Two Thursdays ago Dylan Thompson was unexpectedly sent into the game against Vanderbilt. He threw incomplete passes and was ineffective. Many commentators and fans wondered why Thompson was asked to thow the ball when Marcus Lattimore was available in the backfield. After that performance many assumed that if Thomspon played against ECU the emphasis would be on the running game. They were wrong.
Last week Thomspon threw the ball because the defense wasn’t expecting it; this week he did it again for the same reason, and boy did it work. Thomspon finished the day with 330 yards and 3 touchdowns. Clearly East Carolina didn’t expect that, and few other people did. It proved Coach Spurrier right in two respects. One, he was right that Thompson can throw the ball, and two he still knows how to game plan to his players’ strengths. That’s a trait that is not necessarily shared by all coaches.
The offensive line did a great job of protecting Thompson and provided the kind of bounce back performance you expect from a Top Ten team. The running game wasn’t as productive as might have been expected, but it wasn’t a point of emphasis either. That isn’t something to be concerned about even if some people need to find something to worry about.
Lorenzo Ward’s defense made a statement in a way that I didn’t expect. The Air Raid and it’s variants have caused trouble for South Carolina over the years. We wrote last week that this game was a chance to make a statement. If ECU had been held to under 20 points, I would have considered the game a success for the defense. Holding them to 10 and causing 5 turnovers was a statement, and the statement is that USC will be fielding one of the elite defenses in the nation again this year.
Jimmy Legree is turning a position of concern into one of strength. Last week he showed he can tackle I’m run support; this week we learned he can cover as well. I feel much more confident in his abilities. The d-line dominated and forced a few of the turnovers. Clowney in particular was responsible for pressuring the quarterback into throwing two interceptions. Also, how many balls is Shaq Wilson going to intercept? One a week is a great start.
The special teams still aren’t where they need to be. The punting game had a better distance average than it seemed. The kickoff coverage was good, but I’d still rather see us just get touchbacks. And it should be mentioned that Ace Sanders did well returning punts.
Relaxing in the fourth quarter because the game was out of reach was nice, and it was exactly what should have happened against a Conference USA team. This week another C-USA team comes to town, and we should be able to enjoy the end of the game as well.