1. Yes, it was the defense's fault. Some people in our poll voted for the option saying that the defense was "great." Some of the comments on the message boards I've read have fixated on some of the questionable play calls by the offense.
And I, quite frankly, can't believe it.
This loss is on the defense. Completely.
It should be noted that I have not been an apologist for the offense this year. When the offense deserved to be called out, I called them out.
Not this week.
The offense scored 36 points -- enough to win literally every other game South Carolina has played this year. That total was nearly 10 points better than the team's per-game average. Yeah, Blake's 27-of-51 was pedestrian, but his season-high 364 yards were good and he wasn't intercepted a single time.
Again: South Carolina coughed up three team records and one conference record on Saturday night. If the score was 48-0, or 48-10, or something along those lines, there might be a case to be made that both sides came up short.
It might even be different if the defense had stopped the Hogs more than twice. The result of Arkansas' drives Saturday: TD, missed FG, TD, TD, punt, TD, end of half, TD, TD, safety (on a botched snap), TD, end of game.
In other words, the defense stopped Arkansas twice. The clock stopped the Razorbacks twice. And the Hogs stopped themselves once, on a busted shotgun snap that McFadden wisely allowed to go for a safety.
USC defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix said the Gamecocks' defensive staff had been out-coached and his defenders out-played.
"Basically, they just whipped us," Nix said. ...
Nix said he kept waiting for someone to step up defensively.
"You'd think that some of our leadership or someone would rise up and make a play," Nix said. "But I didn't see that."
Wonderful. The defense is getting blasted, and the coordinator's instinct is to wait for "someone [to] rise up and make a play"? Inspired.
You expect to win an SEC game where you score 36 points on offense and your defense is facing a one-dimensional team. The reason South Carolina didn't was because the defense wasn't ready.
2. Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. That said, acknowledge the job McFadden and Jones did. Anytime a back rushes for more than 300 yards, he had a good night, regardless of whatever shortcomings exhibited by the defense on the other side.
Less noticed was Felix Jones, who had more rushing TDs (3, to McFadden's one) to go with his 163 yards. Of course, McFadden also threw for a score (thank you, "elite" passing defense), so take that into account.
These are two very, very special performances we're seeing right now. To me, McFadden and Dennis Dixon at Oregon are 1a and 1b in the Heisman race, respectively. And with another late-season run, McFadden could stake his claim to the award.
No wonder Nix wants the two backs gone.
While Spurrier jokingly accused Houston Nutt of "running up the score on the ground," minutes later Nix sat alone at a table and stared at the sobering numbers on the stat sheet.
"It's embarrassing. It's sad that somebody can run the ball the way they did," Nix said. "I hope both of those guys come out in the draft early."
They can't come out early enough for South Carolina.
3. The name is Lecorn. We have No. 2 receiver! And two weeks left to enjoy him! It's Dion.
No, not that Dion.
Dion Lecorn caught eight passes Saturday for a team-high 109 yards and a score. Could it be that there is finally someone else that teams have to account for? Does South Carolina have a viable WR corps for next year?
Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves, but Lecorn is apparently feeling pretty good about his performance.
South Carolina also found a reliable receiver to complement Kenny McKinley. Freshman Dion Lecorn led the team with eight catches for 109 yards. He caught a 24-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.
"I feel like I'm more of a second receiver now," Lecorn said.
4. I'm sorry, Cory. So, so sorry. This should have been a triumphant year for Cory Boyd. He should have been able to ride off to the NFL knowing that he at least allowed South Carolina to compete for the SEC title. And, somehow, we've let him down.
Not that he hasn't tried to make up for it himself.
Over the last two games, Boyd has 37 carries for 254 yards (an average of 6.86 ypc) and 2 TDs. He's also had nine catches for 63 yards. That's 317 all-purpose yards in two games.
And the team is now 6-4 and in severe danger of ending the year at .500 after losing both of those games.
We're not worthy.
What a waste. And what a sad thing that it's not his fault.
5. Races and rankings. C'mon. Y'all aren't really that masochistic, are you? Oh, that's right, you're Gamecock fans.
Well, before the game, The State's Seth Emerson laid out a tortured path to the SEC CG even if South Carolina lost Saturday, which we now know it did.
- Florida beating Vanderbilt today was good for USC. The Gators are now 4-3 in the SEC, and would finish 4-4 by losing next week to South Carolina.
- Tennessee (currently 3-2) needs to lose twice, since it owns the tiebreaker over South Carolina. The Volunteers need to lose ne[x]t week to this same Arkansas team, then lose to Vanderbilt and BEAT Kentucky. The Vols would then be 4-4.
- Vanderbilt (2-4) needs to win out, beating Kentucky and Tennessee.
- Georgia (4-2) needs to lose its remaining games to Auburn and Kentucky.
- Kentucky (2-3) needs to lose to Vanderbilt, but beat Georgia and Tennessee.
Riiiiiight. Think that'll happen? If so, let me tell you about some Florida real estate. See, I've been waiting for the right time to sell, and ...
UPDATE -- 11:48 P.M., 11/06/07: It has been pointed out that, um, Kentucky cannot beat Tennessee if Tennessee beats Kentucky. Nor, for that matter, can Tennessee beat Kentucky if Kentucky beats Tennessee. I have no explanation for the discrepancy. I believe that SEC tiebreakers eventually come to a point where Mike Slive sprinkles the blood of a sacrificed lamb on the heads of the coaches involved and waits for a dove to descend upon one of them. I'm not going to try to sort it out at this point, given the high degree of unlikelihood that the Gamecocks will go to Atlanta for anything other than the
Peach Chik-fil-A Bowl.END UPDATE
Not surprisingly, the Gamecocks are now out of both polls. South Carolina gets six points from some deluded soul(s) in the AP poll, and no such consideration from the coaches.
OVERALL GRADE: N/A. I refuse to grade the offense and the defense together because of the disparate performances. The offense I'd give a B or B-minus. The defense gets an F. The special teams unit gets a C-minus.