Josh Kendall

September 30, 2013

Kendall's Morning Meeting: Slope to SEC East title just got a lot steeper

Steve Spurrier and South Carolina will be rooting hard for the likes of Tennessee, Missouri, Vanderbilt, Auburn and Kentucky in the coming weeks.

Josh Kendall

News and views about Gamecocks football

    The wrapup of Saturday’s SEC action does not paint a pretty picture for South Carolina.
   
    Georgia’s 44-41 win over LSU on Saturday afternoon puts a lot of distance between the Bulldogs and Gamecocks in the SEC East race. The decisive play of the game came when the Tigers blew a coverage and left Justin Scott-Wesley wide open for a touchdown. Sound familiar? Then so will LSU's issues with its defense.

    Thanks to No. 6 Georgia’s 41-30 win over South Carolina on Sept. 7, the Bulldogs must lose two SEC games to give No. 13 South Carolina a realistic shot of winning the division title and even that scenario hinges on the Gamecocks winning the remainder of their conference games.

    The No. 10 Tigers were one of just two ranked teams left on Georgia’s schedule. The other is No. 18 Florida on Nov. 2. The rest of the Bulldogs’ SEC schedule is this (you might want to cover your eyes if you’re a Gamecock fan at this point): at Tennessee on Saturday, vs. Missouri, at Vanderbilt, at Auburn and vs. Kentucky. The chance of Georgia losing two of those games is slim although not completely non-existent. After all, any team with a defense as bad as the Bulldogs has been (giving up more than 400 yards per game, albeit against three Top 10 teams and North Texas) can always find itself on the wrong end of a shootout.

    There is another possibility, although it may be more far-fetched than the Bulldogs losing to say, Auburn. If South Carolina, Georgia and Florida all finish 7-1 in the division, and the Gators beat the Bulldogs and lose to the Gamecocks, all bets are off. At that point, the SEC’s three-way tiebreaker takes over, which likely would mean that division champion would be determined by the head-to-head result between the top two teams in the BCS standings. Make sense? Of course not. That scenario if entirely too confusing. Just root for the Vols and Tigers and Commodores and other Tigers and Wildcats. Probably want to root hard, too. Those teams need all the help they can get.
   
    Beyond the darkening of the division title hopes, the most noteworthy part of the weekend was the injury report. South Carolina, of course, took a shot with the loss of quarterback Connor Shaw and running back Brandon Wilds, and we’ve got all the details of their prognosis here. But the Gamecocks aren’t the only team hurting. Georgia had to pull off its big win without star tailback Todd Gurley in the second half. Gurley sprained his right ankle and is “day-to-day.” Georgia already lost its top receiver, Malcolm Mitchell, for the season with a knee injury. Add that to Florida losing quarterback Jeff Driskel (leg) and defensive tackle Dominique Easley (knee) for the season last week, and the SEC East will look a lot different in Week 6 than it did in Week 1.

    As Victor Hampton said Saturday afternoon in one of the most interesting postgame interviews I’ve ever seen in this business, “Ain’t nobody 100” percent. (Seriously, if you didn’t watch the video of Hampton and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney breaking down the issues on their defense, go watch it now. It’s as revealing a glimpse into what’s going on with the South Carolina defense as you will likely see.)

    P.S. – Nick Saban got very mad Saturday night and somebody took several funny pictures. Also, Saturday’s opponent, Kentucky, is rotating quarterbacks this columnist thinks it’s about time to pull the plug on that.

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