It's Florida week, and as long as Steve Spurrier is the coach of the Gamecocks there are going to be questions about his days in Gainesville. Rather than delve into that, let's look at where the programs stand now.
Gone are the days where the Florida game was a sure loss. Gone are the days where the only way to beat the Gators is to have a magical upset. Gone are the days where a black out is an idea to try to get the team over the hump. That line has been crossed.
This year South Carolina will finish ahead of Florida in the East. This will be the third time in the last four years. South Carolina is the team looking to get to Atlanta and or make a run at a BCS game. Florida is hoping to become bowl eligible.
Spurrier has brought real, lasting change to Columbia, and nowhere is that more evident than Florida week. To wit, the Gamecocks opened as a 13 1/2 point favorite over the Gators.no comments
On Thursday morning LJ was with Tyler Ryan on the WACH Fox morning show talking about the various tiebreaker scenarios if you didn't see it live, here it is.
Yesterday, we talked about reasons to worry. Today we take a more optimistic look at the game and talk about reasons to relax.
It's Mississippi State
At the end of any analysis, they're still Mississippi State, and we're still South Carolina. Are they capable of winning, of course, but it would be an upset. South Carolina is the more talented team and the better team overall. If both teams play well or both play poorly, the Gamecocks win.
The Defenseno comments
South Carolina's 2OT win over Missouri has energized the fanbase and been the talk of college football. In fact coverage of last week's win has dwarfed talk of this week's opponent. That may prove to be a mistake. Not to go all Debbie Downer on you, but here are reasons for concern or pessimism and reasons South Carolina could lose to Mississippi State.
It's a let down game
Let down games occur after big wins, and they come after emotional games. Last week's game was both for South Carolina. After pouring so much energy into that game and then to be told how great you are all week, South Carolina may have trouble focusing on this week's team and making sure they prepare as much for the western Bulldogs as any opponent.
2010, Againno comments
Two to three weeks. It was going to be two to three weeks. Connor Shaw was injured, and he was going to be unable to play for two to three weeks. And it was good news. Hours earlier Shaw was lying on the field of Neyland Stadium, and it looked like his career was over.
It was a sunny Saturday afternoon. Clear, but cold. It was always cold in Knoxville when the Gamecocks visited. The game wasn't going well. Carolina was desperately trying to make a one point lead stand up, but the offense wasn't moving the ball. Late in the 4th quarter Shaw dropped to pass and couldn't find a receiver. Like he'd done many times, he started to run. He was sandwiched between two defensive linemen and sacked. When the defenders rolled off the pile there was Shaw. He was clutching his right knee and writhing in that tell tale way athletes do when they tear their ligaments.
Gamecock fans should know. They've seen their fair share of knee injuries. Last season they lost their beloved Marcus Lattimore to torn knee ligaments, just like the season before. With Marcus gone, Connor was the offensive spark, the talented glue man that made the offense go. And like Marcus he was on the ground with an injured knee.
Always part of a quarterback controversy, first with Garcia and now with Thompson, Connor Shaw is underestimated. Somehow some people forget he is the winningest quarterback in South Carolina history. He is about to set the record for wins as a starter. He was anyway.no comments
South Carolina won in overtime for the first time in school history. Connor Shaw appears to be trying to prove that he is the toughest person to ever play at Carolina. It was a great comeback that put the Gamecocks in the running to win the East and make their second trip to Columbia. We'll have much more on this later today and this week, but for those asking, here is what South Carolina needs to win the East.
- South Carolina beats Mississippi State
- South Carolina beats Florida
- Georgia loses to Florida OR Kentucky OR Auburn
- Missouri loses to Tennessee OR Kentucky OR Ole Miss OR Texas A&M
That's it. Carolina takes care of business at home and gets just a little bit of help.no comments
After a loss like Tennessee the fanbase is understandably down on the team's prospects. And by a loss like that, I don't necessarily mean to an inferior team, I mean a close game in which the Gamecocks made so many mistakes. Despite the bad performance, Vegas seems optimistic about Carolina's chances. It was reported that one early, online sports book opened with USC favored by 5. Most normal, Vegas books opened with Missouri a 3 point favorite. Those 3 points usually represent homefield advantage. Most of the money then came in on South Carolina pushing the line down to 2.5.
Some analysts and fans as well as Vegas books are optimistic about Carolina's chances. Here are some reasons you should be too.
There are some people starting to debate whether he should be discussed alongside Marcus Lattimore and George Rogers. That's all you need to know about Davis. He has exceeded all expectations and lead the SEC in total rushing yards and rushing yards per game, 8 weeks into the season. As long as he's healthy Carolina has a shot to win any game on its schedule.
It can't be understated what a luxury it is to have a dependable, experienced and talented back up. Carolina has that. Thompson has played frequently, has been a starter and has played in hostile road environments. There's no reason to think he can't be good Saturday night.
And, the offense changes some with Thompson in the game. It is less the Lattimore-Elliott zone read, and more of the under center, I formation, air it out fun and gun type offense Florida ran in the 1990s. Steve Spurrier is good at both offenses, but the early one has quite the record of success.
The last few years Carolina has played one very bad game each year: 2010 Kentucky, 2011 Auburn and 2012 Florida. Florida wasn't a loss against a very beatable team, but it was bad because of how poorly the team played. This year there is a game in that category as well: Tennessee.
Every year the Gamecocks have bounced back. In 2010, they went to Vanderbilt, and beat them soundly. In 2011, they switched quarterbacks (like this year) and blasted Kentucky 54-3. In 2012, they got their offense on track, put up 38 on Tennessee, and won. This year...
Some of the defensive lapses early in the season have scarred Gamecocks' collective perception of their defense. The 4th quarters against Kentucky and Vanderbilt gave the skeptical all they needed to deride the results of the defense. But lately, things have been very different. The defense is rounding into shape, and playmakers are emerging. Arkansas was completely taken out of their game, and Tennessee was stuffed most of they day. The defense will be playing a better offense, but they should turn in a great performance.
South Carolina, like everybody, has injured players, but they are getting some key ones back. It looks like guard Ronald Patrick, who is very important to the offense's success, is going to be close to 100%. Kelcy Quarles looks like he may play, which is a big plus. And Carolina gets Chaz Elder, the starter at safety, back as well as JJ Marcus, who wasn't injured but ejected for yet another very questionable call.
James Franklin was having a great year until he got hurt. Maty Mauk, the young backup, had a great game against Florida, so how is this a reason to be optimistic? Mauk is clearly talented, but he is young and inexperienced. He may have another all-star game, but young quarterbacks are prone to mistakes and they are prone to blowing up sometimes. He may do this; he may not, but I'm betting he's well aware of Clowney's ability to demolish quarterbacks, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him rush some passes if he's feeling the heat.
Will Carolina win? Of course, I don't know, but if they do, it shouldn't be surprising given all the reasons above.no comments