Nice story here.
Are we up for the challenge? What are the keys to holding this season together, to making the goals we had for the team going into the season?
I'll admit that, where football is concerned, I usually don't go in for arguments about "killer instinct" or "winning attitude." I'm a talent and scheme guy; I believe that the team with the best coaches and the most talent win the most games.
However, I'm beginning to think that there is something about this group of Gamecocks that causes them to shoot themselves in the foot time and time again. How else to explain some of the mishaps of the past couple of years? Unlike in years past, now we've got a coaching staff with solid resumes and a roster full of talented players. Are we as talented as UGA, or Florida or Tennessee? No, at least not as far as depth is concerned. But we're talented enough to beat those teams from time to time, and although we typically put ourselves in the position to do so, we usually fall just short due to some inane lapse of concentration. Coaching? Sure, there are those who say that Spurrier has lost it. I certainly think he made some tactical errors in the second half against Vandy. But I've also seen him come out and out-coach some of the SEC's best coaches, usually only to lose at the close of the game. Even against Vandy, I thought that Spurrier had made some nice adjustments after NC State. Folks will probably only remember the second half and forget that we had a number of chances to blow the game wide open during the first half. What happened? Chris Smelley, in the midst of an otherwise decent performance, threw a couple of interceptions while we were deep in Commodores territory. Typical.
This is all to say that I believe that this team needs to develop a killer instinct, gain the sort of concentration necessary not to meltdown during critical moments, and, yeah, start to believe that they can win a close game. They didn't do this in the second half against Vandy, and it lost an otherwise salvageable game in which we out-gained the Commodores by over 100 yards. The only thing standing in their way was themselves. This isn't to say that this team doesn't have tactical problems to solve. They do. But there's something beyond tactical issues plaguing this team, and if they want to leave the Vanderbilt loss on the field and have the year they're capable of having, as Eric Norwood says in the article, they're going to have to solve the mental problems as well.
This is a team that hasn't won a tight game since UGA last year. Next week we play the Dawgs again. Here's to hoping we solve these problems right now.