The staff from TRC will be gathering at Goat Island (across from the Isle of Palms) this weekend for our semi-annual convention. You’re not invited, it’s a very exclusive convention. We will keep you updated on our exploits via Twitter, however.
It’s only been two weeks, but it feels like an entire offseason since we played last, and even longer since I submitted a blog post. Well, sometimes life just happens to catch up with you and sometimes that happens during a bye week when there’s not much to write about anyway, so what are you going to do.
We get back into the swing of things on Saturday against our pale orange non-friends from Tennessee. On paper this is a mismatch – a 6-1, top 15 team going up against a winless SEC East foe (not named Vanderbilt or Kentucky, mind you) so desperate that they’re starting a true freshman quarterback whom they had planned to redshirt.
Unfortunately games aren’t played on paper. They’re played inside thin rectangular boxes that no matter how hard you throw a beer bottle through them you still can’t reach in to choke any of the coaches, players, or referees. And then you have to spend $1500 to buy another rectangular box to have football games played in. But I digress…
I fully expect this to be like every other South Carolina game this year save Kentucky – a painful, nerve-wracking, sloppy slopfest of a game that we pull out by some unimpressive score like 16-12.
But a win would be a win, right? On to a few tusings:
The Melancholy Season. The Gamecocks have won 6 of 7, including a win over Georgia, and are ranked just outside the top 10. Many of our goals are still well within reach with what appears to be a manageable schedule left. So why aren’t we happier as a fan base? We certainly haven’t played great in our six wins, and have some injury concerns, but I think more that that is the surprisingly good play of our neighbors to the north.
The Clemson Tiger University Tigers are good. There’s no more denying it, and painful as it is and as much as we still may want to look for reasons otherwise (you can give me schedule, but since they beat Auburn and we didn’t, it’s a hard argument for a Gamecock to make). CTU has the best freshman in the country complimented by a stable of very good wide receivers. They have a competent, if injury prone, running back. Tajh Boyd has been sickeningly good since the third game of the season. And their offensive line and defense have done enough to not lose games.
Are they as good as Alabama or LSU? HELL NO, why would you ask such a stupid question. However, I do not think it is beyond the realm of possibility that they run the table, and with a few breaks wind up playing in the…gulp…ugh…BCS National Championship Game. I just threw up. Outside my mouth. A lot.
I hate CTU so much.
The good news. CTU still has to jump past a few teams to get to that point. Odds are high that either LSU or Alabama will finish undefeated. Oklahoma State would have to lose. Boise would probably have to lose. I don’t know the math, but I would imagine Stanford and/or Kansas State might have a chance to jump CTU if they remain undefeated.
The bad news. We were pretty sure Wisconsin and Oklahoma would remain undefeated too.
Oklahoma. Fools gold. Every year. Don’t trust them, ever.
South Caromageddon. Can you imagine what the state of South Carolina would be like in the week leading up to a game where South Carolina is 10-1 or 9-2 hosting an 11-0 Clemson team? The entire state might spontaneously combust at kickoff.
South Carolina @ Tennessee. I really wish I had more thoughts on this, but I’m stumped. Besides Justin Worley getting the start for UT, what are the storylines? Wilds replacing Lattimore? Dooley’s orange pants? Spurrier v. Morris? I’m stumped. I sure hope we have a lot of good stuff to talk about once it’s over.
Speaking of, be on the lookout for a special edition TRC Unleashed. I say be on the lookout, because I don’t know what our internet connection situation will be on Goat Island. We’ll keep you posted via the blog and/or Twitter.
Go Cocks. Go Gators. Go Yellow Jackets.
So no Gamecock football this past weekend. Meh, mixed feelings. On one hand, I’m sure the team needed a physical and mental break, and I needed to catch up on some around-the-house responsibilities unencumbered by beer drinking, fist pounding, and painful screaming. On the other hand, I love Gamecock Football, SO GIVE ME MY FOOTBALL SATURDAY, DAMN IT.
I would have called my TRC compatriots to commiserate, but I figured that Buck was busy coaching a youth football game or saving a kitten from a tree or something. Gman was most assuredly working . . .again . . . still . . . again. My wife is, as many of you have already gathered, a UGa alum, so no help there.
So it was just me and my list of chores and my fevered thoughts.
I decided to start with a long overdue trip to the recycling station. Once there I was met by two helpful attendants wearing orange (only one was an SCDC inmate). Quoth one attendant to the other, “This fella’s a chicken fan, you see that?” He pointed at the USC tag on my car and raised his heavy, untrimmed eyebrows knowingly. The other (the inmate) then smiled a one-toothed grin at me and thoughtfully postulated: “He’s just mad cause Garcia finally got kicked off the team. ‘Bought time, you ask me – always up to no good.”
I wanted to protest that I was A. not mad at all, and B. in fact slightly bemused at the irony of an inmate maligning a graduated college athlete. But knowing that neither of these observations would serve to shorten the recycling transaction, I chose instead to chuckle good-naturedly and finish unloading my bottles and cans. I did notice in my rear view mirror as I drove away that the two coworkers were revelling in their perceived witt. Eh, I don’t fault them, as they literally work in a trash dump.
Next on the list was the purchase of a new drain pipe for our laundry room sink. Hard experience has taught me to avoid the nearby Dollar General, which certainly had the needed part, but also serves as a makeshift tailgating spot for several Clemson fans in our neighborhood (NO, I AM NOT KIDDING. AND NO, I DON’T LIVE ANYWHERE NEAR THE CTU CAMPUS). I think they understand the snack aisle at Dollar General to be a form of tailgating as it is usually heavily orange for Halloween from very early in the fall.
I also passed on the local Super Walmart, as all local Walmart employees are required, apparently, to reference Dabo Sweeney in any conversation they might have with a customer. Any routine query is answered with “as Dabo says . . .” or “according to Dabo . . . ” The Home Depot was also out as again, the orange color scheme causes the slack-jawed fan base to mindlessly congregate therein.
Instead I travelled all the way to Lowes, an inconvenient distance, but a solid choice in other respects. Unfortunately, no sooner had walked through the sliding entry doors than Randy, an old high school classmate of mine, accosted me with a rowdy “Wooooo! Tigers gonna kick some Carolina Wolfpack rear end today!” Now, a couple of notes, here: A. Randy has no idea about my football loyalties as we aren’t that close, and B. His understanding of mascots is solidly in the fat part of the bell curve of all CTU fans. That to the side, Randy is something of a tragic figure, so I just nodded and walked on by. See, he was a plumber by trade (if not by official licensure) but was forced by the lagging economy to take a job as a Lowes shopping cart collector. I also know from previous conversations with him that his boss, the head of the customer service department, actually holds a degree from Clemson in “business”, which qualifies him perfectly to supervise the Lowes Return Desk in Randy’s learned opinion.
Regardless, I quickly located the part, allthewhile deftly avoiding engagement with two red-jacketed stock clerks who were relating CJ Spiller anecdotes (CJ spoke at their megachurch a few weekends ago, evidently). From the smatterings of the conversation I did sadly overhear, they were repeating a Spiller bon mot regarding his woefully low “NFL Wonderkid” score and how it was evidence of the great academic support system for athletes at CTU, given CJ’s status as an honor graduate of the institution.
Soon afterward, Randy spied me in the check-out line and ran -literally sprinted- over to me to ask if I heard the latest joke about Spurrier’s house getting egged. I told him I had not, but understood if Garcia was a prime suspect since only 3 of the dozen eggs actually hit the house. Randy blinked, confused by my hijacking of his witticism, and stared at me dumbfounded. I wished him a happy weekend and departed without further incident.
As I pulled back into my driveway, I noticed my neighbor throwing football with his first-grade son. The tableau would have made a nice fall photograph, except both of them were wearing orange from head-to-toe. I waved to them and attempted to quickly enter my house, but failed as the dad called me over to “settle an argument” he was having with his son. I walked over, hoping to be helpful, and slightly flattered that my opinion was valued in this domestic interaction.
“Is,” my neighbor asked, “Sammy Watkins just the greatest football player in Clemson history, or is he the greatest player in the history of the entire State?” I coughed, and then explained that, upon quick reflection over Mr. Watkins’ six game resume, I was unable to render such a judgment at this time. I also added that I thought he was, in fact, a very talented freshman and I looked forward to following his college career. The son then piped up snottily that Watkins was “wwwaaaayyyy better than Allison Jeffery, ain’t he?” I reassured the kid that, yes, Watkins was better than Allison could ever dream of being (wherever she is).
Once inside, I decided to unwind by watching a little of the UNC/CTU game. On first glance, it appeared that the UNC Defensive Coordinator had solved the rubik’s cube that is Tajh Boyd, as on the initial series I witnessed, he actually brought pressure and made Mr. Einstein move his feet a little. After a quick three and out, however, the baby blue coaches proceeded to abandon this working solution and went with a soft zone thereafter. Needless to say, by halfway through the third quarter I was sufficiently motivated to immediately undertake my household plumbing project poste haste.
Later that evening I was distracted from raking leaves by a phone call from a friend, Dan. I’ve known Dan for a couple of years, and while he isn’t much of a sports fan, but he is usually a nice guy, so I answered with happiness. Dan began the conversation thusly: “Hey, I was just watching the Clemson game, ain’t that Dabo something? You know I’ve always loved Clemson, I just don’t talk about it too much. You’re a Carolina fan aren’t you? Well, it must suck to be you about now, eh buddy? What’s the all time record between Clemson and SC anyway?” I tried to point out that SC had won three of the last five in the series, and that I fully expected another victory this year, but Dan only responded by asking excitedly where he could “buy some orange.”
“The Dollar General,” I answered, and hung up.
So I posted that we had a new day for TRC Unleashed, but failed to tell anyone what time. Oh well, fortunately this spectacular episode is archived and available for your listening pleasure right HERE.
- How the loss of Marcus Lattimore will affect the team going forward
- A recap of the Mississippi State game
- A preview of the open date festivities
- Looking forward to Tennessee
Marcus Lattimore is done for the season due to a knee injury. It’s a nightmare, and it’s heartbreaking. As one writer put it, Lattimore is not only a great representative for the University of South Carolina, he is a great representative for the game of college football.
He is the current cornerstone of our football program. All-SEC. All-American. Heisman candidate. Good guy…check that, GREAT guy. He is the best running back we have seen in a Gamecock uniform in 30 years, and has a chance to be the best ever. Even better, he is the epitome of a team player – humble and willing to do whatever it takes to help bring home a victory.
The good news is he will be back in 2012, and based on the work ethic and determination he has shown since coming to USC, he will be better than ever. The bad news is he is done for the 2011 season.
Which leads to a question for the rest of the Gamecock players and coaches…
What are you going to do about it?
These are the times when you get the full measure of a football program. Adversity has come upon you like a cold rain the last two weeks, and even so, you are still in the driver’s seat to win the East and get back to Atlanta.
The media is already building in the excuses for your demise – the dismissal of Garcia, your tough schedule, Georgia’s easy schedule, and now the loss of #21. You have no shot.
Well screw that. You didn’t come to South Carolina to finish second. You have enough talent to compete and defeat anyone on the schedule, even without Garcia and Lattimore.
Connor Shaw – this is your team. Don’t go “manage the game”, go win the game.
Brandon Wilds – you came to South Carolina to be a feature back, right? Well, here’s your shot, and a lot sooner than expected.
Bruce Ellington – you saw the success of the football program and decided, “I want in.” Now stop being a part of the success and start being a reason for it.
Kenny Miles and Eric Baker – rub some freakin’ dirt on it and let’s get on the field and make a difference.
Dameire Byrd and Ace Sanders – be game breakers. Be back breakers.
Jason Barnes – you’re running out of time to make a difference. Now is as good a time as any, what do you say?
Offensive line – put a hat on somebody and push them out of the way. EVERY TIME.
Defense – you guys need to…well, you need to keep doing what you’re doing, and we’ll be in every game.
Steve Spurrier and staff – COACH. THEM. UP. HBC, if you are still truly and offensive “genius”, now is the time to show it. You have the talent, now maximize it.
We had a whole day to have a pity party on Sunday – coaches, players and fans alike. But it’s time to define a season. It’s time to move on and expect nothing less than a complete effort in every game going forward. Three phases on the field, and one united phase in the stands.
Win any way.
Here are some quick, barely researched, not fully-formed thoughts from yesterday’s emotional, hard-fought 14-12 victory over Mississippi State:
Marcus. This being early Sunday morning, we are still awaiting more concrete information on Lattimore’s knee injury. I am pessimistic, but am hesitant to write any type of epitaph on #21’s season. It’s scary, it’s sad, but at the moment I write this there is still hope. I know knees don’t normally bend that way, but I also know Marcus Lattimore has been defying normal for quite some time now.
D is for Defense. The first couple of weeks of the season we were wondering why all the talent on the defensive side of the ball wasn’t translating into low yardage and low point totals. Wonder no more. While this week was nothing like the Vanderbilt or Kentucky games, make no mistake, holding the MSU offense to 10 points won this game for us. Sure, the Bulldogs moved the ball at times, and missed a couple of long ball opportunities when receivers got behind Marty Markett. But we had Tyler Russell running for his life all day, and we disrupted and decleated at all the right times.
All hands on deck. Whether Lattimore is out for days, weeks or months, it’s time for some guys on offense to step to the front of the line. A preseason ESPN.com article talked about our returning “Big 3” – Garcia, Lattimore and Jeffery. Well, at this moment we’re down to the big 1, and we need our paper playmakers to become real playmakers. Ellington, Sanders, Byrd, Wilds, Miles, Jones et al, show us what you got.
1. Speaking of our big 1, any doubts cast upon that gentlemen were dispelled with one 42-inch vertical leap. He’s still a superstar, regardless of stats.
Fourth quarter comeback. We’ve had a dearth of fourth-quarter comebacks at South Carolina over the years. But Connor Shaw orchestrated one in his third career start. Shaw’s numbers – 20-28, 155 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT – were nothing to write home about. He forced some balls that led to the interceptions, and maybe made a couple of other decisions he’d like to have back. But when it counted, on the last meaningful drive of the fourth quarter, he was 4-4 for 38 yards and rushed twice for 11. Not bad for a road game in cowbell hell.
Questionable. Steve Spurrier is stubborn. Too stubborn to realize that our offensive line is not powerful enough to get one yard on fourth down between the tackles. I was screaming to take the field goal when Lattimore was stopped on fourth down with the game tied 7-7. I know the HBC hates field goals, but sometimes those three points are the difference between winning and losing.
The SEC hates us. I texted that yesterday, and not as a conspiracy theorist, but as a realist. How else do you explain the calls that have been going against us this year? The roughing the kicker penalty that we didn’t get (that would’ve kept a drive alive) was one of the most obvious screwjobs I’ve seen in a while. And when the officials start calling holding again, we are going to be in business. I just hope it’s this year.
We like James Franklin. Not related to our game, but if you haven’t seen his postgame presser after the Georgia game, you really need to watch at least the first three minutes or so. What a class act, and a guy you’d love to have on your side. Oh, and on the flip side, Todd Grantham is a first-class turd.
TRC Unleashed will not be airing tonight due to some conflicts, but we’re planning to have a show for you tomorrow night. Stay tuned for details.
No idea what demons are skullsacking around inside Todd Grantham’s ugly noggin’, but #86 for Vandy is the most football player ever.
See :33 mark and following: