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.