I'm sure you've taken the time to watch these highlights several times since the clock struck zero Saturday night, but what the heck, let's watch them again.
As many have noted, Steve Spurrier and his staff had an excellent game plan for Georgia. Although conventional wisdom suggested that a team with a moderately struggling QB, dominant offensive line, and two good tailbacks should keep the ball on the ground (we here at GABA were saying the same thing all week), Spurrier observed the success Clemson had passing the ball in the first half against UGA and said, "we can do better than that." Spurrier then installed a plan that asked his QB to shoulder a heavy load, and Dylan Thompson answered the bell admirably by playing the best half of football of his career during the first half against the Dawgs. In the second half, with the Gamecocks never trailing and the rain pouring down, Spurrier reversed course and went to his run game, relying on the jumbo package he previewed against ECU to open big holes for the tailbacks. That strategy worked, too.
Among all the plays that caught my eye in this highlight reel, I want to highlight two. The first is Thompson's TD pass to Pharoh Cooper. The Gamecocks are in their jumbo package here. They've got one tailback, two tight ends with one being blocking end Cody Gibson, Cooper lined up as an h-back, and Damiere Byrd split wide. You might remember that last week I speculated on how Carolina could utilize Cooper out of this formation. Well, here's an example. This play is a variation on the run/WR screen option that Carolina often uses out of spread formations. Here, though, Carolina operates out of the jumbo package, and the pass option isn't a screen but rather a swing to Cooper, who is crossing the field in motion as the play begins. Dylan reads the outside linebacker on the side Cooper is motioning to in order to see if the linebacker defends the handoff or the pass. The linebacker defends the handoff, which puts Cooper in a one-on-one situation against the Georgia safety. That's a good matchup for Carolina, and Dylan takes it. The play isn't as crisp as it might have been because Dylan bobbles the ball a little bit after pulling up to pass, which allows the linebacker to nearly get back in the play, but Cooper still manages to get into the end zone without too much trouble.
The second play I wanted to mention is the touchdown pass to Busta Anderson. This was both a very well designed and well executed play. The design is again based on getting a favorable matchup. Carolina spreads the field here with no tailback, three wideouts, and two tight ends. The three wideouts and the second end (Jerrell Adams) each run routes towards the corners. The safeties help out on the edges. That puts Anderson in a one-on-one situation running towards the goal posts against Georgia linebacker Amarlo Herrera. Herrera is actually one of the Dawgs' better defensive players, but this isn't a good matchup for him against the taller, more nimble Anderson. Dylan delivers a very well-thrown ball to Anderson, who easily goes up over Herrera to make the catch. Very good design to take advantage of those TE matchup advantages we've been raving about here for so long, and very good throw from Dylan to make the play work.
Man, that was fun watching those plays again. Go 'Cocks!