Here are some quick, barely researched, not fully formed thoughts from this afternoon’s 54-3 mauling of Kentucky:
All is well, at least for an afternoon. Nothing like a 51-point victory over a conference opponent to cheer up the Gamecock Nation. After last week’s loss there was a lot of bitching (hey, if Spurrier can use it, so can I) about the offense, play calling, quarterback, etc. We needed this kind of game to restore some order and confidence. Did we turn some kind of corner with today’s game? Hard to tell, because Kentucky is awful. But the next three games will help define the season as we go on the road to Mississippi State, Tennessee and Arkansas. Play like we did today and we’ll give ourselves a chance.
So Shaw, so good. The talk all week was about the ascension of Connor Shaw to starting QB. Most believed Shaw would be eased in and asked to “manage the game”, not make mistakes and hand off a lot to #21. Steve Spurrier had a different idea. Determined to get the passing game going, the HBC had Shaw tossing it around the park like some USFL throwback. Shaw’s final line of 26-39, 311 yards, 4 TDs and no INTs was as good as we’ve seen in a while from a USC QB. He was calm, confident, and made good decisions most of the day.
So much for the arguments that Spurrier hadn’t played Shaw because he didn’t have confidence in him, or that Shaw simply wasn’t any good. The question now becomes (because we’re all idiot fans), why did it take so long to make the switch?
The miracle of game planning. When Spurrier said they needed to make some changes on offense this week, most thought that was a direct reference to Shaw. But he obviously also put a lot of thought into this week’s game plan, unlike last week’s bizarrely unimaginative, disjointed mess. We saw pass to set up the run, the wildcat, Emory and Henry, tight end involvement, speed sweeps, a flea flicker, and much, much more. In another time and place you might say it smacked of desperation, but the way everything seemed to work it felt more like Spurrier saying, “See? I still got it.”
D is for dominant. After a rough start to the season, the defense has put in two performances where they allowed less than 100 yards total offense in conference games. I know they were Vandy and Kentucky, but I still maintain that’s pretty doggone special. Throw in six more turnovers, and we’ve currently got the best defense in the SEC this side of Alabama and LSU.
Memorable. I don’t know how many of these are any kind of record, but it was quite an impressive day for the offense – 54 points, 51 point margin of victory, 639 yards, 288 yards rushing, 91 plays…plus you had the first career touchdowns for four guys – Cunningham, Jones, Ellington and Thompson. Nice.
Running up the score? If you could see in my eyes, you would note that I don’t give a damn. After last year’s crushing loss to this team, I ain’t apologizing for nothing. I don’t expect Spurrier will either.
Tough row to hoe. The loss to Auburn last week stings a little more today. Georgia’s schedule is cake compared to ours, so we might eventually need help from Florida or Auburn to get back to the SECCG. That is provided we win three of our four remaining SEC games. (If it sounds like I’m conceding Arkansas, well, you got me.)
Hope you’ll join us for the podcast this week. Go Cocks!