Look, no one is happy being 6-3. Everyone wants to be 9-0, but I’m not upset with being 6-3, likely on the way to being 8-4. Clemson is honestly a toss up game to me, we beat NC State by 7 and so did they. I sort of believe in transitive property, so I guess we’re kind of close to them. They lost to Syracuse, and I know we’re better than that Orange team. We should easily be able to beat Florida and Wofford.
I think someone asked Will Muschamp the other week after beating Vanderbilt in a press conference if he was happy with being bowl eligible and Coach Boom’s response was amazing: “We’re not where we want to be because we’ve lost two games, but we’re progressing. Our goal is to be in Atlanta every year, and if we’re not meeting that goal then we’re not doing what we want to be.”
To me, Coach Muschamp demands nothing but excellence from his players. May I remind you, we won the SEC East one time under Steve Spurrier. Once. Yes, we had a whole lot of success under him, but we had little to no accomplishments to show for it except one East Championship. Sure, we won a couple bowl games. However, those teams were good enough to be playing for National Championships.
This season has gone well. We were a home win away against Kentucky from being ranked for the first time in something close to three years. Defensively, I think we’ve exceeded everyone’s expectations. Offensively, I do believe we have underperformed considering the talent level we have. Losing Deebo hurts, but this is a deeper problem than that. I’m just going to show some points that are good and bad, but let me get this straight. We are right on track in rebuilding this program in to possibly something it hasn't seen before. An eight or nine win season would be huge at this point.
Our defense is starting to click very well.
This defense we have currently is the defense we were promised when Will Muschamp was brought on as head coach. We’re currently 33rd in the nation in scoring defense, sitting at 20.6 points on the season. The Gamecock defense has also forced 15 turnovers, which at this point in the season is good for 20th in the country. Another good stat would be that we’ve forced just as many FGs in the end zone as touchdowns we’ve given up: 9. The defense is still giving up a good amount of yards, but they are playing a bend don't break defense. Can’t be anything but glad with most of that unit.
The offensive line has improved tremendously as the year goes on.
Look, our offensive is patch work from a consistent starter basis. They couldn’t block air against Texas A&M. Since then, we haven't given up more than two sacks in a game. We are tied for 114th in the country in rushing offense for the year, but in the last four games the Gamecocks are averaging 155.3 YPG. Obviously, we only ran for about 50 against Georgia which hurts this stat a lot. I think the rushing attack will continue to do well even with Rico Dowdle out. Even from the eye test, it seems like Jake is having a good amount of time to throw. Especially against Georgia, it seemed like he just had all day.
Honestly, no one except Gamecock fans expected this team to be 6-3 at this point. When you lose your best player in Deebo Samuel and another top five player in Bryson Allen-Williams, your year should go downhill fast. We lost Jaylin Dickerson in the beginning of the year, who Will Muschamp called “the most talented safety he’s coached since Earl Thomas.” That quote could be off by a few words, but if the kid is getting compared to Earl Thomas then he is something serious. Obviously, losing to Kentucky and Texas A&M hurts a lot. I just think you have to be sort of satisfied at this point. We were 3-9 two seasons ago, I’ll take 6-3.
Jake Bentley has regressed.
I don't know if him changing numbers has something to do with this or maybe people have more film on him so they know how to game plan against him, but Jake Bentley is not a good as he was last year. His completion percentage is over four percent points worse, his QBR for the year has only gone up by a point; it’s a 63 and average is 50. His passer rating has also regressed, it’s now a 134 and was a 140 last year. His pro football focus grade has averaged to about 78.0 for the year, which is good but not great. On the bright side, he’s put out a QBR of 84 and 87 in his last two games. That’s pretty good, and I hope it’s an indication of how the rest of the season will go. Maybe our expectations are too high, I honestly don't know. Obviously losing Deebo has hurt, but having an incompetent offensive coordinator doesn't help.
Kurt Roper may need to be fired.
I don’t think it’s time to fire Kurt Roper. Others do, but I’ve always had the opinion that you give all coaches around 3-4 years. If they don't get it together by then, they need to get run out of town. I don't know if our offensive woes are more player or more coach related, but it’s honestly probably a mixture of both. Running inside zone 15 times a game with a 185 pound RB isn't going to help.
It seems as if they were on the right track heading in to Georgia. But, we punted at their 40 in the first half and instead of trying to go hurry up and score before the half ended, we don’t call any timeouts to preserve the clock and make one chunk play and then use a timeout and try to launch it deep. It doesn't make sense. Of course, Bentley gets hit on what would've been a deep ball to Bryan Edwards and he throws an interception. We go down in to the half 14-7 instead of 14-10 or 14-14. There isn't a guarantee we score, but Parker White could kick it from the 50. Don't think he’d make it, but he’d have the damn leg.
We are thirteen in the SEC since the beginning of last year in touchdowns scored; the only team behind us is Florida. We’re thirteen the SEC in rushing yards and fourth in passing yards this year. Oh yeah, and we’re eleventh in the SEC in first downs. I honestly don't know if this is a player or coaching or play calling problem, but the execution is lacking.
We’ve scored over 30 points seven times and scored over 40 twice in two seasons. In the offensive attack that is college football today, that just doesn't seem good enough. In every loss except the bowl game last year, we’ve been held to 17 points or less every time. So basically what I’m saying is that Will Muschamp needs 17 points or more to usually win. As a team, we should be able to score four touchdowns a game when you consider the offensive talent we have.
I know, this was a positive too. We had a ten point lead on the road in College Station and went full conservative mode instead of stepping on their throats and breaking it. The Kentucky game had to be one of the biggest disappointments in recent memory, we scored thirteen points at home coming off of 35 and 31 against NC State and Mizzou. Obviously, Deebo played like a quarter of the game against Kentucky and losing him hurts a lot. In college football, unless we’re playing Alabama, scoring less than 20 points in nearly ridiculous to me. I can't say much about the Georgia game, the talent level is different and we played very well on the road against the top team in the country.
I just, you can't be mad at this point. Steve Spurrier left us in complete rebuild mode. Will Muschamp is well on his way to having a pretty great shot at winning the east next year. If we can land a Channing Tindall or Rick Sandidge who can come in day one and contribute in this recruiting cycle, we’re going to be a force to be reckoned with. Hayden Hurst is most likely gone, and so is a lot of secondary and Skai Moore. We get BAW, Deebo, Jake, Bryan Edwards, the Smith boys, and a lot of our defense back. We should be considered the favorite other than Georgia. The East is going to most likely be a two horse race with us and Georgia next year, and I think having Georgia at home helps us a lot.
We still have three games left this year. Florida and Wofford should be considering easy wins considering how bad Florida has been. Clemson will be a really good game, we played Georgia really well and I think they have a better team than the Clemson. We do have a chance to win out and hit ten wins, which would be awesome. I’d consider this season a great step in the right direction so far. We lost to the Citadel two years ago guys, now we’re competing in the East. That’s a huge change.