Hey folks, South Carolina beat writer Ryan Wood here. I think the description above explains it all. What a weekend in Gamecocks football. Lots to chat about today. Ready for your questions.
Interesting point. South Carolina has nine fewer sacks through nine games than they did a year ago. Of course, USC had eight sacks against Kentucky last year, and only one this year. Clowney didn't play against Kentucky this year, in case you hadn't heard. I think it's too early to know exactly why the defensive line isn't producing like it did in 2012.
Even behind last year's pace, it's not like South Carolina isn't getting to the quarterback at all. The Gamecocks rank third in the SEC with 14 sacks, and they've played one fewer game than first-place Arkansas (17). USC may very well still have the best pass rush in the SEC. It's just not as dominant as a year ago.
If only we could put a finger on it. Ah! South Carolina has given up 129 points this season, with 58 -- 58!!! -- coming in the fourth quarter. And that's not counting the touchdown Georgia scored in the final minute of the third quarter. In the past three games, USC has allowed 51 fourth-quarter points. The HBC said Saturday night his defense simply can't stop anyone in the fourth, and he's absolutely right.
USC's defense has played reasonably well in the first three quarters, except the Georgia game. At least it has identified the problem. That's the first step. Whether or not USC can figure out how to stop a nose bleed in the final 15 minutes is the key to this season.
Amazing stat about the Georgia game: USC only gave up 7 points in the fourth quarter. Now, that was an 85-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-13, and Georgia scored inside the final minute of the third quarter, and the Bulldogs were able to run out the clock on offense. Still, the fourth-quarter issues have really been the past three games -- against Vanderbilt, UCF and Kentucky, no less.
I've seen JD Clowney up close. He's definitely a man. A big, big man. But you're not the first fan I've seen that has said something along those lines. Problem is, USC can't possibly leave Jadeveon Clowney home. The situation is nowhere near that point. Still not good, however.
I expect to see a much improved defense next season, once the young guys on defense get a chance to grow up one year. As I wrote this morning on the blog, Spurrier is 100 percent supporting defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward, as he should. But, yes, there is a certain level of dysfunction on the defense.
Lorenzo Ward said as much after the UCF game. If the defense can't hold a lead better, USC knows it'll eventually run into a team that can take advantage. Upcoming road trip is very dangerous.
It's going to be really fun to see Mike Davis and Arkansas tailback Alex Collins run the football. Two of the best young running backs in the country. Whoever has the better game wins.
No reason to after the past three games. Still, it's early. Lots of season to play. And this is a young team. At some point, USC's defense could absolutely figure it out this season. The light bulb could come on. But I don't blame you for not having confidence in something you haven't seen.
The amazing thing is, when USC is rolling, it looks like a legitimate top 10 team. If USC ever does put it together for four quarters, it can beat any team in the country.
I'll be honest. I picked South Carolina to win the SEC East in the league's preseason media poll. I knew USC was playing in Athens. But, with the harder schedule, I figured Georgia would stumble a couple times. Getting past LSU was huge for UGa, but there's still a long way to go.
All right, folks. That's a good stopping point for today's chat. As always, thanks for the participation. Your questions and comments make this thing worth doing. We'll be back same day, same time next week. Until then, take care.