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ECU Pirates at South Carolina Gamecocks: Offensive Film Study

Some thoughts on Dylan Thompson and Carolina's offensive approach against ECU.

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

You've probably seen the video we posted of each offensive play against ECU; if you didn't, here it is again.

While watching this video a couple of times, I noticed a few things. First of all, Dylan's mechanics improved as the game progressed. On the opening failed drives, we saw the stiff back leg/high throw combo we observed against A&M. Later, though, Dylan settles in and makes some nice throws. He's not perfect, but has a nice game. On the plays that are reshown in slow motion, you can see that he displays improved mechanics.

The takeaway? Dylan seems to come out of the gate uncomfortable. The coaches need to figure out a way to calm him down before the game and/or set him up for success early. In any event, I came away from watching this video more happy about Dylan's play than I felt Saturday night. I think that because Dylan is the QB, we're placing a lot of the blame on him for the team's struggles thus far. However, while he hasn't been the solution, he hasn't been the problem either. And I could easily see him playing better. If he plays to potential against UGA, we'll have every chance in the world to win regardless of how the defense plays, because Dylan firing on all cylinders will complete an elite offense for Carolina.

This brings me to my next point. Blocking was awful on the first two drives. Dylan felt some pressure on the first two overthrows on the second drive, the second of which is picked. Once the blocking settles in, though, he settles in and displays better footwork on this throws. It helped to get Will Sport out of there, as he was getting beasted while he was in.

The drive that most caught my eye was the last one, not so much for what happened on the drive but for what Carolina could potentially do out of the formation they show. For most of the plays on the drive, Carolina is in a jumbo formation with two tight ends, a wideout, an h-back, and the tailback. Cody Gibson (a converted tackle who impressed as a freshman in 2011 before struggling with injuries over the course of his career) is the second tight end, while, interestingly, the h-back is Pharoh Cooper for most the plays. K.J. Brent also plays h-back on a couple of plays. On most plays, Dylan hands off to Mike Davis or Brandon Wilds on the inside zone. However, late in the drive, Carolina gets a big play on play action to Jerrell Adams when ECU crowds the box. If Carolina utilizes this formation against UGA, I think you'll see the playcalling much more varied out of it. As long as the line is doing its part, rushing yards should be available out of this formation if the defense doesn't creep up. This will be even more so the case if Thompson starts keeping on the zone-read occasionally; he knows how to make the reads and is more of a danger with his feet than most think, and the only reason he wasn't keeping against ECU was likely because the risk of injury wasn't worth it, and it will be worth it against UGA. When the defense creeps in, though, is where this gets interesting, as this opens up play action. The inclusion of receivers Cooper and Brent on the wing has a lot of potential here. Carolina should be able to find a way to hit Cooper on the stick behind the defense out of this formation, and if it does, he's gone. I was also extremely impressed by Cooper's blocking in this game; he not only blocked well on the perimeter on the WR screens but also blocks well in the trenches out of the jumbo formation. He's clearly one hell of an athlete.