5 POINTS: Black Thursday

Fivepoints2008_medium
1. Inexcusable. There's no excuse for what we saw tonight. There just isn't. Don't even start this "Vanderbilt is a good team" crap. Don't even start making excuses. Don't even begin to try to explain this away.

We lost. To Vanderbilt. Deal with it.

Where does the season go from here? I have no idea. But next week just went from a possibly close-fought loss to a blowout. I'll be watching, but only to see just how truly bad this team is. Because this is a bad team.

Mental mistakes were the reason that this one got away. But good teams don't make mental mistakes. They certainly don't make mental mistakes that cost them the ball game.

2. How's that special team coach working out for you? Remember, the one we hired that hadn't had a kick blocked in seven years? So much for that streak. The one who was going to keep us from making incredibly stupid mistakes, like not getting out of the way of the fricking ball? So much for that.

Special teams cost us this game. Period. There's no way around it. Two disastrous special team mistakes gave the Commodores the lead, and from that point on it was almost a formality. The sense of impending doom was almost palpable. The game was not going to turn around.

3. Bench Captain Munnerlyn. The special teams might have cost the Gamecocks a win, but they got a big hand from Munnerlyn -- South Carolina's answer to DeAngelo Hall.

Of the 68 yards that led to what would be the game-winning TD for Vanderbilt, 16 came from penalties by Munnerlyn, a pass interference flag and a holding call. Both of them came on third down. Both of them extended the drive for the Commodores. Both of them were stupid penalties that betrayed a lack of focus and composure.

And both of them were unforgivable. Bench him now, before he can destroy the team again.

4. The offensive line. Pitiful. Just pitiful. Aside from some tough runs by Mike Davis, who only averaged 4.4 ypc because he was willing to get a concussion before he went down, the ground game was a disaster, and a good deal of the blame lies with the offensive line.

Chris Smelley was sacked four times, twice in a row on the critical drive of the game. He threw several balls under immense pressure and turned what should have been yet another sack into a 24-yard run.

On top of all that, there were the penalties. Three false starts. This in one of the quietest, least intimidating stadiums in the conference. (Though, to their credit, Vandy fans did a good job tonight.)

5. Jared Cook. If there was a bright spot in this abomination of a game, it was Jared Cook. Asked to step up in the wake of Kenny McKinley's injury, he did just that: 8 catches, 111 yards. As bad as Thursday night was, it would have been a lot worse for the Gamecocks if Cook hadn't been there.

What happens if McKinley's out for an extended period of time? Well, then, go ahead and turn out the lights on the season. If you haven't already extinguished them.

GRADE: F. I really shouldn't have to explain this.

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