There's a nice feeling of contentedness that follows a game like Saturday. There aren't big concerns that can cause apprehension when looking forward. There wasn't a fourth quarter comeback to sweat out. After the opening drive all of Carolina's problems were solved, if only for the day.
For the day, Carolina's offense lived up to all of the hopes of all the fans. Steve Spurrier hung half a hundred on an opponent in their stadium. In the second half the offense didn't go into a shell. Spurrier kept calling ball plays, and they kept working. Shawn Elliott's offensive line fulfilled the promise that came with its coach's hiring. They looked dominant.
Many years ago Gamecock fans pined for a competent offensive line and a quarterback that could merely manage the game. On Saturday they got so much more than that. Not only was the offensive line dominant, but the quarterback play was vastly superior to mere management. Connor Shaw continued to play very, very well, and the scoreboard showed it. Mike Davis is a special back who should have many more great games in front of him. It's too early to talk about whether he belongs in the same sentence with Rogers and Lattimore, but those debates are starting to be talked about in some corners of the fanbase.
On defense, it looks like Lorenzo Ward may be able to coach afterall. The interior defensive line played very well, and Clowney's return paid quick dividends. It wasn't a perfect performance, but the play was on another level from the last few weeks. The linebackers still had and will have some growing pains, but they played well. Skai Moore is beginning to emerge, and barring injury, will be starting sooner rather than later.
Special teams didn't turn the ball over. That matters. In some games later this season, USC may need more from them than that, but not this game. This game, they only needed to be competent, and with the exception of another kickoff out of bounds, they were.
Enjoy this win and this glimpse at what the offense and defense can do. There's no way to know what performance there'll be next week. Hopefully, it will be the same, but who knows? For now it's nice to end the Arkansas 'rivalry' this way.