Some quick, barely researched, not fully-formed thoughts from South Carolina’s 45-42 loss to Tennessee on Saturday:
The bottom. I laughed to myself as we took another two-touchdown, fourth quarter lead last night. I laughed at the ridiculous thought that we could possibly blow it again, for the third time this season, this time to a team that was winless in the SEC since November 30, 2013.
But as we know, no fourth quarter lead (or any lead at all) is safe with this Gamecock defense. The Volunteers put together touchdown drives of 47, 75 and 85 yards in the final frame to send the game to overtime. On the final touchdown drive they started on their own 15-yard line with 1:23 on the clock and no timeouts. Read that sentence again, and let it sink in how ridiculous it is.
Meanwhile, on two of our final three drives (not counting the possession where we took over with :11 left) we managed to bungle our way to SIX yards and zero first downs. One first down on either drive probably seals the game for us. To top is all off, we lost 15 yards on our one possession in overtime.
For the game the Gamecocks rolled up 625 yards of total offense, but when we needed ten more in the worst way, we choked. The defense deserves every ounce of criticism it gets, but the offense did not get it done when it mattered most. Clutch we are not.
I keep thinking we hit bottom last night, but with trips to Florida and Clemson on the horizon, I know it can get worse.
Speechless. That’s the word Lorenzo Ward used to describe his defense’s performance last night. I believe he is at a loss for what to do to stop this hemorrhaging, and for that I don’t really see how he can keep his job after the season ends. You can argue we have a lack of talent on the defensive side of the ball (which I’ve done) and you can lament the fact we might lose some recruits if he and/or his staff is fired. But you cannot go through a historically bad season like this and not have casualties.
The sad part is, while Ward deserves a percentage of the blame, I still don’t honestly know how much. This tweet from Avery Wilkes is a prime example:
To me, that is much more a talent issue than scheme. At some point during the game, against a maligned offensive line like Tennessee’s, one of our guys HAS to beat the guy in front of him and get to the quarterback. We simply have not been able to do that all year.
Stop it. If I was a South Carolina defensive coach, one thing I would tell our guys is to stop with the annoying celebrating after making a stop on a meaningless down like 2nd and 8. At least twice last night Rico McWilliams gave the Dikembe Mutombo finger wag after making a nice play. Jordan Diggs was a little “dancy” after one play he made last night. Celebrate a nice play with your teammates. Don’t act the fool when you’re in the midst of giving up 600+ yards and 45 points.
The HBC. Steve Spurrier walked into the press room last night, gave a 42-second statement, declined to answer questions and left. When a man takes a head football coaching position at a major football program, part of the expectation is that he will stand up and be held accountable for his team’s performance and answer to the fans through the media in good times and bad. With that said, if you have a problem with what Spurrier did last night, my message to you is:
Get over it.
Spurrier is still human, is still emotional, and is still one of the fiercest competitors you will ever come across. He’s been stung not just by our losses this year, but by the way we’ve lost. He’s angry, he’s tired and he’s fed up. And last night’s press conference walk-out might not have been the best of smartest thing in the eyes of the media, but at the end of the day who really gives a damn about hearing cookie-cutter responses to cookie-cutter questions.
“Coach, why did you choose to throw the ball in overtime instead of run it?”
“Well, we had some plays that we thought would work down there, so we ran them.”
“Coach, what to you have to do to get the defense to play better?”
“Well, just keep practicing, work on our angles and tackling, that kind of stuff.”
Do you really think we were going to learn anything from ten minutes of that? I’m not DEMANDING ANSWERS because I know no matter how many times or ways you ask the questions you’re not going to get real answers. Nobody is more angry than Steve Spurrier about how this season has gone, and I guarantee you it’s affecting his life a lot more than yours. If he wants to walk out of a press conference one time after a crushing loss, to me he’s earned the right.
A-hole. This all reminds me of something Gman said to me many years ago about Eddie Fogler, who was notoriously snarky with the media. I think it applies to Spurrier as well. G said when you’re winning and you’re an asshole, you’re engaging and witty and dry and sardonic and people can’t wait to hear your press conferences.
When you’re losing and you’re an asshole, you’re just an asshole.
Pharoh. Shame, shame, shame that Pharoh is this far down the list because we lost. He had one of the great performances in Gamecock history: 11 catches for 233 yards and 2 TDs, 3 carries for 23 yards and a TD, and one passing TD. Not only is he on his way to being placed on some first-team all-SEC lists, at this point he deserves consideration for all-American honors.
Team Thompson. On the flip side of the Spurrier situation, here’s all you need to know about Dylan Thompson:
You can complain that Dylan occasionally makes bad decisions on the field, overthrows too many receivers, or looks like he’s wearing cement shoes when he runs. Off the field you might not like his religious views or his prosthelytizing.
But don’t ever forget one thing – Dylan Thompson is an excellent representative of the University of South Carolina and one that we should all be proud of.
Go Cocks! Beat Open Date!