South Carolina's defense didn't hold up its end of the bargain in the Gamecocks' failed upset bid in College Station, but the offense turned in its most impressive performance of the season. With a week off to prepare, Shawn Elliott and G.A. Mangus developed a creative offensive gameplan, and the players for the most part executed that plan very well until late in the game. Nowhere was that creativity on better display than this impressive fake reverse that resulted in a long TD run by Brandon Wilds.
This play was set up by an earlier reverse to Pharoh Cooper that resulted in a good gain. Naturally, A&M's defense was focused on limiting Cooper's productivity all afternoon, and after the earlier reverse, they bite on Wilds's fake just long enough to give Wilds, who has impressed me all season with his vision, anticipation, and elusiveness in the open field, the space he needs to operate.
This play and the many others like it are reminders that for all the talent deficits this team faces when it lines up against teams like A&M, there are plenty of good players on this team, certainly enough that we shouldn't be losing to teams like Kentucky and Missouri, losing at the half to a Central Florida team that is among the nation's worst, and getting blown off the field by an average Georgia team. This team has lacked leadership from the coaching staff, one manifestation of which was no offensive identity due to too many cooks being in the playcalling kitchen. Elliott and Mangus corrected that problem during the bye week by instituting a dynamic Mangus-directed running game that made wise use of spread-option concepts and misdirection. If there was any reason to believe the defensive coaching staff could manage similar improvement, I might give this team half a chance to spring a couple of upsets down the stretch and make a bowl game. Unfortunately, there's very little reason to believe that's going to happen, so we might have to be content to enjoy an offense that's fun to watch in losses. At least Elliott and Mangus are going to put players like Wilds in a position to play themselves into getting attention from NFL scouts.