One of the things that I--and many others, from what I can gather--found really interesting about the Southern Miss. game was the extent to which Steve Spurrier opened up the playbook. We saw plenty of offensive formations ranging from power-running looks to spread formations with the receivers lined up in unorthodox manners. We saw plenty of play calls; we ran it up the middle, ran a nice reverse, ran the zone-read option, threw it short, and threw it deep. It was the most diversified I can remember our offense being in some time, and what struck me about it was that Spurrier finally seemed to feel safe being the Evil Genius again. He no longer seemed restrained by the lack of talent now that he had plenty of weapons on the field. I expected to see him try to light up Georgia with an even more full-blown offense, particularly after he mentioned in a post-practice interview that we had only begun to scratch the surface of what the offense would look like this year.
That's not what happened, though. Against Georgia, we ran the ball early and often. We did some different things in terms of formations, with the looks varying between a spread I formation with Patrick DiMarco leading Marcus Lattimore out of the backfield and the more common shotgun looks. However, we didn't, other than during the first drive and the third quarter, open up the playbook so much. We generally ran the ball between the tackles, the call usually being a zone-read option or draw play. I'm not sure whether ot not this was Spurrier going with the hot hand in Lattimore or gaming Tony Grantham by making him respect the playbook with the USM gameplan but then running the ball up the middle over and over again. It was probably some combination of the two; whatever the case may be, it worked.
I don't think, though, that we're going to be able to continue using this approach to win big games. Teams now know who Lattimore is, and more of them will see stopping him as being the key to beating us. That's why I think it's important for us to see Spurrier continue to flex his playcalling muscles against Furman. Furman has a poor run defense and an undersized defensive line, and I have no doubt that we can give them the Lattimore / Kenny Miles treatment and win the game comfortably. Heading into a huge game against Auburn, Spurrier has a chance to give Tigers DC Ted Roof a few things to think about as he gameplans for us. Expect to see Spurrier give Furman a variety of looks and to spread the ball around quite a bit, even if it involves taking some risks that you usually don't want to take against a Furman.
Of course, Spurrier isn't the only one that has to shine here. Stephen Garcia also needs to show Auburn that can hit big passes downfield and that he won't be rattled by a big hit or two against. I think it's really key that Garcia complete a long touchdown pass in this game and that we not see him throw any more of the drastically misaimed balls that we've seen against both USM and UGA. At some point, you have to think that we're going to need to see Garcia hit some of these throws if we're going to make a serious run at a berth in the SEC Championship Game.