That was exciting, wasn’t it?

Back to late posting after gameday.  Once again take your shots at the humble blogger’s Auburn grad of a roommate for not ponying up the cash for interwebs access for the late posting. 

What’s Dawgs of Interest are saying about the game

  • The Senator has some good stuff up after a second viewing of the game (I think he just enjoys aging faster than the rest of us or something). 
  • T. Kyle King lays out the argument for why South Carolina fans shouldn’t be hanging their hands based on posts from Gamecock Man over at Garnet & Black Attack and cocknfire over at Team Speed Kills (I think I jumped to conclusions with the comments I made, but I bet had the shoe been on the other foot I would have very different emotions about the game).
  • Bernie has some thoughts on the Special Teams play.
  • The boys over at Bubba ‘N Earl love them some Rennie Curran.

Random thoughts as I left Sanford Stadium on Saturday night:

  • It was very, very weird not sitting in the student section for the first time in seven seasons.  The crowd is not nearly as fun when you’re not in the middle of a bunch of drunken 19/20 year olds.
  • Until Saturday night the fastest player I’d ever seen live on a football field was some combination of Pat White/Steve Slaton tearing it up on the Georgia Dome’s turf.  Branden Smith might be faster.
  • We have something very, very special in AJ Green.  I don’t want to turn this into a Julio Jones/AJ Green debate because I think they are both superstars and we’d be lucky to have either, but damn does AJ make the life of a QB easier.
  • Rennie Curran is the new David Pollack/Thomas Davis/Greg Blue of this defense.  He is the unquestioned heart and soul and plays like his hair is on fire.  Damn good Dawg.

What I liked:

  • Joe Cox showed me something Saturday night.  For all the complaints about how he threw wounded ducks out there, I saw some unexpected zip on passes, particularly the TD to Michael Moore.  That pick-6 was atrocious though and we have to realize that even though he’s a 5th year senior that knows the playbook inside and out, he’s still going to have rookie moments.  There’s a big difference between running an effective practice and bringing that to the playing field.  You can’t stare down a receiver and not expect an All-SEC LB to make the play.  All in all, a good night for him by completing 71% of his passes with 2 TDs and the 1 INT.
  • Richard Samuel took that criticism to heart and played like his job depended on it.  He was running like a madmen and was damn near unstoppable in the 2nd quarter on that drive where he capped it off with the 1 yard TD run.  What a night for that young man, although I’d like to see him get a few more touches in the game because he looked like he can be that every-down back that Knowshon has been the last year and a half.
  • AJ Green.  ‘Nuff said.
  • Touchbacks on kickoffs.  Another ’nuff said.
  • Orson Charles’ hands.  Just wow.
  • Branden Smith’s ability to turn the corner and recover on coverage.  Wow, that dude is quick.
  • Brandon Boykin.  David Hale has been saying all offseason that this was going to be a breakout year for Boykin and boy did he ever break out on Saturday.  Longest play in Bulldogs history coupled with quite an acrobatic INT.  This guy looks like he could be scaring kick-off teams for the rest of the year.  Heck, he scared Spurrier so much that he resorted to pooch kicking the ball to the 35 yard line in the 2nd half.
  • The defensive pass rush.  There’s been a lot of criticism after this game about not getting enough pressure on Garcia and letting him pick us apart.  I beg to differ.  I watched the line of scrimmage all night from my seat and the front four was getting a great push and making Garcia uncomfortable.  I counted no less than 4 times that Garcia avoided a sack to make a positive play.  You just have to tip your hat to a guy for playing a career game and realize that other than Tebow Georgia isn’t going to face a more mobile QB.  I feel very good about those guys right now even with the loss of Rod Battle to an ACL tear.
  • The red zone defense.  Say what you will about the yardage given up, but when it came to crunch time the defense clamped down and kept the Gamecocks out of the endzone.  Excellent job and 100 cocktails to each of them after all the criticism they’ve taken in the last year.
  • Stephen Garcia/Steve Spurrier.  I can appreciate a great performance and we saw two on Saturday from those two.  Steve Spurrier realized that we couldn’t cover the middle of the field and exploited it to a “T”, once again confirming that he might be the greatest play caller I’ve ever seen alongside David Cutcliffe.  Garcia played the game of his life.  He didn’t make the big time throws down the field, but took what the defense gave him and completed the short passes over the middle.  This is a vast departure from the Outback Bowl last year and we might have seen the emergence of that elusive QB that Spurrier has been waiting on in Columbia.
  • Not having to hear the “Fire (Insert Name of Assistant Coach)” chants on the way out of the stadium.
  • Smoking cigars on North Campus while tailgating with my college buddies.  Muy bien, fellas.
  • Being 1-0 in the SEC.
  • Georgia state troopers fist-bumping behind Steve Spurrier after Rennie Curran deflected the final pass.  Provide me with their names and addresses and they will both be receiving a fine bottle of bourbon from me.

What I didn’t like:

  • Reshad Jones’ luck.  Did the guy pee in the Cheerio’s of the head of SEC officials or something?  What an atrocious call on another good play from Jones who has been absolutely outstanding thusfar this year.  On the other hand, this was a pretty poorly officiated game both ways.  Is it me or does it seem like officiating just gets worse every year?  At what point do we just say “We’re not taking it anymore, replay has to be available for every call.”?
  • Turnover margin.  You can’t keep going -5 in TO margin every two games and expect to go 1-1 in them.  This is something that needs to be shored up or it truly will bite us in the ass.  Flip that TO margin to +1 and I argue we’re probably 2-0.
  • If you’re going to turn it over, do it on the other side of the field.  For the love of all holy quit giving the opposing offense less than 50 yards to pay dirt.  They’re going to score points and it’s just tough on the defense.
  • Time of possession.  At the half, the TOP was 2:1 in favor of the Gamecocks.  The defense can’t be on the field for 20 minutes a half or it won’t make it past game 6.  We’ve got to start sustaining drives.
  • The half that wouldn’t end.  That 1st half felt like the longest 1st half in the history or televised football at least from the stands.
  • 5-8 yard dumps over the middle.  It was like the death of 1,000 cuts.  Stop that and you effectively ended South Carolina’s only offensive threat.  I have to believe that Bobby Petrino saw that and is just salivating over it.  We’ve got to do a better job of defending that area of the field.  Other than the turnovers, my only defensive complaint of the night.
  • Branden Smith taking the ball out of the end zone.  Someone seriously chain him to the goal posts when he practices fielding kicks this week so he gets used to staying there.
  • The seeming inability to prevent our lineman’s ACL’s from snapping.  At some point it just isn’t fair anymore.  I feel terrible for Battle as this is his senior year and who knows if he’ll be eligible for a medical redshirt if he elects to try and come back.  I feel for ya, big guy.
  • The inability of our tailgaters to clean up after themselves.  I walked back through North Campus after the game and it looked like a landfill.  If someone doesn’t clean up after themselves, they deserve to be flogged mercilessly as far as I’m concerned.  It’s a beautiful campus and lets keep it that way, people.
  • Seeing the score of the Houston/Oklahoma State game cross the big scoreboard.  Way to screw the pooch, fellas.  The more I think about it the more I feel like that game was just a huge setup  for us to fail.  Highest hyped game in the history of the program for the highest hyped team in the history of the program on the day that the token bazillionaire opened his new palace had disaster written all over it.  Glad to see they came back to earth.

Anyways, those were my thoughts.  I made this comment on the way out, but that was the 2nd best game I’ve ever attended to Sanford Stadium.  It had everything you could want.  Lots of scoring, late defensive stop near the goal, great catches by receivers, great QB play on both sides, and a rocking atmosphere.  Granted, I may have aged about 5 years in those 4 hours, but it was certainly an unforgettable night. 

The Senator said something along these lines, but it bears repeating.  After watching this team live, I can say that there is a ton of raw talent out there on the field.  Once these guys all figure out where they’re supposed to be and what they’re supposed to be doing, this could be a pretty good ballclub.  I wouldn’t be the least bit shocked to see this team just collectively “get it” at some point this season and go on a 2007-esque run.  I still think this is most likely an 8-4/9-3 team so I don’t expect that to happen, but it sure wouldn’t surprise me.  I think this could be a fun team to watch for better or worse and the talent I saw out there makes me very glad for the stability that Coach Richt has brought to this program that didn’t exist during the 90s.  Anyways, to kick off Hogs week I’ll leave you with this.

It's a bird!  No, it's a plane!  No, it's AJ Green being a badass!

It's a bird! No, it's a plane! No, it's AJ Green being a badass!


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