Where critics see South Carolina's last-in-the-SEC rushing attack, Eric Wolford sees two Gamecock backs averaging 5 yards a carry.
Where skeptics point to USC's SEC-worst 27 sacks allowed, Wolford notes the Gamecocks have attempted more passes than anyone in the conference.
Wolford, USC's first-year offensive line coach and run game coordinator, is a glass-half-full kind of guy. What kind of glass?
"I got a couple bartenders that are going to come out and play next year," Wolford said Monday.
Wolford was joking about his new left guard, walk-on Garrett Chisolm, who did not join the team until August.
The reality is Wolford believes things are looking up for the Gamecocks, despite all the doom-and-gloom talk about another late-season collapse.
"The future around here looks pretty dang good. It's not very hard to see," Wolford said. "There's a bunch of guys around here that are young players, and we've got a bunch of young players coming in this program. As we stabilize it, it's going to be a good group."
The Gamecocks have dropped three of their past four games as they prepare to face No. 1 Florida, which routed USC 56-6 last year. But Wolford echoed the sentiments of USC coach Steve Spurrier, who said last week the Gamecocks would not let outsiders make them "feel bad."
Wolford said coaches used the expression "United we stand" during a team meeting Monday.
"We're not going to let anything come along and divide us," Wolford said.
The 38-year-old Wolford, a former Illinois assistant, was hired in the offseason to help revive a run game that finished last in the SEC in 2007 and '08.
Using more one-back sets, USC was averaging 152.5 rushing yards per game heading into the Alabama game. But the Gamecocks have been held to 65 yards or less in three of the past four games, dropping their average to 121.6 yards per game.
"I don't look at it as us being at the bottom of the (SEC) pack," Wolford said. "You've got two running backs, Jarvis Giles and Kenny Miles, (who) both average over five yards a carry. Five yards a carry, two backs, when's the last time that's happened around here?"
Miles, USC's leading rusher with 488 yards, had eight carries for 35 yards in the first half against Arkansas on Saturday but did not have a carry in the second half as the Gamecocks went to the air.
USC finished with a season-low 53 rushing yards against the Razorbacks, a total that included minus-16 yards in sacks and a loss of 32 yards on a bad snap that resulted in a safety.
The Gamecocks' rushing numbers have been hurt by all the sacks of Stephen Garcia. Wolford said the sack total also should be viewed in context of the team's 347 passing attempts.
USC has allowed a sack every 12.9 passes, less frequent than top-10 teams LSU (one sack every 8.8 attempts) and Florida (one every 9.4).
"The only time I really have to defend stats is when people try to attack what we're trying to do. And at the end of the day, I know that we're better than we have been," Wolford said of the line. "We've got two backs that rush over five yards a carry. Yes, we still have a bunch of sacks. It's still not good enough. But I don't see us turning guys scot-free. I don't see our quarterback getting blindsided. I don't see us whiffing on people."
Like Wolford, Miles prefers to look on the bright side. The redshirt freshman said backs need to "grind out those extra, two to three yards on plays when it looks like everything's closed down."
Every yard counts.
"We've had chances to have a better running game than we've shown in the past two or three weeks," Miles said. "But I think, as a whole, we still have a real good running game."