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Advanced Statistics Laud Gamecock Offense, Pan Defense and Special Teams

Football Outsiders released their first set of advanced statistics this season that do not include pre-season adjustments. They lay the blame for this season entirely on the defense and special teams.

Lorenzo Ward leads an incredibly discouraging defense for the Gamecocks.
Lorenzo Ward leads an incredibly discouraging defense for the Gamecocks.
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Statistics can lie.  Used to do so, they can distort or mis-lead or otherwise lead astray.

That said, Football Outsiders's FEI and S&P ratings carry a relatively stable track record of predicting the future in college football.  Using down-by-down (or drive-by-drive) data, critically adjusted for both pace and opponent strength, they can show what leads teams to succeed and fail.

For the Gamecocks, the answers appear starkly to fall away from one side of the ball and onto two others:

South Carolina Gamecocks
Unit F+ Rank
Offense 3rd
Defense 89th
Special Teams 76th
Overall 42nd

The defensive rating stands as easily the worst in Spurrier's tenure, which makes the fact the offense rates highest at any point during his tenure all the sadder.  Clearly, this may not be on Dylan, despite protestations otherwise.  Of course, special teams remains the issue it's been throughout Spurrier's time in Columbia.

The disparity between these and other ratings lies primarily in the adjustments.  Here's where Carolina opponents lie in defensive ratings on the season so far:

Opponent Defensive F+ Points
Texas A&M 59th 28
East Carolina 66th 35
Georgia 43rd 38
Vanderbilt 88th 48
Missouri 10th 20
Kentucky 52nd 38
Average: 53rd 34.5

Given that the Gamecocks play at an average pace (59th in total offensive plays in the NCAA), 35 points represents an excellent rate of points.

I admit most (including me) will disagree that we have the third-best offense in the nation, and I'd also question whether we're really as bad as 89th on defense, but the numbers are in, and they're not pretty - the Carolina defense has collapsed this season.