First things first. There's a lot of negativity going around Gamecock Nation right now. Folks are surprised selling the Gamecocks because we failed to lay the wood to Vandy. While I won't disagree that last night's game left a bit to be desired, I think we should also get a bit of perspective. Vandy has beaten us the past two years, and this time we finally got them. The past two losses were difference makers; this time around, if we win a couple more, we won't be looking back at this game and thinking that we blew our chance at a good season by losing to Vandy. It wasn't the pretty 30+ point victory I was hoping for, but it was a victory. We should be mindful of that.
Moreover, I think there are some good things to take away from the game. They are:
- Stephen Garcia, Alshon Jeffrey, and Kenny Miles all played well. Garcia had a couple of bad plays and needs to learn how to avoid the sack, but his throws were on the money last night. He's progressing nicely and will soon be making better decisions. There's not really anything to say about Alshon. He's going to be an A. J. Green-caliber star before all is said and done. Miles is also very solid.
- The defense only gave up three offensive points. Although they gave up some yardage, the three points is good by any measure, even against Vandy.
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All of that said, we have some things to work on before traveling to Knoxville this week. These include:
- Penalties. I said it last night; I'll say it again. Stupid mental errors are killing our drives. We'll need more than 14 points to win the rest of our games, and we won't get it if we keep ending up in 3rd and 20 situations due to penalties.
- Where is Jarvis Giles? Look, I love Kenny Miles as much as the next guy, and I think Miles is definitely our best back. However, Giles has the ability to make big plays in space, so you'd think we would have a few plays designed for him. Instead, he gets three runs, all of them between the tackles, which doesn't take advantage of his skill set. I would have especially like to see him on one of those final drives. Vandy was gassed and we could have used Jarvis's fresh legs. Let's hope our coaches figure out a way to get Jarvis on the field soon, as he's too good not to play.
- On the same subject, we appear to have all of about four running plays in our playbook; maybe five or six if you count the designed runs for Garcia. You would think we would diversify our running game a bit.
- The offensive line gave Garcia time for parts of the night, but at other parts they disappeared, and those were often on key plays. It's not going to get any easier for them over the next two weeks, either.
- Our rushing defense is a little soft. I expected we'd see Larry Smith and the Vandy running backs move the ball on the ground, and they did so. I expect you'll see us stack the box against the Vols. If Crompton is off, it'll work, but if he's on, we could be in trouble.
- How many sure interceptions have we dropped this year? That one C. C. Whitlock bobbled almost came back to haunt us.
These are all problems, but I think some of them can be corrected. I hope so, at least. This Tennessee game is as big as any we'll play this year. We should have a chance to win, but we're going to need to play really, really well to do so.