Snap Judgments – 2022 USC @ Arkansas Edition

Hogtied. On Saturday Arkansas showed us a glimpse of who we hope to be in the not-too-distant future. The Razorbacks were in their own version of purgatory before Sam Pittman was hired in 2020. Pittman was seen as a very ho-hum hire at the time – a guy who is not particulary young, not well known, and was not on a lot of coaching hot lists. But what he has been is the perfect guy to follow Chad Morris (who was 4-18 and 0-14 in the SEC in his stint at Arkansas). Pittman has endeared himself with his no-nonsense approach, his aw-shucks personality, and his ability to recruit exactly the kinds of players he wants to run his schemes.

Yesterday Arkansas was the epitome of bigger, stronger, and faster for sixty minutes of football. The Gamecocks showed fight, something they always do. But don’t let the fact we cut the lead to one score in the third quarter fool you, there was never a moment where this game was really in doubt. The Razorbacks did what they wanted, when they wanted, against an inferior opponent.

This may sound harsh, but actually it should be encouraging for Gamecock fans. Pittman has accomplished in two years what we hope to do in short order – made his school relevant again in the SEC.

M*A*S*H Unit. The defense had so many guys hurt yesterday that I couldn’t keep up. There was at least one key contributor at each level of the defense that was lost for the game – DE Jordan Strachan, LB Mo Kaba and CB Cam Smith all left with injuries and did not return. Smith sounds like he’s going to be ok, but as of this writing it appears likely that both Strachan and Kaba have season-ending injuries. Both have had to overcome ACL injuries in their careers. For Strachan this could be especially heartbreaking because he’s a sixth year super senior who decided to return instead of pursue an NFL career. Per the ESPN broadcast, “Strachan’s family was in tears and joined him in the locker room.”

Boogie Huntley also went down early in the game but fortunately was able to return.

Satterfold. The identity of the South Carolina offense is still a man dressed in blue button down shirt, khaki pants and a paper bag over his head. The play calling was odd from the start, and that’s being kind. According to the ESPN broadcast, the Gamecock staff (read: Marcus Satterfield) was approached by Spencer Rattler, on behalf of a furious MarShawn Lloyd, about the lack of run plays called through the first three series. And voila! USC produced an 11-play touchdown drive featuring ten run plays on the very next drive.

Now it’s not atypical for a coordinator to ask his players “what are you seeing out there” and take some playcalling cues from that, but the story was a litte bit more disturbing in that our players sounded very frustrated at the game plan. Color analyst Dan Orlovsky pointed out a couple of times defensive alignments that would be perfect to run on, and we threw each time.

Satterfield, with all his unearned confidence, needs for the offense to have a good week sometime soon, or Shane Beamer’s decision to keep him as OC will look worse and worse.

Milk carton heroes. Syvelle Newton summed up my thoughts nicely.

What in the blue blazes are they doing with Jaheim Bell? Four carries for five yards and zero catches. And is Josh Vann still on the team? Zero targets yesterday after having only one catch for nine yards last week. We have too many playmakers to not be using them more effectively.

On the bright side, to my untrained eye the offensive line appeared to play better yesterday.

Spencer for hire. Spencer Rattler had his moments yesterday, both good and bad. He threw for 376 yards and a TD, but also had three fumbles (one lost) and one interception in the end zone. He’s a dude with massive talent, but I’m afraid we’re going to have to live with that good and bad Rattler all season, and hope the good outweighs the bad.

The Rain. Dadgummit, last week as part of my recap I was going to write that even though Jalen Brooks was the leading receiver that I thought Juice Wells would eventually be the primary target for Rattler. Wells proved me right (as far as you know) with a monster game – 8 catches for 189 yards and one TD. He’s currently the leading receiver in the SEC with 244 yards after two games.

Up next. To hell with Georgia, the cesspool of the South.

Go Cocks.