Friday, October 26, 2007

5 Keys to a Win at UT

The Volunteers (4-3, 2-2) VS. No. 15-ranked Gamecocks (6-2, 3-2).

As I get ready to leave for a trip to Knoxville today, I wanted to make sure that I leave behind the 5 keys to a win at UT. I have already prepared myself to hear Rocky Top at least 146 times in a 8 hour span. Going into the game, my first thought is - Carolina can win this but it depends on which team shows up on both sidelines. Meaning if the team that played Vandy comes into UT it is over before the half but if the team that played UK / UGA then it will be a great game with a USC win. The flip-side of this - if the UT team that played UGA shows up, then look out but if the UT team that played to start the season makes a appearance it should be a win for USC.

Enough of that and hopefully it makes some sense to ya, here are the 5 Keys to a Win at UT:

1. USC O line must step up ---Seems that this has been a key all season and it truly is the number one key for USC to leave UT with a 'W.' Whatever the combination USC uses on the line does not really matter, what does matter is whomever plays has to play great. Let's only give up 2 sacks this game and no more. Give the QB time to set his feet to make good throws and create running lanes for Boyd/Davis.
Grade here is a "B," they did real good this game.

2. USC Offense ---The entire Carolina offense is a key this game. Normally, I try to single out a player or position but the entire unit has to perform at a higher level in a tough stadium that seats 100k+. Expect crowd noise but don't let it get to you, use the silent snap count, limit dumb mistakes and no TO's. Davis/Boyd must carry the ball at least 20 times this game or heck try a screen pass or two. USC receiving corps has to catch, whether it is a TE or a WR - CATCH the ball and block down field so the running game can do good things.
Grade Here is a "B" and that is due to the offense not showing up until the 2nd half.
3. USC must win the field position game--- This game for the last few years has been a game of inches and field position with a turnover mixed in there from time to time. USC must capitalize on what is given and put the ball in the endzone when given the opportunity. Vandy it seemed started on our side each time and this can not happen against UT. Special teams must execute and we have to move the ball on offense.
Grade here is a "D" because when the time counted to keep them at bay we sucked.

4. Defense must produce --- This unit is the anchor of our team and we owe many wins this season to the D Unit (not G Unit) but in this match-up with UT we need the Carolina D to get a TO and help the offense. Example of this was the UK game with Norwood doing his duty. We need that kind of performance to get the pressure off Smelley and leave the stadium with a win. USC defensive end Eric Norwood said Tennessee’s success is “going to change” in the Greenville News. “We’re going to get pressure,” said Norwood, who leads USC with five sacks. “(Kentucky quarterback Andre’) Woodson hadn’t been sacked that much. We got (after him). I don’t think their O-line is that much superior to Kentucky’s.” God I hope you do what you say.
Grade here is a "B" due to the fact that yes they forced some fumbles but just could not pick up the ball or run a INT back.

5. Succop must be ready --- It may come down to a kick or a great punt so Ryan has to be ready to show why he is one of the best kickers in the nation. In 2005, he helped to win it not only with his FG but with good punts. So please Ryan just kick the sh*t out of the ball when punting and split the up rights on FG attempts.
Grade here is a "B" b/c well he made the one in regulation but missed when it counted. Also he did real well punting and kicking off but the rest of the special teams did not do so hot in coverage.

Prediction - USC 24 UT 23



Well it looks like old Ebeneazer McHyman has finally decided to send our pep band to an away game. It seems after the outrage of not sending the pep band to LSU he decided it would be nice not to have his email and voicemail box full. Of course you know we will pay for this next year when fairground parking goes up to $300 and the fair is in town for 2 game weekends.

[Use this link if you are unable to view the images below]

I wanted to share with you our decision to send the South Carolina pep band to Arkansas next Saturday. It wasn't in the original plan, but we understand that bringing the spirit of the Gamecock Nation on the road is essential for our fans. The band and cheerleaders are an important component of a successful athletics program. We are raising expectations for everyone in the Gamecock Nation, are committed to battling for championships and want to give Coach Spurrier and our team the best opportunity to have success on the field. The Game Is On!
Eric Hyman

USC still slated to go "bowling"

But where? Another hat tip to our friend at The Dead Guy's SEC site, again here are the bowl predictions:

Fox Sports
CBS Sportsline

Thoughts? Outback again?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

South Carolina - Clemson: most expensive rivalry tickets

Stubhub has released their weekly Top 25 College football rivalries based on price and aggregate demand. In their rankings, the South Carolina - Clemson game ranks #21. But, if you look at the week's average price, USC-CU is the most expensive at $414.

HT Fanblogs

$414 to see that?

Delenda est Clemson

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Let's begin to think about the UT vs. SC game

I agree it is time to move on from the loss to Vandy and no need for salt on the wound. So, let's begin to think about Tennessee and the match up that has so much riding on this game. I say that because basically it boils down to this - the winner stays in the hunt for the SEC East. Lose and look for a 3rd place finish at best in the SEC East.

To begin the focus against Tenn, let's look at stats:

USC is back at No. 1 in the nation in pass defense but is 98th in rushing offense, 93rd in total offense, 82nd in first downs, 90th in third-down conversions, 98th in rushing and 110th in sacks allowed and 74th in scoring out of 119 Division I-A teams.

UT ranks 94th in scoring defense, giving up 32.3 points. The Vols are 11th in the SEC in total defense, allowing an astounding 406.7 yards per game. They’re also 12th(in SEC) in scoring defense (32.3 ppg), 11th in SEC pass defense (249.0 ypg) and ninth in SEC for rushing defense (157.7 ypg).

Let's look at the Vols at home:

In home games, the UT defense on average gives up 324.7 yards per game, which is more than 80 yards less than its season average. The Vols’ rushing defense gives up 102.3 yards per game at home and has allowed only one rushing touchdown, compared to giving up an average of 191.8 yards and eight rushing touchdowns on the road. The passing defense is also vastly improved at home, allowing just 212.3 passing yards per game. Tennessee has allowed only one opposing quarterback pass for more than 200 yards in Knoxville this season and has five of its six interceptions at home. Overall, the defense has forced seven of its nine turnovers this season at home. The Vols’ scoring defense also is stingier at home, allowing only 20 points per game—half of what they’ve allowed in four road games this season.

Oh and I envy this stat ---

Tennessee’s offensive line has allowed just two sacks this season, and just one against starting quarterback Erik Ainge. Overall, the Vols have attempted 266 passes, meaning UT’s opponents are averaging one sack in every 133 attempts.

Meez thinking it should be a good game. BUT it all depends on which USC team shows up and if our offensive line comes to prove to the USC nation that they don't suck all that bad. It does not really matter who USC has at QB if our o line is playing piss poor. Our defense has to continue to be the "crutch" we have leaned on all year to keep us competitive...please Mr. Nix have the boys ready to play b/c God knows a win depends on you.

I have heard the talk from fellow fans that Spurrier has been holding back waiting for the "orange crush" portion of the schedule...I don't buy it but if it is true - let it rip.

Our friend at Garnet and Black goes further into detail about the match-up HERE.

Question of the Day

What is your prediction for the game - Tenn vs USC?
Line is currently at +3 for Tennessee.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Media says....USC Basketball Sucks

The SEC released today the media poll highlighting how they see things shaping out for the SEC basketball landscape.

The University of South Carolina men’s basketball team was picked to finish last in the Southeastern Conference in voting by the media.

Tennessee was picked by a panel of SEC and national reporters to win its ninth title. The Volunteers were a unanimous pick to win the East, ahead of Kentucky and Florida. Vanderbilt was picked fourth and Georgia fifth.

The Gamecocks, 14-16 and 4-12 a year ago, received the fewest votes of any team in the Eastern or Western divisions with 38. Can we say - insult? Or is this a true reflection of where Odom has led our team? And to top things, USC did not have a player selected to the first- or second-team All-SEC preseason teams.

Full Article - HERE

Geez....College Kids These Days

Check out these college kids having fun. The first is UGA's own Stafford and Co. having some fun and the second is a glimpse of some innocent little fun in the UK stadium.

USC Question of the Day

Going into the game against the University of Tennessee, who sits at 4-3 and 2-2 in the SEC, there is a big question out there that needs to be answered. Who will start at QB for USC? Beecher has gotten reps according to media reports b/c he has a little more mobility and is in the mix with the usual suspects - Mitchell and Smelley.

Who should Coach Spurrier give the keys to the offense and start at QB against UT?
- Tommy Beecher
- Chris Smelley
- Blake Mitchell

Monday, October 22, 2007

Gamecocks fall to #16 in BCS

That drop hurt...a fall from #6 to #16 for South Carolina in the BCS rankings. S Car fell past Kentucky who was at #7 ...guess it shows how much a loss to Vandy hurt us.

Complete BCS Poll - HERE.
Good Monday Morning Article to read at work from ESPN - HERE.

To boo or not to boo

That is the question. I agree that fans should not boo their own team especially when they struggle and especially when it is more the coaches fault. I don't think fans should boo opposing teams either as they enter the stadium. But what was on display this past weekend was, how should we say, "not so good" and a boo was deserved (let the record show however I was not one of those that did boo yet feel the performance by USC deserved it).
There is a article in today's STATE paper that brings this to light - here.

Two areas that deserve a "disappointing" label (and a boo) after their performance is the play of the O line and the 2 QB system. The coolchicken discusses the two QB decision here and I agree with him. Also this is what Spurrier had to say in the paper about his decision to rotate -

Spurrier second-guessed his decision to alternate quarterbacks Chris Smelley and Mitchell, who combined to throw three interceptions, two inside the Commodores’
36-yard line. “Anytime it doesn’t work out very well, you always say, ‘Oops, shouldn’t have done that,’ ” said Spurrier, adding that the shuffling did not affect the outcome.

After a performance like that all we get is a "oops"...geez. That is something you say after you spill water not orchestrate a terrible offensive show.

I applaud Spurrier for having the balls to bench Mitchell for not performing this season, most coaches would not bench a 5th yr senior in favor of a redshirt freshman. Keep in mind that is what Smelley is, a redshirt freshman, so he is going to make dumb passes but he is the type that needs rhythm. Two QB systems work when you have one who is a pocket passer and the other is a running style qb (see FLA in 06 and LSU in 07 as examples). Mitchell and Smelley are pretty much the same style QB so to rotate does not make sense; now if we still had Newton then yeah put him in when the Oline sucks (i.e see USC in 06). I guess it shows just how valuable Newton was to the Gamecocks.

And to end this with a discussion of the offensive line, well they were just pitiful and have been all season. The play of the O line is crucial to everything else and so far this season it has been "not so good." Maybe we need to focus on recruiting O linemen and not worry about having 10 WRs on the team.

Think about this ---In 217 games, Spurrier's teams have failed to score at least 10 points just 10 times. Our offense is 93rd among 119 Bowl Subdivision teams in total offense (340.5 yards per game). USC has given 26 sacks for minus-175 yards, which is the most in the league and ranks 107th out of 119 Division I teams nationally. Last year, the Gamecocks allowed 24 sacks for 149 yards in 13 games. Only six teams in the country have yielded more sacks than USC’s 26 so far this year.

Vandy simply capitalized on our weakness and expect Tennessee to do the same. Simply blitz, get your d line to pressure our QBs, rattle our O line so no running lanes are created and have your secondary play the ball.

Well it is what it is and let's move on from this loss to Vandy. The team got booed and we dropped from the top 10. It is time to focus on Tennessee. Oh and speaking of our upcoming opponent.....The Volunteers had a rare Sunday night practice in hopes of quickly putting their 41-17 loss at Alabama behind them; "just get it washed and get the corrections made," UT coach Phillip Fulmer said. Should we have done something like that?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Gamecocks remain ranked

As a consolation prize for a sad sad loss to Vandy, South Carolina will remain in the top 25...polls here.

AP poll has USC at 15. ESPN has USC at 17.

Offense a no show...

Count it, 6 quarters now without a touchdown. The offense just could not get anything going. Here are the Grades to the earlier post about 5 keys to a win, which we all know now was a upset win for Vandy.

1. USC must continue to make the most of scoring opportunities.....The Gamecocks have managed just two field goals in their last 23 possessions over six quarters dating back to the second half of last week’s 21-15 win at North Carolina. USC got inside the VU 10 once. Vandy's punter was the MVP in my book, he had six punts pinned USC inside its 20-yard line. The only USC opportunity to score inside the 10, well it ended before the snap. Spurrier was going for it on fourth-and-2 at the 9 with less than a minute to go in the first half -- they were called for illegal substitution. Spurrier changed his mind, settling for a 32-yard field goal by Ryan Succop to cut lead to 17-6 at halftime. Also with the other opportunity to score was when SC drove to the Vanderbilt 13-yard line trailing by 11 early in the second half but Smelley throws another INT. The grade here is a "F."

2. USC O Line must be better.... Well not good here either and the root of the problem. Four of the five starting linemen were called for a false start. VU also tied a school record with seven sacks for 50 yards. Five of the sacks came on first or second down, all but one setting the offense back far enough that it could not convert. In the second quarter, South Carolina drove to the Vanderbilt 18, only to give up a sack on first down and end up settling for a field goal. USC’s other field goal came after a false-start penalty helped snuff out a red-zone chance. The Gamecocks had second-and-10 at the Vandy 17, were penalized and two plays later had to trot out kicker Ryan Succop. And the USC O line could not create running lanes - the Gamecocks rushed for just 86 yards on a season-low 22 carries. Grade here is a "F-."

3. The Two Headed Beast must flourish --- Both quarterbacks moved the team well at times. Smelley was 14-of-24 for 154 yards, and Mitchell was 9-of-18 for 102. BUT the killer was not throwing the ball away and taking sacks and those dang INTs they threw (3 INTs total). Both also made bad reads and threw in double, triple and quadruple coverage. Where is Beecher? Grade is a "F+."

4. If you see blood, go for the kill--- USC could not find any luck out TO's for USC to take advantage of and Vandy executed the field position game perfectly. Not to mention USC was 1-for-12 on third down. Really no chance to do anything on this "key" b/c they could not get things clicking and when the game was in need of a TD, it seemed like we were in slow hurry up offense or anything. Gotta go with a "F."

5. SC must contain Earl Bennett---USC kept All-SEC receiver Earl Bennett in check. Bennett had two catches for 24 yards — his lowest output since 2005 — and fell a reception shy of tying the SEC career record held by Kentucky’s Craig Yeast. The Commodores tried to get Bennett involved in the running game, but his three carries netted 10 yards. Going with a "A+" here b/c he was not a factor thank god...just think of he was.

What was key to a Vandy win you say?....Well, The Gamecocks’ first two possessions ended with turnovers — a Smelley interception and a fumble by Cory Boyd — that Vanderbilt cashed in for scores. Vandy began five consecutive drives in USC territory and the Commodores’ average starting field position in the first half was the Gamecocks’ 49-yard line; which equals 17 points in the 1st half and enough to win. Big reason -USC O-line was just flat out bad!