On moral victories. In 2006 South Carolina lost a close game to second-ranked Auburn 24-17. Afterwards the fans gave the players a hearty cheer for a great effort against a highly-ranked opponent. Steve Spurrier then went on to chastise the fans for applauding their team after a loss – “Please don’t clap when you lose a game. There’s no moral victories in any sport.”
The object of football is to win, right? We didn’t win, so why cheer?
I totally agree, but those comments were made in a different time for South Carolina football. We had a legendary coach in his second year at a perennial loser trying to change the culture of the program and the teach the fans a lesson about winning. We had young, wide-eyed guys buying into what Spurrier was building and learning to accept nothing short of victory.
Nine years later we took a team into College Station, TX under completely different circumstances. The same coach who taught us about nothing less than winning left us mid-season. Players are getting instruction from coaches they more than likely won’t be playing for next season, in offensive and defensive systems that will probably be completely different in a few months.
We were tied with Texas A&M, a team loaded with four and five-star talent, 21-21 at the half, and had the ball with a chance to tie the game late. Yes, we did lose. And yes, just like in 2006, there are no moral victories.
However, given the mess that’s been handed to them, through no fault of their own, I applaud these kids and their coaches for the effort. I’ve seen better teams quit for much less. The players and coaches deserve some credit for going out and competing like they did yesterday.
Shawn of the Dead. While Shawn Elliott deserves credit for his motivational tactics, his in-game management isn’t helping his quest to become the full-time head coach. David Cloninger of The State mentioned it as a “Thumbs Down” in his write-up this morning:
Decisions – Not being aggressive every time USC touched the ball, knowing it had no defense, took chances from the Gamecocks that really could have come in handy. Wasting a final second-quarter possession with 60 seconds and timeouts, punting on fourth-and-5 in the fourth at midfield while down a score.
This team is going nowhere. They will be underdogs in all but one of their remaining games. You’re playing toe-to-toe with a team that’s a 16-point favorite, why not take some chances? What do you have to lose? This is the one area I have missed Spurrier the most.
Defense-less. I’ve railed on our talent for the better part of two years, especially on defense. But the defensive performance yesterday was on the defensive coaching staff. Kyle Murray of TAMU ran for 156 of their 544 yards, and on most carries he ran the first 10 without ever being touched. The Aggies would line up in an empty backfield, and the draw was coming every time, but somehow we didn’t defend it. On the read option, there was rarely a defender checking Murray.
That my friends, is either poor scheme, or poor discipline. Regardless, those are coaching issues.
Running Wilds. Brandon Wilds is obviously out of whatever doghouse he was in for whatever reason he was in there, and ran with a vengeance yesterday. He picked up 128 yards on 17 carries with a pair of touchdowns.
Orth and South. Perry Orth ran for a surprising 64 yards yesterday, and made some nice throws that helped keep us in the game. But he also threw a critical pick six, and ended the game with another interception. The truth is, we’re getting exactly what we should expect out of the former walk-on – a few unexpected highs and some mind-numbing lows.
Coachwatch ’15. Tom Herman thrashed Vanderbilt 34-0. Justin Fuente struggled early but managed to beat Tulane 41-13. Kirby Smart DNP.
In other news, the rumblings of Mark Richt’s tenure at Georgia coming to an end were already growing. Their 27-3 loss to Florida yesterday means the Bulldog fanbase will be gathering their torches and pitchforks for the call-in shows this week. It certainly will not help our coaching search if we’re competing with Georgia.