Hello, Gamecocks fans. P&C beat writer Ryan Wood here. Looking forward to chatting about South Carolina football with you today. Send me any questions, comments or rants.
You're exactly right. The amazing thing about this weekend is it didn't change a whole lot in the SEC East race. Biggest change? Missouri has a nice, two-game lead. But the Tigers have a tough schedule down the stretch, and the Gamecocks can make up ground this week. Who expected Georgia and Florida to give South Carolina its biggest gifts of the season?
Houston, we have a troll.
I think what cost South Carolina the game was its inability to execute even a little bit in the first half, especially the first quarter. The Gamecocks left a ton of plays on the field. They had a chance to get out to a pretty significant early lead, but dropped passes, penalties, missed blocks and turnovers prevented the offense from getting out of the gate.
That said, to answer the question, the timeouts certainly would have been nice to have at the end. I don't think there's any question about that. What I found interesting is USC lost with its legendary coach going against his gut. Ideally, if you lose a game, I think you'd prefer to lose while following your instincts. It's no wonder to me why Spurrier struggled sleeping Saturday night.
Clowney played his best game of the season Saturday. I'm curious to see what he does going forward. If that's the type of production he provides, this defense just got a lot better.
Spurrier has never hesitated to let Thompson throw the football at will. I think Spurrier will treat his backup quarterback like a starter. Obviously, Thompson has the talent to start for many college football teams, even some in the SEC. That said, yes, I think Mike Davis will get a heavy workout as well.
As for more effective? The way Connor Shaw was playing, there aren't a lot of quarterbacks that would be better. Shaw is the much better option right now. His absence is big. Even Saturday, which was Shaw's worst performance, he put the ball on the money most of the time. Just had receivers drop passes.
He had 2.5 tackles for loss in the first quarter when he was being single blocked by Tiny Richardson. Soon after, Tennessee only blocked Clowney with a double team, at least. From a star defensive end, you're hoping to put pressure on the opposing offense and get them out of there game plan. That's what Clowney did Saturday. Whether it was good enough is open to opinion.
And, you know, without the best defensive player in the game. Other than that, yes, South Carolina will look quite similar. I wouldn't say Tiny Richardson's draft stock fell that much Saturday. Just as Clowney's draft stock doesn't take a hit despite the fact he has fewer tackles for loss this season than Kelcy Quarles and Chaz Sutton.
Tennessee had well below its season average in total offense. It scored two touchdowns. Hardly an offensive performance to boast. They were knocked off their game plan because they had to keep their tight end in to block Clowney, and they had to use their guard to help Richardson. It's not how the Vols started the game. Clowney won his individual matchup. South Carolina lost the game.
Word on the street is Andrew Luck is going to be similar to Peyton Manning. Nobody would say the two or on the same, exact plane right now, though. There is potential, and there is production. Let's hold off on comparing anybody to Clowney.
That's actual a good description. South Carolina played its worst game of the season. I'm sure, on some level, Tennessee had something to do with that.
I really could care less about workout numbers. All that matters is what happens on the field. Not a high school field, a college field. That's the problem with recruiting. It's inexact science. Not saying a prospect will be good or bad. I'm saying you have to see it on the field before forming an opinion.
And it usually works. I know most fans have that love-hate relationship with Shaw, but the kid is a winner. He's extremely efficient. He's everything you want in a great college quarterback. When he's gone, I think fans will have a fuller appreciation.
Good chat, everybody. That's a good stopping point for today. As always, thanks for everyone who participated. Make sure you read The Post and Courier throughout the week for full coverage of South Carolina's upcoming game at Missouri. Then check back here again 3:30 p.m. Monday for another chat. Until next time, take care.