This week Jorge de los Gallos (@jorhay) fills in for Buck on Snap Judgments. Jorge is a former contributor to Garnet & Black Attack, has his Master of Arts in Siqq Edits, and is the author of The Yearly Pessimist: Predictions for South Carolina Football.
JAKEY SHAKEY START? The narrative’s established at this point: we’re a slow-starting team. Behold how each of our drives ended this game, in chronological order:
Not unlike my journey from “first forays into the dating scene” to “being engaged,” it started out abysmally and ended with one knee on the ground (but unlike 2018 Gamecock football, my dating life is ending with a ring on my finger ha ha ha /weeps.)
Were the early gremlins all Jake’s fault? His first half line was 8-13 for 61 yards and a pick, which are HIGHLY UNSEXY NUMBERS. However, it would seem it’s partially the result of a few things out of Jake’s control. Other than the tipped interception (which, yes, can be blamed on Jake throwing a highly tipable ball), I thought Jake was eeeeeeh fine the first half and largely the victim of our offensive strategy, a few arguable P.I. no-calls, and UT’s success in extending drives (5 of 7 on 3rd downs.)
But! Would our strategy have been so run-forward if Jake had a better first half track record? What if Deebo Samuel had not created a highlight-reel touchdown out of yet another air-mailed touch pass? And despite UT’s success on 3rd downs and being +4 on time of possession, South Carolina actually ran two more first-half plays than Tennessee. We had our cracks at a big half.
In any case, I have a harder time evoking the “same ol’ first half Jake” argument this game than I have in the past. The goal was clearly “run it down their throats”–Muschamp was open about that. And for what it’s worth, that’s what we did.
A GOOD CASE OF THE RUNS. Evidently we like running all over teams from Tennessee. We’ve gone 5+ YPC in two conference games, those being Vanderbilt (5.69) and UT (5.6). Our next-best showing was nearly a yard worse per carry.
THREECO DOWDLE. It was damn fun to watch #5 execute his craft last Saturday. This was Rico Dowdle’s 3rd 100+ yard rushing performance of the season. He averaged a cool 10 yards per carry, [Butthead voice] totally scored, [/Butthead voice] and never went negative on a run. And also he didn’t fumble nope definitely didn’t check the stats
(Now someone tell Rico to stay in bounds when the game is sealable kthx.)
SPEAKING OF THREE. That’s the number of completions Jake Bentley had in the second half of this game. That stat blew my mind but it’s true. Granted, one was a 73-yard bomb, and another was a nice red zone touch pass to Ty’son Williams off a blitz recognition. Both of those could have gone for touchdowns had the receivers maintained balance for two and one more yard respectively. If they had, Jake’s got a 3-1 TD/INT line which is what the kids call “gooder optics”.
MORE LIKE TURD DOWN EFFICIENCY. Bad day for the defense on third down, allowing a conversion of 11 of 16 chances. But man, props to Jarrett Guarantano for making some nice reads. If he wasn’t so slick on third, Tennessee’s night would have been a lot longer.
WONNUM THERE EVERY GAME. While our defense wasn’t necessarily living in the UT backfield, DJ Wonnum made a major statement in his return, sacking Guarantano twice, including the game sealer. Shades of JD Clowney’s strip-sack of Tyler Bray in 2012.
INJURY BUG MORE LIKE INJURY SWARM OF LOCUSTS. This is purely anecdotal but it sure seemed like we had a man down after, like, every other play. I know we can’t necessarily blame Jeff Dilman for this but can we anyway? This, a spate of reviewed plays, and some oddly-placed timeouts made for what felt like a grueling viewing experience.
TURN 0-VERS. We had exactly zero turnovers this game. We’re 2nd to last in the SEC in turnovers created, and tied for last in margin at -6. Turnovers are good, and fun to see happen and frankly, we should have more of them. This is just how I feel.