View from the Upper Deck: USC 48, ECU 10

1. Game Ball: Dylan Thompson

Dylan Thompson came out throwing from the beginning and looked pretty darn good. For the first time since 2009, a quarterback not named Garcia or Shaw started for South Carolina and Gamecock nation could not have asked for more. Thompson completed 21 of 37 passes for 330 and three TDs. He made a number of great plays getting away from pressure, extending the play, and hitting receivers down field. He tended to throw the ball a little high, likely a result of first-start jitters.

I have spoken highly about Dylan for a few years now and was excited to see him play well. Don’t expect him to take over as our new starter, but it is comforting knowing we have a backup who is capable of leading the team.

2. Fantastic Passing; Meager Running

Against a weak Pirate defense, South Carolina amassed a total of 528 yards. It was heartening to see us dominate a team that should lay down for us. We have to remember that if we want to be considered an elite SEC team, we need to be running over smaller football programs like ECU. The receiving corps stepped up and made big plays, most notably D.L. Moore, Damiere Byrd, and tight end Rory “Buster” Anderson. As great as our passing game looked, I couldn’t help but feel concerned about the rushing attack.

Spurrier clearly wanted to emphasize his classic tendency to throw the ball around, but even when we did run the ball, the results were lackluster. Running backs Marcus Lattimore, Kenny Miles, Mike Davis and Joshua Blue combined for a measly 89 yards on 21 carries, but the blame doesn’t lie with them. ECU sold out to stop the run and make Dylan Thompson beat him with his arm; however, our much larger offensive line should have been pushing the ECU defense around, and it simply wasn’t happening. Hopefully this will be rectified before we get into the meat of our schedule, as the running game is supposed to be our bread and butter this year.

3. The Defense looked great! Sort of…

I’m not sure what to think about the defensive performance today. How do these stats sound: 70 rushing yards with  2.9 yards per attempt, four interceptions, and a fumble recovery? I want to be happy. This is the defense I thought I saw on the field. Did you realize we gave up 333 yards through the air? Granted, 1/3 of those yards came against second-stringers in the fourth quarter, but for us to be successful against the great signal callers we will face in the SEC this season (I’m looking at you Murray, Bray, and Wilson), we need to tighten up that secondary.

I was impressed with the performance by Jimmy Legree. In his second game starting as our second cornerback, Jimmy had five total tackles, two passes broken up, and a pick-six. He was just all over the field, and that is exactly what we need from him for us to be successful.

4. Quick Hits

  • It was great to see Shaq Roland get his first two catches as a Gamecock. He had a few opportunities for some longer catches that didn’t work out, but he’ll only be getting better from here. Look for him to be a major player in the passing game by the Georgia game.
  • Marcus Lattimore recorded his 33rd TD of his career, which ties the all time record at USC (with George Rogers and Harold Greene).
  • Ace Sanders had the same amount of catches as he did touchdown passes. For a guy who talked big in the spring about stepping up and making plays, he hasn’t been much of a game changer. I do think he will get his act together and be a leader on this team.

On a personal note, today marked my first home game since graduating from this great university.  It was a strange feeling not being amongst my 9,000 closest friends in the student section. I’m extremely excited about this season and look forward to contributing more on GR. Thanks for reading and Go Cocks!