A is for Auburn
Tip your hat to the host team. They were facing a 14-0 or 10-0 deficit in the first quarter and the crowd was audibly stunned. After picking off Dylan, the Tigers roared to life. They would not be denied on offense - 551 yards, 395 on the ground; 6 of 8 on third down and only 1 turnover. Nick Marshall was superb ... running for three touchdowns and another through the air ... passing 12 of 14, 139, average 9.9 / rushing 10 carries, 89 yards with a long of 37. Sure there were some other great AU performances, particularly Cameron Artis-Payne and Ricardo Louis, but it was the ex-UGA Bulldog Marshall who beat really cleaned our clocks on offense.
B is for Ballsy
Before the game, most pundits recommend South Carolina go for broke against Auburn. After all, they were the No. 5 team in the nation coming off a bye-week. What did we have to lose? The HBC certainly must have agreed. He was killing Ellis Johnson with his ball plays. You could tell Auburn was shocked by the sheer elan of our attack. The onside kick with 2:20 to go in the third, knotted up at 35-35, was stupendous (and, alas, ultimately wasted by D.T.s second pick of the night). All the gutsy 4th down calls. Shuffle pass. Wheel route. Sweep-option. Trick plays. Lets keep seeing more of that. After all, what do we have to lose?
C is for Cooper
Shaq Roland had a decent game, but our number 1 WR and heir to Bruce Ellington is Pharoh Cooper. His seven receptions, 127 yards and 2 TDs were impressive; a couple of better balls from Dylan and he might have had a 3rd TD and 20-30 more yards. The trick play throw to Roland almost worked. This kid is the real deal. You knew that already, of course. So does the rest of the SEC.
D is for Dylan
Connor Tapp said it best last night when he tweeted: "We've seen Great Dylan, Good Dylan, Bad Dylan, and Terrible Dylan tonight." It's impossible not to love Thompson. He has a cannon for an arm; he's fearless in the pocket; he is a great representative of our University. His TD throws against Auburn were gorgeous. But his two redzone INTs.plus all the overthrows (particularly in the last complete drive of the 4th when we turned it over on downs) were probably the difference in the game. It's hard to blame Dylan for the loss when he engineered 535 of total offense and 33:31 time of possession. Plus his line score of 29/50, 402 and five touchdowns would normally be worthy of SEC PotW honors. Our defense lost the game by being unable to withstand the Auburn run. But then we expected them to 30-40 points to Auburn. What we needed from Dylan was 5 extra passes and no redzone picks. We wouldn't have been in a position to be in the game on the last play from scrimmage; but we could have won outright without his mistakes. That's the hardest pill to swallow.
E is for Effort
You have to be pleased with the effort and heart we showed on the Plains. Everyone else expected us to unravel like a cheap suit under the glaring lights and terrific crowd at Jordan-Hare. That being said, where was that effort against Mizzou and UK? Had we played like this against the Tigers of the other Columbia and the 'Cats, all things being equal, we'd be 6-2 (4-2) rather than 4-4 (2-4). Sure, we might be a Top 15 fraud with the most suspect "D" in the SEC outside of Vandy, but we'd be bowl-eligible. If we revert to form against UT, UF and CU, however, then we are toast. We need to see this same effort - coaching and playing - that we showed against Auburn from here on out. Will we? That will be what makes this a tolerable season versus a debacle.
F is for Feel Free
If you want to keep it going "by the letters" be my guest. L for Landon. W for Whammy. What needs to be said? Be creative. Consider it a challenge.
This is a hard loss with good points and bad.
Where does it leave us? Feel free to praise, vent or mourn.