Not much went right in the Gamecocks' humiliating 52-28 loss to Texas A&M last week. The offense fared better than the defense, but even the offense struggled for large portions of of the contest.
The offense did produce what few bright spots there were, though. Let's take a look at the brightest of those, Dylan Thompson's long TD pass to Nick Jones late in the first quarter.
It's third-and-four, with A&M expecting Carolina to either run or pass short to convert the first down. Dylan sees the safeties creeping up a little bit and changes the play call to include the post route for Jones. You can see Jones shuffle a couple of steps closer to the sideline as he gets in position for the deep route. Jones is matched up against a slower A&M cornerback, Deshazor Everett. Another player to watch on this play is Busta Anderson, who is lined up in the slot on Jones's side of the field. After the snap, Anderson runs a stick route several yards upfield. Jones avoids the jam from the outside linebacker and releases to the post.
What makes this play work is that A&M safety Howard Matthews defends Anderson on the mid-range pass, presumably because Dylan gave Anderson a quick look. This leaves Jones in a one-on-one situation against Everett, which is the matchup Dylan wants. Dylan delivers a strike to Jones for the touchdown, despite the fact that A&M defensive end Myles Garrett beats Brandon Shell badly and gets a good lick on Dylan.
This is both a smart audible and great execution by Thompson. I highlight this play because while Thompson wasn't as efficient in this game as we need him to be, the play shows what he's capable of as a savvy fifth-year senior with a good understanding of the offense and the arm to make all the throws. I think the key for Dylan going forward is to come out calmer and not to let his nerves get to him. Regardless of how much Mike Davis plays, one thing that should help Dylan this weekend is letting the run game do more of the work and making some easy throws in favorable down-distance situations. Against a smaller defensive front, there's no excuse for our offensive line not to dominate the game this weekend and for the tailbacks to eat up big chunks of yardage. If they can do that, Dylan won't feel like he has to do everything and can focus on contributing to efficient drives. He showed he can hit big plays against A&M, but he'll only hit so many of these per game; if this offense is going to be elite, and it might have to be if the defense doesn't get better, efficiency is where Dylan needs to improve.