Some quick, barely researched, not fully formed thoughts from South Carolina’s 49-15 season opening win over Coastal Carolina.
Beached. It’s a running, unfunny joke among South Carolina fans how we struggle to dominate “paycheck” games against teams like Wofford, Furman, Western Carolina and the like. The lone exception appears to be Coastal Carolina, whom we have now beaten 119-25 in two lifetime meetings after today’s victory. It’s nice to be able to relax in the second half of games and get the backups and their backups some live snaps. We all need more Coastal Carolinas in our lives.
McOffense. The focus was definitely on coordinator Bryan McClendon and the new-look Gamecock offense, and they didn’t disappoint. USC was crisp and sharp, and McClendon’s play calling played to our strengths and utilized just about all of the skill talent we have. The 49 points were the most in the Will Muschamp era, and the 557 yards were the second most.
We can debate how much of the playbook we showed, or if we held back on the offensive tempo, but one thing is for sure – this looks a hell of a lot better than Kurt Roper’s offenses so far.
Subdued. Nobody is really talking about it, but Jake Bentley looked like a different guy today. Statistically he had perhaps the best day of his career – 22/29, 250 yards, 4 TD and 0 INT. But the really encouraging sign is he seemed emotionally under control the entire time he was in there. One of the knocks on him in his first two years was he came out too amped up and he often missed easy throws, especially early in games. But today he looked calm and relaxed from the opening bell, and his play reflected that. Maybe he’s matured. Or maybe it’s his new haircut.
Oh snap. On the down side, the slow and low shotgun snaps from Donnell Stanley were noticeable in the first series of the game, and they never got any better. With the game out of hand, backup center Chandler Farrell came in and his snaps were much better. Problem is he’s not nearly the blocker Stanley is.
After the game Muschamp said it was something they noticed and would work to get corrected. My question is, has he been snapping like this in practice? And if so why has it not already been corrected?
Scripted. The helmets were badass.
Doppelgänger. Some guy who looks just like Will Muschamp went for it on two fourth downs in one series this afternoon. One was on OUR SIDE of the field. The real Will Muschamp is going to be pissed when he finds out.
Welcome back. Deebo Samuel and Rico Dowdle both missed large parts of the 2017 season with broken fibulas. Both returned with a vengeance today. Deebo had more than 100 total yards from scrimmage and a highlight-reel, one-handed touchdown catch. Rico rushed for 105 yards and had one rushing and one receiving touchdown, and looked trimmer and quicker than he was last year.
Other stars. As mentioned above, it’s a really good thing to run a lot of plays, because we have a ton of playmakers. Shi Smith, Bryan Edwards, Ty’Son Williams, Kiel Pollard, Randrecous Davis and Slade Carroll (!) all had noteworthy moments today. Also worth mentioning, the second team offensive line looked really, really good.
No name defense. The defense was solid today, holding Coastal to 238 yards. But no players really stood out after DJ Wonnum went down with an ankle injury. Particularly in the secondary, we have a lot of guys who are a lot of shapes and sizes and seem to move easily from corner to nickel to safety and back with ease. The d-line and linebackers were heavily rotated today. It will be interesting to see who makes it into the primary rotation as we move into SEC play.
Firsts. There were quite a few firsts today – freshman Jaycee Horn had his first career sack on a corner blitz. Pollard and Davis had the first touchdown catches of their respective careers. Twelfth year senior Michael Scarnecchia also had his first touchdown pass.
Hell on earth. I was watching from the comfort of my home, but it sounds like today was one of the hottest home games anyone can remember. Saturday games in Columbia at noon in September should be outlawed. I know we’re at the mercy of the TV schedule, but Ray Tanner needs to put up a fight to prevent it from happening again, for the safety of our fans.
Tom Tom. Elsewhere, almost former Gamecock head coach Tom Herman and his Texas Longhorns lost their opener to Maryland for the second consecutive year. Remember when everyone was so upset at Phil Kornblut because they thought he cost us our shot at Herman? I tell you what, people who believed that should be sending Korn thank you notes today.
Go Cocks, beat Georgia.