Snap judgments isn’t very snappy since almost a full day has passed since our Cap One Bowl victory. But hey, I had a house full of people already ragging me for paying more attention to Twitter than them, so I had to preserve some sort of familial peace and postpone the column until today.
With that said, here are some quick, barely researched, not fully formed thoughts on yesterday’s win, the ELEVENTH of the season for the Gamecocks:
The Head Ball Coach. After losing to UConn at a miserably cold third-tier bowl game on January 2, 2010, you had to wonder. The 34-17 thrashing of rival CTU a month earlier was well in the rear view mirror. South Carolina’s final record was 7-6. The years before that were similarly mediocre – 7-6, 6-6, 8-5, 7-5.
Sure, relatively speaking that was progress, and there were glimpses of hope. But the promise of SEC and national football relevance under Steve Spurrier seemed as far away as it was the day he took the job. And we all wondered – if Steve Spurrier can’t get the job done here, then who can?
On January 2, 2012, Steve Spurrier and South Carolina realized that promise of relevance. Actually, South Carolina has achieved relevance BECAUSE of Steve Spurrier.
In the two years since that brutal loss to UConn, the coach and the school have an SEC East title, a 9-win season, a win over #1-ranked Alabama, two convincing wins over CTU, numerous wins over traditional SEC powers Georgia, Tennessee and Florida, and now an 11-win season, a top 10 ranking in the final polls and the title of greatest Gamecock team ever.
Steve Spurrier appeared to choke up a little in his post-game interview with ESPN yesterday when talking about this team’s accomplishments, and Spurrier is not the type of guy to choke up. Period. I think even he realizes the magnitude of what he has been able to achieve with this program. And the good news is he seems determined to achieve more.
A lot more.
Still the 1. Alshon Jeffery ended his South Carolina career in style. Well, sort of.
He was on his way to a legendary day with four catches for 148 yards and one TD through two and a half quarters when a heated scuffle broke out with Nebraska corner Alfonzo Dennard. Two punches by Dennard and a shove by Jeffery resulted in both players being ejected.
It was pretty obvious from the start that Nebraska’s plan was to get physical with Alshon and get him frustrated. I doubt it was their plan to get him ejected, but by the time it happened, he had already done his damage.
It’s a shame for Alshon because he deserved to be on the field during the historic win. But he was somewhat vindicated when the media voted him game MVP, a signal that not just Gamecock fans thought his ejection was unjust.
As for Mr. Dennard, if he truly is the NFL prospect ESPN says he is, he better learn to keep his hands off receivers after that first five yards or he will be a penalty machine in The League.
No EJ, no problem. I was afraid of Nebraska’s run game heading into the Capital One Bowl, and then after they scored on their first possession (on a pass, oddly enough) I was even more afraid. One of the people I was watching the game with even said “Ellis Johnson”, with no additional commentary.
But Lorenzo Ward’s troops recovered and played lights out after the Huskers’ first possession of the second half, holding them to 64 total yards in the half. One amazing statistic was that after Jeffery was ejected, Nebraska ran 11 plays for -22 yards.
I think we’re in good hands.
Melvin Ingram and Travian Robertson. Thank you, and good luck in the NFL.
Jadeveon Clowney. Uh, yeah, that guy is good.
Kenny Miles. What an unexpected boost from #31 in the last two games. I hope he returns, and I think he will, but he’ll once again be battling for the #2 spot at best against Shon Carson, Brandon Wilds and incoming freshman Kenrick Salley. However, two of those guys (Carson, Salley) will be coming off knee surgery (as well as Marcus, obviously), so it sure would be nice to have Miles on the roster.
The Marcus Effect. Remember the big knock on this team heading into the season? “The offense IS Marcus Lattimore, if they lose him…”
Honestly, it was hard to argue at the time based on how we played when he was injured in 2010. But this year guys stepped up, the offense found continuity, and now the future for the Gamecock offense is brighter than ever.
Can you imagine what our offense would’ve been like WITH Marcus in the lineup?
Shaw and Co. We’ve been saying it for a while now, and it’s still a little hard to believe – no Lattimore, no Garcia, and a sub-par season from Jeffery and we still go 11-2. Kudos to Connor Shaw, the guy who not only kept this offense together, but was the catalyst for quite a bit of success on the offensive side of the ball.
Bo Pelini. Mr. Road Rage still thinks his guys are better than ours.
I’ll say it straight out — our football team, even after the game felt we were a better football team than them.
Special teams. Our ST have not been good at all this year, but yesterday was abysmal. Penalty on a punt return that leads to a Husker TD, horrendous punting, missed 20-yard FG, THREE penalties on another punt return, zero kickoffs that come close to reaching the end zone…please check the box that says “NEEDS WORK”.
Top 10 finish. Just to reiterate – South Carolina will finish in the Top 10 in the rankings for the first time ever. That’s pretty sweet.
The Rumor Mill. From the FWIW Department – the hot rumors today are Stephon Gilmore has decided to enter the draft, while Shawn Elliott is a leading candidate for the Appalachian State job.
Our reaction to the Gilmore news? Meh, OK, kinda figured.
Our reaction to the Elliott news? NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!
GO DWAGS. For you folks that pull for the SEC out of conference pride, I admire you and really don’t have a beef with it. But I only pull for Georgia against CTU, so the end of yesterday’s Outback Bowl was SOOO much fun to watch. Also fun – watching my co-workers sulk around like their dog died. Which I guess in this instance, it kinda did…