I'm traveling today, so I'll keep this brief. Overall, I'm quite happy with last night's performance. Obviously, the first quarter was an unmitigated disaster, but considering the Shaw experiment, I'm going to chalk it up as an anomaly. Carolina outscored ECU 56-20 after the first quarter, and the last 7 ECU scored were a gift from our soft coverage. That kind of explosion impresses me. It's a sign of what this team is capable of.
A few particular observations / concerns:
--It's almost so obvious that it doesn't need to be said, but there's no doubt that Stephen Garcia starts and gets the meaningful snaps from here on out. We may never know exactly why Spurrier started Shaw in this game, but I doubt it happens again this year. I actually didn't think he looked bad; he had some good runs, and his passing numbers don't reveal that his receivers dropped some easy catches. However, the poise just wasn't there, and it was for Garcia, despite some accuracy concerns. My hope is that Spurrier finds some good opportunities to work Shaw in mop-up time later in the season. Other than that, I want to see Garcia take all meaningful snaps, other than when we use Bruce Ellington in the wildcat. Ellington, by the way, needs to see the field a fair bit. He's a playmaker.
--My biggest concern right now is secondary play. I didn't think the secondary was awful, mind you, and you have to give credit to the efficient ECU passing game. However, Stephon Gilmore got picked on a few times, we missed a couple of sure INTs, and that "tackle" D.J. Swearinger tried to make on the ECU TD at the end of the first half--well, that's the kind of play that would have you asking "what if" at the end of a close loss. These guys need to step it up. Hopefully getting Akeem Auguste and DeVonte Holloman back will help.
--The defensive line looks just as good as advertised. Obviously, ECU isn't a team you're going to register a bunch of sacks against, but considering the way we blew up their line, I expect us to lead the SEC in sacks again. Jadeveon Clowney--a man among men. He looks huge out there, and is going to be a star even sooner than we thought.
--I'm also concerned about special teams. Ace Sanders's masterful punt return notwithstanding, we did not look good last night on special teams. The kicking was questionable all night, and we had two costly penalties on good returns. Again, get it together.
--Offensive line play was good. We generally protected the QB and opened holes for Marcus Lattimore, who had a nice first game on his march to New York. (I don't think that was a fumble, BTW, and neither do many people I've spoken to--both those who were at the stadium with and those who watch from home.) And lo and behold, when pass protection did break down, Garcia got rid of the ball. Maybe he's learning.
--Typical great game from Alshon Jeffery. He would have had 150 yards if some of the deep passes were on target. As it was, he came close enough to 100 to keep him on track to replicate last year's numbers.
--Very sorry to hear that Damiere Byrd didn't dress due to compliance issues. Was really hoping to see him tonight, and I hope they get this worked out quickly. You'd think the NCAA could address this stuff before the last minute, wouldn't you?