week to be over. 

Go Cocks, beat Vandy!