Some quick, barely researched, not fully-formed thoughts from South Carolina’s 31-14 victory over Central Florida:
Nun-YES™. Several times during the pre-season people suggested Lorenzo Nuñez would/should/could be our starting quarterback. Several times I responded that if Nuñez was our starting quarterback at any point during 2015 then something had gone terribly wrong with the season. After anemic offensive performances through three games, a significant injury to Connor Mitch, and a valiant but losing effort by former walk-on Perry Orth, I think it was safe to say things had gone terribly wrong.
Nuñez got his first college start on Saturday, and while I wouldn’t say he came through with flying colors, his performance was definitely good enough to cement the starting role at least until Mitch comes back. (And probably longer.)
After an ill-advised throw on his first play, Nuñez had the best single passing (184 yards, 2 TD) and rushing (18-123) games of the season for the Gamecocks. He showed skills we haven’t seen at the position since Anthony Wright. (You might say Syvelle Newton, but don’t, Syvelle never had the arm Zo does.)
There will be growing pains for sure, but at this point Lorenzo Nuñez by far gives us the best chance to move the ball, score points, and most importantly, win games.
King Tuttch. Down. Pharoh Cooper was in the midst of his worst game as a Gamecock. First, he made the boneheaded decision to try to field and return a punt inside his own 5 yard line. The muff led to a UCF recovery and 1-yard touchdown drive for the statistically worst offense in FBS. Next, he let a sure touchdown go though his hands that could’ve cut into the Knights lead right before half.
Undaunted, Cooper responded in the second half with an improvised touchdown run off a busted trick play. Then he came back later in the half to haul in a 35-yard touchdown from Nuñez. He’s not having the season he would’ve hoped for so far, but he’s still unquestionably the best offensive option we have on a team with a dearth of them.
Movin’ on Up. The Gamecocks have once again fielded one of the worst defenses in the country so far this year, so the offensively challenged Knights were just what the doctor ordered. USC held UCF to 230 total yards, with only 23 coming on the ground. There was a terrifyingly familiar 93-yard drive by the Knights late in the first half, and there were way too many Gamecock defensive backs not in the same zip code as the wide receivers they were covering. But aside from those things the defense was very solid. With the likes of Texas A&M, LSU and Clemson coming up, we needed a confidence builder, and we got it.
Holla man. There was much made, mostly by Steve Spurrier, of the decision to start TJ Holloman at middle linebacker this week. After all, the coaching staff was displacing our defensive MVP, Skai Moore, and potentially screwing up the one thing we had going for us on defense.
Holloman responded with his best day as a Gamecock, recording two interceptions, six tackles (one TFL), two quarterback hurries and a pass break-up. Tip of the cap to Jon Hoke and staff.
Boosie. Every once in a while we steal a kid from another state that turns out to be a real player for us. With a sack and a safety yesterday, Boosie Whitlow looks like he might be one of those guys.
The HBC. Yesterday certainly helped the morale in an around the program, but nothing happened to change our belief that this will be Steve Spurrier’s last season at the helm for the Gamecocks*.
After last week’s game he said there would be changes on defense, and those changes would be communicated by the defensive staff. The defensive staff made a significant change (Holloman, Moore) that Spurrier then publicly denounced on his Thursday call-in show. You might argue this is just Spurrier being Spurrier, and to an extent it is. But calling out your assistants, whom you asked to make changes, for doing the job you asked them to do is just being an ass. Handle that internally.
Then, after the game, the HBC was asked about play calling.
“I delegated early and obviously the second half I jumped in there a lot of times.”
This is beginning to annoy me. Either call the plays all the time, or have someone else call the plays all the time. The stories about 2-3 guys on the headset discussing what plays to run next for basically the entire game is not normal. Don’t tell us how sharp you are for a 70-year-old and then delegate the thing that made you famous to someone else.
Either call the plays, or butt out.
Moving on. We step up the competition a notch with a conference road game next week against Missouri. Fortunately, they are currently just as dysfunctional as we are, so it should be a good match-up.
*Note we still have not called for his firing, dismissal, ouster, or any other word suggesting he be dismissed against his will.