One of the many definitions for psychosis is "repeating the same action over and over and expecting different results" This is precisely what is happening with our football team. So much combined to go wrong yesterday that it is difficult to know who exactly is to blame. So we start with the person who actually gets paid to produce wins, HBC.
Steve Spurrier is a great recruiter. We know that. Bringing Alshon and Marcus and Clowney here was huge for our program, but as a coach things are going down hill. The play calling this season has been awful. Generally we come out one drive and throw long three times and with Garcia's accuracy troubles this usually means a three and out. So the next time we get the ball we come out and run three times up the middle. If Marcus isn't able to work his magic and steamroll for a ten yards, then we end up punting yet again. That being said only handing the ball to Marcus 17 times in a game is inexcusable.
Why are we throwing long passes at all at this point? If you don't trust Conner to go in there, fine, you must know something we don't, but its blatantly obvious that Garcia cannot complete a pass that amounts to anything more than a dump off. I understand that we can't run the ball every play and we need to mix it up some, but there are other ways to do it.
One way is the triple option. Garcia has shown us he can run. Lattimore is a beast. Set up and run the triple option and at least we will make the defense pause and consider who is running the ball. Navy showed us that the triple option is still viable against a good SEC defense. Its certainly more effective than throwing three times in a row and punting, or worse throwing interceptions. It might also help to actually get some first downs and sustain a drive and to give our guys on defense a rest. The defense was on the field for NINETY TWO plays against Auburn and only let up 16 points. Hats off to you guys.
In addition to the triple option we can modernize our offense a little bit by incorporating the bubble screen. Its everywhere in college football these days and there is a reason for it. Because it works. If the only pass Garcia practices all week is the bubble screen, then maybe he can actually throw it within five yards of his receiver.
If we can pick up 4 yards a play we are set. We can control the game, give the D a rest, and let them dominate the opponent's offense, as they are want to do..
Though there is certainly more going wrong with our coaching staff, I will move on to the person who deservedly shoulders most of the blame for this debacle. Stephen Garcia leads the FBS in interceptions. Those of us who have watched the Gamecocks all year know that there are at least 4 or 5 more passes that could have been INTs if our receivers hadn't been able to break them up. #5 was 9 of 23 for 160 a TD and 2 picks. The TD and 50 of those yards were thanks to an amazing catch by Alshon, who got away with a push off a la AJ Green. That leaves him at 8 of 22 for 110 with two picks. Of those 8, only about 3 of them were actually decent throws. That means of the 23 times we let him throw, 3 of them were somewhat accurate. This is unacceptable. We either need to go with the option approach above, or with Conner Shaw. If we are going to lose due to terrible QB play, I'd rather see it come from a sophomore than from our 5th year senior
That Garcia has been struggling physically is apparent, but the mental struggles are even more frustrating coming from a 5th year senior. There is a lot to be said about the clock management troubles we had yesterday, but they are just as much on #5 as they are on the HBC. We burned a timeout earlier in the half when Garcia couldn't get a play off in time, at home with a smart cooperative crowd. We then burned another one before that 3 and 20 for the same reason. Then we don't spike the ball after the first down, and finally we throw it to the middle of the field with 8 seconds left and no timeouts. Doesn't make sense at all. If Garcia knew what he was doing with this offense, we would have had a timeout to use to set Wooten up for the game tying FG.
The one bright spot? Our defense. They were simply outstanding. If we don't fumble that INT we are all talking about how the D saved us again. We asked way too much of those guys last night, and they answered every call. To play 92 plays and hold Auburn and two great RBs to 16 points is astonishing. We had four INTs, 3 that we kept. Imagine what the score would look like without these. Melvin Ingram in particular is a beast. He had 11 tackles, 3.5 sacks and an interception. If Heisman voters weren't obsessed with offensive players, they would have to take a good long look at Ingram. If not for our defense we could easily be 1-4 instead of 4-1.
To sum it up, something needs to change and now is the time to do it. We have Kentucky coming in next week with a defense that is just as bad as Auburn's was supposed to be. We follow that with an away date at a MSU team that has been struggling and a bye week. Now is the time for change. Whether its the option, Conner Shaw starting, or something cool I don't even know about, this is the time to do. Because if we wait for after Kentucky to do this, it will be too late. HBC I know that you have some poor grad assistant or media relations peon who has the job of looking through message boards and blogs and getting a feel for what the fan base thinks. Take heed, we need a change and we need it now.
On a side note, kudos to Auburn's punter. He kicked it to the twelve yard line right on the right hash three punts in a row with awesome hang time, allowing his coverage guys to converge on the ball. This severely limited the Gamecocks' offensive options.