Snap Judgments – 2016 USC @ Kentucky Edition

(AP photo)
(AP photo)

EMERGENCY MEETING. Thank you everyone for meeting here on the flight deck on such short notice. We have an announcement to make and simply felt like it was best to tell you all in person, and as soon as possible. There’s no easy way to say this, so we’ll just come right out with it – we have slipped into a black hole.

This does not come as a surprise to many of you, as you can clearly see that we have been completely surrounded by darkness since our battle last night with the Starship Kentucky. The SS KY will be entering the black hole shortly, their entrance only delayed by having the good fortune of having to battle us instead of a more formidable opponent.

Rest assured, Admiral Muschamp is well aware of the situation and is doing everything in his power to get us out of here. By “everything in his power” I mean he is currently sobbing uncontrollably in his quarters, but I’m sure he’ll pull it together shortly and figure out something to do. I guess. In the meantime, Captain Roper is working feverishly to get the main engines back into working order. He is randomly pushing buttons on the control panel but so far none seem to work. On a related note, we would like to immediately assemble a team of volunteers to assist Captain Roper in finding the keys to the ship. He has lost both the primary and his back-up set.

Listen, we know this is a difficult time for everyone, but we must remain calm and stick together. We have no idea how long it could take to get out of here. It could be years. Some of you won’t make it, but those who do will be better people because of it. I read that on the internet somewhere so I think it’s probably true.

Understand that our former leader, Admiral Spurrier, left us in a very difficult position. Before he left in his escape pod twelve months ago, for some unknown reason, he smashed many of our instrument panels and ripped critical wiring out of our systems. Very strange that he would do that since he helped build most of it. Most odd was that when he left he took ALL of the quilted two-ply toilet tissue with him. Weird dude.

Regardless, you’ve adjusted to using office paper instead of toilet tissue, so I believe you can adjust to living in this black hole for a while. My advice is to try to find other things to occupy your time while on our disabled ship, like your family or maybe a hobby. Make the most of your time here, and start by focusing on the good things in your life, and not this crappy, broken down old bucket of bolts.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m getting word that Admiral Muschamp has requested a ream of office paper.

Offensive. South Carolina once again managed to make a bad defense look good. In their first three games, Kentucky had given up 44 points/520 yards, 45 points/564 yards, and 42 points/500 yards. The Gamecocks only managed 10 points and a measly 268 yards on ten possessions. You’re well within your right as an American to say “yeah, but” and cite our youth, new coaching staff, etc., but honestly that performance was nothing short of embarrassing.

What’s the problem? The symptoms are numerous and unfortunately most will not be fixed in 2016. It’s a porous offensive line, a dearth of playmakers, youth and inexperience at the quarterback position, and poor coaching (call it scheme, call it play calling, call it whatever you want, it all rolls up to the offensive staff).

The first thing can be fixed. Players can play better, players can be coached up, or players can be replaced with other players who can do a better job. With the offensive line situation at least there can be hope.

The second and third things cannot. Fixing the offensive line would help to a degree, but the fact is we do not have guys who are dynamic with the ball in their hands, can outrun defenders or make defenders miss. Bryan Edwards is the closest thing we have, but he is young and doesn’t have a QB who can get the ball to him consistently. Everyone else who touches the ball on offense has proven to be average at best. Recruiting can fix this, and hopefully will fix this as soon as next season. But unless we have a miracle breakout by someone we’re in for a long season.

The final thing – coaching – can be debated until the cows come home. I don’t know if Kurt Roper is any good or not. His history with offenses everywhere but Florida suggests he can be a good OC. But what we saw with the Gators and what we’ve seen so far this year has given cause for concern. Will better players make Roper a better coach? I hope we get to find out.

Punt Boom Punt. Will Muschamp continued his terribly frustrating habit of punting the ball in plus territory in fourth and short situations. He did it four more times last night (FOUR, in TEN possessions). The final time was on 4th and 2 with about eight minutes left, right after back breaking 11-play drive by the Wildcats that put them up by a touchdown. We did stop them and got the ball back with one last chance to win, but it was simply the wrong call. With an offense as anemic as ours, we cannot afford to give possessions away when we get into enemy territory and only need a couple of yards to keep a drive alive.

Modern English. Darius English had three sacks last night, the most by one Gamecock in a  game since Jadeveon Clowney had 4.5 against Clemson in 2012. While his pass rushing skills were excellent, he was pushed around on Kentucky’s game winning drive that featured eleven straight running plays and brought back memories of JoJo Kemp’s 2014 performance against USC.

Nun-YES. I’m getting more puzzled by the day that, given our lack of playmakers on offense, that Lorenzo Nuñez is being held out in hopes of redshirting him. I’m also becoming increasingly puzzled that he was ever moved from quarterback in the first place. I like Brandon McIlwain, and I think he’s going to be a fine QB for us for a long time, but frankly his running skills are not nearly as dynamic as I expected.

Nuñez is bigger, stronger and faster than McIlwain, and proved last year he can make things happen with the ball in his hands. All I’m asking is for a few touches per game. Straight QB runs, screen passes, hell even line him up a tailback. Just give him the ball and let him work.

Hunker down. The easiest part of our schedule is behind us, and we’re 2-2 against teams that are below average (Mississippi State) to bad (Vandy, ECU, Kentucky). I think you know what that makes us.

Five of the eight teams left on our schedule are currently in the Top 25. At least two of them will probably be in the top 10 when we play them. Sitting here today there appear to be two winnable games left on our schedule, and anything beyond that will take a Herculean effort.

To borrow a phrase from one of our hated rivals, you better hunker down, it’s looking like a long season.

9 thoughts on “Snap Judgments – 2016 USC @ Kentucky Edition

  1. Umass gave Mississippi state all they wanted. Don’t count them out. McIlwain is not the answer for usc, too short to go directly under center, is decent runner, no accuracy beyond 5 yards passes. Go with Nunez or at least mix it up with Orth, who can throw deep.

  2. I’m guessing maybe two wins to vine but I agree, would not be shocked to lose to UMass. Our offense is a joke. Watching the hated Clemson Tigers shows me how recruiting killed USC. The Tigers look polished while SC looks confused and just lousy. It’s going to take lots and lots and lots of good recruiting to get SC out of this very deep and dark hole.

    1. Not just lots of good recruiting but also a good head coach there were a lot better coaches available but the powers that be decided to hire what we have, I refuse to post his name.

Comments are closed.