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Our Digital Season: Week 2 — ECU at South Carolina

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The DigiCocks took care of business week 1! Sorry about that! Let's see how they do against the vaunted DigiPirates of Greensboro, NC.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back friends. I'll bypass the pleasantries: I let you down last week. Plum blew it. The DigiCocks took care of business against A&M, but had no such luck in real life (IRL, for n00bs.) You may recall that last year I'd start each week with a comparison of eerie similarities and total whiffs from the previous week's simulation. I'm not doing that this year because I am spread thinner Elliott Fry's forearm these days (it's for this reason vids will likely also not return.) So just know that last week's simulation didn't predict the IRL outcome, and we'll move on.

BUT THIS WEEK. Oh man! Just wait and see! I...in fact, don't. Just go read something else. You've had a long week, so just go browse Reddit or buy some pants on Amazon or something. No? You want to read this? K. Guess I can't stop you.

East Carolina wins the toss, and will kick.The opening kick is a touchback.

1st Quarter, or AN AUSPICIOUS START

Dylan Thompson hits Damiere Byrd on a comebacker for a quick 9. Hey, he then throws a bubble screen that's intercepted for a touchdown.

7-0, ECU.

So let's try that again—after a Ye Olde Shon Carson 15 Yard Kick Off Return™®©, a draw play to Mike Davis goes backwards. But Thompson hits Shaq Roland for 13, and it's a fresh set o' downs. After consecutive two yard gains, Dylan goes deep to Roland—hey, it's intercepted again!

ECU takes over at its own 28 after the armpunt. They run a screen that doesn't get pick-sixed, but in fact it gains six. After a short gain, it's 3rd and 4, and Carden completes a 20 yard pass. Then a 12 yard pass. THIS IS SOUNDING FAMILIAR. First and 10 on the SC 35. Al Harris Jr. overruns a potential pick and ECU gains 13 more. Quarterback keeper—Ali Groves is there for the tackle for loss gets bowled over and Carden, who gains 5. But hey, Groves atones on the next play, sacking Carden for negative 5. Also, Ali Groves is playing. It's 3rd and 10 now, so ECU gains almost 10. They'll go for it on 4th and 1—Carden gains 2. So now it's 1st and goal. Carden to Barnes on the slant—it's caught for a touchdown.

14-0, ECU. 4 minutes remain the 1st. :D

Touchback, and here come the Cocks, who have yielded 14 points off turnovers this quarter. Consecutive QB keepers yield +9 and -4 yards. Thompson is pressured on third and tries to dump it off to, I think, a referee, and the pass falls incomplete. Punt.

ECU begins the drive from its own 33. Carden throws it away on first—his first incompletion! He then tries to go deep, and Rico McWilliams drops a silver plattered pick. ECU has the Gamecocks right where they want them—3rd and long. But in a miraculous "good defensive play", Kadetrix Marcus plants a well-timed hit on a postin'-ass receiver, who drops it. Punt!

Cooper takes the punt, and—what the heck!—returns it for the score. Except we roughed the kicker and it didn't count and ECU gets the first down. HAHAHA ISNT THIS GREAT. South Carolina saves some face—Carden hits his man Grayson over the middle, but Chaz Elder strips it and Kaiwan Lewis falls on the loose ball.

Carolina has it at their own 40.  DigiDylan then nearly throws a pick. He's now 3/7 with two INTs in this wacky-ass quarter. After another idiot bubble screen that somehow gains two yards, Dylan rolls out and hits Shaq Roland for 13. Two plays later it's Thompson to Jones for 14. Jump to 1st and 10 on the 22, when Mike Davis takes a zone read the distance.

14-7, ECU.

ECU runs the kick back to its own 18. After an 8 yard completion on 1st down, this funky quarter expires.

2nd Quarter, or WHAT'S A DEFENSE

Allen gains 10 on the keeper and it's 1st down. Carden complete to Worthy for 11—that's 100 yards passing for Carden. ECU's moving, with Carolina putting zero pressure on Carden. Hey, remember zero pressure from IRL last week? 'Member that? Let's jump to 3rd and 4 from the SC 25. Carden coolly hooks up with Jones for 17 yards, and it's 1st and goal. Thrown away. 2nd and goal. Incomplete. 3rd and goal. Gain of 4. Hey, that's something. ECU chips it in for 3.

17-7, Pirates. 5:39 left in the half.

After the touchback, here comes Bloodspillin' DigiDylan and crew. Short gain for Davis is followed by a nice comebacker to Damiere Byrd for 12. Then to Busta for 19! Jump to 3rd and 7. It's a screen—the defense bites! They're blitzing like 40 guys! Dylan dumps it off to Brandon Wilds who'll streak into the hahah jk he's tackled for a loss of fo'. DIGI TYLER HULL DOE boots the punt out at the one yard line! ECU will have a 99 yard field to traverse. Of course they gain 14 yards on the first two plays. But only 8 on the next three—they gon' punt. Cooper takes it 8 yards to the 50.

Here comes Opponent-Hopes-and-Dreams-Killin' DigiDylan and his gang of ne'er-do-wells. Handoff to Davis gains 11. Jump to 3rd and 1 on the 31. It's an option! Dylan is obliterated! Haha! 4th and 5 and Elliott Freisman will try a 51 yarder. Hoo boy. The kick is up—AND OH HELL YEAH FREISMAN GOOD FROM 51.

17-10, Cocks. ECU's got 1:13 and 3 timeouts to score before the half.

Carden's pass on 1st is incomplete. That's 4 consecutive misses for Carden. Spoke to soon! 12 yard gain. ECU hurries the eff up, but calls timeout after a 2 yard completion. :58 seconds left in the half. Carden hits Jones for 18. Timeout. Ball on the SC 42. Aaaand oh look, Carden hits Worthy for almost 40. 1st and goal. A short, horridly defended touchdown pass ensues.

24-10 ECU. They get the ball back out of the half. Hahaha. BUT FIRST. South Carolina has :42 and 3 timeouts. LESSEE WHAT THEY DO WITH IT.

After the touchback, Expecation-Fulfillin DigiDylan Thompson hits Nick Jones for 66 yards. Not bad! It's first and goal on the 9. Carolina uses a timeout. They run a halfback draw, the kind that fools no one but ALSO wastes a timeout. 2nd and goal on the 11, and the exact same play is called with slightly better results. They don't call timeout though, and Dylan snaps the ball—and, hey, he hits Roland on the slant for the score! Great job.

Clearly trying to stay humble after his 51 yarder, DigiFry misses the extra point. "Let's see if that comes back to haunt them," says the very innovative color commentator who is probably Brian Greise.

We go to the half with the score 24-16 in favor of the Pirates.

FIRST HALF ANALYSIS

I'm gonna be honest, I went to cook dinner at the half and kind of forgot where things stood. But suffice it to say, DigiDylan's been a bit better since the disastrous start.

Third Quarter, or, DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK NO REALLY DON'T

ECU begins the half, but on the third play, SIDNEY RHODES of all people steps in front of a pass and returns it to glory.

The DigiCocks will go for two and the tie, and Dylan Thompson gets decimated in the backfield. Cocks down two, 24-22.

So then East Carolina mounts an A&M of a drive—you know, screens, sweeps, occasionally throwing to wide open receivers for gobs of yards. Carden throws for a total of 65 yards on the drive, including a 15 yard killshot to J. Williams.

31-22, Pirates.

But don't worry, You-Gon-Wish-You-Was-Still-Umbillin' Dylan isn't about to take this lying down. He completes passes of 15 (Byrd), 23 (Roland), and 20 (Byrd) yards consecutively. Well into ECU territory, the vaunted o-line allows a trio of tackles for loss in sequence, including two sacks. Elliott Fry comes on and boots another long field goal, this one from 46.

31-25, Pirates.

ECU takes over and Carden immediately launches a 65 yard touchdown pass. DigiWammy ward flings his fur coat in disgust.

38-25, ECU.

But the DigiCocks respond, thanks in no small part to The-Opposite-of-Penicillin Dylan, who completes 60 yards worth of passes en route to a score. That score came in the form of a 32 yard post route to Shamier Jeffery.

38-32, ECU.

Down just six, the South Carolina defense struggles to hinder the progress of the mighty DigiPirates of Carolina East. They surge downfield, and an insurance score seemed imminent. But Ali Groves has other plans—he makes the pick inside the South Carolina 20! Gamecocks take over.

Time for Hooch-Made-From-Blood-Distillin' Dylan to do his thang. An 11 yard pass to Damiere Byrd ends the quarter.

Fourth Quarter, or, SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING

It's 1st and 10, and Dylan hits Nick Jones for 8 yards. But they lose a yard on the next two plays, and 4th and 3 deep in his own territory has DigiSpurrier feelin' risk averse. Punt.

Carden once again squires the Pirates downfield with little issue. But also once again, he throws an interception near the end zone—this time it's DigiChaz Elder with the pick. Carden's now thrown three interceptions.

Can More-Fearsome-Than-a-Disney-Villain Dylan produce some late fireworks? Nope! Three and out.

ECU plays conservative ball, but nets a couple first downs before stalling out in South Carolina territory. They'll attempt a 44 yard field goal—it's good, and that means it's a two score game.

41-32, Pirates.

The Cocks get it back with a mere 3:18 to whip up 10 points. Thompson vacillates between throwing nice passes for double digit yardage and getting sacked. It strikes me at this point that the game is still using Connor Shaw-era playbook. Curse you, EA! Anyway, on 3rd and 17 Thompson finds Busta on the sideline for a 47 yard gain. The Cocks are in the red zone, but ECU forces a fourth down. Fry comes on and boots the 34 yarder. It's a one score game.

41-35, Pirates.

South Carolina has 2 minutes and 3 timeouts with which to stop ECU, but elect to attempt the onside kick instead. It fails. I won't drag this out: ECU gets a couple first downs, and kneels it out.

Final score, 41-35, Pirates.

I'm...so very sorry.

ECU STAT USC
478 PASS YDS 361
98 RUSH YDS 57
576 TOTAL YDS 418
8/13 3RD DOWN CONV 4/12
4 (3 INT, FUM) TURNOVERS 2 INT
48% TOP 52%
S. Carden: 48/61, 478, 4 TD, 3 INT Offensive POTG D. Thompson: 25/34, 361, 2 TD, 2 INT, 4 sacks
Z. Bigger: 7 tackles, 3 TFL Defensive POTG A. Groves: 6 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack, 1 INT

So, yes, we lost, but take solace in the fact that the above was Dylan Thompson running a Connor Shaw playset, and that our defense became mysteriously porous and bad at tackling OH MY GOD WAIT THAT'S COMPLETELY PLAUSIBLE.

Until next week!