Snap Judgments – 2018 Texas A&M @ South Carolina

Some quick, barely researched, not fully formed thoughts from South Carolina’s 26-23 loss to Texas A&M.


Tick tock. We are now officially halfway through the 2018 football season (slightly more if we don’t get a chance to make up the cancelled Marshall game) and the game on Saturday was a perfect microcosm of the season so far. In other words, at various points during the game we were let down by the offense, the defense, special teams and coaching.

The offense was borderline putrid in the first half. Couldn’t establish the run, couldn’t throw an accurate pass, couldn’t catch a cold, and couldn’t score a single, solitary point. By the time the second half rolled around it was too late. Even though the Gamecocks battled back to tie the game, the hole that was dug in the first half proved to be too much to overcome.

I saw a lot of people praising the play of the defense on Saturday. I would like to point out they gave up 353 yards passing to Kellen Mood, and while they held to Aggies to 2.6 yards per carry they couldn’t get a crucial stop in the fourth quarter with the game on the line. A&M doubled up the Gamecocks in time of possession (which isn’t necessarily a telling stat, until it is). Yes, the defense was very good in the red zone. And I’m personally getting sick of the fact they continually have to be good in the red zone for us to have a chance. How about get some stops in between the 20s? We’ve been “bend but don’t break” every year that Will Muschamp has been here. I’m ready for our defense to play a little “don’t bend or break”.

Once, when we did get a stop, Bryan Edwards had a great punt return. Then he fumbled and gave the ball right back. Deebo Samuel hasn’t come close to breaking a kick return this year. (On the bright side, Parker White and Joseph Charlton continue to be excellent.)

From a coaching standpoint, we allowed Jace Sternberger to run free through our secondary for most of the game. Sternberger made comments after the game that “(Gamecock) safeties and linebackers kept miscommunicating about how they were going to guard me.” Muschamp denied that, saying Sternberger was simply a matchup problem. I’m not sure which is worse. Honestly, watching how open Sternberger was on most of his catches I tend to believe we were having communication problems.

This loss was a complete team effort, top to bottom. USC had so many chances to seize control of the game, but failed both mentally and physically to do so time and again. With half the season gone and still three wins needed to gain bowl eligibility, time is running out to salvage this season.

Mr. Brightside. Phew, felt good to get that off my chest. Here’s the good news – we are SO close. Even with all our problems we played a pretty darned good Texas A&M team to within 3 points. I believe Tennessee, Florida and Ole Miss are all winnable games as long as we stop making messes so big we can’t clean them up. Despite evidence to the contrary I believe the offense is going to get it going. I believe the defense is going to mature and is going to benefit greatly from the return of DJ Wonnum. The young guys we’ve been playing are going to continue to get better. The very cautious optimist in me is excited for the second half of the season.

Dropsies. You saw it, I saw it, the American people saw it. Our once proud wide receiver corps repeatedly torpedoed any chance we had to win the A&M game with crucial drops. If you haven’t already read it, Ben Breiner with The State did an excellent job of recapping all the lost yardage from Saturday. (Including Rashad Fenton’s crucial drop of an interception late.)

Red state vs. Blue state. The Jake Bentley/Michael Scarnecchia debate turned into a fierce political battle heading into the game on Saturday. Bentley didn’t help his cause for much of the first half, following his standard pattern of being too jacked up emotionally and overthrowing his receivers. When the offense did put together a promising drive Bentley ended it with easily the worst throw and worst interception of his career. Heading into halftime I even tweeted that I thought we needed to start Scarnecchia in the second half just to see if he could infuse some energy into an offense that had been shut out.

But Will Muschamp stuck with Bentley (probably because his dad is on staff I’M KIDDING PLEASE DON’T TAKE THAT SERIOUSLY) and Bentley responded splendidly. While he still didn’t always display pinpoint accuracy, he threw for 174 yards and two touchdowns against no interceptions. Again, the numbers would’ve been higher, and outcome could’ve been different without the butter fingers.

It was an impressive performance by any measure, and perhaps the most important play of the day for him was his scramble and dive for a first down in the third quarter. He was going balls out to get the win, and for the most part the anti-Bentley crowd recognized that and backed off…a little.

Boo birds. Our old pal Kevin McCrarey summed up our feelings about the booing in the first half more eloquently than we ever could.

The bottom line here is this – do your best to treat people with dignity and respect. Those guys on the football field, the folks next to you in the stands, the people you come into contact with online. I know it sounds trite and cheesy, but give it a try. Just because you wanted Scarnecchia to start and somebody else wanted Bentley, that doesn’t make them a moron, idiot, communist, and you won’t get shingles if you come into contact with them. Even though I was in the Bentley camp, each side had a reasonable argument for “their guy” to start on Saturday, and I wouldn’t have surprised or disappointed if had been 12.

But it was Bentley. And when Bentley ran into trouble his supporters didn’t “get what they deserved”, which is something I saw on Twitter more than once along with “I hope they’re happy”. We’re all on the same team here, folks. Just because you disagree over who starts a football game it doesn’t make you mortal enemies.

If that makes you mad that’s cool, I’m going to love you even more. Now come here and give me a hug.

How to win friends and influence people. I think we’re going to re-engineer this tweet and turn it into our core values for the blog.

Screen Shot 2018-10-15 at 10.26.12 PM

I’ve always thought our arrogance and inability to offer a basic level of sound analysis are two of our most endearing qualities.

Plus, not only do we have ties to the program, this is Ray Tanner’s burner account.

You folks enjoy the bye week. Go Cocks.

Snap Judgments – 2018 Missouri @ USC Edition

Some quick, barely researched, not fully formed thoughts from South Carolina’s 37-35 win over Missouri.

Worth the wait. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

Shower power. This was a rough week to be a Gamecock fan. A demoralizing fifth straight loss to Kentucky had fans doubting everything they believed about the 2018 USC football team. A squad that was picked by many to challenge Georgia for the SEC East title had been throttled by the Bulldogs four weeks ago, then completely dominated by the up-and-coming Wildcats last weekend. The team that was supposed to take the next step towards relevance had actually regressed. To top everything off, Friday night it was announced backup Michael Scarnecchia, he of 13 passing attempts over four years, would be starting at quarterback against Missouri in place of the injured Jake Bentley.

The first half of the game against the Tigers didn’t do much to make the Gamecock faithful feel any better. Missouri ran up over 300 yards of offense in the first two quarters en route to a 23-14 halftime lead. USC certainly wasn’t awful on offense but were beneficiaries of a really dumb onside kick call that helped lead to their first TD. Honestly, at the break, it was hard to envision a path to victory for Carolina unless there was some divine intervention.

And then, to paraphrase an old Steve Spurrier saying, the good Lord smiled on the Gamecocks.

I was at home watching on TV, and when the SEC Network came back from a break they said it was pouring rain despite the sun still shining (the devil was beating his wife, for you good ‘ol southern folk). They said the rain was expected to pass shortly.

But it didn’t pass. It kept raining. And raining. And raining.

It rained the entire third quarter, and the Gamecocks took advantage of some serious stumbling and bumbling from the Tigers and ran off 17 straight points to take a 31-23 lead into the fourth quarter. It finally stopped raining and things evened out again, but USC made just enough plays and Parker White drilled a 33-yard field goal for the win.

It was one of the more bizarre games you will ever witness and I commend those of you who stayed through any portion of that rain. (I did it in the mid-90s against East Carolina with much less desirable results.) The term “must win” is overused in the sports lexicon, but beating Missouri at home was critical if this season is to have any decent level of success.

Thanks to a once-in-a decade weather occurrence, we are back on track.

Scar tissue. A week ago Michael Scarnecchia was a good-natured punch line. He was a fifth-year senior quarterback that had been passed on the depth chart multiple times over his career at South Carolina. Orth, Mitch, Nunez, McIlwain and Bentley were all deemed better options at the quarterback position than the 2-star Spurrier recruit from Fleming Island, FL.

“Put in Scarnecchia ha ha!” but we were never really serious, right? Because when it was announced on Friday that he would start, a collective “oh no” came up from the Gamecock faithful.

But now, after yesterday’s 20-35, 249 yard, 3 TD, 0 INT performance, he is cemented in Gamecock lore with the likes of Erik Kimrey. Scarnecchia was everything you would expect out of a fifth year senior quarterback. But most of the time you would expect that your fifth-year senior quarterback had thrown more than 13 passes in his career, and only ONE before this season.

In the spring Will Muschamp said Scarnecchia was unquestionably the backup to Jake Bentley, which was a little disappointing to us fans who were dying to see our shiny new Dakereon Joyner toy in action. But 12 displayed decision making, accuracy and most of all poise in ridiculous conditions, and now he’s a legend.

Beer’s on us Mike, you’ve earned it. And there’s no question you’re old enough.

Sooooo, what next? Well, we apparently have a quarterback controversy on our hands. I’ll give you my personal opinion, and I know based on Twitter comments that some of you will disagree, but here goes – if healthy, Jake Bentley is our starting quarterback.

I’ve stated in this space that Bentley has been disappointing in the fact that he hasn’t really improved since his freshman year. That said, I still think he gives us our best chance to win, and I still think he can and will improve.

What Scarnecchia did yesterday was brilliant and beautiful. But I have my doubts he can sustain it over a period of several games.

Offensive whoas. This would be a much different segment had we lost yesterday, but we’re willing to give Bryan McClendon a pass (ironically) on some of his play calling yesterday. Scarnecchia was put in a lot of difficult situations yesterday due to our unwillingness to pass the ball more frequently on first or second down. Yes, the rain was probably a factor, but we ran just as much on first and second down in the first half as we did the second. Once Scarnecchia showed us his chops, the reins should have come off.

On the flip side, the 2nd and 10 call from our own 46 on our final drive was the most brilliantly executed play of the day. The staff recognized something in the Mizzou coverage and lined up little-used Kyle Markway in the slot. Markway released down the seam on the snap uncovered, and Scarnecchia eyed him the whole way and hit him with a perfect strike for a 27-yard gain to put us in field goal range. It was football at its best.

As I said last week, BMac is still learning the job, and I hope he learned yesterday to trust his ball players.

Jaycee hut. Early in the third quarter, after USC had trimmed the Missouri lead to 23-21, Damarea Crockett broke loose for what appeared to be a backbreaking 70-yard touchdown run. Upon further review, Jaycee Horn swiped at Crockett’s feet and caused him to barely step out of bounds at the 11-yard line. A series of blunders by the Tigers led to a dropped punt snap and a blown scoring opportunity, all the result of great hustle by the freshman.

Horn has arguably been our best player on defense. He is a player and will be a mainstay on all-SEC teams the next few years.

BAWlin. When I say “arguably” above, it’s only because of Bryson Allen-Williams. BAW has finally turned into the player we all thought he would be coming out of high school, a high motor disrupter at the line of scrimmage.

Dead solid perfect. Parker White makes me feel good about placekicking again.

Onside dork. Despite Barry Odom’s denial that his first quarter onside kick attempt wasn’t really an onside kick attempt, it obviously was so I’m calling it one of the dumb coaching decisions of the year. You’ve got all the momentum, a newbie QB on the other side, and you do that? Duuuuumb.

Go Cocks, beat TAMU.

Snap Judgments – 2018 USC @ Kentucky Edition


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.

Go Cocks.

Snap Judgments – 2018 USC @ Vanderbilt Edition

Too Shi Shi (Photo:

Some quick, barely researched, not fully formed thoughts from South Carolina’s 37-14 victory over Vanderbilt.

TCB. Listen, we don’t always win SEC games on the road by three touchdowns, so I can understand Gamecock fans being excited about and re-energized by yesterday’s win. Clinging to a slim six point lead at the intermission, South Carolina dominated the game in the second half, finishing with more than 500 total yards and holding Vanderbilt below 300. The game was far from clean, and we left a minimum of 14 points on the field, but all in all it was a nice bounce back from the thrashing we took at home against Georgia.

That said, I would describe the win as nothing more than “fine”. In the grand scheme of things, Vanderbilt is still Vanderbilt. Sure, they should’ve beaten Notre Dame at South Bend last weekend, and the entire ESPN College GameDay crew picked them to beat us. But the reaction nationally to our win was…well, there was no reaction. Nobody saw that score crawl across that screen and thought “wowwww, South Carolina is back baby!”

No, it wasn’t that. But it was a win that was vital more because a loss would’ve been devastating to the long-term outlook of this team and this season. Saturday in Nashville was nice, but at the end of the day it was nothing more than USC taking care of business, and we should all be grateful for that.

Keeping it 100. Rico Dowdle rushed for 112 yards and Shi Smith had 119 yards receiving, making them the first RB/WR duo to pull of that feat in the same game since the 2016 Missouri game (h/t @KershawsCorner).

Dowdle once again looked like himself after being bottled up and stone-handed in the UGA game. He benefited from a tremendous effort by the Gamecock offensive line, who looked as good in the run game as we’ve seen in a couple of years. Vandy killer AJ Turner and Ty’Son Williams added 64 and 48 yards respectfully, as USC put up a season high 273 rushing yards. Oh yeah Mon Denson also added a touchdown.

Shi Smith, meanwhile, has now led the Gamecocks in receiving in two of the three games this year, with a bizarre game in between where he was only targeted twice for 11 yards. It looks as if Bryan McClendon is set on using Deebo Samuel as more of a Swiss Army Knife in the offense, with pop passes, sweeps and shorter routes to get him in space. That leaves Smith and Bryan Edwards to take the lid off over the top, which they’ve both done at different times this season. Even with the possible loss of OrTre Smith to a knee injury, defenses are going to be forced to pick a poison when defending the Gamecock passing game this season.

Read and right. Jake Bentley had another solid game (19-28, 261, 1 TD, 1 INT) leading the offense. His accuracy is continuing to improve, and his deep ball touch seems to be coming along.

Bentley still needs to find a way to cut down on tipped passes and do a better job recognizing his backs in the flat. One tipped pass led to an interception and eventually points for Vandy as he failed to recognize a DE dropping into coverage. Other tipped passes are not 100% his fault as there are techniques in pass blocking that help keep defensive linemen’s hands down, but ultimately it’s up to Jake to get the ball through the lane uncontested.

As far as the backs in the flat, I’ve never seen defenses give up the RB so much space as I’ve seen in games (all games, not just USC games) this season. Getting the ball to a back one on one with a linebacker seems to be a guaranteed six yards these days.

Pace maker. Bryan McClendon has kept good on his promise to speed up the South Carolina offense. At the same time it’s a smart pace, not going fast just for the sake of going fast, and has yielded very nice results in our two wins this year. My only real complaint yesterday was throwing the ball four times after having separate 2nd-and-shorts in Vandy territory, including back-to-back low percentage fades when we had the Commodores on their heels. Run the dang ball BMac.

The Mountain. This pretty much speaks for itself, and Javon Kinlaw stands to make a lot of money next April.

Fenton Island and the Horn of Columbia. Rashad Fenton picked up his second interception of the season against Vanderbilt, and I literally did not hear the name Jaycee Horn mentioned yesterday. You know how good that is? You don’t think coordinators like to see freshmen DB’s covering their WR’s? Not these guys, they are rarely testing Mr. Horn and that speaks volumes.

BAWlin. Bryson Allen-Williams is a damn good Gamecock, and I’m glad to see him back and contributing. He was arguably the second most dominant defensive player on the field yesterday.

Cat Nip. It’s really hard to explain how Kentucky currently has a four game winning streak over South Carolina. But a few years ago it was just as hard to explain how South Carolina had a TEN game winning streak over Kentucky. That’s not a shot at either program, we’re just two middle of the road SEC football programs trying to get to that next level, right? How can one team dominate the other for such a long stretch? I don’t know the answer, football can be a strange game is all I can come up with.

That said, when I was watching Kentucky drill Mississippi State last night, I actually started to feel better about our game. The hype is on the other foot now (despite Vegas making us an early favorite how in the world) and Kentucky will come in as the ranked team with a lot of momentum on their side. We’ll have the chance to knock them off their pedestal, much like we did in 2007 when we beat the 8th-ranked ‘Cats 38-23.

I can promise you this Kentucky team is no Vandy. They are tough and confident, and have an all-American running back in Bennie Snell. It will take our best shot.

I’m ready. Go Cocks.

Snap Judgments – 2018 Georgia @ USC Edition


Some quick, barely researched, not fully formed thoughts from South Carolina’s 41-17 loss to Georgia.

Chasers. When we woke up on November 29, 2015, Kirby Smart was the odds on favorite to become the next head football coach at the University of South Carolina. Athletic Director Ray Tanner had courted Houston’s Tom Herman, reportedly come to an agreement in principle, and then was turned down. Smart, the defensive coordinator at Alabama under Nick Saban for eight years, was the next logical choice. He was interested in becoming a head coach, and it seemed like a matter of time before he would be introduced in Columbia.

By the end of that day things had changed dramatically. Mark Richt was fired by Georgia, fresh off a 9-win regular season. The Bulldog brass were frustrated with the lack of championships despite Richt consistently keeping Georgia among the top 10-15 teams in the country and winning five SEC East titles and two SEC championships. It was clear when they fired Richt they had only one coach in mind to run their program – Kirby Smart.

It was an easy decision for Smart to return to his alma mater and take over a 10-win team with more than enough talent to compete in the SEC. South Carolina hired Will Muschamp a short time later.

I bring this up not to say we’d be better off with Smart than we would Muschamp, there’s no way to know that. No matter who took over at South Carolina, he was going to have a significant uphill battle, and Muschamp has done a more than adequate job to this point. I bring this up because it appears for the first time in 30+ years Georgia has the right man at the helm of their program, and that’s terrible news for South Carolina.

Georgia has had everything in place for years to be an ultra elite program but has been unable to put it together consistently on Saturdays. With Smart at the helm their recruiting, which was excellent to begin with, has gotten better and their play on the field finally looks like that of a consistent SEC and national championship contender.

Let me put it this way – Will Muschamp took a 3-9 Gamecock team to six wins in his first year, nine wins in his second year, and has vastly improved recruiting and the overall culture around the program. And during that period we LOST significant ground to Georgia.

I have no idea what the answer is now that the sleeping giant in Athens has been awakened. I sure hope Will Muschamp does.

Whipped. The first half of yesterday’s game was somewhat encouraging, and was pretty close to what I expected to see from the two teams. It was clear that Georgia was the more talented team, but aside from a flukey pick six and a shanked punt the Gamecocks had scrapped their way to a pretty even game.

The second half was a completely different story, and is what you often see when a supremely talented team go up against an average team. The average team can scratch and claw to keep the game close, but eventually talent and depth is going to take over. That’s exactly what happened as Georgia carved up the Gamecocks on their first three drives of the second half,  covering 75, 75 and 86 yards in a display of brute force and lightning speed.

On that second 75-yard drive it was clear the Gamecock defense was whipped. I saw quite a few people on Twitter use the word “quit”, which is a really lazy and disrespectful take unless you’ve had experience with 6’6″, 330 lb. offensive linemen shoving you around for 60 minutes. Our guys were still playing hard, they were just physically and mentally beaten.

Speed Kills. Georgia’s first touchdown of the second half was a great example of the talent discrepancy between the two teams. Mecole Hardman, a former 5-star recruit, took a simple swing pass that put him one-on-one with former walk-on Steven Montac. Montac didn’t take a great angle to begin with, but still had a chance to at least draw even with Hardman and push him out of bounds. Instead, Hardman turned on the jets and blew by Montac, shedding his attempted tackle and cruising in for the back breaking TD.

Gameplanning. Opening the first two series going empty backfield and no huddle was a very strange decision. Also, it was obvious we were hell bent on getting Deebo the ball, while Georgia was hell bent on letting anyone but him beat them. We waited way too long to start trying our other options. We have too many offensive weapons to focus so much on just one.

Bentley Takes. Hoo boy the Jake Bentley takes over the last 24 hours. The one I probably agreed with the most was the most basic:

It’s not the way we want to describe our QB after 22 games as the starter, but it’s hard to argue otherwise. He’s not awful, but he’s also not a guy you can trust to put the offense on his back and lead to victory against a good defense. He’ll make some great throws (touchdown to Edwards yesterday) but he’ll also make some mind-numbing decisions (pick six against Clemson last year).

I get the “wasn’t his fault” arguments, there are definitely some of those. But you can’t point to very many big game performances that make you confident that he’s going to have more big game performances. After 22 college games you usually know what your guy is, and for Bentley that is average. I’ll give you slightly above average if you push me.

He can certainly improve, and he’s easily the best we’ve got. But for this team to exceed expectations, Bentley has to start to exceed personal expectations.

Hype. Let me make one thing clear – nothing the South Carolina media team does has any impact on the football team’s performance on the field. That said, until we start winning some of these big games I’d like to see us tone down some of these over-the-top uniform reveal and hype videos. It’s borderline embarrassing when you have a day like yesterday.

Also, no script helmets for a while. Bad memories.

What’s Next. Our chance to win the SEC East is gone, and in retrospect never really existed in the first place. I believe we can still win eight, maybe nine games if we can not let yesterday’s game beat us twice. That game needs to be flushed, and we need a good performance against Marshall to re-instill some confidence.

Clemson is a loss, don’t @ me. Besides that we have a couple of wins on our schedule and a whole bunch of toss-ups. Buckle in. Hopefully we won’t have any more performances like yesterday in our bag.

Go Cocks.

TRC Unleashed 98 – Georgia Preview 2018

Guess who’s back? That’s right, TRC Unleashed but minus Tbone and the Gman. Tbone is on permanent vacation, while Gman was pushed to a third set tiebreaker in his senior league tennis match last night and couldn’t make it.

Thankfully Connor Tapp from 247Sports was able to fill in to review the opener against Coastal Carolina and preview the upcoming tilt against Georgia. Take a listen, we think you’ll enjoy all the hot takes and breaking down of things.

Link to iTunes here, or stream below, and enjoy!


Snap Judgments – Coastal Carolina @ South Carolina 2018 Edition

Rico……Suave (Photo: AP/Sean Rayford)

Some quick, barely researched, not fully formed thoughts from South Carolina’s 49-15 season opening win over Coastal Carolina.

Beached. It’s a running, unfunny joke among South Carolina fans how we struggle to dominate “paycheck” games against teams like Wofford, Furman, Western Carolina and the like. The lone exception appears to be Coastal Carolina, whom we have now beaten 119-25 in two lifetime meetings after today’s victory. It’s nice to be able to relax in the second half of games and get the backups and their backups some live snaps. We all need more Coastal Carolinas in our lives.

McOffense. The focus was definitely on coordinator Bryan McClendon and the new-look Gamecock offense, and they didn’t disappoint. USC was crisp and sharp, and McClendon’s play calling played to our strengths and utilized just about all of the skill talent we have. The 49 points were the most in the Will Muschamp era, and the 557 yards were the second most.

We can debate how much of the playbook we showed, or if we held back on the offensive tempo, but one thing is for sure – this looks a hell of a lot better than Kurt Roper’s offenses so far.

Subdued. Nobody is really talking about it, but Jake Bentley looked like a different guy today. Statistically he had perhaps the best day of his career – 22/29, 250 yards, 4 TD and 0 INT. But the really encouraging sign is he seemed emotionally under control the entire time he was in there. One of the knocks on him in his first two years was he came out too amped up and he often missed easy throws, especially early in games. But today he looked calm and relaxed from the opening bell, and his play reflected that. Maybe he’s matured. Or maybe it’s his new haircut.

Oh snap. On the down side, the slow and low shotgun snaps from Donnell Stanley were noticeable in the first series of the game, and they never got any better. With the game out of hand, backup center Chandler Farrell came in and his snaps were much better. Problem is he’s not nearly the blocker Stanley is.

After the game Muschamp said it was something they noticed and would work to get corrected. My question is, has he been snapping like this in practice? And if so why has it not already been corrected?

Scripted. The helmets were badass.

Doppelgänger. Some guy who looks just like Will Muschamp went for it on two fourth downs in one series this afternoon. One was on OUR SIDE of the field. The real Will Muschamp is going to be pissed when he finds out.

Welcome back. Deebo Samuel and Rico Dowdle both missed large parts of the 2017 season with broken fibulas. Both returned with a vengeance today. Deebo had more than 100 total yards from scrimmage and a highlight-reel, one-handed touchdown catch. Rico rushed for 105 yards and had one rushing and one receiving touchdown, and looked trimmer and quicker than he was last year.

Other stars. As mentioned above, it’s a really good thing to run a lot of plays, because we have a ton of playmakers. Shi Smith, Bryan Edwards, Ty’Son Williams, Kiel Pollard, Randrecous Davis and Slade Carroll (!) all had noteworthy moments today. Also worth mentioning, the second team offensive line looked really, really good.

No name defense. The defense was solid today, holding Coastal to 238 yards. But no players really stood out after DJ Wonnum went down with an ankle injury. Particularly in the secondary, we have a lot of guys who are a lot of shapes and sizes and seem to move easily from corner to nickel to safety and back with ease. The d-line and linebackers were heavily rotated today. It will be interesting to see who makes it into the primary rotation as we move into SEC play.

Firsts. There were quite a few firsts today – freshman Jaycee Horn had his first career sack on a corner blitz. Pollard and Davis had the first touchdown catches of their respective careers. Twelfth year senior Michael Scarnecchia also had his first touchdown pass.

Hell on earth. I was watching from the comfort of my home, but it sounds like today was one of the hottest home games anyone can remember. Saturday games in Columbia at noon in September should be outlawed. I know we’re at the mercy of the TV schedule, but Ray Tanner needs to put up a fight to prevent it from happening again, for the safety of our fans.

Tom Tom. Elsewhere, almost former Gamecock head coach Tom Herman and his Texas Longhorns lost their opener to Maryland for the second consecutive year. Remember when everyone was so upset at Phil Kornblut because they thought he cost us our shot at Herman? I tell you what, people who believed that should be sending Korn thank you notes today.

Go Cocks, beat Georgia.

2017 Gamecock Flashback

The 2017 season started with an impressive win over a good NC State team and ended with a comeback win over a good Michigan team in the Outback Bowl. In between was a mostly ugly brand of football that featured good, bad and ugly moments, but ultimately ended with nine wins and a positive vibe coming out of Columbia for the future of the program. Buck takes you through all the important moments in the 2017 Gamecock Flashback.

Click to stream below, or listen on iTunes here. And enjoy!

2016 Gamecock Flashback

The 2016 Gamecock football season was the first of the Will Muschamp era, and began with the exciting prospect of a new hotshot freshman quarterback leading the offense, and ended with a DIFFERENT hotshot freshman quarterback leading the offense.

In between there were some exciting moments (most notably a win over 18th-ranked Tennessee) and some low moments (most notably…ah I can’t even talk about it.) The season ended with a loss in a thrilling bowl game, but gave hope for the coming years.

So join Buck as we recap 2016 Gamecock football. You can listen on iTunes here, or stream the episode below. Thanks, and enjoy!


2015 Gamecock Flashback

The 2015 Gamecock football season began with cautious optimism that Steve Spurrier could rebound the team from a  disappointing 2014 season and get back in the hunt in the SEC East.

Unfortunately, everything went downhill fast after a season opening victory over North Carolina. Losses began to mount and shortly after a historic natural disaster in the the state, Spurrier came to the realization that he wasn’t the man to lead the Gamecocks back to prominence, so he left mid-season.

Shawn Elliott tried his darnedest, but after a 1-0 start to his head coaching career, his team suffered through tough losses to good teams, and then an embarrassing loss to FCS The Citadel. A close loss to Clemson brought to a close one of the most worst seasons in South Carolina football history.

Sound like fun? Hell no it wasn’t fun! But Buck is here to recap every game for you, and remind you to cherish those good times, because they don’t always last. Here’s how to listen:

Stream it here or click the graphic below

iTunes link here