1-0. It feels good saying that, especially with the way last season went. A glimmer of hope resides in the hearts of South Carolina fans, but is it premature?
I mean let’s face it, Vanderbilt was supposed to be decent this year, but they’re not world-beaters by any means. Maybe Kyle Shurmur really isn’t a potentially good quarterback, and Ralph Webb another overrated, hyped-up off-season story. One game is too small of a sample size to determine anything of consequence going forward, hence the creation of this editorial. So give this article a look and put your realistic thinking cap on.
The first thing that comes to mind about this year’s Mississippi State is the loss to South Alabama. SOUTH ALABAMA. Should they have lost that game? Of course not, but it also was an extremely winnable game that they simply blew (See Kentucky, The University of.) A fluke misfire of a 28-yard field goal lost them the game, and they had a 17-0 lead at halftime. Sure, junior QB Damian Williams may have struggled at times, but in your first collegiate start, you’re going to be conservative and shaky. This is the Gamecocks' first experience trying to defend a true dual-threat quarterback, and assignment football is vital. If their young defense can’t handle the dimension a scrambler brings, they will lose this game.
If you’ve seen the way Josh Dobbs and dreaded Wildcat phenom JoJo Kemp (who seemingly has the game of his life every time Carolina plays them) have carved the defense up in the past, you’ll likely carry some pre-existing anxiety. And even though this Bulldog team only has five players from that exceptional 2013 team, Dan Mullen has recruited well, and touted five-star defensive-lineman Jeffery Simmons will make his collegiate debut Saturday. Can the Gamecocks' offensive line step up their play and keep Orth/McIlwain’s collective jerseys clean? There’s just too many questions surrounding the offense to be entirely certain about the outcome of Saturday’s matchup. The Gamecocks' defensive showing last Thursday could also be seen as a fluke by the most pessimistic of us fans, but forcing eight punts is no small feat with the team's questionable past. But the bottom line is this: We don’t know what to expect. This is college football after all, and surprises are the status quo.
Despite the realism and overall questioning of our beloved Gamecocks' ability to escape Starkville with a win, as a lifelong optimist, I believe this team has the talent and coaching to win this game convincingly. So push through this week, guys, and tune in for the second installment of the series, the Friday Morning Idealist.