Some quick, barely researched, not fully formed thoughts from South Carolina’s improbable 27-24 overtime win over 5th-ranked Missouri last night:
Miracle in COMO. Wow. I don’t believe words can adequately describe last night’s win over Mizzou. Not only did we beat the number five team in the country, but it was on the road. At night. After falling behind 17-0. After not scoring our first points until early in the 4th quarter. After staring down a 4th and goal from the 15 in the first overtime. After surviving Mizzou having a first and goal on their final possession. After the Tiger kicker doinks a 24-yard field goal.
We were on the verge of losing so many times in that last hour of football. I kept thinking “teams that mount this kind of comeback are not supposed to lose. We ARE NOT SUPPOSED to lose after this kind of rally.” Somehow we didn’t.
I can’t think of any other game where the spirit of our mascot was epitomized more. These Gamecocks appeared to be down and out for three quarters, and then mounted a comeback for the ages.
Those guys fought to the football death. And somehow, some way, came out of there with the win. Gamecocks indeed.
4th and 15. I was slumped in my chair at home when the ball was snapped on 4th and 15 in the first overtime. I was thinking about writing this blog post. The theme was how in the world could we fight so hard to send the game to overtime, and then lay down on both our defensive and offensive possessions in overtime. But then Connor Shaw hit a bafflingly open Bruce Ellington, and we had life.
Us old-timers know that’s a play that we’re not supposed to pull off. Plays like that don’t happen for us, they happen to us. But things are different now, and Shaw and Ellington don’t really give a crap about the conventional wisdom of us old-timers. They just want to win.
No Small Fry. After a bad miss last week at Tennessee, and a poor kick in the first half Saturday night, my confidence in Elliott Fry was officially on the decline. But he was one of many Gamecocks who proved me wrong last night, calmly drilling a 40-yarder for the winning points. He handled the pressure much better than…
Doink. Andrew Baggett missed a field goal in the fourth quarter that could’ve put sufficient distance between Mizzou and us, and then inexplicably* doinked a chip shot off the left upright to give USC the win. Who would’ve thought we would eventually win this game because of special teams?
*Unless you count Joe Tessitore’s insistence that the laces being in caused the miss. It was a 24-yarder, you should make that no matter where the laces are positioned.
Team Shaw. The legend grows. When Shaw went down with a knee injury last week there were a lot of us who feared the worst. Even if it wasn’t the worst, surely he wouldn’t be able to play this week. All he did was come in the game with six+ minutes left in the third quarter and lead his team back from a three-score deficit by going 20-29 for 201 yards and three touchdowns. Ho hum, such is the life of the greatest Gamecock quarterback ever.
Team Thompson. At the same time, I hope folks aren’t all of a sudden down on Dylan Thompson. His line was far from terrible – 15-27 for 222 yards and one interception. He was a little wild, no doubt. But like Shaw’s propensity to tuck and run before going through his progressions, there are some things with Dylan we are going to have to live with to get to the things that are going to make him a very good quarterback for us. As Spurrier said, last night was just not Dylan’s night.
The HBC. I was critical of Steve Spurrier last week, specifically his management of timeouts. He deserves a tremendous amount of credit for inserting Shaw last night when the majority of us thought it was a horrible idea. But lost in all the guts and grittiness of the victory is what a superb game he called, particularly in the second half.
Grinders. Our defense gave up 404 yards, but played a fantastic game. Missouri was averaging 44 ppg entering the game and had not scored less than 36 (against the vaunted Gators no less) in any game this season. Lorenzo Ward’s defense held the Tigers to 17 points in regulation, and seven of those came on an unfortunate botched coverage that resulted in a 96-yard touchdown. Aside from Clowney and Quarles, and maybe Hampton, there are no real superstars on our defense. But our guys grind and scratch and claw and make the offense fight for every inch they get. This group is a lot better than they get credit for. (Shouts out to 10, 44, and 8 for solid games.)
The Rocket (and Shon). Mike Davis had a nightmare of a first half with a pair of fumbles, including one where it appeared we were going in for our first score. But like the entire team, he showed tremendous resilience, and when he wasn’t finding his way in the running game he made things happen through screens and short passes. He is truly a special back.
Also, shout out to Shon Carson, who is running with a lot more confidence these days and has filled in admirably for Davis. He has also saved a full football season for David Williams, who will now assuredly redshirt.
The A-trains. I predicted a breakout game for Busta Anderson, and while that didn’t exactly happen, it was nice to see the tight ends finally involved in the offense. Anderson and Jerell Adams combined for six catches for 86 yards. I hope this is a foreshadowing of big things to come from both.
The Wild Wild East. After last night, four teams still have a legitimate shot at the SEC East title. The Gamecocks need to win out, and they need both Georgia and Missouri to lose one more SEC game.
Missouri still has the simplest, if not the easiest, road to Atlanta. They get there by winning out, but have tough games at Ole Miss and at home against Texas A&M to contend with, as well as Tennessee at home and Kentucky on the road.
Georgia needs to win out, and for Missouri to lose two games. The Bulldogs’ have the Cocktail Party this week, and then a tough game at Auburn.
Florida needs to win out, and have Missouri lose two. The Gators have Georgia and then Vandy at home.
In other words, check back in four weeks.
60 Minutes. Twitter was nuts last night. Through three quarters Gamecock fans were eating their own on social media. I read that Spurrier sucks, Ward sucks, our talent level sucks, our recruiting sucks, our defense sucks and is going to suck so much more next year. I read that Spurrier needs to quit, we’ve reached our ceiling as a program, it’s time to move on, etc. etc. etc.
Now, we’ve been known to overreact, to throw out wild opinions on occasion, and that’s cool. We would never tell anyone their opinions are not valid or to stop giving them, because we all get emotional and handle adversity in different ways. There were some opinions that were idiotic, but you have to take them with a grain of salt and move on. It is Twitter after all.
The only suggestion I would make is to always remember a game is 60 minutes long, and sometimes even longer. Every game has its own unique story – a beginning, a middle and an end. Your opinions of our team, coaches, or players in the second quarter could be wildly different from what they are come the fourth quarter.
So next time you’re ready to burn down the program in the second quarter, just CTFD and read the rest of the story. You might just find that you’re going to enjoy the ending.