Some quick, barely researched, not fully-formed thoughts from South Carolina’s 19-10 victory over Vanderbilt:
Purgatory. I guess yesterday felt about the way it should have felt. And by that I mean really strange. There’s this part of me that really wants this season over so we can move on to the next stage of the life of South Carolina Gamecock football. And there’s part of me that will never NOT be excited when a game is about to kick off. So I watched the 2/3 full stadium, my team with an interim head coach, with a backup QB, with a 2-4 record, against the perennial doormat of the SEC, in what felt like a super-important game even though in reality it wasn’t anything close to that.
It was easy to settle in to that normal 2015 Gamecock football feeling once the game started though. I bitched and moaned about the play calling. Same for the referees. And I pumped my fist when Pharoh Cooper and Skai Moore saved our bacon again. In the end I was happy for Shawn Elliott. I was happy of the kids. They really deserved to feel victory again.
But after it was over I realized we’re still at that space in between. The space between what was and what is to come. Football purgatory, where we still can’t score in the red zone.
Shawn of the Dead. No matter what happens with Elliott he will always have October 17, 2015. As a kid who grew up in South Carolina and dreamed of coaching in Williams Brice, it was the thrill of a lifetime for him I’m sure.
I have to give him credit, even though he is captaining a program with very little hope to do anything significant for the last six weeks of the season, he’s doing everything he can to push the right buttons and make something meaningful of it. From practice habits, to uniforms, down to the music that’s played at the stadium, if there’s an idea he thinks might infuse life into the program you better believe he’s going to try it.
But I also have some advice for him – if he’s wants a serious shot at getting the permanent head coaching job at South Carolina, he’s going to have to stop acting like a guy who just won the lottery. I’m sure that won’t go over well with a lot of you, but this is a classic case of “act like you’ve been there before”. And yes, I know he hasn’t been there before, but he’s been around coaching pretty much his entire life. He knows how this works. There’s a certain decorum that goes with being the head man at a major university. (Dabo is the exception, and I don’t want Dabo.)
I love the enthusiasm, don’t get me wrong. I think it’s something we need, especially on the recruiting trail. I just think he needs to dial it back a few clicks.
The Orth keeps spinning. “Perry Orth sucks” is a text I got yesterday during the game. OK, I guess if you put it in the context of the NFL, or maybe the quarterbacks that rate in the bottom half of Division I football, then maybe he does suck.
But if you put it in the context of a guy who had no college offers, who walked on at South Carolina after a stint at Florida State College at Jacksonville, and basically has no business being our starting quarterback, I think he’s doing a pretty decent job. He’s not going to get consideration for all-conference honors any time soon, but given his path to USC, going 17-28 for 272 with one TD and one interception in a conference game does not “suck”.
(And, if his top receiving target hadn’t dropped two passes, those numbers would look more like 19-28 for 300 yards with 2 TDs and one interception.)
King Tuttch-down. Despite those two drops, Pharoh Cooper still hauled in 7 catches for 160 yards. Even with a former walk-on throwing to him and no clear #2 wide receiver, the King still keeps putting up numbers.
Nealing it. Speaking of no clear #2 wide receiver, DJ Neal (4-49) seems to be getting more comfortable. He would be a good candidate for the #2 guy, and if Pharoh leaves next year, he might be our #1.
Skai ball. Skai Moore is everywhere. Double-digit tackles, an interception and a strip and fumble recovery. I just sat my coffee down and can’t find it. Wonder if he took that too.
Uni watch. I do not like black tops and bottoms. Team garnet all the way.
HBC. Steve Spurrier looked good on TV yesterday morning. He seems to be sticking to the script in every interview, so we didn’t hear anything new. However, during the picks segment he was asked about USC at Notre Dame. He said, “Well there’s a mistake on this sheet because USC is playing Vanderbilt, I’m taking the Gamecocks.” Thumbs up coach, way to go.
Coachwatch. In my very humble opinion, Justin Fuente jumped to the head of the pack yesterday after Memphis’ dominating 37-24 win over Ole Miss. Of course, he’s probably at the top of the list for many other schools as well.
Two other top candidates – Tom Herman and Houston defeated Tulane 42-7, and Alabama and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart defeated Texas A&M 41-23.
Those are the top 3, and I think we could get very excited about any of them.
Go Cocks, enjoy that off week.