Since this is Thanksgiving week, and we are heading into two of the biggest weeks in the history of South Carolina football, I came up with a list of a few things for which I am thankful:
THIS football season - Carolina is 8-3 and heading to the SEC Championship Game, having beaten Georgia, #1-ranked Alabama, and Florida in the Swamp with the division on the line. I can’t help but think things are either about to go papajohns.com Bowl bad or the Apocalypse will occur on December 4 just as Marcus Lattimore is crossing the goal line for the winning touchdown against Auburn. (Hi, my name is Buck, and I’m a South Carolina fan.)
#1 and #21 - Tell me, when have we EVER had two skill guys of this caliber on the same team? Spare yourself from cracking open the media guides, the answer is never. Both of these guys will be first team all-SEC. Jeffery should be first team All-American, and Lattimore could sneak onto some third teams with a strong finish. The good news? You already know what the good news is. But if not, check out the preseason magazines next year and you’ll figure it out.
Offensive and defensive lines - Look, I’m not one of these guys who can tell you how each O-lineman graded out after the game. All I know is Garcia has time to throw and Lattimore has room to run. On the other side, our guys are stuffing the run and are one of the national leaders in sacks. Is there room for improvement? No question. But gone are the days when we can’t compete because we don’t have SEC-caliber linemen.
Stephen Garcia - Four years ago I would’ve bet against him ever taking a snap at South Carolina. Now, after three tumultuous, roller coaster years where he has been beaten up and beaten down, I can say I’m glad #5 is leading this team into battle each week. He’s still going to make a boneheaded play or two on occasion, but he’s also going to stand tall in the pocket and make some good decisions and some good throws. (Go back to the third quarter of the ‘Bama game after they had cut the lead to 7, and his third down completion to Tori Gurley with Marcel Dareus about to drive him into the ground. THAT is the guy I want under center.)
Steve Spurrier - The guy has succeeded in making me a believer, an unbeliever, and then a believer again. Thanks coach.
Connections - A ticket to the SEC Coaches Luncheon? Check. Two tickets to the SEC Championship Game? Check. Tickets to the Chick-fil-a Bowl if we happen to get the invite? Check. It’s good to be me. (Disclaimer: actually I just have one connection, but to protect my identity, I am unable to reveal his or her name.)
High expectations - I have had thoughts of 2011, so sue me. As a fan I have the luxury of not having to take it “one game at a time”. So I’m thankful that I’ll get to poke my chest out next summer as all the pundits pick us to win the East again. I’m thankful that when someone asks me about the 2011 season I won’t have to say “welllll, mayyyybeeee, if some breaks go our way…seven, eight wins?” No sir, the sky is the limit. And if it doesn’t work out, so be it. But I’m going to enjoy the ride.
And be thankful for it.