Friday, October 23, 2009

South Carolina/Vanderbilt Link Exchange with Garnet and Black Attack

Greetings from Maryville. As this goes to print, we are headed to the golf course for the obligatory pre-wedding scramble. For those of you unable to join us, here's Part II of our Q&A exchange with Garnet and Black Attack. Here are our questions and their answers:

1. How on earth did you convince Alshon Jeffrey to decommit from Pete Carroll to attend South Carolina?

While I'd like to say that Alshon decided to play for a real football program, I think we both know that's not the case. Alshon likely decided to come here because (1) he's a Gamecock and wanted to stay home and (2) he knew he'd get right into the starting lineup here. I'm sure it helps that he has good reason to believe our program is moving in the right direction and that he has a chance to be one of the difference makers, but let's not kid ourselves; if he wanted to win conference championships and hang out with movie stars, he would have gone to Southern Cal.

2. I’ve heard of some dude named Eric Norwood. Is he the most unsung defensive player in the SEC?

Well, now he's getting more attention, so I wouldn't call him unsung any longer. But up until now, yeah, he has been. Why has that been the case? Norwood has been a star for us since his sophomore year, so it's not like he's come out of nowhere. But South Carolina isn't really on college football's cultural map in the same, say, Florida or Alabama are, so I guess we shouldn't be surprised that no one thought about Norwood in the same way that they think about Rolando McClain or Brandon Spikes. Norwood's propensity to break out in big games, though, has led to his rise in stature this year; see Ole Miss.

3. Is Stephen Garcia a Rex Grossman re-incarnate or can he play well on a consistent basis?

The jury is still out on that one. Garcia has shown that, at the very least, he can avoid being the turnover machine Blake Mitchell and Chris Smelley were at times. He currently has four INTs on the season, or the same number that Smelley threw last year against Clemson. However, Garcia's accuracy and his inability to avoid sacks have cost us this year, especially last week against Alabama. As a dual-threat QB in high school, I think Garcia picked up a lot of bad habits. He never throws it away, thinks he can rely on his feet too much at times, and doesn't have good throwing mechanics. He'll need to work on those things to take the next step. That said, he has shown improvement, so I have high hopes that he'll put in the time it takes to get better.

4. The Gamecocks are 5-2 after a tough game in Tuscaloosa which was closer than the experts claimed. Just how good is this team?

Again, I think the jury is still out on that one. I think this team is going to finish at least 7-5 and will keep the losses relatively close. However, there has been some indication that we can do better and get to eight or nine wins. Doing that will require that the defense toughens up on the run and that the offense begins converting on more opportunities. I think it's doable, but it's going to be a tough haul.

5. Is it just us, or is the Fun N’ Gun finally back at South Carolina?

Not quite, but we're certainly a lot closer than we were this time last year. Quarterback play is better, we now have above-average running backs, we have talented receivers, and line is at least a little better. However, as Alabama showed last week, this offense still isn't ready to score lots of points against elite defenses. We're still weak in the trenches against talented front sevens, and our receiving crew is young even if talented. There's still room for improvement, which I hope we'll see by the end of the year and more so next year.

6. Predictions for Saturday's Game?

This game has me worried, which shouldn't surprise anyone considering how the last two years have gone. However, I think this year's Gamecocks teams is improved even if young, and Vanderbilt appears way down. I'm especially skeptical of the Vandy offense, which probably won't be able to do much on its own against our defense. That means that we should be able to win this game barring game-changing turnovers. This year's Gamecocks team is much less prone to committing those sorts of errors, and I doubt they'll start doing it in a game in which they have lots of motivation to make a good showing. I predict a close, defensive game early on, with the Gamecocks up 6-10 points at halftime. In the second half, Vandy's defense wears down and the Gamecocks pull away for a 24-6 victory.

7. Our boy Seamus is getting married just before kick-off on Saturday. Does the Garnet and Black Attack have any advice for our newly married friend?

Not being married myself, I'm perhaps not the person to give such advice. Having been to plenty of them, though, the one thing I would say is that he should make sure he enjoys the festivities himself in addition to making sure all the guests are happy. At any rate, I promise to pour out a libation in Seamus's honor Saturday night. I'd also like to commend Seamus for getting married on an away-game weekend, so as not to make his friends on the VSL choose between the wedding and a Vanderbilt game.


Anonymous said...

Let's just get to the end of this dreadful season. Maybe next year...really surprising because I thought VU would be really good this year.

Anonymous said...

american idol sucks

vandygold28 said...

that game was arguably better than most this year. our D stayed tough and the offense, well, at times looked like an offense. norman carried us that game. a beast. put we still had receivers (specifically tight ends) dropping balls that could've given us a W on the road and made me feel a little better even though a bowl is out of the pic.

Anonymous said...

I have to say, I did enjoy watching the Dores battle them hard.

A couple thoughts, mainly on SC 4th down decisions.

As half was winding down, Spurrier fails on a 4th down try. (I would have done the same thing.) But instead of making them pay for taking that chance, we just take a knee to kill the clock. We had TOs left I believe, and we could have tried a pass or two to reach long FG range.

Then, at end of game Spurrier again fails on a 4th down try. I loved it when he tried that gamble. (I would have punted if I were him) Leave our best unit on the field with a chance to make a 30 yd or so swing in field position, I liked our chances, and it did work for us.

Finally, it would have been really interesting to see how the game developed if their long TD pass was overturned on replay. The ESPNU announcers sure thougth it was going to be ruled incomplete, and they were quite surprised when it held up.