Snap Judgments – 2019 Florida @ USC Edition

“Excuse me sir, could I interest you in an eye exam?”
Photo: theathletic.com

Some quick, barely researched, not fully-formed thoughts from South Carolina’s 38-27 loss to Florida.

Jobbed. First of all, let me state for the record, I hate people who perpetually blame referees, officials and umpires for the failures of their teams. It is indeed a loser’s mentality, and discounts the hard work, game planning and overall play of the opponent. Sometimes to win a game you have to overcome a bad call here or there to win, and typically there are many opportunities to do just that during the course of the game. I do my best to not blame officiating for the outcome of a contest.

(clears throat)

HOWEVER…

Yesterday against Florida was as close as I’ve seen since The Push Off to a game being decided by officials. Sure, we had plenty of opportunities to put points on the board or stop Florida from putting points on the board throughout the game. But if the referees had just been competent – that’s all we needed, competence – the Gamecocks’ chances of winning would have increased greatly.

There were calls that were questionable, but there were two calls that were absolute no doubters that gifted the Gators 14 points. Here’s a recap of a few:

  • Early in the third quarter the Gamecocks had taken a 17-10 lead after a Gator turnover and short touchdown drive. All the momentum was on the side of USC until Florida’s Dameon Pierce took a handoff 75 yards to paydirt on the first play of the ensuing drive. Except the play never should have happened. Florida right tackle Jean Delance came out of his stance before the snap, so the play should have immediately been blown dead. A false start or flinch by an offensive lineman is almost ALWAYS called because there is a dedicated official who looks for it. I saw it when the play started and couldn’t believe the play wasn’t whistled dead. On the Should’ve Called a Penalty scale (one to five flags) this one gets five flags.
  • The second part of that play – which seemed to upset a lot of you more than the false start no-call – is Florida wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland had a hold of Israel Mukuamu’s jersey for about 40 yards as he gave chase to Pierce. It was holding, plain and simple, but a very poor argument was made that almost pulling the jersey over Mukuamu’s head didn’t mean Cleveland necessarily gained an advantage. Conservatively I’ll give this four flags on the Should’ve Called a Penalty Scale.
  • With about 10 minutes to go in the game, Florida faced a 4th and 3 at the Gamecock 34 yard line. At the snap, Javon Kinlaw broke through the line and put pressure on Florida QB Kyle Trask. Kinlaw was basically tackled by a Florida lineman but no flag was thrown. Trask completed a pass for a first down, and the Gators took the lead for good on a TD pass on the next play. I’ve seen more obvious holds not get called, but I’ve also seen a lot less than that get called. That play gets three flags on the Should’ve Called a Penalty Scale.
  • Finally, with Florida leading 24-20 and South Carolina needing to hold them to a field goal to stay in the game, the Gators committed one of the most egregious pick plays you could ever imagine to free up Kyle Pitts for an easy touchdown. Analyst Greg McElroy called it immediately, which tells you how obvious it was. Instead of first and goal from the 15, the Gators for all intents and purposes put the game away.

Whining, sour grapes, poor sportsmanship, whatever you want to call it, we got jobbed yesterday. It’s a shame the Gamecocks didn’t get a chance to win the game based on how they actually played the game.

The Professor. We were hard on Will Muschamp earlier this year, going as far as saying it was never going to work with him at South Carolina. What has happened the last two weeks has once again given us a glimmer of hope. We didn’t get to write a Snap Judgments after the Georgia game, but that’s one of those “where were you” games that we’ll be talking about for years to come. It’s a shame we couldn’t follow that up with another top 10 upset yesterday, but we competed our rear ends off. Maybe this young team is figuring it out.

What we don’t need at this point are steps backwards. We need wins over Tennessee and Vanderbilt. We need a good showing and possibly a win at Texas A&M. We need to beat Appalachian State. And finally, we need to show Clemson we can compete.

We need continued progress. We need to build on that hope.

D Up, O Down. While the defense has started to play like the Will Muschamp defense we expected when he came here, the offense continues to struggle. Granted, Florida is an outstanding defensive team, and that had a lot to do with our pedestrian performance yesterday. But our play calling consistently leaves me scratching my head. The run game is the best it’s been in the Muschamp era, but our inability to pass protect and get receivers open is a concern.

H bomb. Ryan Hilinski continues to be a freshman. In other words, maddeningly inconsistent. I know…wait, let me rephrase that… I THINK he’s been injured on and off this season even though the coaches continue to tell me he’s fine.

He was stellar against Charleston Southern, outstanding against Alabama, bad against Missouri (hurt elbow?), ok against Kentucky, good against Georgia (for a half), and pretty bad against Florida (hurt knee?).

We had a chance to win the game yesterday on the strength of Hilinski’s arm. He missed at least four open deep balls in the first half that would’ve given the Gamecocks a cushion. Muschamp event mentioned those at the half, saying the Gators were daring him to go up top by crowding the line of scrimmage, and that Hilinski needed to hit those.

You know what they say the best thing about freshmen is? They become sophomores. Let’s hope Ryan becomes a sophomore, at least mentally, as soon as possible.

Fast Lane. Thank God for Tavien Feaster. Man, I’m happy for that kid and what he’s doing on the field for us this season. After Rico Dowdle went down with and injury, all Feaster did was rush 25 times for 175 yards and a touchdown. I never cared that he was a Tiger, I’m just glad he’s a Gamecocks.

On the flip side, I feel horrible for Rico Dowdle. The poor guy just can’t stay healthy. Here’s hoping he recovers quickly and can be back soon.

What’s next. Please do not sleep on Tennessee. Yes, they are a train wreck, but they’ve been a train wreck before and managed to ruin our season. They will not be a pushover, and I expect to be stressed for sixty minutes.

Go Cocks.

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