Some quick, barely researched, not fully formed thoughts from South Carolina’s 24-10 loss at Kentucky.
This was some weekend. I’m tired. South Carolina lost. Clemson won. Georgia won. The Falcons lost (shut up Panther and Saints fans). It’s rare I ever get that “perfect weekend” any more with Clemson and Georgia’s recent success. But it’s also rare that all my favorite teams lose while all my most hated rivals win. So forgive me if I just want to put this one behind me.
With that said, I’m going to stray from my usual format and just go stream of consciousness for a while. I’m going to type my thoughts about the Kentucky game as I go, with no real organization of topic matter, mostly because I don’t have the energy to do it.
Kudos to Kentucky on their fifth straight win over us. This might be the first time in those five years they have a clearly better team than South Carolina. Some of you would argue that, and some of you would be wrong. I wouldn’t have said this before Saturday night, but I believe Kentucky has the talent and the coaching to actually threaten Georgia later in the year. For some reason Georgia seems somewhat vulnerable, and Kentucky has the best team they’ve had in…I don’t know, decades? I would still be surprised to see the Wildcats win the East, but they’re a very, very good team.
Even though Kentucky is really good, South Carolina played the worst all around game I’ve seen from them in years. Fumbles, interceptions, penalties, dropped balls, missed tackles, missed assignments, kickoff returners getting blown up by their teammates. Hell even the SECN play by play guy recognized it, dropping a “our pets heads are falling off” line from Dumb and Dumber on one particularly putrid Gamecock play. Why in the world were we so bad?
It starts at the top. Will Muschamp and the coaching staff once again didn’t have their team ready to play in what we would consider a big game. It’s a disturbing trend when you look immediately out-coached and outclassed against practically every team that is supposedly better than you. I promise you we are nowhere near “fire Muschamp” territory folks, but the clock is ticking. With every missed opportunity to put a stamp on the program the seat grows a little bit warmer. People have long memories, and “remember Florida?” is lurking in all our minds.
Our offense was a complete mess.
Bryan McClendon – I want him to succeed so bad, but as I stated back in December, I never wanted to turn the keys over to a guy who had never been a coordinator. It seemed like an odd move for a head coach whose downfall has always been a lack of offense to hire a newby to do the play calling. On one series against the Wildcats we went to a modified “Emory and Henry” formation that seemed to work. The drive ultimately failed, but why did we not see it for the rest of the game? Then, down by 14 with possessions at a premium, we were running the ball on 2nd and 12. We had a TWENTY play drive late in the game that showed no sense of urgency whatsoever. We needed to score twice and were running at a pace that looked like we were trying to run the clock out. McClendon will have plenty of time to prove himself, but right now he looks like a guy who is learning on the job.
Jake Bentley is still exactly what he was two years ago at this time – a nice quarterback who makes plays on occasion, but still hasn’t made THE play, or plays, when we need them. It is absolutely true he got very little help from his receivers Saturday night, I will concede that. But the fact remains he has not played well on the biggest stages.
On the flip side, STOP CALLING FOR HIS BENCHING. Despite his shortcomings, he is easily the best QB we have on the team, and he still has all the tools to become the guy we think he can be. Michael Scarnecchia is not going to give you a better chance to win. Some are calling for Dak Joyner to play and I’m not even sure he’s the third best QB on the team. Jake is the guy, we just need to pray he becomes THE GUY.
We don’t have a game-changing running back. It’s time to face it, we have some dudes that play well in spurts, but there doesn’t seem to be a bell cow back on the entire roster. Rico Dowdle continues to shrink against the big boys (noticing a trend?), AJ Turner is a third down/change of pace back. Ty’Son Williams seems to always be in the dog house or dinged up. Mon Denson will plow for four yards but is not a game breaker.
Aside from Shi Smith the receivers have disappointed. Presumably the strength of our team, we’ve been plagued by drops and the inability to get open. Bentley’s protection was very good Saturday night, but our receivers could not create enough space. What is up with Deebo? I mean seriously, we need to talk about what’s going on with him. I admire Bryan Edwards for taking responsibility after Saturday’s game for his poor performance. Now he has to play better.
Where are our tight ends? Are we not giving them enough targets because they’re not good enough to warrant them? I’m beginning to feel we’re missing Hayden Hurst way more than we thought we would.
I like our offensive line. I think they’re doing a very nice job, but the skill guys are just not pulling their weight.
The offense is 122nd in the nation in plays of over 30 yards. We have four. That’s pathetic with our receiving threats.
The defense played well in the second half, but as has been the case since JD Clowney left, we have no star power on that side of the ball. We lack size on the line and lack playmakers at linebacker. The secondary is playing pretty well considering how we’ve had to patch it together.
As Kiel Pollard said after the game Saturday, we talk way too much. I understand there’s a culture of trash talk in the game today, but when you’re getting your ass kicked it’s best to just keep your mouth shut until you’re no longer getting your ass kicked or the game is over, whichever comes first. I hope Jaycee Horn learned his lesson.
The hit by Kash Daniel on Jacob August was complete and utter trash. It was disrespectful, dangerous and there’s no place for it in today’s game. I’m an old school guy that used to love that kind of stuff, but with the size and strength of players these days you’re literally talking about hits that could alter someone’s life, if not end it. But then again, what do you expect from a guy named “Kash”.
I’m obviously frustrated, and that has led to me be more critical than I really like to be towards a bunch of college kids that are busting their ass every day to get better. I don’t want that criticism to overshadow the fact that I have a ton of respect for the coaches, the players and everyone on the staff. I have no idea if all that work is going to result in more wins and fewer losses, but I do know I’ll continue to be there every week to find out.