There’s a lot of debate going on about Carolina football this week, with valid points on all sides of the discussions. Garnet Report takes a look at some of the most intriguing.
“Dylan Thompson was SOOOO good Saturday. He should totally be our QB!” Gamecock fans were pleasantly surprised, maybe even pleasantly shocked, by Dylan Thompson’s performance against ECU. Entering Saturday’s game, he’d completed two passes for 17 yards in his career and was 0-for-3 this season against Vanderbilt. But Thompson responded with a career game, throwing for 330 yards and three touchdowns on 21-of-37 passing. With Steve Spurrier commenting this week that he’ll only play Shaw if he’s completely healthy, it makes sense to shelf him against UAB to avoid any possibility of further injury. We shouldn’t need him until the Missouri game, anyway. By then, Thompson will have established chemistry with the receivers. He looks like a prototypical Spurrier quarterback–a pocket passer who limits his mistakes and doesn’t miss open receivers. He was poised and composed in his first start. He should be the guy moving forward.
“Controversy? What controversy? Shaw is undoubtedly the best choice.” Sure, Dylan played a great game Saturday. A backup’s role is to come in and manage the game well if the starter isn’t able to perform, and you couldn’t ask for a better performance from your second-string quarterback. But it was also a really small sample size. Against a defense that sold out to stop the run. And that’s considered one of college football’s worst. ECU figured on Carolina feeding them a steady diet of Marcus Lattimore, which provided a cornucopia of opportunities for Thompson to complete passes over the top and burn the secondary downfield. Against a more complex defense, there’s no way he could have thrown for that many yards. His job is to hold the Gamecocks over until Shaw’s ready to go again, and that’s what he’ll do.
Defense Wins Championships
“Our defense is awful! They gave up over 400 yards to East Caro-freaking-lina!” This is not good, not good at all. We ranked third in total defense last year (behind Alabama and LSU) and second against the pass (behind Alabama), then go and give up 333 yards through the air to the Pirates. Sure, we “bent but didn’t break,” but come on. If it wasn’t for a couple of bad passes and good luck in there, things may have gotten a lot more interesting. Heck, we even got outgained by Vanderbilt! Do you know how embarrassing that is? We shouldn’t have ever given up that kind of yardage to an inferior opponent from a dinky conference like that. We’ve got one more week to figure out this thing before we play a real team in Mizzou, and judging from that offensive performance against Georgia, things could get ugly.
“Our defense is just fine! They’ve only given up 23 points all year!” Come on guys, let’s not go into panic mode here. We gave up like 4,000 yards the first two weeks against ECU and Georgia last year, and look how the defense turned out. The defense was opportunistic on Saturday and looked like legitimate ball hawks. We’re breaking in some new starters on that side of the ball, like Brison Williams and Jimmy Legree, and they played pretty dang good this week. And remember, ECU’s whole offense is based on racking up huge chunks of yards. They use two-step drops and quick passes into the flat the way most teams use handoffs. Every team that plays these guys has the same strategy: play off the line so you don’t get beaten over the top, keep everything in front of you, drop your linebackers into coverage, and make solid, fundamental tackles in the open field. You’re going to give up five or six yards every play when that happens, but you can sit back and wait for them to make mistakes throwing the ball. And they made plenty. Things will stabilize when we play teams with “normal” offenses later this year.
Fans Leaving Early
“Who do these people think they are? You can never leave a game early!” It was pretty embarrassing to see the stands empty out quicker than a West Virginia scoring drive. Yeah, it was hot, but we only get the privilege of watching seven home games every year. We should all stay until the very end of every game, screaming our hearts out, no matter how lopsided the score or how sweltering the sun. It looks pretty bad on television to have a bajillion empty seats during any game, but especially in one where we’re so thoroughly trouncing the bad guys. Even Darth Visor himself took notice, quipping that he hopes we’re not returning to a time when football isn’t that important around here. But anyway… Gamecock fans should be ashamed of themselves for performing so poorly on a day when the team performed so spectacularly.
“You’re kidding, right? That was the hottest game of my life!” Look, maybe leaving early wasn’t the best decision in the world. But staying the whole time wasn’t the best one either. My friends have the third-degree sunburns and ghastly farmer’s tans to prove it. Spurrier’s got a cushy gig on the sidelines, throwing visors and muttering into that headset while being blasted by industrial fans with misters. We’re in direct sunlight the whole time, and we all know how overpriced water is at the stadium. Bottom line: the sun is hot, beverages at my tailgate spot are cold (and free), ECU sucks, and we were up big. If you want me to stay, schedule some tougher games.
Photo Credits: (Charleston) Post and Courier