2-1. The Gamecocks have already achieved over half our win total from last year, in three games. And even though the offense sputtered at times and the defense allowed over 500 (!) yards of offense, they made some huge strides. But still, we have to remember that this was against ECU. Granted, the Pirates have been pretty good the last few years, but they don’t compare to some of the SEC powers the Gamecocks will have to face. If we surrender 500 yards to them, who knows what an offensive juggernaut like Georgia or Texas A&M could do to the defense.
Offensively, after a quick start aided by McIlwain’s two rushing TD’s, a Fry field goal and an opportunistic defense, the Gamecocks failed to score for over 46 minutes of the game. That’s over three quarters of the game, and a huge negative overtone for the offense. The offense has shown a propensity to be as streaky as a JR Smith 3-point attempt, either running red-hot or simply not showing up at all. Consistency has to be the key here. One potential factor to the offensive inconsistency is the offensive line. After paving the way towards a 1.1 yards-per-carry mark against Mississippi State, they didn’t look all that much better against ECU. When crucial short yardage was needed (3rd and short, etc), they simply couldn’t get enough push to pick up a new set of downs. This is a glaring issue since the team will not be able to rely solely on the passing game with McIlwain as the starting quarterback for the new future and still remain competitive.
Defensively, it was a meltdown. After showing strong against Vanderbilt but struggling through the last two games, things are not looking good on that side of the ball. This being said, the defense came up with some huge plays in clutch situations, something we haven’t seen in a very long time. Chris Lammons played a career game, showing up in the stat sheet with eight tackles, two TFL’s, a sack, and a touchdown-saving interception. Despite the yardage given up, the defense embraced the bend-don’t-break philosophy and really made some plays.
This week: Kentucky. Carolina’s struggled with them in the past, and despite lackluster performances against Southern Mississippi and Florida, should be taken very seriously. Unfortunately, JoJo Kemp is still there, and will likely be manning the wildcat position frequently Saturday night. A road win in the SEC should never be taken for granted, and this could be a huge boost to the team’s confidence and keep us in the hunt.
Through three games, the main word to describe this Gamecock team is inconsistent. If they can show up for four quarters, they can match up well with almost every team in the East. But that’s a big if, and I’m just not convinced. Not yet.