Snap Judgments – 2015 Kentucky @ USC Edition

Passed by the 'Cats (AP Photo)
Passed by the ‘Cats (AP Photo)

Some quick, barely researched, not fully-formed thoughts from South Carolina’s 26-22 loss to Kentucky:

Watershed. On January 1, 2014, South Carolina defeated Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl. Six days later when the final college football rankings were released, the Gamecocks were ranked fourth, the best finish in school history. In April 2014, Jadeveon Clowney was taken by the Houston Texans with the first overall pick in the NFL Draft. The University’s athletic department ran a campaign called “Top Ten Program” featuring the football team’s successes.

Since then the Gamecocks have played a mere 15 football games, winning 8 and losing 7, including Saturday night’s loss to Kentucky. In the process, South Carolina has either lost ground to or been passed by every football program in the SEC aside from Vanderbilt and possibly Florida.

We are now, at best, the 12th best program in the SEC after falling for the second straight year to the Wildcats. You don’t believe it? Then who would you put us ahead of out of Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi, Mississippi State, LSU, Arkansas or Texas A&M? (Don’t even get me started on how Clemson has passed us like we were standing still.) Even though we’ve beaten Florida twice in a row, they have a new coach, new energy, and because of a rich recruiting base a program that doesn’t have far to go to insert themselves back into the national conversation.

The fall of the Gamecocks has been fast and painful. Apathy from the head man has reflected mightily on the recruiting trail and that has translated in a bad way to the football field. Recruiting is the lifeblood of college football, and we have failed miserably in that area for the last few years. Especially considering we had a run of three straight 11-win seasons and we actually WERE a top 10 program.

Steve Spurrier has done more for South Carolina Gamecock football than any other coach in our history. Maybe more than all the others combined. He has taken us to places we only dreamed of. He has put us on the map, and he has entertained us. Most of all, he has won a lot of important ball games for us. And I have a feeling we will be thanking him for many years and in many ways for his contributions.

But now Steve Spurrier is not winning. Or at least he’s not winning enough. In addition, there are signs things are not going to get better any time soon, and we don’t need a 70-year-old coach leading a rebuilding project anyway. And please spare me the “how soon we forget 1-21” speech. I haven’t forgotten that at all, but it WAS fifteen years ago and lot has changed, not the least of which are our expectations of wins and losses. Just because we experienced 1-21 doesn’t mean we should put a cap on our expected success.

I realize we are only two games into the season, and lot of things can happen. But I have also witnessed a precipitous fall from what was our football mountaintop. I have a feeling we’re going to be looking for new head coach in December. It will be a sad time, an uneasy time, and an exciting time. But it will be time.

Take your pick. The loss to Kentucky was the epitome of a team effort. Failed red zone trips, a fumble returned for a 2-point conversion, a crucial interception, two unsportsmanlike penalties, miserable first half tackling. They say games between equally matched teams are usually decided by 1-2 plays. But last night, even if we overcame one bad play, there was another one waiting around the corner to doom us.

A tale of two halves. For our defense, it was the worst of halves, and the best of halves. But most of what I’ve been reading has been praise for the defense for shutting the Wildcats out in the second half. That’s all well and good, but how about let’s not give up 24 points and 300 yards in the first half that makes the game virtually unwinnable.

QB conundrum. I was sorry to see Connor Mitch get hurt, and was glad to hear he would probably only be out six weeks instead of the entire season. I know the kid has worked hard to earn his spot, and that should not be forgotten. However, he was borderline atrocious in the North Carolina game, and even worse last night. Perry Orth came in and showed surprising poise and confidence. We’ll have to see how the battle between he and Lorenzo Nunez plays out over the next few weeks, but unless both go completely in the tank (along with Michael Scarnecchia) I have a hard time seeing Mitch win the quarterback job back.

Mouth running Wilds. Brandon Wilds had some great quotes after the game:

Most of the time I’m not a big fan of players calling out coaches publicly, but in this case I really love it. Wilds has gone to battle for four years for our school. He’s seen the highs, and now he’s experiencing the lows, and he doesn’t like it one bit. Here’s a guy who knows what it takes to win from every member of the team, including the coaches. I don’t blame him for bitching. Give the man the ball.

Georgia on our minds. And they’re going to be on our jocks on Saturday. They opened as a 16-point favorite. While they didn’t play well on Saturday against Vanderbilt, I would feel comfortable laying the 16 based on what I’ve seen from USC so far.

I hope I’m wrong about all this. Regardless, I’m in it for the long haul.

Go Cocks!


6 thoughts on “Snap Judgments – 2015 Kentucky @ USC Edition

  1. Yep, you saw the same tired 1st half Carolina offense and defense I did! At the very end of the 1st half when Conner Mitch got hurt and Perry Orth came in and everything that had out of sink started clicking I knew we now had our QB. Some players play better, then they practice. Perry Orth from what I get from Coach Spurrier’s comments, that’s the way he is. 2nd Half Defense look much better, and take away that fumble from Mr. Reliable, P. Cooper we win the ball game. Final words, “We Lost”. Georgia’s going to be tough, let’s not throw in the towel just yet.

  2. On the recruiting trail, Spurrier is responsible for:

    a. Not being personally involved like Richt or Swinney; not even in the same league. I’ve seen more than a few USC recruits over the years say that they were supposed to meet with the HBC but he wasn’t there. When in the last four years have you seen the effort that went into landing Lattimore or Clowney by him? I know as fans that we’re not there for everything, but then I routinely read about Richt and Swinney going all out, all the time.

    b. Not seeing Bubba is failing at recruiting coordinator, not to mention recruiting/retaining his own position – we have two ex walks-ons in the USC rotation … now 11 years into the Spurrier era; K.J. Brent looked great for Wake until he was hurt; Quinshard Davis, who we big-timed by saying he’d missed his window to commit has been mostly dynamite for UNC.

    c. Failing to see Sands is not delivering within the Palmetto State like he needs to be.

    d. The moronic “two to three more years” comment, which he let fester for a week.

    This Snap Judgments was a great opinion piece, Buck. I feel you might have been a little too hard on Connor Mitch (“atrocious”). I’m wondering what that hip infection was doing for his throwing motion and whether he had a fever. Actually, I’m wondering why he played at all, since he had to go to the hospital for the infection immediately after the game. How did the staff and team M.D.s miss this?

  3. Everyone in the SEC knows Kentucky is a basketball school so how in the world does a football school like South Carolina let them pass us? I would put South Carolina just ahead of Vanderbilt.

    I despised Spurrier at Florida but love him now for what he did for the Gamecocks. That said, I believe he will retire this year. He will be praised for the 2011-2013 run. We may never reach those heights again.

  4. Most importantly, it doesn’t look like you will beat Clemson anytime in the near future. After Clemson beats USCe this year, OBC will have a 5-3 lead over Dabo, H2H. Clemson will most likely win in 2016 as well, bringing the OBC’s lead over Dabo to 5-4. There is no way that OBC will give Dabo a chance to tie him H2H. OBC will retire after this year or next. You can bank on that.

    1. If you read the post, I already said he’s gone after 2015, so you’re not exactly going out on a limb in my opinion. And thanks for putting the “e” after USC, I wouldn’t have had any idea you were talking about South Carolina if you hadn’t done that.

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