Hi, folks. This post introduces a new feature around here: the Gamecocks Blogger Roundtable. Flounder of Leftover Hot Dog came up with the idea and was kind enough to ask me to take part. Other members of the braintrust are cocknfire of GABA and Team Speed Kills fame, the Post and Courier's Travis Haney, and Gamecock Anthem's Wes Mitchell. I'm sure everyone is familiar with the work of everyone involved. The basic idea is that once a month one of us will host the roundtable, send out questions, and everyone will respond with answers. The hosting blog will post a roundup after everyone has responded, which I'll link for all of you to see. As is befitting its honor as the founding site, LOHD is the host of the first roundtable. Here are my answers to the questions:
Q: This past Spring, some was written about South Carolina using a no huddle offense. How much do you expect to see of this new offensive scheme this coming fall season and what potential impact will it have?
1. I'm not sure. The idea was presented more as a possibility than a certainty during the spring, and I haven't heard about it yet this August, so it may have gotten lost in the mix. Steve Spurrier, though, seemed to suggest that we would probably at least see a bit of it, even if the change wouldn't constitute a complete change in philosophy:
Don't expect to see the Gamecocks switch to a complete fast-paced format next season, Coach Steve Spurrier says there will be times for the old-fashioned huddle.
"I'm not a big believer in all the time no huddle," said Spurrier. "I believe at times you have to look at the guy in the eye and tell him the play, but we'll do a lot of it no question."
One thing to note in favor of us using it is that we're hearing a lot of news about players being in better shape, having slimmed up, and the like. One of the major tactical advantages of the no-huddle is that it allows you to run more plays at a faster pace, thus allowing you to take advantage of having well-conditioned players, if you indeed have them. If Coach Fitzgerald's strength and conditioning program has been as successful as some are saying it has been, then that might be a good reason for Spurrier to think hard about implementing the no-huddle.
Q: Defensive Coordinator Ellis Johnson has always had some good defenses over the years at South Carolina. What makes his scheme so good?
2. It hasn't hurt that he's had some talented players under him. He walked into a situation in 2008 in which we had multiple future NFL picks on the roster. In terms of scheme, I think his major success has been implementing an approach that takes advantage of the Gamecocks' defensive speed. Carolina will never have the strongest front in the conference, as there are only a handful of elite tackles to go around and most of them end up at the glamour schools. But we have brought in some good ends, linebackers, and defensive backs, and Johnson has successfully instituted the 4-2-5 to get those guys around the field making plays. Even when we had Eric Norwood and Jasper Brinkley lining up at linebacker, we could rely on the spur position to provide extra speed not enjoyed by teams running a 4-3. One final thing that I think really sets Johnson apart is his ability to succeed with calculated gambles. The guy loves secondary blitzes, and he's generally successful with them. Now if only we could actually recover the fumble if one of our cornerbacks forces Aaron Murray to cough it up this year...
Q: Kickoff to another Gamecocks season is right around the corner. Describe a successful season. Describe a disappointing one.
3. I think a successful season is winning eight or nine regular season games and finishing nationally ranked. I'd like to say that we should also win whatever bowl that were to get us into, but I think we need to see who the opponent is there to make any educated prognostications. I'm not the kind of person that believes we need to win 11 games and the SEC and play in a BCS Bowl to call 2010 a successful season. While I wouldn't say that that kind of season is out of the realm of possibilities, I do think it's a little presumptious to believe that we have the talent in place right now to expect to beat Florida and Alabama. What I do think we should be able to expect to see is some level of improvement in the W-L column in a season in which we are fielding one of our most talented teams and are looking at a somewhat depleted SEC. If we can't at least win eight regular-season games, finish with a winning record in the conference, and at least be in striking distance of the Eastern Division late in the season this year, we're not making progress. That would be a disappointing season, and I think it would provide grounds to consider dismissing Spurrier. I'm not going to say that a disappointing season means we necessarily need to look for a new coach, as lots of things--like losing your top two QBs to injury or something like that--can happen over the course of a season and derail your chances. However, all things being equal, this season presents as good a chance as we've had in a long time at having a successful season, and we need to hold Spurrier to that standard.
Stay tuned for updates regarding the release of the roundup.