Snap Judgments – Vanderbilt @ USC Edition 2021/

(Photo courtesy of greenvilleonline.com)

A win is a win? When Vanderbilt took a 17-14 lead late in the third quarter over South Carolina yesterday, I pretty much decided there would be no real positives to take from this game, win or lose. After all, this was a Vandy team that hadn’t won an SEC game in 15 tries, lost by three touchdowns to East Tennessee State, needed a last second field goal to beat the worst team in FBS (UConn), and lost by a combined 104-0 to Georgia and Florida. Sure, we’re dealing with a rebuild and a first year head coach, but Vanderbilt is a never-been-built whose football history makes South Carolina look like Notre Dame in comparison.

With about two minutes left and Vanderbilt well within field goal range to extend their lead to 20-14, I tweeted this:

Now, I know better. And I knew better as soon as I hit send, and walked that tweet back before the game-winning drive even began. (We don’t delete tweets for the most part, because we believe owning our stupidity is a path to growth, and deleting something that eventually turns out to be wrong is cowardly.)

But even though Zeb Noland rescued us from the fire yesterday, the point of that tweet still stands. Who are we if we lost to THAT Vanderbilt team? Or even come that close to losing to that Vanderbilt team? I was highly critical of our team last week when we fell behind to Tennessee 28-0 in the first quarter. Someone on Twitter came back at us with “well what did you expect this season under a first year head coach?”

I’ll tell you what I expect, to not be 13th in the league in almost every statistical offensive category. To not have to kick a last second field goal to beat East Carolina. To not lose a game to rebuilding and first-year head coach having Tennessee before the first quarter is over. To not struggle against the likes of Troy and Vanderbilt. To not commit boatloads of penalties and have critical turnovers every game. To not have to question at least one major coaching decision every week.

Look, I know who we are, I’ve been at this for 30+ years. I don’t expect us to compete for championships, quite frankly, but I would love for us to at least be COMPETITIVE. We have at least the resources of Ole Miss and Mississippi State, and they continue to be more competitive than us year in and year out for the most part. And occasionally they’re pretty darned good.

Somone will accuse me of being a miserable Gamecock fan. I can assure you I’m far from it. I will admit that I am fiercely competitive and despise losing at anything, but the part of me that used to carry a Gamecock loss around with me for several days is long gone. But I do like to still write about it, and I try to tell the truth as I see it.

The truth is, we deserve better. And we should all expect more.

Old man yells at cloud. I feel like I have to repeat this every week, but I really like Shane Beamer. He has done a fine job of selling a family atmosphere to both the players and the fan base. He wins every press conference, and like last night, when one of his kids jumps in his arms at the end of game and he has a big smile on his face you can’t help but think “awwwwwwww”.

However, you know what Shane Beamer I really like? The Shane Beamer I saw with about two minutes left against Vandy. He was pissed, stressed, and had a look on his face like “how is this happening”. He looked like a football coach who wanted to chew somebody up and down for allowing this to happen.

This is probably going to sound idiotic, but I don’t mind the positivity that comes out of Beamer. But there are also times to be an old school football coach. This blog lived off of making fun of Dabo Swinney for being a “cheerleader” instead of a coach for years. And don’t deny it, you did as well. It would be hypocritical of me to sit here and say I love it when Beamer does it but hate it when Dabo does it. I don’t particularly like it when either does it.

Here’s the gist, and I keep saying it but I think a lot of people aren’t really getting it – at the end of the day winning matters. It doesn’t matter what your personality or sideline demeanor is if you produce wins instead of losses. Winning cures all, and losing…well, we all know what losing does.

I have high hopes that Beamer will start winning, and winning big. And then he can come out in a Dumb and Dumber tuxedo and dance a jig after every first down for all I care.

Bad choices. Last week we let a defensive end throw a pass that was intercepted in the end zone and yesterday we passed on three points to go for it on 4th and 5. Like I said, I feel like every week we’re talking about at least one terrible coaching decision by this staff. Personally, I need to feel good that these coaches can handle the pressure of making basic football decisions on game day.

Noland to the Zebscue. After the first two drives of the game yesterday, Luke Doty just didn’t have it. And he threw two really, really bad interceptions that could’ve easily cost us the game late.

Zeb Noland finally came in with a minute and a half left because Doty had a *cough cough* “flare up” in his foot. Noland looked like Joe Montana as he marched the Gamecocks to the winning touchdown.

I am indeed beginning to question the long-term viability of Doty as a difference making QB. Yes, he’s still very early in his career, but there aren’t even really flashes of that “it” factor that good signal callers have. Has the OL been terrible? Yes. Has Doty been hurt? Yes. So there are reasons/excuses for his lack of great play other than he’s not very good. But we need to find out what he is soon, or we have decisions to make about transfers in the offseason.

Oh, and if he’s still hurt, STOP PLAYING HIM UNTIL HE GETS WELL.

Game balls. Zeb, of course. And welcome back Xavier Legette. And way to keep balling Jaylan Foster.

What’s next. Texas A&M, a team that has all of the sudden found itself in the last two weeks. A very tough challenge for the Gamecocks, but a good chance to show that competitiveness we’ve been talking about.

Go Cocks.