David Cloninger

Gamecocks find out how the other half lives

Last week was never going to be the final stamp on South Carolina’s season. The Gamecocks were noticeably weak in several areas, but it was overlooked.

Because they won. No matter how it appeared, how bad they were at times, USC won and was 1-0. Thoughts of returning home to face East Carolina next week at 2-0 – especially after Mississippi State lost to South Alabama – and then perhaps being 4-0 in two weeks and about to play five straight at home?

Hey, man, the holidays in Florida are some kind of nice.

Nothing’s over. But after Saturday’s 27-14 throttling from the Bulldogs, we’re all realizing what we already knew.

This season is a process, and could be a long and painful one. USC is still trying to discover what it has and what it is, and nights like Saturday revealed just what the Gamecocks aren’t – a settled football team.

The offensive line, solid in pass-blocking but poor in run-blocking last week, was equally terrible in each area against the Bulldogs. The Gamecocks somehow insisted on running a lot of read-option with quarterback Perry Orth, who isn’t very mobile and fooled nobody into thinking he’d keep the ball.

The defense allowed a non-running quarterback to gallop for more than 100 yards in the first half. The swarm-to-the-ball approach that finished with textbook tackling last week stayed in last week.

Even hero Elliott Fry couldn’t get another 55-yard field goal, although his try was about 54 yards and he’s never been known to make a habit of 50-yarders (3-of-10 for his career).

All this isn’t to say USC wasn’t as bad as it looked on Saturday. It was. USC also wasn’t as good as it looked at times last week.

At the end of the day, the Gamecocks are 1-1, about what most expected (hoped?) when looking at two SEC road games to start the season. There’s still a chance, a great one, to have a good season. Even with East Carolina now 2-0 and coming to Columbia next week, and Kentucky looking atrocious in its first two games but having beaten USC in three of the last six.

Opinions on the Gamecocks will change week to week. But if they win the last week, it’s a winner no matter the final record.

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