A Spoonful Of Blue Helps Reality Go Down

South Carolina Gamecocks upset Kentucky Wildcats football

South Carolina Gamecocks upset Kentucky Wildcats football

As I stood there Saturday night in Commonwealth Stadium, dressed in garnet, mere feet away from the game winning interception I was immediately served a thick slice of humble pie a la mode and the biggest portion of crow I have ever consumed. My head went straight to the floor and I calmly exited the premises with only one thing on my mind. Another football season is fully upon us, and the South Carolina Gamecocks have successfully disappointed yet again.

I would like to congratulate Kentucky on the win, and especially the way they kept fighting and pulled off an unbelievable comeback. I have many dear friends who take up arms in big blue nation and my older brother is a 2008 alumni. To my brother Nicholas, Tyler Montell, and the many others I offer sincere congratulations.

The most painful thing about the game and reliving my article from last week was realizing my analysis was correct. I stated that Kentucky would win the game if South Carolina chose to channel the Gamecocks of years past and beat themselves. Season after season Columbia pretends that every year before the present one didn’t take place, and we all form hopes that the Gamecocks will actually become a winner. Gamecock followers embody what being a sports fan is all about, by clinging to an unfounded and unreasonable belief that this is the year we will win the big one.

Kentucky deserves credit for playing an excellent second half and for executing perfect adjustments. It is still hard for me to believe that South Carolina was held scoreless for an entire half, especially after we scored at will in the first 30 minutes. However, the Gamecocks did what they always do and completely self destructed. Everything changed when Lattimore exited the game with an injury, and Spurrier decided that without Marcus the Gamecocks would play not to lose instead of playing to win. Spurrier is not the only coach to blame. Ellis Johnson and his soft zone was an utter failure and an embarrassment to defensive coaches everywhere. I do not mind giving up 5-10 yard routes early in the game as the coaches and players get a feel for the game, but when the 4th quarter rolls around and our defense has made no adjustments and the opposition is successfully marching 95 yards down the field with simple and short plays it might be time to change the philosophy. Our secondary was abused by a mediocre quarterback and Ellis Johnson should be ashamed. I do not even want to comment on Kentucky’s winning touchdown where our players decided that Randall Cobb shouldn’t be defended. (The game was on the line and we left one of the best players in the conference wide open in the end zone, welcome to Gamecock football!) Aside from the coaching travesties there were the four turnovers, the crucial penalties, and the much discussed and disputed final play

I believe that going for the win was the appropriate call, but the events that preceded the play and the execution was more than questionable. The clock was stopped with 11 seconds remaining and we had one timeout. Kentucky was on its heels fearing the worst, and instead of taking advantage of Kentucky’s retreat, Spurrier decided to take the final timeout. This decision was nothing short of stupid. Why would you give a tired defense a chance to rest when the game was on the line? After the timeout the Gamecocks took the field and Garcia proceeded to throw a fade route to Lamar Scruggs. With the game on the line, out of timeouts, we decided to throw a jump ball to a freshman receiver with two receptions on the season and no touchdowns. If there is one good reason why this occurred I would love to hear it. If you are going to go for the win, the ball should only be thrown to the best receiver on your team. For Carolina, the best receiver on the team also happens to be the best receiver in the SEC. Why Alshon Jeffery was not involved in that play I will never know, but it is more proof the Gamecocks are destined to be losers.

Saturday was tragic. The SEC East had been gift wrapped to South Carolina and the Gamecocks decided to put the present too near the fireplace and it quickly went up in flames. South Carolina is still in first place in the east and controls their destiny. Nevertheless, the Gamecocks have scrapped all hope for a truly special season. The road to Atlanta has developed some new potholes, but the Gamecocks are still driving the best looking car on the road (even if that car is a Toyota Camry with an over anxious gas pedal). Vanderbilt and Tennessee have become must wins, and if the Gamecocks want to safely secure a trip to Atlanta they can only lose to Arkansas. I would like to personally thank the SEC East for being really bad at football this year, without your help South Carolina would be having a season just like every other.

Throughout life it is a necessity that an individual is proven wrong. Congratulations Kentucky on an exciting win and good luck for the rest of the season. Before I retire for the evening and wash down my slice of humble pie with a side of crow, I’d like to say one more thing. 10 out of 11 ain’t bad and the Gamecocks are still in first place.

COMMENTS

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  • Watching you eat your lunch of fried crow I must congratulate you for being as candid as you seem to be.
    One question still remains however.
    If, as you stated, “Our secondary was abused by a mediocre quarterback ” and considering USC did not score in the back half of the game, where in your befuddled mind does your Stephan Garcia fall in this system of rating QB’s.
    All things considered I would take a Mike Hartline each and every day were the option a “Garcia”.

  • well I have disagree with you there. Garcia’s stats in this game are just as impressive if not more than hartline’s. the only advantage to mike was the last play of the game when the pass went for a INT instead of a TD. if south carolina wins the game, garcia is the hero and completely overshadows hoartline. garcia threw for more yards on 12 less attempts.

    garcia isn’t a great quarterback, but he has more ability than hartline. until mike is consistent and shows he can consistently beat top teams, I cannot give him the nod. also, kentucky’s offense is designed around high % short throws, which inflates mike’s completion %. he played real well b/c he took care of the ball on saturday, something south carolina did not.

  • A couple of things:

    Quoth you:
    “Our secondary was abused by a mediocre quarterback and Ellis Johnson should be ashamed.”

    Mediocre quarterback? You mean the #2 quarterback in the SEC behind Ryan Mallett, the one that has 13 touchdowns against only 3 picks, one TD less than Mallett and 3 fewer picks? That mediocre quarterback?

    The same mediocre quarterback that passed for 210 yards against an Auburn team that not only beat you, but held your oh-so-superior passing attack to 158 whole yards? Is that the one you mean?

    Quoth you:
    “However, the Gamecocks did what they always do and completely self destructed. Everything changed when Lattimore exited the game with an injury, and Spurrier decided that without Marcus the Gamecocks would play not to lose instead of playing to win. Spurrier is not the only coach to blame.”

    Yes. Of course, in your world, Kentucky had nothing whatever to do with that supposed “self-destruction,” we just stood idly by and 21 points appeared, as if by magic.

    It wasn’t the fact that the corners tightened up on Jeffrey and the other wideouts, or that the Kentucky pressure began getting in Garcia’s face. It wasn’t the fact that South Carolina has had a lousy pass defense all year long, and that Joker Phillips perfectly well knew the way to beat you guys was through the air. Carolina only lost because they played bad, or Spurrier or Johnson coached bad. Kentucky just stood around and watched, right?

    It is also curious that sitting on your bench was Kenny Miles, a back who ran for 100 yards against UK last year when UK actually had a run defense. Yet he didn’t get a single attempt versus Kentucky. I have no idea why, but that seems passing strange as coaching decisions go. Still, that didn’t lose the game.

    Quoth you:
    “Throughout life it is a necessity that an individual is proven wrong.”

    We are all wrong sometimes, and handling that part is easy, if not much fun.

    From experience, I can tell you that respecting your opponent makes these things much easier, and ring much less hollow, than otherwise. Kentucky may not deserve to be feared in football, or even treated as a big game, but true sportsmen respect their opponents because no matter how much of a mismatch it may look like on paper, you still have to play the game, and the best team doesn’t always win.

    In sum, it’s hard to become a success at blogging by talking smack all the time. Pretty soon, people stop taking you seriously, and if you are extremely unlucky, you become a laughing stock. Don’t let this happen to you.

  • glenn, mike’s stats over inflated due to the first 3 games against extremely inferior opponents. I am not saying he is bad, but he has played the system of uk’s offense very well. his avg yards per completion are very low comparative. against sec opponents he has 8 td’s and all 4 interceptions, his average yards per completion is about 7 yards and his completion % is about 67%.

    hartline isn’t bad, but he isn’t great either. he does a good job of completing short passes. if you think he is a major deep threat, and his arm strength is strong then you don’t know very much about football.

  • glen, I don’t know where you get your information from, but we threw for 300 yards v auburn. and if not for 4 turnovers in the 4th we win that game.

    I gave credit to kentucky, and said they made excellent adjustments. i then proceeded to say USC made either no adjustments or terrible adjustments. I don’t know how you can dispute this

    UK played a great 2nd half we played an ok 1st half and a miserable second. 4 turnovers, terrible penalties, and terrible coaching miscues can cause a loss, i hope you don’t dispute this

  • “The most painful thing about the game and reliving my article from last week was realizing my analysis was correct. I stated that Kentucky would win the game if South Carolina chose to channel the Gamecocks of years past and beat themselves.”

    Sweet. You rail about how USC has no chance of losing, then leave yourself one grossly subjective and universal cop-out. So your prediction blows harder than your secondary defensive keys, you pull it out.

    It’s easy to be right when you make your predictions nonfalsifiable.

  • swing, the reason I included this in my article is if you know anything about gamecock football, you know self destruction is a nightmare revisted every season in almost every big game. south carolina injures themselves more than any sporting team I have ever watched. I appreciate your opinion, and I am glad you don’t dispute the fact we self destructed

  • At the end of the day, Mike Hartline won the big game, and Stephen Garcia threw an interception to lose it.

  • you are correct mr. montell, I agree hartline was better saturday. I disagree that hartline is overall a better quarterback. however it this argument is like comparing an 80/100 to and 81/100. they are still both B minuses

  • I am very sorry to have to tell you this Andrew, but not one coach in the SEC would take Garcia over Hartline. You have to understand the concept of football to know the system that UK is useing. It is close to the west coast offense, in that you hit the under routes and you hit the side line routes and you run the ball to control the clock. You do this to keep the D off the field and to control the game. As a former football coach you must know your team and to build your offense around your D. Why would you be throwing the ball long down field when in truth you are going to comp less than 10 percent of these passes even in the NFL. When you can comp 67% of your other passes and have the chance of the best all around football player in cobb or mathews ( who did take it all the way) for a TD. Again you need to know somthing about football and the type of off and Def that you are running to put yourself in the best shape to win. I congrat UK for there win and good luck the rest of the season.. Also of note UK had there best running back out of the game he would have almost for sure ran over 100 yards on us as he had done to everyone else this year, this needs to be noted when giving excuses why we lost the game.

  • Bottom line Andrew Phelps … when comparing USC’s and UK’s football programs, there isn’t a whole lot of difference — certainly no where near the seperation you make it out to be.

    USC’s bowl record is a paltry 4-11.

    USC’s all-time won/loss record is 2 games over .500. TWO GAMES.

    In the last four years, USC has a 28-23 record.

    UK is better in ALL of those catagories.

    I guess what I really despise is a fan of an average college athletic program (yes, I know the baseball team won a national championship — congrats) with your self-superior attitude.

    BTW, UK basketball lost at USC last season because they self-destructed. It had nothing to do with the way USC played.

  • To all the UK fans wanting to anoint Mike Hartline as the 2nd coming of Johnny Unitas: pretty much every SEC school went hard after Garcia as a recruit. So all of this “no one would want him over Hartline” BS is just that.

    And Andrew: obviously all of your stats/records are correct. But there’s one that bears mentioning in comparing the two programs, especially in recent years (and that you conspicuously omitted): 10-1 head to head over the past 11 years. So don’t act as if it’s insanity or disrespect for Gamecock fans to think that in recent history our football program is better.

    Hartline played a phenomenal game. Garcia played a great game as well, but made a very costly mistake at the worst possible time. Hartline’s signature win is a victory over 10th ranked South Carolina. Garcia’s is a victory over defending champions and #1 Alabama. So don’t act as if he’s garbage and Hartline is Peyton Manning incarnate.

    Congrats to Kentucky for playing a fantastic game and taking proper advantage of poor coaching, play calling, and performances by key players in key situations.

  • Kane — I never stated Hartline was better than Garcia or vice versa. I couldn’t care less about that argument.

    I mentioned the 10 losses in a previous post to Andrew Phelps, so don’t get your drawers in a bunch. Yes, It’s ridiculous that UK had lost 10 in a row to USC, but that’s exactly what happened. However, in every one of those games, except maybe one or two, I never once thought that USC was the clearly superior team. Most of those games the teams were evenly matched and the games were decided by a touchdown or less — certainly nothing for USC fans to act like they’re the clearly better program.

    So I guess my previous point is even more telling. How can you say that USC is the better team in recent history when USC’s year-to-year records are worse on average than UK’s? Take away the UK/USC game for the four previous years and USC is almost .500 (24-23) and UK’s is .625 (30-18).

    Yes, you can hang your hat on USC beating UK for 10 straight seasons, but I’m sorry to tell you that USC hasn’t done enough outside of the annual UK game to warrant being labeled the “better football program”.

  • but no reply to my post humm interesting…

  • Andrew-
    It’s significantly more than “hanging my hat on 10 straight wins”; if the record were, say, 6-4, or 7-3, then there could be a discussion. We have an objective metric by which to gauge which team has been better in recent memory.
    I’m not purporting that SC is Tebow-era Florida and Kentucky is Vandy for God’s sake, I’m simply saying that to overlook the 10 games in a row when one team beat the other is ridiculous. UK and SC are actually very close as programs over the past decade, but I’d give SC a recruiting, facilities, and coaching edge (not to take anything away from Brooks and Joker, who I think has the potential to be great), and w/ the aforementioned TEN WINS in a row, SC wins. It might not be by much, but SC wins.

    Again, congrats to UK on the victory. But it feels like you want to actually say that UK is better, and when one team beats another ten times in a row, that dog doesn’t hunt.