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Dear Ellis Johnson

It didn't used to be all that easy for me to apologize. Then, I got into this whole blogging thing, with it's "record" and "accountability" and such nonsense. And it got a bit easier to apologize -- about some things, anyway -- as I found myself doing a bit more of it.

But I've never been happier to say "I'm sorry" than I am right now:

Ellis Johnson, I'm sorry for what I wrote when you were first being considered for the defensive coordinator job.

Sure, the things I said weren't all that critical or mean-spirited, but they were still much more in the "can this guy coach?" category than the "let's give him a chance" side of the spectrum.

Yes, apparently, Spurrier's list looked something like this:

Bud Foster
Ellis Johnson
Dave Odom


I'm just wondering how we went from one of the best DCs in college football to the DC at the one SEC school that has managed to make South Carolina look like a competent team for the last five or so years. ...

the highlights -- such as they are -- from Coach Johnson's resume ...

And on and on it went.

And I was wrong. Dead wrong.

Sure, there's nothing saying that Bud Foster, or DC-for-five-minutes Brian VanGorder, wouldn't have done as well or even better. But "as well," by itself, is pretty dang good.

Statistic Total/Average National Rank SEC Rank
Total Defense 256.5 ypg 3 1
Pass Defense 155.1 ypg 4 2
Pass Efficiency Defense 101.38 12 3
Rushing Defense 101.4 ypg 11 2
Scoring Defense 15.6 ppg 10 3

This includes, by the way, a game against Georgia, one of the best offenses in the conference, and other teams that are at least marginally competent. (That's about as good as it gets in the SEC this year, folks.) Only four of the Gamecocks' 10 opponents have managed more than 17 points.

I bring this up now because we're going to need that defense this weekend more than any other game on the schedule. Tim Tebow, the guy who annihilated South Carolina's already crumbling defense last year, is waiting in the Swamp. Chris Rainey, Jeffrey Demps, Percy Harvin -- they should be there as well.

But I trust you. I trust you to have a plan that will at least slow the Gators down, at least keep the score respectable and preserve our hopes of being ranked at the end of the year.

It won't be easy. But there's no one I'd rather have leading this defense into the Swamp than you.