Here are some quick, barely researched, not fully formed thoughts from yesterday’s surprisingly easy 48-10 victory over the East Carolina Pirates:
Tempest in a teapot. Dylan Thompson’s cameo in last Thursday’s Vanderbilt game was roundly panned by…well, everybody, including Steve Spurrier. But Spurrier obviously knew something we didn’t when he named Thompson the starter for yesterday’s game against ECU in place of Connor Shaw, because he had #17 lobbing bombs from the opening series. Thompson responded by going 21-37 for 330 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start. He wasn’t perfect, but he was much more than good enough against a porous East Carolina secondary. As Spurrier said in the post-game presser, Thompson’s confidence was as high as it’s ever been and his teammates responded and rallied around him. Good to see.
Before anyone gets excited about a quarterback controversy (which is a ridiculous notion, but I’ve already seen it floated out there), Spurrier has said Connor Shaw will start next week against Alabama-Birmingham provided his shoulder is in good working order by then. But it’s nice to know Thompson appears to be a viable option should Shaw have to sit for any reason.
Opportunistic D. The Gamecock defense gave up more than 400 yards of offense to the Pirates, but forced five turnovers and gave up only ten points. You can bet Coach Ward will not be happy with the yardage total, but I don’t think it’s anything to be concerned about unless we start to see a pattern. Speaking of the D, did Jadeveon Clowney put on about 40 lbs. of muscle this week? I don’t now if it’s the home jersey, of if they purposely made his number smaller on his jersey, but he looked frightening to me. I can only imagine how frightening he looked to the ECU left tackle.
The Head Ball Coach. There was a lot of talk over the summer that the HBC had “gotten his swagger back”, talking more smack than he had previously at USC, and nearing the level of his Florida days. Yesterday he showed a little more of the swagger, calling a wide receiver pass with 35-3, and then scoring the final touchdown on a 51-yard pass play with less than a minute to go. In the post-game Spurrier said the reason for that last pass was “to win the fourth quarter, we talk a lot about winning the fourth quarter around here”, and USC was trailing the fourth quarter 7-6 at the time (but still leading 41-10). You know what coach, I’m ok with it. As a matter of fact, I LOVE IT.
Also in the post-game, Spurrier mentioned USC ran 50 plays in the first half, then took a jab at Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris by saying “boy that Clemson coach would be proud of us wouldn’t he?” (Morris’ goal is for his teams to run about 80 offensive plays per game.) Spurrier followed that up with a fit of laughter unseen in his days at USC. Classic.
“I’d keep throwing coach.” East Carolina held Marcus Lattimore to 40 yards on 13 carries, and the Gamecocks to 131 total rushing yards. Spurrier said when he asked Sean Elliott what running plays he wanted to go with, he responded, “I’d keep throwing coach.” That had to be music to Spurrier’s ears.
Better reception. Concern over the wide receiver corps grew after last week against Vandy, but the group redeemed themselves with a solid performance yesterday. Eight different receivers caught passes yesterday, led by Bruce Ellington’s four catches, and D.L. Moore’s two touchdowns. Spurrier looked anxious to take the wrappings off his new toy Shaq Roland, but #4 couldn’t come down with any long balls. He did have his first career catch and finished with two catches for 25 yards. Buster Anderson looked like an all-SEC candidate at the tight end position with four catches for 90 yards and two TD’s. So far there are no superstars to catch the ball, but it appears there are a lot of solid options.
Around the Country, aka The Transitive Property Report. After a weekend of strange games last week that had us guessing about the quality of some of our future opponents (and one of our past opponents), I thought we’d take a look at our schedule and determine how we feel about that team after week 2. There is no rhyme or reason to the TPR, it’s just how I feel and I make it up as I go:
- Vanderbilt – lost to Northwestern 23-13. Now, Northwestern did beat Syracuse, who in turn gave SoCal a run for their money yesterday, so that takes a little sting out. But Vandy still appears to be Vandy. Transitive Property Report (TPR) for Vandy: Not so good.
- UAB – DNP. TPR for UAB: Not a problem.
- Missouri – Lost to Georgia 41-20. Honestly, I expected more from these Tigers. Maybe I got caught up in the ESPN first SEC game hype. Mizzou missed a ton of opportunities and succumbed to a suffocating Georgia D. Can we hold them in check in two weeks? TPR for Mizzou: Slightly good, but cautious.
- Kentucky – Beat Kent State 47-14. Yawn, nothing scares me about this team yet. Still have to point to the drubbing at the hands of Louisville. TPR for Kentucky: Very good.
- Georgia – Beat Missouri 41-20. The score was maybe a little misleading, this game was close fairly late until a couple of critical turnovers by Mizzou. Still, UGA’s defense was scary good WITHOUT four starters. The Dogs vaunted running game and next next next next next Herschel Walker was shut down for most of the night. They appear to have found a go-to receiver in Marlon Brown. TPR for Georgia: About the same, still looks like this could go a long way in determining the East champion.
- LSU – Beat Washington 41-3. Meh. Washington has been a struggling program for years, and after muddling to a 21-12 win over San Diego State, you knew they wouldn’t put up much of a fight in the bayou. Can someone explain why this was the ESPN prime time game and UGA-Mizzou was on the Duece? TPR for LSU: Still feels like a loss, but we’ll know more about both teams before it gets here.
- Florida – Beat Texas A&M 20-17. An outstanding win for Will Muschamp and the Gators. I missed the first half of this game, but my Twitter timeline told me TAMU was manhandling Florida in the first half. But the Gators played an inspired second half in an extremely hostile environment and put themselves back on everyone’s radar. TPR for Florida: Not enough information, feeling neutral.
- Tennessee – Beat Georgia State 51-13. The first question is, how did GSU score 13 after only scoring six on South Carolina State? Eh, not relevant, I know. Tennessee’s big win over NCSU last week doesn’t look nearly as big after the Wolfpack only beat UConn 10-7. The Vols are better, but I think this one still goes in the W column when all is said and done. TPR for Tennessee: Good, up slightly from OK.
- Arkansas – Lost to Louisiana Monroe 34-31. The shocker of the weekend by far. Outside of LSU, a lot of pundits pointed to this game as the most likely loss for the Gamecocks. But the Hogs have problems all over the place, and without Tyler Wilson they are a .500 team at best. We’ll see if and how they recover in the coming weeks. This team has owned us for a while, but this may be the year to exact a little revenge. TPR for Arkansas: MUCH more confident.
- Wofford – Beat Lincoln University 82-0 (!!!). We all know this game will be painful. We will not lose to them, but as always our ego will take a hit. TPR for Wofford: Groan, we have to play them again?
- Clemson – Beat Ball State 52-27. It’s the second week of September, and CTU is rolling. Sound familiar? The Tigers get another scrimmage next week against Furman before they get the only real test on their ACC schedule against Florida State. We’ve known the ACC is weak for years now, but they might be scraping bottom at the moment. Get used to hearing it from the upstate crowd all year as they smash cupcakes, but remind them that the outstanding Auburn team they beat got rolled by Mississippi State. TPR for Clemson: Still feeling good about it.
Go Cocks, beat [searches Google for UAB mascot] the Blazers!