Gamecocks Football: The Rain Game Notes

Do you think we’ll always call this the Georgia Rain Game?  I bet so.  That’s certainly the way I’ll remember it.

This was a big win for many reasons.  It keeps South Carolina in the SEC East race, which is obviously important.  It also gives this team, especially some of the younger players something positive to build on.  The Texas A&M result was so shocking, and then the ECU win was quickly discounted as being a lackluster win over a mediocre team that you couldn’t blame many around the program if they didn’t feel great about this season.  That changed on Saturday night.  The win over Georgia was an unequivocal good win.  It may look a little better or a little worse in 10 weeks, but it will be good either way.  After re-watching the game on Sunday, here are some thoughts:

  • Dylan played very well with the exception of about two passes and one sack where he could have thrown the ball away.  Other than that he put the ball where it needed to be on time.  For the most part this is the Dylan Thompson we hoped to see this season.
  • Lots of Dylan’s success was the result of having enough time to get the throws off.  The pass blocking was very good most all of the night, even in obviously passing downs.
  • Georgia brought their share of blitzes, but most didn’t get home in time.  In fact, it was gratifying to see how many times the running back was able to completely nullify a blitzing defender, sometimes multiple defenders.
  • Whoever decided to put Cody Gibson in as a blocking tight end is a genius.  He was incredibly productive moving people around and seems to play with the desire and fire Shawn Elliott wants.  When USC was able to salt away the ECU game last week, Gibson was there pushing defenders around.
  • Brandon Wilds doesn’t have Mike Davis’s big play penchant, but he is very good at following blockers and getting tough yards.  He’s a really underrated part of our offense.
  • The defense continues to improve.  It has many young components, but it has one glaring strength that hasn’t been the focus of too many analysts: the interior defensive line.  There aren’t that many quality defensive tackles in the county, and the teams that have them tend to create your elite defenses.  South Carolina six defensive tackles who are good, and they made a big difference when Georgia tried to run the ball in the middle.
  • The defense could not have had a more ill suited test the first week than Texas A&M, and it showed.  However, it is safe to say the defense we saw last night is the one we will continue to see this year.  That is to say, this is a defense filled with talented players, who lack experience in some areas.  They weren’t suddenly talentless against the Aggies, and they’re not suddenly an immovable object now.  They are a work in progress, and they are improving.  If they continue to improve each week they will be quite good by the end of the year.
  • Special teams didn’t hurt us.  In recent years many of us have bemoaned the state of our special teams play.  It was not a problem Saturday night.  They converted field goals and extra points, got some decent returns and covered well.
  • The SEC Network’s morning game day show had one analyst, it may have been Tebow, say that South Carolina would need to be +2 in the turnover margin to be in this game.  USC was -2.  What kind of game could this have been if the Gamecocks don’t turn the ball over?
  • The spot.  I had a great vantage point for both the third down and fourth down plays.  I wasn’t very pleased with either spot.  The ball clearly crossed the 50 both times, and was inexplicably spotted short.  Thankfully we didn’t have to relive the Outback Bowl debacle.
  • Carolina has played three good opponents now.  I expect Texas A&M to be a top 10 team all year.  East Carolina is going to be 11-1 or 10-2 at the end of the regular season, and Georgia is Georgia.  There are lots of games left on the schedule that the Gamecocks can lose and few that they cannot win.

Up next is a trip to Vanderbilt.  The Commodores don’t appear to be the team they have been in previous years, and frankly they don’t appear to be very good at all.  However, this USC team isn’t yet good enough to show up in Garnet and get a win.  They will need to play well or it will be an uncomfortable night in Nashville.  All of Saturday’s good feelings will be out the window with a loss against Vandy.

This coming Saturday is a good opportunity in many ways.  It’s an opportunity for another conference win which, after dropping a game to the Aggies out of the gate, is crucial.  It’s also a good chance for the defense to continue to grow, put some stops together and reclaim some more confidence.  Then it’s back home for Missouri, whose pass happy offense will be difficult to shut down.