Friday, November 09, 2007

5 keys to a Win vs. da Gators

1. Involve Dion Lecorn more and J Cook ---The true freshman from Ocala, Fla. led USC with a career-high eight receptions for 109 yards against Arkansas. SC has to involve him more in the offense. Lecorn has shown a knack for getting open, a vital skill in Spurrier’s scheme, and then catching the ball when it’s thrown his way. Sixteen of Lecorn’s 19 receptions have come in the last four games, so he’s getting hot at the right time. Hopefully, Lecorn can maintain his current pace and force opponents to think twice before double-teaming McKinley. We need both he and McKinley to have great games against UF. Also get the ball into the hands of J Cook. Many times he is open in the middle of the field so let's get the ball to these guys. It will help free up McKinley and our run game.

2. SC needs to keep the score close in the 1st half --- For the third straight game, USC fell behind by double digits in the first half. The stretch began three weeks ago when the Gamecocks trailed, 17-0, to Vanderbilt in the first quarter. It continued in Knoxville two weeks ago when Tennessee led, 21-0, at halftime. Finally, Arkansas jumped out to a 21-3 lead before the end of the first quarter last Saturday night in Fayetteville. Florida has outscored its opponents 209-88 in the first half, including 35-7 last week in its 49-22 win against Vanderbilt.
Before this streak, USC had outscored all but one of its first seven foes in the first half. The exception was No. 2 LSU, which led 21-7 at halftime. After outscoring its first seven opponents 110-68 in the first half, USC has been outscored 66-16 in the first half during its last three games. There is no obvious theme among the first half to the last three games, although the Gamecocks were 4-for-20 on third down conversions with four turnovers that opponents converted into 24 points. How about for a change USC dictates from the start the flow of the game no more playing from behind.

3. SC Run Defense has to be ready, even if it is the QB ---Yes, Tebow is a great passer and has great receivers but we have to respect the run. Running quarterbacks have given the Gamecocks fits all year, beginning with the Cajun QB for Louisiana-Lafayette who went for 116 yards in the opener and continuing through LSU’s Ryan Perrilloux, another slippery runner from the Bayou who had eight carries for 59 yards in part-time duty. Tebow has carried the ball 144 times this season, an average of 16 times per game, for a team-leading 598 yards. The second-leading rusher for the Gators (K. Moore) has rushed just 87 times. Despite his well-deserved reputation as a bruising runner, the 6-foot-3 Tebow throws the ball fairly accurately too. He’s completed nearly 68 percent of his passes this season for 2,228 yards. Tebow can be dangerous as can another of the SEC’s top offensive threats - Gators receiver Percy Harvin, who against Vanderbilt became the first player in Florida history to have 100 yards rushing and receiving.

4. Win the Field Position Game and Ball Control---We need to control the clock, keep UF Offense off the field by the Gamecock offense moving the ball and win the field position game with outstanding play from the SC special teams unit.

5. SC must do the "little things"--- I mean factors you can’t quantify like intelligence, awareness, hustle and scrappiness. We need to tackle, our defense needs to get off their blocks quicker and knock passes down. Spurrier railed on the fact that USC often doesn’t play smart. In his words, they make too many “dumb plays.” Often, who recovers a fumble is the one who hustled the most. Here's a telling statistic - USC’s opponents have fumbled 16 times this season. The Gamecocks have recovered five of them. That’s less than one-third. That percentage must increase. Recovering a fumble is mostly a matter of awareness, hustle and aggressiveness. Clearly, USC must improve in all of those areas. They won’t become a great team until they do.

Prediction --- USC 24 Florida 20

Succop not on Groza list

South Carolina’s Ryan Succop was left off the list of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza award, bestowed annually on the nation’s best kicker.

Succop was a preseason first-team All-SEC pick, but Tennessee’s Daniel Lincoln is the only kicker from the conference who is a semifinalist. (Six made it from the ACC.)

Succop has made 12-of-16 field goals this season, and all 30 extra points, with a long field goal of 49. The junior’s misses have all been beyond 40 yards, but one of them was a 40-yarder at Tennessee that would have forced a second overtime.

Lincoln made two crucial field goals in that game. He is 16-for-18 on field goal attempts this year, with a long of 48.

I think Succop will go down as the best kicker in USC history when he is done playing but this just has not been his year....not surprised by him being left off though this year.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Some thoughts for the UF game...

Florida has dominated this series through the years, holding a 20-4-3 advantage in the series, including last year’s 17-16 squeaker in Gainesville. The Gators are 14-1 against the Gamecocks since they joined the SEC in 1992, though that 1 loss was 2 years ago in Columbia.

USC offense is rolling along into the game against UF. They have compiled 990 yards of offense the last two games even if the defense has been weak.

South Carolina is No. 1 in the nation again this week in pass defense -- Clemson is No. 3-- allowing a national low total of 149.2 yards per game. The numbers reflect less about a ferocious pass rush and great man-to-man coverage as they reveal about a historically bad rushing defense. The Gamecocks are ranked No. 104 against the rush this season, surrendering an average of 206.5 yards per game on the ground. Opponents have been running the ball an average of 42.4 times a game against the Carolina defense and gaining an average of 4.8 yards per carry. And they would choose to run, why? Those same offenses have passed an average of 28.7 times a game.

USC has converted 47.7 percent of third down opportunities last season. This year, the Gamecocks’ success rate on third down has tumbled to 36.5 percent.

Florida is third in the SEC in rushing at 189.44 yards a game. So watch out Carolina and be prepared. Gators are allowing only 105.6 ypg and 3.1 ypc on the ground so don't look for Boyd to be the sole hero in the game even if he has rolled up 254 yds the last 2 games.

Florida continues to have the SEC's highest scoring proficiency since 2000. The Gators have averaged 3.38 points per offensive drive, which tops Florida's 2001 mark of 3.27. The Gators have scored TDs on 46 of 101 offensive drives, a 45.5 ratio. It is higher than Florida's 2001 mark of 40.9 percent (59 of 144).

The biggest thing, in my opinion, against Florida is we have to play strong in in the first half. For the third straight game, USC fell behind by double digits in the first half. It is very difficult to keep playing from behind against good teams all the time. Granted, they’ve played well offensively in the second half but it’s been a case of too little, too late. Good teams will not surrender sizeable leads. SC needs to come out of the gate hungry and with fire in the belly. No more late game come back about for a change South Carolina dictates the game from the start!

FYI--- here is a good read for today that our pal JR referred us to - HERE...thanks JR.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Glass is half full when talking SC football

I hope we are not already planning for defeat. From today's STATE Paper article -here- and several other media reports it seems some are doubting the Gamecocks and focusing on next year. Yes, this season has been a roller coaster ride and we still have 2 games to go but let's not give up on the team and start talking about next year.... there is plenty of football left.

I feel we have a great chance to win the next two games....I really do. Let's stop to think about what the team is made up of and what is really a bright future for Carolina Football.

There has been 220 starters through 10 games this year and out of that:

Seniors - 63 starts (28.6 %)
Juniors - 57 starts (25.9%)
Sophomores - 64 starts (29%)
Redshirt Freshman - 13 starts (5.9%)
True Freshman - 23 starts (10.5%)

As you can see the bulk of play has been to guys that will be around the program for a few more years. Keep in mind also what Spurrier is doing at USC - changing the culture. That is not easy nor can be done in a short amount of time. Hence, "The Game is On!" slogan and media campaign. It was created to begin to think and focus on winning championships (for all USC sports).

Here is a great quote from the paper that helps to put this in perspective:
The question for a USC fan base weary of the ‘Wait ‘til next year’ refrain remains: When will be the Gamecocks be great?

Spurrier points to last year’s top-5 recruiting class and a depth chart dotted with 19 first- and second-year players (among 46 listed) as reasons for optimism.

“Maybe our team’s not quite as strong as we hoped right now. And we hope to be there someday,” Spurrier said. “... Right now, we’re eighth in the league in offense and defense and special teams hasn’t done much except rough the punters. We’re 6-4. I don’t know how to explain it.”

Center Web Brown, a fifth-year senior, agreed that Spurrier has yet to field his best teams at USC. “I think the program’s on the rise and it could be better in years to come.”

Well, I agree with both Spurrier and Brown. This year has been crazy and we have yet to play a complete game of football - where the offense and defense both excels - this season. We have gotten lucky at times and other times we can not catch a break (i.e Tennessee game).

So let's get focused on UF (USC is looking for back-to-back wins at home against Florida for the first time since 1936 and 1939) this week and quit talking about our rash of losses or what could have been or next year talk. Time to step up and win.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Could lack of focus be to blame?

We all saw how Sorensen got burned almost every play against the Arkansas D line and now this has hit the internet. Fans of the Gamecocks know how suspect our offensive line has been all season and seems some on the team were not completely focused going into a big game.
Kudos or hat-tip goes to The Palmetto Scoop for this one. Here is what they wrote:

While it was the team as a whole that lost and not one particular player’s fault, one of the most glaring weaknesses was the offensive line. Quarterback Blake Mitchell was sacked twice and hurried at least another dozen times. It seemed the rare occasion that more than three seconds passed between the time the ball was snapped and the time the Razorback defense was in the South Carolina backfield. And then we received these hilarious photos of Gamecock’s right tackle Justin Sorensen (above and left) — among a number of other players — from a reader who said they were taken on Halloween night in Columbia’s Five Points district, and suddenly it all made sense. A bunch of South Carolina players went out partying the night before the team traveled to Fayetteville, and then the team got roughed up by the Razorbacks. The only reason we weren’t more surprised at these pictures was because Sorensen has a history of crazy behavior.
Don’t get us wrong, we’re all about having a good time. But there’s something to be said for a little restraint the night before leaving for a huge football game —especially when you’re getting a free college education because of football.

Is it too early?

To think Basketball?

Gamecocks routed Guilford 99-63 on Monday night at the Colonial Center and the point total was USC’s most since 2002 in any game, exhibition or regular season. Last year, during a low-scoring, low-winning season, the Gamecocks only hit 90 once, and that was in overtime. The game also marked the debuts for the team’s seven newcomers, and two of them showed whey they were so heralded. I was just an exhibition game and the opponent was a Division III team....but Carolina won. I do like the fact that the smaller lineup produced plenty of steals and up-tempo play, and the shot clock an afterthought....which is not like Odom in the past and God I hope he let's them play this year and the "3 pass before you shoot" plays are not ran as much this year.


“crappy job”

That is putting it nicely Mr. Nix (his quote in The State newspaper describing the defense play against Ark). I am not ready to start talking like this -here; as I feel (and I guess it is the Carolina fan in me, you know the "wait till next year" talk we have all grown accustomed too) that our best football is ahead of us.

I know we have the "great and mystical" Steve Spurrier and we should win every game according to some but let's keep in mind that half of USC’s 22 starters against Arkansas were underclassmen. Another words we are still in the "re-building" phase of our program, still have some of Holtz players in the mix and it is only his 3rd year. He is trying to change the culutre around USC and I think he is slowly starting too. I do feel that this 3 game losing streak is not helping things and we need a win (not only to assure a bowl trip) to help bring our team back together. You could see some of the finger pointing going on in the Arkansas game between the defense unit/players and the offensive...heck, even Spurrier could be seen yelling at the special teams coach. I really thought that we could win 8 maybe 9 games this year but keep in mind we had the 2nd hardest schedule to start the season and we have lost Jasper on the defense. I guess I should stop making excuses but I do feel the best Carolina football is ahead of us.
Oh and somehow we are still in the hunt for the SEC East according to this -here. Thoughts?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Question of the Day

It is time to be honest today and let's throw out a question that we are all thinking after USC's third straight loss. This ties the second-longest losing streak in Spurrier's coaching career. USC also lost three in a row last year, as did Florida in 1999. Spurrier's longest losing streak was four in his first year at Duke in 1987. Anyway, Here is the burning question of the day:

Which is more likely to happen?

1. USC will win against Florida, but lose to Clemson.
2. USC will win against Clemson, but lose to Florida.
3. USC will win their last two games of the season.
4. USC will lose their last two games of the season.

Let's hear your answer by posting some comments.

come on UGA

Come drink all day and enjoy homecoming, just don't flush the toilet. Did anybody else see this story over the weekend.

Help...we've fallen

With three straight losses, USC fell from the national rankings, although the Gamecocks did get 16 votes in the USA Today coaches' poll and six in The Associated Press' writers poll.

USC was No. 6 in the country - and in the BCS - just three weeks ago.

For the complete BCS standings, click here.
For the complete AP and USA Today polls,
click here.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

323 yards

Arkansas (6-3, 2-3 SEC) ran all over USC (6-4, 3-4 SEC) and beat them by the score of 48-36.

Arkansas made Carolina look silly with 541 rushing yards and 650 total yards, the most allowed by USC in both categories in the school’s 114 seasons. McFadden’s 323 yards on 35 carries were the most ever by an opposing back against the Gamecocks, surpassing Kentucky tailback Moe Williams’ 299-yard effort in 1995. McFadden ran for an 80-yard touchdown and also passed for a score. McFadden, who was the Heisman runner-up last season, broke the SEC single-game mark held by Vanderbilt’s Frank Mordica, who had 321 yards against Air Force in 1978.

Two quotes from The State Article from our Def Coach:

“Basically, they just whipped us,” Nix said.
“It’s embarrassing. It’s sad that somebody can run the ball the way they did,” Nix said. “I hope both of those guys come out in the draft early.”

Geez.....Going into the game USC knew they had to stop McFadden and the run....well I guess that memo was not given to the team b/c Arkansas ran the ball with ease. So say hello 3 game losing streak and goodbye Top 25.