Snap Judgments – Vandy @ USC Edition


Some quick, barely researched, not fully formed thoughts from Carolina’s 35-25 victory over Vanderbilt last night:

The best of times, the worst of times. As South Carolina roared out to a 28-0 lead over Vandy on Saturday night, I took a moment to relax at the unexpected fortune of blowing out a conference opponent. Alas, a couple of hours later we were one yard from a one-score game with plenty of time left on the clock, and I was back to my familiar pacing, hand-wringing self. We looked like champions for the first quarter and a half, and nearly bumbled ourselves right out of the game the rest of the way. I’m afraid we will see this throughout the season, the very best of what this team can be at one moment and the very worst the next.

I will take this moment to remind you, we lost to a VERY good Georgia team on the road, and if not for some horrible turnovers, would’ve crushed a pretty good Vandy team. We’re good y’all. It’s just not always gonna be pretty.

Statistically speaking. The box score tells a much different story than the final score. The Gamecocks led in

  • First downs 31-14
  • Rushing yards 220-121
  • Passing yards 359-147
  • Total yards 579-268
  • Time of possession 37:10-22:50
  • Turnovers 3-2

I threw that last one in there to show how important ball protection is. Without the Gamecock turnovers this is 4-5 score game. (I know, without the Vandy turnovers it’s a different game as well, so you can’t really play that game.) Otherwise it was a thoroughly dominating performance for the Gamecocks, and the second-most total yards in the Spurrier era.

Team Shaw. Connor Shaw was 21-29 for 284 yards and three TD’s passing, and had 19 rushes for 84 yards. That’s 368 yards of total offense, and this win moved his career record to 19-4 as a starter. Any questions?

Team Thompson. Dylan Thompson came in and did Dylan Thompson things on the third series of the game. He passed and ran the team to an easy touchdown to give the Gamecocks a 21-0 lead. With USC up 28-0 and headed towards halftime, Thompson came in for his second series, and the way we were moving it appeared we would go into the half with a 30+ point lead. But Thompson threw his first interception of the season, and it was returned to the USC one yard line. Vandy would punch it in, then add a field goal on the last play of the half to cut the lead to 28-10.

Now, I can speak for the other members of TRC and say that while we are firmly in the corner of Connor Shaw, we are in NO WAY anti-Dylan Thompson. I’ll even tell you that interception was more the result of a good play by the Vandy DB as it was a bad decision or throw. The play was a classic Spurrier combo route, with Bruce Ellington running an out pattern from his slot position while Damiere Byrd ran a deep pattern to clear out his defender. Problem is, Byrd’s defender gave a peek back into the backfield and saw the ball was coming to Ellington, so he peeled off and made the pick.

People have said of Thompson he’s a Spurrier quarterback because he trusts the system, and that’s what he did there. More often than not a receiver will be open in that pocket. Sure, Thompson floated the ball a little which definitely contributed to the interception. But hey, quarterbacks throw interceptions, it happens. We still love Dylan.

#clowneycomin. Jadeveon Clowney had his second sack of the season in the third quarter, which also resulted in a turnover. Once again, Clowney played very hard against an offense designed to allow anyone but him beat them, and once again pedestrian statistics were the result. It’s obvious some people are not going to judge Clowney on his impact on the game, and are only going to judge him on his stats:

(h/t Michael D. Fuller)

First of all, how would that jackass know how many tackles I had from my couch last night? (For the record it was eight, five of those unassisted.) Second, is he serious about comparing a linebackers’ stats to those of a defensive end?

I’m getting wary of defending Jadeveon Clowney, so I’m going to stop and just pray he knocks somebody’s helmet off soon so everybody will shut up.

Speaking of shut up… Look back at the statistics above and please tell me how you can complain about our offensive or defensive performances last night. If you want to nitpick about how Vandy had success out of the single wing in the second half I’ll listen, but otherwise I am not open to criticism of a team that gave up 268 yards of offense and touchdown drives of 1, 49 and 19 yards. I think @chickenhoops summed it up best:

Not so special. I’m amazed at how bad our special teams are so far this season after being above average recently. There is no danger whatsoever of USC returning a kickoff or punt for any significant yardage. Tyler Hull averaged 29.3 yards on three punts last night. We had another flukey turnover when a short kick hit T.J. Gurley. Thank goodness Elliott Fry (our walk-on we had never heard of until about four weeks ago) has been solid so far. Spurrier said he was going to “get Coach Robinson some players back there” to return kicks, but if they weren’t already back there, then how much better can they be?

Depress-Shon. I feel bad for Shon Carson, I really do. As a freshman he was in the tailback rotation, and even got a carry against UGA. Unfortunately he tore his ACL on that carry and missed the rest of the year. Last year he suffered another season-ending injury during a promising fall camp. After a failed attempt to make an impact with the Gamecock baseball team, he worked hard and made his way back to third on the depth chart at tailback this fall. But with Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds ahead of him, his carries would be limited at best, so the coaches gave him a shot returning kickoffs. After running straight into piles on his opportunities so far this season, last night he did the unthinkable, he ran straight into a pile and fumbled. Vandy capitalized and that was the last we saw of Shon Carson last night.

I hope it’s not the last we see of Shon Carson for good. He deserves a break, but he’s going to have to earn his way back onto the field and then make something happen when there. Something he has been unable to do so far in his career.

Picked. Game ball to Jimmy Legree for the play of the night.

Student discount. It was quite embarrassing to see our student section so empty last night. It didn’t go unnoticed by our players, but for some reason the HBC downplayed it in his comments today. To have some students leave during a 3-4 score game is expected, but the mass exodus last night simply made us look like pretenders. We can control very little of what happens on the field, but 80,000 voices are a heckuva lot louder than 65,000 voices. Those extra 15,000 would’ve been appreciated when Vandy was making a charge last night.

The Hymanator. Thanks again Eric Hyman for scheduling an away game with these guys.

Enjoy the off week folks, and Go Cocks!

5 thoughts on “Snap Judgments – Vandy @ USC Edition

  1. The UCF game has me worried. Its a road game, they are 3-0 with lots of confidence, and George O’Leary is a good coach. I believe we are the better team by far but road games are scary. We lose to UCF and it could be a tough run ahead of us.

    Your thoughts?

    1. Agree, definitely a trap game for us. I don’t think our guys will be too affected by the crowd, given the environments they play in on the road six times a year, but the UCF team will be super amped. We’ll need to try to step on them early to take the emotion out of it. I believe we’ll win, but it ain’t gonna be easy.

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