Gamecock Man offers our first installment of reader submissions on how to fix the Gamecocks for next year.
I think there are two things we need to do to improve for next year. (1), Spurrier should consider firing Nix and going after a proven defensive coordinator who has experience shutting down a variety of offenses. I don't think Nix is terrible--he's had some successes, and I think part of our problem owes to injuries. But I don't think it's surprising that our two worst performances have come against innovative offenses, although what Arkansas does might be better termed unorthodox than innovative. Nix didn't have good schemes for these games. Arkansas is the most infuriating; their offense is one-dimensional and even though it would be impossible to completely shut McFadden down, it's very possible to contain him (see Auburn, UT). Our d-line got mauled in that game; that's not so much Nix's fault, because we just don't have the studs to take on Arky's big d-line. But where were our linebackers and safeties, when they should've been stepping up to contain? That falls on Nix and his staff. And where was our great pass defense against the Gators? They had open receivers all night, and that again owes to coaching. In sum: Nix is a decent coach, and he's had bad luck with injuries this year, but we need a defensive coordinator who can make adjustments and handle the injuries in the best way possible.
Second of all, and I think this is more important, we need to continue to recruit well and in fact do better than we did last year. The lack of defensive depth owes to years of recruiting way below the SEC powers; we have SEC caliber talent on the first-string, but other teams have talented players waiting in the wings to come in and contribute if someone gets hurt. So far this year, we haven't kept up with last year's pace, and I think last year's class was overrated by the major guides, although that remains to be seen. The simple fact of the matter is that if we can't get talented players to come to USC, we'll never compete consistently, with or without Spurrier. We'll be able to continue to make meaningless bowl appearances and will post an occasional upset over UGA, UT, UF, and Clemson, but we'll never win an SEC Title unless we get really lucky one year.
Now, I don't know what the trick will be to get the players to come; I know we're not the draw a UGA or UF is. But other teams without much history have had success recruiting over the past few years. This is one area in which I kindof wonder about Spurrier; he's a great gameday coach, but he never had to work hard to get players to come to Florida, and I wonder how committed he is to putting in the extra time at this point in his career. I was impressed with him last year, but he needs to keep the ball rolling. If he can't do it, then I think we might have good reason to look elsewhere for a young coach with something to prove. I'm not saying I'm not behind Spurrier; at this point, he has my full support. But I think we need to expect a good recruiting class this year and an improved record next year. I personally won't be satisfied with less than 8 or 9 wins, a .500 or better SEC record, and a decent bowl.