After falling behind 17-0, the South Carolina Gamecocks fought their way back into the ballgame. They even had a legitimate chance at the end to win the game before a critical Jerell Adams fumble. Sadly the Gamecocks dropped to 3-6 and their bowl chances are now officially on life-support. Here's what we learned.
Energy is not enough
Shawn Elliott has turned this football team into a competitive one. I, like most of us, appreciate the hell out of that. Before he was promoted to interim HC this team was largely just going through the motions and didn't look excited to play football. Coach Elliott fixed that. He's also shown us that, when used correctly, this team has good, not great, athletes; especially on the offensive side. But this team is not good enough to make critical errors and expect to still win. An elite, or a very good, team might be able to overcome mental mistakes and/or lack of execution here or there. This team is not one of those teams. Pharoh Cooper cost us 10 yards on Tennessee's last punt of the game because he muffed the ball, Chris Lammons dropped 3 sure-fire interceptions (all of which would have stopped a UT scoring drive), the offense didn't execute from the first whistle and found itself down 17-0 (that's also on the defense), and the list goes on and on. These are mistakes this team absolutely CAN NOT have. If it expects to compete and beat Florida, The Citadel (yes I'm including them), and Clemson, it will need to continue to play with purpose and also execute to near perfection.
Case of The Drops
I like Chris Lammons a lot. I think he's a good corner who has the potential to be a very good cornerback in this league. But he also had three dropped interceptions Saturday that would have stopped a scoring drive each time. Like I stated above, this team is not good enough to win in spite of itself. Fumble is on the ground? Better cover it up. Opposing QB throws it right to you? You better catch the damn ball. Have a clean shot at the QB? You better hit him and hit hard. We have to have these things if we want to turn these close losses to good teams into wins against good teams.
Jerell Adam's fumble at the end ultimately cost us a chance at at least tying the game up. He was not, however, the sole person responsible for the loss. Elliott Fry missed his first field goal attempt, the defense looked lost for the first 20 minutes of the ballgame, and our runningbacks outside of Brandon Wilds were largely ineffective. Point being, this is a team game. If you are the fan (there were many of them) on social media saying Jerell is a waste of space, a waste of a scholarship, a terrible human being (yes there were tweets out there covering all of these) then you are pathetic and the WORST kind of fan. You don't think Jerell wasn't absolutely torn to shreds on the inside because of his fumble? You don't think he second guessed his decision to fight and scrap for every single possible yard? I do. Actually, I know he did. We should not accept failure. Fumbling in that moment of the game is absolutely inexcusable. But Jerell knows that. This is a teaching moment; a moment when you uplift a young man who knows he screwed up. And if he does it again in practice or a game you yell and scream and tell him to cover the ball up. But for now, you teach and you uplift. We as fans hinge so much of our energy on this game, invest our money and countless hours in supporting this team. They are kids playing a game. Granted, it's a pressure packed game in front of 90,000 screaming people. But at the end of the day, it's just that, a game.
The Gamecocks take on the Florida Gators at 12 PM at home on November 14th as the Gamecocks return to Williams-Brice.