South Carolina pounded Furman into oblivion on Saturday. Despite still giving up over five yards a play, the outstanding Carolina offense never allowed the game to get in real danger during the second half, and the defense returned to the strategy that served it so well against East Carolina and Georgia earlier this season - it bent at times, but didn't break.
|Advanced Box Score|
|Yds. per Play||5.08||7.81||Carolina|
|SD - Success||41.30%||64.00%||Carolina||47.30%|
|PD - Success||35.71%||22.73%||Furman||30.60%|
|Rushing||39 plays||41 plays|
|Rush Success Rate||43.6%||61.0%||Carolina||43.40%|
|Passing||21 plays||31 plays|
|Pass Success Rate||33.3%||38.7%||Carolina||40.60%|
|1st Down Success||30.00%||58.33%||Carolina|
|1st Down Yds/Play||3.73||8.56||Carolina|
|2nd Down Success||66.67%||45.45%||Furman|
|2nd Down Yds/Play||9.43||7.41||Furman|
|3rd Down Success||11.11%||33.33%||Carolina|
|3rd Down Yds/Play||-0.56||6.25||Carolina|
|4th Down Success||N/A||100.00%|
|4th Down Yds/Play||N/A||8.00|
|1Q Success Rate||33.3%||55.0%||Carolina|
|2Q Success Rate||42.1%||46.7%||Carolina|
|3Q Success Rate||38.5%||65.2%||Carolina|
|4Q Success Rate||46.2%||28.6%||Furman|
|Starting Field Position||Own 32||Own 28||Furman||Own 29.8|
|*Standard downs - all 1st downs, 2nd and less than 8, 3rd/4th and less than 5|
|*Passing downs - all other downs|
|*Success is 50% of yards on 1st, 70% of yards on 2nd, and 100% on 3rd or 4th|
|*Scoring trips - drives with one first down inside the opposing team's 40-yard line|
1. The breakdown by quarterback
Here's how the Gamecocks played under Dylan Thompson, compared against the offensive numbers put up with Perry Orth and Connor Mitch under center:
|Thompson||Orth and Mitch||Advantage|
|Yards Per Play||9.08||4.91||Thompson|
|SD - Success||67%||57%||Thompson|
|PD - Success||36%||0%||Thompson|
|Rush Yds/Play||8.23||8.40||Orth and Mitch|
|Rush - Success||69%||47%||Thompson|
|Pass - Success||46%||14%||Thompson|
Overall, Dylan Thompson led the Gamecocks to 35 points in just 9 possessions, or 3.9 points per possession. The other duo managed a meager six points in their four combined possessions, the first of which was partially set up by Dylan's 22-yard pass to Jerrell Adams for his last snap of the game.
Note that, because it's the more sensible way to organize things, we count sacks as passing plays in this series. So when you see that negative number for pass plays for Orth and Mitch, it's not a typo. It's what it looks like when two new guys show up and play very poorly in their (albeit limited) time on the field.
Not that this was still really up for debate, but Dylan Thompson is clearly the best quarterback available to lead this team. Also, let's hope we also obliterate South Alabama so we can give one or both of these guys some more live snaps before 2015.
2. Seriously, the offense continues to roll teams
The offense posted over 550 yards against the Paladins, with the only cause for concerning centering around its inability to dig itself out of holes - the 23% success rate in passing downs doesn't look great, though it's also that low in part because the Gamecocks dug themselves some very big holes on a few drives. The 6.4 yards a play average on passing downs shows Carolina still moved the ball in basically every situation it found itself, and moved it effectively both via the run (a healthy 8.3 yards per carry) and pass.
3. The defense certainly didn't excel, but it's doing better down-by-down
South Carolina gave up a horrible 60-yard run to Furman on its second series of the game. Let's put that aside for a moment. With that play removed, Furman averaged 4.2 yards a play, succeeded on fewer than 40% of its plays, and didn't post a per-play average of over five yards in any category. Take out one play, and the Gamecocks are looking at giving up just three points and basically dominating a team across the board.
Now, you don't get to take away one play. But still, this was an improved effort. It's certainly not good enough to beat the better teams in the SEC, but given how the rest of the season has unfolded, it's certainly something to build on.
4. The Gamecocks continue to excel in the red zone most games
With Dylan Thompson in the game, Carolina went 5-for-5 in converting scoring opportunities into touchdowns. On the other side of the ball - again, removing one long play - the defense turned three Furman trips inside the 40 into three points, aided in part by a Paladin missed field goal.
The Gamecock offense continues, despite the loss of Connor Shaw's mobility, to post touchdowns more often than not when they get the chance to score. That's going to keep them in an awful lot of football games coming down the stretch.
5. In the end, it's just Furman
There's only so much you can take from a game that gets out of hand in the late stages. As we noted earlier, and as you can see in the box score itself, the fourth quarter drags down Carolina's offensive numbers overall - a 28.6% success rate and 2.8 yards per play is putrid. But the first three quarters, the offense looked about as good as it can. It sometimes seems like people forget that scoring 35 points in 9 possessions is a pretty good day at the office.
That said, with the offense playing great and the defense coming alive, it's of course worth noting what many naysayers have harped on this week - it's just Furman. They're not good. This doesn't mean that the Gamecocks aren't going to possibly be underdogs in every game left on the schedule aside from South Alabama (though you'd imagine after this week they'll be favored over Florida).
Still, wins are nice. Easy wins where everyone plays are fun. This was both. On to Auburn.