Well, it's finally time to say goodbye to the cream puffs and start playing Big Boy Football. This week has seen a ridiculous amount of attention paid to a missing highlight (glad I could help add to the hysteria).
Bottom line is that it was an oversight...it's not some sort of conspiracy to keep the Dawgs from getting any publicity. I do think that the Dawgs have received less coverage than a typical #2 team, but I think that has a lot to do with A) our level of competition and B) our lack of difficulty in dispatching of said competition. As backward as it seems, we probably would have received more coverage if we had struggled against CMU the way tOSU struggled against tOU. After this week, I really don't think we'll have much to complain about in regards to how much coverage we get.
Spurrier is trying his best to poor-mouth their chances this week, even going so far as to say that critics that say the game has passed him by may be right. He couldn't help himself, though...he had to throw in the little dig that 16 points was enough to win this game last year.
Gamecock fans are more down in the dumps than I can remember...the Gamecock message board was in full on meltdown mode after the Vandy game last week. It was pretty entertaining to read.
- This week will be a HUGE step up in difficulty for our offense. As great as we have looked, we might as well have been running pass skeleton at times based on how much resistance we've seen. Carolina returns just about everybody from the defense that held us out of the end zone last year.
That being said, this Dawgs offense isn't the same one the Cocks saw last year. For starters, we didn't really know what we had yet in Knowshon this time last year. If we had handed the ball off to Knowshon a few more times rather than ask Stafford to throw the ball 45 times....I think it would have been a different game. How's that for hard hitting analysis?
The S. Carolina D is going to be stacking the line against the run and daring Stafford to beat them. I think he can, especially if the wide receivers continue the stellar play we've seen so far this year. I look for MoMass and Green to both be making plays downfield, especially off of play-action. Nice to get Harris back, too...if he's 100% that's just one more downfield threat.
Jasper Brinkley looks SLOW. I think the more we can spread these guys out and make them run sideline to sideline, the better off we are. I think we will continue to run those little swing passes we've been running a lot, as well as some screens to Knowshon. Another thing I think will probably work is a little old-school...the toss sweep with the pulling guards that we've incorporated into the offense really accentuates the new athleticism we have on the line with Glenn and Tripp. Those guys out in front, with Knowshon's cut back ability, could give this defense fits, I think.
One more thing on the offense...everybody keeps talking about Spurrier breaking out some kind of trickeration this week, and that wouldn't surprise me. But what about Bobo? I wouldn't be shocked if we try to pull something like that off, either, especially as concerned as the Cocks are going to be about gearing up to stop the run. How about an end-around to Green off the hand-off to Knowshon? That halfback pass we ran against Auburn last year worked perfectly, if not for the procedure penalty, and we haven't seen it since. Think the Gamecocks might be ripe for that one, especially early? Their number one corner, Captain Munnerlyn (great name), is going to be looking to make a big play after his embarrassing night last week. I think he can get sucked in by one of these.
- The defense is actually facing WEAKER competition this week than they did last week. The Gamecock offense has been atrocious. Neither of the quarterbacks have played well, and their offensive line has been less than effective. I think SC is going to have a hard time scoring at all, as long as we don't turn the ball over and give them a short field.
With Mckinley out, the number one threat the Cocks have is tight end Jared Cook. Take him away with our athletic LBs and safeties, and they don't have much else.
The return of Weston helps a lot...we should be able to rotate DTs all day (which will help, since it's going to be around 93 degrees), and I look for pressure to come up the middle. Neither of the SC quarterbacks are very mobile, so even if our DE pressure doesn't increase (which it needs to eventually) I think we'll have at least 2-3 sacks just because of the push up front.
The wild cards in the equation are Spurrier and Stephen Garcia. Spurrier always has something extra for us, and it will be even more magnified this week because his back is against the wall. However, I don't know if it matters because he just doesn't have the personnel to do what he wants. Lots easier to recruit playmakers when you're a Gayter, huh Stevie?
If the QBs play poorly, I will be very surprised if we don't see Garcia. More mobile, supposedly better tools, but an absolute imbecile, if all evidence is to be believed. Can't stay out of trouble, apparently can't pick up the playbook. If we see him, the key will be to contain him, as I don't see him running through a progression without taking off.
To me, the absolute key to this game is the first ten minutes. If we can shut them down and put up a couple of scores, I think they will be deflated due to the mindset they are in after Vandy and the fact that the fans will absolutely turn on them. However, if we let them in the game, especially if we start turning the ball over, we could be in for a long day.
I don't think that happens....final score: Dawgs 27, Gamecocks 10.