Loyal readers, we apologize for the slackness of the blog and podcast for the last couple of weeks. The bye week personally lulled me into a warm, comfortable apathy that felt like a deep, Ambien-aided sleep in a feather bed in a deep woods cabin, snuggled up with my beautiful wife. (Hey, she reads the blog, so I couldn’t say Christina Hendricks, OK?)
Most years a road win over Tennessee snap me out of that like a bucket of cold gin martini to the face, but this edition of the Volunteers just makes me sad for the poor suckers who agreed to take a football scholarship from that porcelain bowl swirling institution.
But now the real season starts folks. A stretch run that was supposed to include three tough road SEC games is down to one tough road SEC game now that we have dispatched disappointing Mississippi State and Tennessee squads. Then we finish with three at the W-B, and Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, a trip back to Atlanta. If that don’t get you excited, I don’t know what will.
With that in mind, we’ll resume TRC Unleashed with a special Thursday edition this week, and here is a combo Snap Judgments and Tusings for your reading enjoyment.
The defense doesn’t rest. After the first two games this season, we all had to wonder why the immense talent on the defensive side of the ball wasn’t translating to reduced points and yardage. But Ellis Johnson has his squad playing lights out, once again holding an opponent to less than 200 yards of total offense. Are our ridiculous statistics fools gold because of the level of offensive competition we’ve been playing? We’ll find out this week, because Arky will easily be the most potent offense we’ve seen all year.
Wilds’ Kingdom. All we heard since the knee injury to #21 was “Brandon Wilds is talented, but he’s no Marcus Lattimore.” If we can get the kind of production out of #22 week in and week out like we got Saturday (137 yards rushing, 31 receiving), we’ll all be just fine with Brandon Wilds being Brandon Wilds. The tailback spot appears to be in good hands.
Chill Pill for Connor. Connor Shaw has done a good job since taking over the starting QB job three games ago, but in my humble opinion he regressed a little against UT. The Vols pressure seemed to rattle him early and often as he never had a chance to let downfield routes develop. Blame the O-line (specifically the tackles) for poor protection Saturday night, but Shaw also took off running too early of a few occasions. He will need to stay super cool against the ‘Hogs for us to have a chance this week.
Play of the UT game: Cody Gibson not giving up after Shaw’s interception. The big OL’s good hustle helped prevent a touchdown, and D.J. Swearinger was able to come up with a pick two plays later, and USC finished off the game with a 20-play drive. Who knows how different the game would’ve been of UT had converted their pick into a six.
7-1 and 5-1 and what it means. In a historical context, we are truly on one of the great runs in Gamecock football history. The fact that we have not been particularly impressive in our victories combined with the stank that is the Eastern division (see below) has caused that to be overlooked. With two SEC games left, we have already equaled our greatest conference win total ever. We are also 17-4 in our last 21 regular season games. Let that sink in, and then think twice about bitching about our shortcomings. Could things be better? Sure, and hopefully they will be. But take just a moment and enjoy the ride.
The sad state of the East. It’s hard to defend the SEC East at this point in the season. Kentucky and Tennessee are putrid. Vanderbilt is good for Vanderbilt, which means they are merely awful. Florida gets worse every week, which I guess is good for USC, but not good for the SEC in general. The ‘Cocks main competition for the East crown? UGA, a team that has beaten Coastal Carolina and five teams with a combined SEC record of 4-22. Yowza. I’m beginning to believe Auburn can take the Bulldogs, which would give us a one game margin of error. (Not that I want it, I’d rather win out of course.)
Speaking of Georgia…You think we’ve had issues at tailback? With today’s suspension of THREE of UGA’s top four tailbacks for “violation of team rules”, and with Richard Samuel ruled out Saturday with an ankle injury, the Bulldogs are thinner than Mark Richt’s hairline at that position. Rumors are flying that the suspensions are related to failed drug tests, and at least one Atlanta sports talk station has it on “good authority” that UGA knew of the tests the Friday before the Florida game. If that’s true, then shame on your Mark Richt and Greg McGarrity. (Anyone who wants to debate how this relates to Stephen Garcia, bring it. My glass house was shattered a long time ago.)
CTU HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH. What can spice up a lackadaisical win over Tennessee? How about Georgia Tech steamrolling the former BCS National Title contenders. I didn’t think the Jackets had it in them, especially given how bad they were against Virginia and Miami. But wow, what fun. If ever there was a good time to break out the phrase “Paper Tigers”, that was it.
Go Cocks, beat those Hogs.