Snap Judgments – 2015 LSU @ USC Edition (aka USC @ LSU Edition)

Leonard Fournette showed why he is the leading candidate for the Heisman, and a super nice guy. (Photo: GoGamecocks.com)

Leonard Fournette showed why he is the leading candidate for the Heisman, and a super nice guy. (Photo: GoGamecocks.com)

Some quick, barely researched, not fully-formed thoughts from South Carolina’s 45-24 loss to LSU:

Our Fall of Discontent. After one of the most disastrous weeks in the history of our beautiful state, the South Carolina’s relocated game against LSU was an opportunity for an ever-so-brief healing moment in the midst of tragedy. If only our beloved football team could give the 7th-ranked Tigers a fight, and maybe even pull off an upset, we could take a moment to smile and give a high five or two. Unfortunately, the 2015 Gamecock football season continued to play out in the worst possible fashion in Baton Rouge.

For the first half the Gamecocks played well, but not particularly inspired. They went into halftime down 17-10 in a  game that had a weird vibe from the very beginning. Then the Tigers woke up. Heisman candidate Leonard Fournette ripped off an 87-yard touchdown run on the second play of the second half, and the game for all intents and purposes was over. In a game where we were hoping for an inspired performance, and perhaps even a (gasp) moral victory to give us some glimmer of hope for the remainder of the season, LSU gashed USC with long run after long run to hand the Gamecocks another embarrassing loss in a year that is sure to be full of them.

Our severely depleted offense did all they could, but in addition to Fournette’s big day, the defense gave up career highs to backup running back Derrius Guice (16-161) and career highs in completions (18), attempts (28), and yardage (228) for quarterback Brandon Harris. LSU rolled up a humbling 624 yards of total offense against our million dollar coordinators.

As was noted on Twitter, this game felt a lot like a Gamecock football game from the ’90s – completely outmanned, able to hang for a while, but ultimately obliterated by the other team’s obviously superior talent.

How in the world did we get here.

The HBC. Well, we can start with this guy I guess. I’m not sure there’s anything else we can say on this blog about Steve Spurrier’s future that won’t sound like dead horse flogging. But, as if we needed more evidence that the HBC is going to be done after this year, we got this gem:

With all due respect to Carlton Heard, him not wanting to play even though he was cleared it not a big deal. But Brandon Wilds is a different story – a senior and a guy we praised earlier this year for calling out the coaching staff for not giving him the ball enough against Kentucky. Wilds quit on Steve Spurrier, and quit on us, yesterday. I don’t type that lightly. I don’t know how badly Wilds was/is hurt, and I don’t know what was said to other coaches are trainers. All I know is Spurrier was frustrated that one of his main guys was cleared to play and decided he didn’t want to.

Oh, but it doesn’t stop there, a guy who has taken about five snaps this year decided to chime in as well (since deleted):

 Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 6.51.13 PM

This devolved into a short back and forth between Shameik Blackshear and Cory Helms, but that’s beside the point. The point is Steve Spurrier has lost the locker room. He had some lame comment that “ah this type of stuff happens when you lose”, and no, it does not. Respected leaders can lead a losing locker room just as well as a winning locker room and prevent nonsense like this.

Steve Spurrier no longer has that respect.

One step HokeWard, ten steps back. After 2014 there was a great cry for Spurrier to make a change at defensive coordinator. Instead, he waffled, deflected, and finally sort of demoted Lorenzo Ward and brought on old buddy Jon Hoke to take over. The results? See for yourself with where South Carolina stands in these up-to-date SEC rankings:

  • Total defense – 14th
  • Scoring defense – 14th
  • Rushing defense – 13th
  • Pass defense – 12th

Pair these with the offensive statistics (we’re currently 13th in total offense) and congratulations we have the worst team in the SEC. Some people blame talent, some blame coaching. I think you have to blame it all.

Have I mentioned we finished #4 in the country a mere season and a half ago?

Fenton-ease. Our biggest bright spot yesterday was Rashad Fenton, who broke a dubious 13-year streak by returning a kickoff for touchdown. Ghosts of Matthew Thomas, be exorcised!

Leonard Fournette and LSU. What a touching move by Fournette yesterday to offer to auction off his jersey and give the proceeds to flood relief in South Carolina. After all, if anyone knows what the people of our state are going through right now it is him. As a 10-year-old, during Hurricane Katrina, Fournette lived on an overpass for five days and four nights in a harrowing experience. Thank you Leonard, go win the Heisman, you have the entire state of South Carolina pulling for you.

Also, thank you to the great people of Louisiana State University. Your hospitality will not be soon forgotten.

Go Cocks.

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When It Was Over

When did you realize the Steve Spurrier era was over at South Carolina? I’m not talking about the general speculation that has followed the HBC since he stepped on campus almost 11 years ago. I mean that moment when you said, “OK, this is definitely it for Steve Spurrier at South Carolina, he’s hanging it up.”

Maybe it was after last season’s 7-6 finish. Maybe it was after his “enemies” rant late this summer. If you were like us, you came to the realization after the Kentucky game. Or maybe you hung on to see if we could spring that oh-so-common upset of Georgia.

Then again, maybe you still aren’t quite there yet. Maybe you’re hanging on to those glorious back-to-back-to-back 11-win seasons and you feel like all we need is a tweak or two to get back on track.

If you’re in that last group, then I submit to you a quote from Steve Spurrier’s call-in show from last night, courtesy of The State’s Matt Connolly.

I cannot find the words to properly express how baffling, frustrating, and embarrassing these revelations are. First of all, wrap your heads around the thought that a major college football team, led by one of the greatest offensive minds in the history of the game, against the two-time defending SEC East Champions, ran all of TWO running plays for an entire game. And it’s not as it they were working, these two brilliant running plays didn’t work at all. We finished with 112 yards rushing (3.3 ypc) and 60 of those yards came on Lorenzo Nunez runs that were mostly not designed running plays.

Second, I’m not big on the thought that teams are spending a lot of resources on trying to steal signals or plays. If they are, then they are taking resources away from the things that actually win a game. However, when your playbook can fit on half of one side of a cocktail napkin, you make it really easy for the other side to figure out what you’re doing. If Missouri was picking up our signals, then good for them. I honestly don’t think it was part of their game plan, they just happened to see a $20 bill lying on the sidewalk and they picked it up.

Finally, I was listening to a radio show, “Chuck and Chernoff”, driving home in Atlanta yesterday. Chuck Oliver is an excellent college football guy, and has followed the path of Steve Spurrier for many years. Here’s what he had to say:

Chuck and Chernoff on Spurrier

Oliver nails it here. There seemed to be so much fire and passion behind the “enemies” rant, and now Spurrier just sounds sad. I don’t think he’s necessarily lost his passion, I just don’t think he knows what to do. Practically everyone on our schedule has more talent and better coaching than us, and he knows it.

As the evidence continues to mount week after week, there is no question it’s almost over for Steve Spurrier at South Carolina. He hasn’t quit on us yet, but based on what we’ve heard the last week, he’s in the process.

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Snap Judgments – 2015 USC @ Missouri Edition

Lorenzo Nuñez found the going much tougher against Mizzou.

Lorenzo Nuñez found the going much tougher against Mizzou.

Some quick, barely researched, not fully-formed thoughts from South Carolina’s 24-10 loss to Missouri:

The HBC. If you’ve read this blog or listened to our podcast, you know our position on head coach Steve Spurrier, and each week the case against his return in 2016 continues to mount. It’s way past time to fire off some “it’s time for Steve Spurrier to go” blog post. There’s pretty much nobody left to convince. Besides, we did that after the Kentucky game.

We talked on one podcast a few weeks ago about the five stages of grief as it relates to Spurrier’s time as the head Gamecock. I’m now squarely in the final stage, acceptance, and I suggest you find a way to get there yourself, because it is time to put a new plan in place and move on.

This final season is going to be the exact opposite of the way we would’ve drawn up Spurrier’s departure. We would’ve wanted that ever-elusive SEC Championship, followed by a major bowl game, with the HBC holding up a trophy and telling everyone it was a great run but it’s time to step down while on top. Hell, in hindsight, even making that retirement speech while holding the crappy Duck Commander Independence Bowl Championship trophy would’ve been light years better than what we’re staring in the face right now.

Instead, what we’re facing is our greatest leader in our most important sport, and one of the most legendary coaches in the game’s history, making his retirement announcement after a probable four-win season, two years removed from a top 10 finish. He’s going to be exactly the guy he didn’t want to be – the coach who hangs around just a season or two too long and leaves behind a declining program in need of a major rebuild.

I have a feeling the next eight weeks are going to be the hardest we’ve seen around here is a long time.

Nun-YIKES. Lorenzo Nuñez was borderline spectacular in his first start against Central Florida last week. He was basically the entire offense, and he gave Gamecock fans hope that he could salvage our anemic 2015 offense. But in his first SEC start on the road in the other Columbia, he looked like the moment was much too big for him. He made poor decisions, poor throws, and was contained for the most part by a fast, strong and talented Missouri defense. Spurrier said if he’s healthy next week that he’s still the starter, but now I’m beginning to believe the job might not be as hard to win back for Connor Mitch when he returns from injury.

That not to say Nuñez doesn’t have a bright future ahead of him, because he certainly does. But if he continues to play like he did yesterday, he just doesn’t have much of a present.

22-Follow. We had a running (pun intended) joke at my high school that we only had one running play, and if was called 22-follow. Those of you who know a little bit about offense know that was a simple dive play where the tailback follows the fullback through the “2” hole. The offense was never that sophisticated, and when nothing else was working we always had the ol’ 22-follow.

South Carolina is a major program with one of the great offensive minds in college football history. Though it’s not the 22-follow, somehow it feels like we only have one running play, and it’s not very effective. Yet, we continue to run it despite very little success. I realize we sometimes run a zone read out of it, and we have a stretch play that we run occasionally, but imagine our run game playbook being a half page long and we only use 1/3 of it.

Bad Omen. We should’ve known it wasn’t our day yesterday after the first three possessions. The game started with USC forcing a three-and-out, followed by a shanked 24-yard punt by Missouri. We took over at the Tigers’ 49-yard line, proceeded to lose 17 yards, and then Sean Kelly returned the special teams favor with a 17-yard punt. The net? Missouri took over at the same place our drive started without the benefit of a turnover. That’s hard to do.

Oh, yeah, they went on to score a touchdown too.

Miracle in CoMo. ESPN showed highlights of the last time we traveled to Columbia, Missouri. It’s a great memory, probably one of the top 5 Gamecock games of all time, and will get greater with time. Unfortunately it was only two years ago, and it feels like ten.

Washout. Tbone, Gman and I headed to the coast on Thursday for out semi-annual fishing trip. We knew the weather forecast wasn’t conducive to fishing, but the older we get the less the trips are about actual fishing and the more they are about just getting away for a few days.

On Saturday morning, with the waters rising around the house where we stay, we decided to trek up to Gman’s house where it would be “safe”. We had a nice day of watching football on Saturday, but woke up Sunday morning to “considerably more” rain than they had originally called for in Columbia. It took a while for us to find literally the one road out of town (me to Atlanta, Tbone to Greenville), but fortunately we made it out just in time.

The Gman’s yard got quite wet, but his house is fine, which is more than can be said for many of his neighbors. All of you have probably seen the devastation, with many people temporarily displaced and others who have basically lost their homes.

If you’re in the Columbia area and have the ability and/or resources, we encourage you to lend a helping hand to those in need. If you’re not in the area, look for other ways you can help, most likely through financial donations. If you know of any opportunities to donate food, clothes, money, or even give someone temporary shelter, please tweet them to us and we’ll gladly RT.

We may not all be Gamecocks, but we all take great pride in our state and our people. Please help out where you can.

Go Cocks.

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The Transitive Property Report – Week 4

Mizzou freshman Drew Lock gets his first career start against the Gamecocks this week.

Mizzou freshman Drew Lock gets his first career start against the Gamecocks this week.

Whoa, we totally forgot about the TPR last week. Not “didn’t have time to do it” or “was having computer problems so couldn’t do it”, but just flat out forgot to do it. Fear not fair reader, for we are back.

Week 4 Results:

North Carolina (3-1) – Beat Delaware 41-14. After losing to the Gamecocks in their season opener they’ve rebounded by beating three straight tomato cans.

TPR for UNC: The more I see them the less I think of them. Thank God we won that game.

Kentucky (3-1) – Beat Missouri 21-13. They finally won an SEC game against a team not named South Carolina or Vanderbilt. Thank you for removing us from that dubious company Mizzou.

TPR for Kentucky: Copy and paste from two weeks ago: I don’t Kentucky is any better than they were last year, I just think we’re worse. They’ll still struggle to get to bowl eligibility. Have fun in Birmingham, Wildcats.

Use the promo code TRC2015 at checkout and get 10% off your entire order.

Visit bluemoondisk.com, use the promo code TRC2015 at checkout and get 10% off your entire order.

Georgia (4-0) – Beat Southern 48-6. A nice tune-up game for the Bulldogs before their showdown with the Crimson Tide.

TPR for Georgia: If Greyson Lambert can continue to play well enough to keep the pressure off Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, Georgia should be able to cruise to the SEC East title uncontested.

Central Florida (0-4) – Lost to USC 31-14. The Knights had some momentum in the first half, then they remembered how bad they are.

TPR for UCF: They are a shockingly terrible football team considering they won 12 games and a BCS bowl just two years ago.

Missouri (3-1) – Lost to Kentucky 21-13. You lose to Kentucky, Maty Mauk, and the powers that be find a way to make your disappear.

TPR for Missouri: Nobody has believed in the Tigers since they joined the SEC and they’ve continued to prove people wrong. That time has come to a close. This team is not good, which gives us about a 50/50 shot this weekend I’d say.

LSU (3-0) – Beat Syracuse 34-24. I didn’t watch so I have no idea why this game was only decided by 10 points.

TPR for LSU: After our game with them people will be calling him Leonard Four”hundred yards”nette.

Vanderbilt (1-3) – Lost to Ole Miss 27-16. Vandy put a scare into the third-ranked Rebels. Which puts a scare into me.

TPR for Vanderbilt: Vandy has gone from (in my head) sure win, to probable win, to GROOOOOAAAAAN.

Texas A&M (4-0) – Beat Arkansas 28-21. This game was more about the Hogs’ failures to finish the Aggies off. Regardless, the Aggies remain undefeated.

TPR for Texas A&M: Have you SEEN the wide receiver talent on that team? Reynolds, Kirk, Seals-Jones, Noil, etc., etc., etc. What a nightmare.

Tennessee (2-2) – Lost to Florida 28-27. Butch Jones has proven he can recruit, but has still not proven he can coach.

TPR for Tennessee: If they keep losing, they’re gonna be awfully mad by the time we roll into town.

Florida (4-0) – Beat Florida 28-27. A borderline miracle final minute minutes keeps the Gators undefeated.

TPR for Florida: They seem to be improved under McIlwain, but I’m still not convinced. Should be a good one in Columbia.

The Citadel (3-2) – Lost to Charleston Southern 33-20. The Bulldogs have fallen on hard times since their fast start.

TPR for The Citadel: Will still be painful, but should be a win.

Clemson (3-0) – Bye week.

TPR for Clemson: The Tigers play the biggest game in college football history Saturday night against Notre Dame. God is so not happy about this that he sent a hurricane to try to ruin it.

Projected final record: 5-7

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TRC Unleashed Episode 82 – 1984

Don’t let the title fool you, we don’t talk about 1984 at all, unless you mean Van Halen’s seminal album from that very year. With the Gman absent, Tbone and Buck forge ahead with a  review of the UCF game and grade first-time starter Lorenzo Nuñez’s game, and preview the Maty Mauk-less Missouri Tigers.

Click here to listen via iTunes.TRC-Unleashed-Button

Click here or click the graphic to stream this mother lover, and enjoy!

 

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Snap Judgments – 2015 UCF @ USC Edition

Think about what he could do if he tied his shoes. (Photo: thetandd.com)

Think about what he could do if he tied his shoes. (Photo: thetandd.com)

Some quick, barely researched, not fully-formed thoughts from South Carolina’s 31-14 victory over Central Florida:

Nun-YES™. Several times during the pre-season people suggested Lorenzo Nuñez would/should/could be our starting quarterback. Several times I responded that if Nuñez was our starting quarterback at any point during 2015 then something had gone terribly wrong with the season. After anemic offensive performances through three games, a significant injury to Connor Mitch, and a valiant but losing effort by former walk-on Perry Orth, I think it was safe to say things had gone terribly wrong.

Nuñez got his first college start on Saturday, and while I wouldn’t say he came through with flying colors, his performance was definitely good enough to cement the starting role at least until Mitch comes back. (And probably longer.)

After an ill-advised throw on his first play, Nuñez had the best single passing (184 yards, 2 TD) and rushing (18-123) games of the season for the Gamecocks. He showed skills we haven’t seen at the position since Anthony Wright. (You might say Syvelle Newton, but don’t, Syvelle never had the arm Zo does.)

There will be growing pains for sure, but at this point Lorenzo Nuñez by far gives us the best chance to move the ball, score points, and most importantly, win games.

King Tuttch. Down. Pharoh Cooper was in the midst of his worst game as a Gamecock. First, he made the boneheaded decision to try to field and return a punt inside his own 5 yard line. The muff led to a UCF recovery and 1-yard touchdown drive for the statistically worst offense in FBS. Next, he let a sure touchdown go though his hands that could’ve cut into the Knights lead right before half.

Undaunted, Cooper responded in the second half with an improvised touchdown run off a busted trick play. Then he came back later in the half to haul in a 35-yard touchdown from Nuñez. He’s not having the season he would’ve hoped for so far, but he’s still unquestionably the best offensive option we have on a team with a dearth of them.

Movin’ on Up. The Gamecocks have once again fielded one of the worst defenses in the country so far this year, so the offensively challenged Knights were just what the doctor ordered. USC held UCF to 230 total yards, with only 23 coming on the ground. There was a terrifyingly familiar 93-yard drive by the Knights late in the first half, and there were way too many Gamecock defensive backs not in the same zip code as the wide receivers they were covering. But aside from those things the defense was very solid. With the likes of Texas A&M, LSU and Clemson coming up, we needed a confidence builder, and we got it.

Holla man. There was much made, mostly by Steve Spurrier, of the decision to start TJ Holloman at middle linebacker this week. After all, the coaching staff was displacing our defensive MVP, Skai Moore, and potentially screwing up the one thing we had going for us on defense.

Holloman responded with his best day as a Gamecock, recording two interceptions, six tackles (one TFL), two quarterback hurries and a pass break-up. Tip of the cap to Jon Hoke and staff.

Boosie. Every once in a while we steal a kid from another state that turns out to be a real player for us. With a sack and a safety yesterday, Boosie Whitlow looks like he might be one of those guys.

The HBC. Yesterday certainly helped the morale in an around the program, but nothing happened to change our belief that this will be Steve Spurrier’s last season at the helm for the Gamecocks*.

After last week’s game he said there would be changes on defense, and those changes would be communicated by the defensive staff. The defensive staff made a significant change (Holloman, Moore) that Spurrier then publicly denounced on his Thursday call-in show. You might argue this is just Spurrier being Spurrier, and to an extent it is. But calling out your assistants, whom you asked to make changes, for doing the job you asked them to do is just being an ass. Handle that internally.

Then, after the game, the HBC was asked about play calling.

“I delegated early and obviously the second half I jumped in there a lot of times.”

This is beginning to annoy me. Either call the plays all the time, or have someone else call the plays all the time. The stories about 2-3 guys on the headset discussing what plays to run next for basically the entire game is not normal. Don’t tell us how sharp you are for a 70-year-old and then delegate the thing that made you famous to someone else.

Either call the plays, or butt out.

Moving on. We step up the competition a notch with a conference road game next week against Missouri. Fortunately, they are currently just as dysfunctional as we are, so it should be a good match-up.

Go Cocks!

*Note we still have not called for his firing, dismissal, ouster, or any other word suggesting he be dismissed against his will. 

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TRC Unleashed 81 – It’s Pronounced NOON-yez

On this week’s TRC Unleashed the boys discuss the Georgia debacle, if Lorenzo Nunez can spark the team to victory, and who some potential replacements might be for Steve Spurrier (if the job comes open and we’re not saying it will we’re just speculating like all fans do so back off.)

Click here for the iTunes link.

Or you can click here or click the graphic for streaming, and enjoy!

TRC-Unleashed-Button

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The Graduate Transfer Program is a Load of Crap

LambertGreyson Lambert, a graduate transfer from the University of Virginia, looked a lot like Tom Brady Saturday night while lighting up the Gamecocks like a Christmas tree.

Like UGA, the Gamecocks have a graduate transfer (Isaiah Johnson) starting for them as well.  After watching the dumpster fire that was our defense last year, I (like all Gamecock fans) was thrilled to see Johnson come onto the scene.  Whether or not he will make a difference remains an open question.  After watching Lambert torch our secondary, of which Johnson is supposed to be an integral part, I’m not terribly impressed.

No, this post is not sour grapes, as I was squarely in the Everett Golson to USC camp. Instead it’s about the continued erosion of the traditional “student athlete” model in intercollegiate athletics. The fact of the matter is that major college football (and basketball) players are now free agents. As long as they graduate and meet certain transfer requirements, any player can leave one school and play at another school the next year while dodging the traditional transfer penalty of one year on the sidelines.

And why is the graduate transfer phenomenon a thing? Money, that’s why. Just like all the other methods used to get talented athletes on the field, universities around the country have bought into yet another way of getting an enhanced product that can be packaged as “college” ball. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m all for great players and competition. I’m just sick and tired of all the hypocrisy perpetuated by the NCAA and the universities. Graduate students from UVA, Kansas, or NC State are no more “students” of the new college they play for than the Kentucky basketball freshman who go to just enough classes in the fall semester so they can remain eligible in the spring, or the UNC athletes who were enrolled in all those “paper classes” for the last 20 years.

The graduate transfer rule is simply the latest example of a way to get guys on the field who can help your team win, and win fast. Everybody is doing it. Saturday night I watched an ex-FSU quarterback throw a TD pass to an ex-Oregon St. wide receiver. Both are now wearing Alabama uniforms. I’m pretty sure those guys aren’t at Bama for some fascinating new graduate program.

And let’s face the honest truth, the vast majority of fans couldn’t care less whether or not the star QB or point guard hangs out at the student union, attends classes, or graduates. They just want the wins and the excitement that comes from it all.  I get it.

I’m just ready for everyone to drop the bs and fancy eligibility rules and call college football and basketball what it is – a club system that effectively serves as a minor league.   Sure, there are the athletes who are academically gifted and would be in college anyway.  Some of the graduate transfers likely fall into this category. Rationales such as these only serve to muddy the truth: college athletics (again, I’m talking about D1 football and basketball here) aren’t about college, and haven’t been for quite some time. The fact that the NCAA and the university presidents continue to hold onto the “collegiate athletics” fiction while billions of dollars are made (and spent on coaches and facilities) is ridiculous, and insults the intelligence of the fan bases, which are composed at least partly of alumni who actually went to college for college.

Do I expect this post to change anything? Not a chance. Do I feel better after writing it?  Not really. USC’s “student athletes” still got their butts royally kicked by UGA’s “student athletes” and I’m still ticked off about it.

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Snap Judgments – 2015 USC @ UGA Edition

By one measure, the greatest quarterback in NCAA history. (Photo: ajc.com)

By one measure, the greatest quarterback in NCAA history. (Photo: ajc.com)

Humiliation. I was prepared to lose. I was not prepared for this.

I walked around all week in my Atlanta office telling my Bulldog co-workers that the 17 point spread was not enough. I told them they would win by three touchdowns despite their concerns about their quarterback. I mentally prepared myself for a loss, maybe even a bad loss, to protect these old bones from letting a football game impact other more important areas of my life.

Things were going according to plan through the first quarter, as we were competitive and looked like we might even be able to make a game of it. The 11-point halftime deficit wasn’t too bad, although I was a little concerned about how Georgia had moved down the field so easily in their two-minute drill.

Then we had to play the second half. Our offense was anemic. Our defense was horrific. Georgia ran 37 consecutive offensive plays without facing a third down. Greyson Lambert, a quarterback who was so average that Virginia asked him to not return for his senior season, completed 20 consecutive passes and set an NCAA record for completion percentage in a game. Jordan Diggs was blasted backwards into the end zone by Sony Michel and then posed over in a single moment that almost single-handedly eradicated our four wins in the previous five years over Georgia. Bulldog running backs were gaining eight yards before they were touched, and wide receivers were this open:

IMG_4017

By the end Gamecock players were not only fighting with their opponents, but they were fighting with themselves in a telltale moment that right now this team is lost. Not only is there a dearth of talent on this squad due to poor recruiting efforts, but with very few exceptions there appears to be no heart and no self-respect.

In the end my mental preparation was for naught. A loss, even a bad loss, was acceptable to me last night.

Getting humiliated was not, and never will be, acceptable.

HBC. I have an idea how these last nine games will go, and if what I believe does happen it’s going to be a very sad ending to a great career for Steve Spurrier. Seeing video of him running out of Sanford Stadium having obscenities yelled at him by toothless, adult, redneck Georgia fans who have been dominated by Spurrier for the better part of 20 years did not help my mood.

That Ain’t No Hoke. Jon Hoke drew praise for his halftime adjustments in the first two games of the year as the Gamecocks played shutdown defense for the final 30 minutes against North Carolina and Kentucky. But last night he appeared to make no adjustments whatsoever. There was the occasional corner blitz that was picked up easily by Lambert, but very few times did we see more than four rushers to try to make something happen. Maybe I wasn’t watching closely enough, but I never noticed any stunts or twists either.

Who knows, maybe Lorenzo Ward deserves an apology.

It’s Zo Time. I said all summer that if at any point Lorenzo Nunez was our starting quarterback, then something has gone terribly wrong. I think we can all agree many things have gone terribly wrong, so it’s time to take our chances with the true freshman. Perry Orth is a nice story, from seventh string to bagging groceries to starting in Athens, but at this point that’s all it is – a nice story.

While Orth had his moments, it’s obvious Zo is an elite athlete and can make things happen that no other quarterback on the roster can. He might look like a baby deer running around out there at times, but I think he’s going to give us our best chance to score some points.

King Tuttchdown. Six yards receiving, 34 yards rushing. We’re wasting our main man.

On Quitting. At some point during the night former Gamecock defensive back D.J. Swearinger tweeted this:

Predictably, there was a lot of unfortunate reaction to this tweet by emotional fans. In turn, there was a lot of defense of DJ going on that what he said was “the truth”.

Here’s the thing – DJ was being honest in a way only DJ can be honest, and was probably expressing a lot of what we were feeling last night. The problem is, he has a responsibility none of the rest of us have. He’s one of the most popular Gamecock players of all time, and is now in a place where many of our players hope to be someday – the NFL. To tell our players, especially the ones who are strapping it up on Saturday and giving it every ounce of effort they have, that he is quitting on them is disappointing. Many of the current players look up to him. Hell, some of theme probably came to South Carolina BECAUSE of him.

Being disappointed in a performance is one thing, but telling a group of guys who look up to  you that you’re quitting on them is quite another. I’m disappointed, and despite my deep disappointment at how this season is shaping up, I’m not quitting. You can accuse me of bitching and moaning, and that’s fair. But regardless I’ll be there next week supporting these guys, and the week after, and the week after that.

The Final Word. From your lips to God’s ears Isaiah.

Go Cocks.

 

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FIXED Toward a ‘Conscious Uncoupling’ FIXED

This space on a game day eve is usually reserved for a TRC ‘Boning Up segment, where we throw some serious knowledge your way about the upcoming opponent’s institution, tradition, and team. If you somehow wandered here looking for that info, please avail yourself of last year’s ‘Boning Up on the Dawgs, as much of the information remains the same. Just substitute ‘Chubb’ every time you see the word ‘Gurley’ and you should be fine. Georgia, gentle reader, never changes.

Instead, I’d like to address another topic: this, the (probable) final season of our Head Ball Coach. With a lackluster year behind us, and the promise of a difficult season ahead, many pundits are beginning to embrace the idea that this may be Steve Spurrier’s final year at the helm of our football program.

I have reluctantly reached this same conclusion.

/Sad Clown Noise

/Sad Clown Noise

Don’t get me wrong. I think the HBC has earned the right to coach the Gamecocks for as long as he wants. In fact, I’d be fine if we named him “Head Ball Coach for Life.” But the reality is that Spurrier is certainly near the end of his coaching days. His desire to go out on top notwithstanding, and given his complete disdain for mediocrity, he is more than likely going to be hanging up his visor at season’s end. He’s said as much on more than one occasion: if the program starts “going bad” (his phrase) then it would be time for him to step down.

Consensus reports have it that he almost stepped down at the end of last season, but a valiant effort by the Gamecocks in the Indy Bowl, plus Spurrier’s never-ending wellspring of tenacity, led him to sign on for another season.

Now, the prospects for a great – even a good season seem dim, and with his age becoming more and more of an issue in recruiting, its safe to say there will not be a sudden influx of young Stephon Gilmores or Marcus Lattimores to energize our chances. The talent is not there, folks. Not like it was in 2011, 2012, or 2013. And it doesn’t look like it’s returning soon.

As we mentioned on TRC Unleashed this week, celebrities sometimes contort the English language in ways to mask the grim realities of their own divorces. What you and I may call a marriage breakup is called a “thoughtful, tender, undoing” by singer Jewel Kilcher. What we would call infidelity by a husband is called a “conscious uncoupling” by actor Gwyneth Paltrow.

I’m not suggesting that our head coaching situation is headed for a divorce, because I certainly don’t sense any acrimony between Spurrier and the Gamecock fan base. But an end, undoubtedly, is nigh. And I’d like for us (and Ray, and the HBC) to think about an alternative way to wrap things up.

Instead of waiting until the year is out, tough year that it will probably be, and then calling a depressing press conference during the holiday season, I’ve got an alternative.

Let’s have a  thoughtful, tender undoing. A conscious uncoupling.

Here’s how: Announce it tomorrow. Before the game. All the HBC has to do is saunter up to the nearest sideline reporter with a camera and say “You know, this is gonna be my last time coaching in Sanford Stadium or against the Georgia Bulldogs. It’s been a great honor and a heck of a lot of fun. But anyway . . . “

All the pressure of the season would instantly evaporate. The questions surrounding our recruiting and the program’s future would take a back seat to excitement. We could all sit back and enjoy his victory lap season. Ray could get a head start on the coaching search. The media would go wild. And win or lose, our Gamecocks would be the lead on every sports page in America on Sunday morning. The media focus would continue all season long: the HBC’s last trip to Neyland. His last game against Florida, etc., etc. And the last game of his legendary coaching career could be in Williams Brice Stadium against the Clemson Tigers.

Imagine the HBC being carried off the field (whether after a win OR a loss) in that scenario. It would be something special, something we (him included) would feel was fitting for a coach who has done so much for our school and our athletics program.

Heck, we could even announce pregame that the field was gonna be named after him. After all, “Spurrier Field at Williams Brice Stadium” has a nice ring to it.

I’m not suggesting that we pull the plug on arguably the greatest playcaller in college football history. I’m not looking forward to being without the best ball coach we’ve ever had. But its going to happen, probably sooner than later. And I think we have an alternative to a wait-and-see approach.

Let’s have a conscious uncoupling.

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