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CoverTwo 05-02-2014 01:38 PM

Some post-Spring superlatives
 
Most Positive outcome from the Spring:

For me its the play of the defensive backs. While this group is lacking in numbers (and quite possibly talent), from what I can gather and from what I saw in the Spring Game I think this group played better than expected. Rico McWilliams looks like he is starting to round back into form pre-ACL, and has pretty much locked down one starting corner spot. Jamari Smith from all accounts made some strides now that he has finally settled into one position. Still needs some polish and game experience but I think he has the instincts and athletic ability to help this year possibly as a nickel. Brison Williams, physically, looks like a different player and has shown enough to the coaches that he will be relied on at Corner and his usual Boundary Safety spot. He actually looks like a defensive back now. He was getting a little heavy. I'm also encouraged with the return of TJ Gurley. I think this guy is the wildcard of the group. If he can stay healthy, I don't see how the coaching staff can keep him off the field, and it would allow the coaches to be flexible with Brison. From what I saw during the Spring Game, Kadetrix Marcus is playing as fast as I've ever seen him play. Probably due to experience. I don't think he has lived up to his 4 star billing so far but maybe this is the year he gets it going. We also saw Chris Moody get into the rotation some. I think he is an interesting prospect too. Seems like he has been here forever but he is only a RS Sophomore. I still think he is going to be a good one when its said and done. Can't really say too much about Chaz Elder. He has been solid ever since he got here. I think he is poised to be an All-Conference player. It will be interesting to see how Ali Groves does when he returns back from injury. Coaches think he has the ability but he hasn't been able to stay healthy since he has been here. Also curious to see what they do with Jasper Sasser long term. IMO, I think he is candidate to end up at WR before its all said and done given what we are losing after this year. Good athlete.

Add in the talented freshman group of Wesley Green, DJ Smith, Chris Lammons, Al Harris, and Darrin Smalls .. I think our defensive backfield is in good hands for a while. The more that I think about it, the less I am concerned about this year. If Williams (at Corner), Elder, Marcus/Gurley, and McWilliams are our starting backfield, I think we are in good hands. Then rotate in Jamari Smith and the freshmen at the nickel and for depth purposes and we could be working with something.


Most Concerning outcome from the Spring:

While its easy to point out Special Teams (particularly the punt unit), I'm going to go in another direction and I'm going to say Defensive Ends. I don't know how else to put it other than saying we are in trouble right now. We have ZERO pass rushers at the position. I'm rooting for Darius English just like everyone else but I'm just not seeing it right now especially from a guy that logged a good amount of snaps last year. Of course the weight is an issue that is being worked out but until he gains enough weight to be an every down player (if his body will even allow it), I don't think we can trust him. I think Gerald Dixon is going to be solid but I don't envision him being a player that other teams have to game plan for. After those guys its really a who's who. Are Cedric Cooper and Mason Harris going to get big enough? Given that they are both RS Jr's, probably not. Gerald Turner has pretty much disappeared. In theory, he would fit the new BOB Linebacker we have when we go to the 3-4 sets but I haven't heard anything about him practicing there. David Johnson has some big potential but is he going to grow into a DT? If he can control his weight, I think he is one of our better players at DE. Will Devin Washington's health even let him play? He has missed so much practice time.

Ontop of that, Dante Sawyer who would've been in the rotation Day 1 didn't qualify. Things have gone quiet with Dexter Wideman, but it doesn't seem like many think he will make it in. Last I heard, Jhaustin Thomas has to take an online course to qualify (how often has that worked out for USC). Luckily, USC got a steal with Blake McClain but, IMO, he is in the same mold as David Johnson. He might grow into an interior lineman.

So for a 4-2-5 team that has made a living rushing 4 and dropping 7 .. this is not a good situation to be in right now. There is a lot of "what ifs" and unknowns with this group. It also begs the question, given our success with defensive lineman, why are we in this position to begin with?


Prediction: Breakout Player of 2014:

Not many people have talked about it on the board but Pharoh Cooper had a big, big Spring. He is really coming along as a receiver and you can tell from looking at him that the weight room has been good to him. He is built like a brick house right now. Ideally, he is what your want your slot receiver to look like. His hands have been improving since he got here and it looks like he is past the learning stage of playing receiver in Coach Spurrier's offense and now playing on instincts. Its going to be hard to replace Bruce at the Z receiver, we all know that, but even Bruce was an unknown at one point when he was playing Wildcat QB. Pharoh seems to be following in the same path and in truth, could be an upgrade down the line. I'm willing to bet that Pharoh catches 30 balls minimum this year and will be our leading receiver the following 2 years. I don't expect him to play much Wildcat QB anymore now that he is dedicated to WR full time.


Player with the most to prove this season:

This one is easy, IMO. It's Dylan Thompson. I'm going to be honest, I'm worried about this guy. The reason being is that if you look at what has been our formula for winning the past 5 seasons, its been defense / big play on offense / and limiting turnovers. As much as us as a fanbase and even Coach Spurrier got onto Connor Shaw for running too much and holding onto the football, he didn't turn it over and give our defense short fields. Actually looking back on it, I think an argument could be made that the teams that Connor QB'ed might've been better suited for Dylan and that this year's team needs a Connor. Those teams the past couple of seasons had stellar defenses that could bail the offense out if it turned it over at midfield. I don't see that this year so I'm worried about the turnover margin.

If there is one thing Dylan has to do well above anything, its make smart decisions and do not turn the ball over. We know the guy is a gunslinger and we love that part about him (see ECU / UAB / Clemson 2012) .. He is going to hang in the pocket longer and make some throws that Connor couldn't or wouldn't risk making. He is also going to face more blitzes than I think Connor saw. I think its going to take a concentrated effort from Dylan and the offensive coaching staff to make sure we aren't in situations like 3rd & 12+ where Dylan has to make a throw into the teeth of a defense. If Coach Spurrier can balance his passing attack just enough to where we are playing ahead of the chains, I think Dylan can have some success. But if he starts facing a bunch of 3rd and longs against the defenses in this league, he is meat. Kind of how like things went with Mitchell and Smelley.

Its also worth noting that he is a 50% career passer. That can not be his completion % this year. He can't have those mechanical faults that have showed up (against Missouri for example) last year. He also has to protect himself when he scrambles or runs the QB draw. Given the inexperience behind him, we are in big trouble if he goes down. Finally, the one thing that absolutely frightens me about Dylan is that he isn't a spot starter or relief player. He is the guy and all the criticism, right or wrong, will be directed at him first. He is the guy that defensive coordinators are going to be scheming for every week. They are going to know his weaknesses. And on top of that, he is playing in some big time football environments this year. For a guy that Coach Spurrier admitted doesn't have a lot of live reps under his belt, its a cause for concern. Good things have got to happen and happen EARLY not only in the season but in the individual games or he is probably going to struggle. The last thing we need this year is a Quarterback carousel to start up again.

So while I'm being overly critical, I do think Dylan is going to have a good season. I think he makes the offense more explosive than Connor did. I think Coach Spurrier is going to have an easier time calling plays than he did with Connor. I think the players on the rest of the offense are going to feed off the opportunities that Dylan gives him by throwing it and giving them a chance to make a play. I'm just really cautious about what happened pre-Garcia/Shaw. Basically, the underlying point is, the offensive line better keep his jersey clean.

SCohioBoy 05-02-2014 01:45 PM

Re: Some post-Spring superlatives
 
Gerald Turner moved to FB this spring, will he stay there?

CoverTwo 05-02-2014 01:48 PM

Re: Some post-Spring superlatives
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by SCohioBoy (Post 4148406)
Gerlard Turner moved to FB this spring, will he stay there?

It was an experiment and I doubt he stays there with Joe Blue coming this Fall.

Gamecocks1137 05-02-2014 01:55 PM

Re: Some post-Spring superlatives
 
I doubt we would be in trouble immensely as you put it if Dylan Thompson goes down. The coaching staff can try to make it a circus all they want, but everyone with a brain knows that Connor Mitch is Dylan's backup. I also think if thrown into the fray, that Mitch would do well. People forget he has been in the system for 2 springs now, and he throws a very good pass. His check downs are remarkable as well.

CoverTwo 05-02-2014 02:02 PM

Re: Some post-Spring superlatives
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Gamecocks1137 (Post 4148416)
I doubt we would be in trouble immensely as you put it if Dylan Thompson goes down. The coaching staff can try to make it a circus all they want, but everyone with a brain knows that Connor Mitch is Dylan's backup. I also think if thrown into the fray, that Mitch would do well. People forget he has been in the system for 2 springs now, and he throws a very good pass. His check downs are remarkable as well.

He doesn't have any game experience. If Mitch is forced to play any extensive snaps, it won't be pretty at least to start off just like it is for most young QBs.

Gamecocks1137 05-02-2014 02:04 PM

Re: Some post-Spring superlatives
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by CoverTwo (Post 4148424)
He doesn't have any game experience. If Mitch is forced to play any extensive snaps, it won't be pretty at least to start off just like it is for most young QBs.

I agree to an extent, but some QBs are not part of that idea. Look at your Jameis Winston's, and your Johnny Manziel's. That does not always apply to every single Quarterback.

Flameout12 05-02-2014 02:06 PM

Re: Some post-Spring superlatives
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by CoverTwo (Post 4148398)
I think its going to take a concentrated effort from Dylan and the offensive coaching staff to make sure we aren't in situations like 3rd & 12+.

Goes back to smart play calling...have to trust those zone plays and our running game, including Dylan running the ball.

usc1 05-02-2014 02:15 PM

Re: Some post-Spring superlatives
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Gamecocks1137 (Post 4148428)
I agree to an extent, but some QBs are not part of that idea. Look at your Jameis Winston's, and your Johnny Manziel's. That does not always apply to every single Quarterback.


Those are very rare QBs. 99% of freshman QBs struggle their first year in the SEC.

usc1 05-02-2014 02:21 PM

Re: Some post-Spring superlatives
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by CoverTwo (Post 4148398)
Most Positive outcome from the Spring:

For me its the play of the defensive backs. While this group is lacking in numbers (and quite possibly talent), from what I can gather and from what I saw in the Spring Game I think this group played better than expected. Rico McWilliams looks like he is starting to round back into form pre-ACL, and has pretty much locked down one starting corner spot. Jamari Smith from all accounts made some strides now that he has finally settled into one position. Still needs some polish and game experience but I think he has the instincts and athletic ability to help this year possibly as a nickel. Brison Williams, physically, looks like a different player and has shown enough to the coaches that he will be relied on at Corner and his usual Boundary Safety spot. He actually looks like a defensive back now. He was getting a little heavy. I'm also encouraged with the return of TJ Gurley. I think this guy is the wildcard of the group. If he can stay healthy, I don't see how the coaching staff can keep him off the field, and it would allow the coaches to be flexible with Brison. From what I saw during the Spring Game, Kadetrix Marcus is playing as fast as I've ever seen him play. Probably due to experience. I don't think he has lived up to his 4 star billing so far but maybe this is the year he gets it going. We also saw Chris Moody get into the rotation some. I think he is an interesting prospect too. Seems like he has been here forever but he is only a RS Sophomore. I still think he is going to be a good one when its said and done. Can't really say too much about Chaz Elder. He has been solid ever since he got here. I think he is poised to be an All-Conference player. It will be interesting to see how Ali Groves does when he returns back from injury. Coaches think he has the ability but he hasn't been able to stay healthy since he has been here. Also curious to see what they do with Jasper Sasser long term. IMO, I think he is candidate to end up at WR before its all said and done given what we are losing after this year. Good athlete.

Add in the talented freshman group of Wesley Green, DJ Smith, Chris Lammons, Al Harris, and Darrin Smalls .. I think our defensive backfield is in good hands for a while. The more that I think about it, the less I am concerned about this year. If Williams (at Corner), Elder, Marcus/Gurley, and McWilliams are our starting backfield, I think we are in good hands. Then rotate in Jamari Smith and the freshmen at the nickel and for depth purposes and we could be working with something.


Most Concerning outcome from the Spring:

While its easy to point out Special Teams (particularly the punt unit), I'm going to go in another direction and I'm going to say Defensive Ends. I don't know how else to put it other than saying we are in trouble right now. We have ZERO pass rushers at the position. I'm rooting for Darius English just like everyone else but I'm just not seeing it right now especially from a guy that logged a good amount of snaps last year. Of course the weight is an issue that is being worked out but until he gains enough weight to be an every down player (if his body will even allow it), I don't think we can trust him. I think Gerald Dixon is going to be solid but I don't envision him being a player that other teams have to game plan for. After those guys its really a who's who. Are Cedric Cooper and Mason Harris going to get big enough? Given that they are both RS Jr's, probably not. Gerald Turner has pretty much disappeared. In theory, he would fit the new BOB Linebacker we have when we go to the 3-4 sets but I haven't heard anything about him practicing there. David Johnson has some big potential but is he going to grow into a DT? If he can control his weight, I think he is one of our better players at DE. Will Devin Washington's healthy even let him play? He has missed so much practice time.

Onto of that, Dante Sawyer who would've been in the rotation Day 1 didn't qualify. Things have gone quiet with Dexter Wideman, but it doesn't seem like many think he will make it in. Last I heard, Jhaustin Thomas has to take an online course to qualify (how often has that worked out for USC). Luckily, USC got a steal with Blake McClain but, IMO, he is in the same mold as David Johnson. He might grow into an interior lineman.

So for a 4-2-5 team that has made a living rushing 4 and dropping 7 .. this is not a good situation to be in right now. There is a lot of "what ifs" and unknowns with this group. It also begs the question, given our success with defensive lineman, why are we in this position to begin with?


Prediction: Breakout Player of 2014:

Not many people have talked about it on the board but Pharoh Cooper had a big, big Spring. He is really coming along as a receiver and you can tell from looking at him that the weight room has been good to him. He is built like a brick house right now. Ideally, he is what your want your slot receiver to look like. His hands have been improving since he got here and it looks like he is past the learning stage of playing receiver in Coach Spurrier's offense and now playing on instincts. Its going to be hard to replace Bruce at the Z receiver, we all know that, but even Bruce was an unknown at one point when he was playing Wildcat QB. Pharoh seems to be following in the same path and in truth, could be an upgrade down the line. I'm willing to bet that Pharoh catches 30 balls minimum this year and will be our leading receiver the following 2 years. I don't expect him to play much Wildcat QB anymore now that he is dedicated to WR full time.


Player with the most to prove this season:

This one is easy, IMO. It's Dylan Thompson. I'm going to be honest, I'm worried about this guy. The reason being is that if you look at what has been our formula for winning the past 5 seasons, its been defense / big play on offense / and limiting turnovers. As much as us as a fanbase and even Coach Spurrier got onto Connor Shaw for running too much and holding onto the football, he didn't turn it over and give our defense short fields. Actually looking back on it, I think an argument could be made that the teams that Connor QB'ed might've been better suited for Dylan and that this year's team needs a Connor. Those teams the past couple of seasons had stellar defenses that could bail the offense out if it turned it over at midfield. I don't see that this year so I'm worried about the turnover margin.

If there is one thing Dylan has to do well above anything, its make smart decisions and do not turn the ball over. We know the guy is a gunslinger and we love that part about him (see ECU / UAB / Clemson 2012) .. He is going to hang in the pocket longer and make some throws that Connor couldn't or wouldn't risk making. He is also going to face more blitzes than I think Connor saw. I think its going to take a concentrated effort from Dylan and the offensive coaching staff to make sure we aren't in situations like 3rd & 12+ where Dylan has to make a throw into the teeth of a defense. If Coach Spurrier can balance his passing attack just enough to where we are playing ahead of the chains, I think Dylan can have some success. But if he starts facing a bunch of 3rd and longs against the defenses in this league, he is meat. Kind of how like things went with Mitchell and Smelley.

Its also worth noting that he is a 50% career passer. That can not be his completion % this year. He can't have those mechanical faults that have showed up (against Missouri for example) last year. He also has to protect himself when he scrambles or runs the QB draw. Given the inexperience behind him, we are in big trouble if he goes down. Finally, the one thing that absolutely frightens me about Dylan is that he isn't a spot starter or relief player. He is the guy and all the criticism, right or wrong, will be directed at him first. He is the guy that defensive coordinators are going to be scheming for every week. They are going to know his weaknesses. And on top of that, he is playing in some big time football environments this year. For a guy that Coach Spurrier admitted doesn't have a lot of live reps under his belt, its a cause for concern. Good things have got to happen and happen EARLY not only in the season but in the individual games or he is probably going to struggle. The last thing we need this year is a Quarterback carousel to start up again.

So while I'm being overly critical, I do think Dylan is going to have a good season. I think he makes the offense more explosive than Connor did. I think Coach Spurrier is going to have an easier time calling plays than he did with Connor. I think the players on the rest of the offense are going to feed off the opportunities that Dylan gives him by throwing it and giving them a chance to make a play. I'm just really cautious about what happened pre-Garcia/Shaw. Basically, the underlying point is, the offensive line better keep his jersey clean.

The one thing I have to hand to Dylan is he is a confident kid who believes in himself. He's a natural leader and other guys in the huddle feed off his energy. Hopefully the OL and Mike Davis can take some pressure off him.

CoverTwo 05-02-2014 02:22 PM

Re: Some post-Spring superlatives
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Flameout12 (Post 4148433)
Goes back to smart play calling...have to trust those zone plays and our running game, including Dylan running the ball.

I agree but I think its more of not haven't that comfort blanket of Connor being able to convert a 3rd & 7 with his feet to keep drives going or picking up 5 or 10 yards on 2nd & long to make 3rd down more manageable that makes me uneasy.

Dylan is going to have to do that stuff with his arm and decision making.

3rd down conversion % is definitely going to drop some I'm afraid if, like you said, we aren't smart about playcalling.

Gamecocks1137 05-02-2014 02:25 PM

Re: Some post-Spring superlatives
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by CoverTwo (Post 4148449)
I agree but I think its more of not haven't that comfort blanket of Connor being able to convert a 3rd & 7 with his feet to keep drives going or picking up 5 or 10 yards on 2nd % long to make 3rd down more manageable that makes me uneasy.

Dylan is going to have to do that stuff with his arm and decision making.

That 3rd down conversion % is definitely going to drop some I'm afraid if, like you said, we aren't smart about playcalling.

I truly believe with our backfield of Davis, Wilds, Williams and Carson that we will not be in too many 3rd & 7's or longer. I really think we have the best RB core in the SEC right now. I also have a feeling that Williams is going to have a break out year this year. No 1000 yards rushing or anything, not enough snaps for that, but he will have a great year.

A. Pilgrim 05-02-2014 02:30 PM

Re: Some post-Spring superlatives
 
THE SKY IS FALLING!!!!!!!!!

Mt. Lattimore 05-02-2014 02:33 PM

Re: Some post-Spring superlatives
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by A. Pilgrim (Post 4148457)
THE SKAI IS FALLING!!!!!!!!!

FIFY

CoverTwo 05-02-2014 02:38 PM

Re: Some post-Spring superlatives
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Gamecocks1137 (Post 4148450)
I truly believe with our backfield of Davis, Wilds, Williams and Carson that we will not be in too many 3rd & 7's or longer. I really think we have the best RB core in the SEC right now. I also have a feeling that Williams is going to have a break out year this year. No 1000 yards rushing or anything, not enough snaps for that, but he will have a great year.

I don't doubt the ability of our rushing attack, but go back and watch the 2012 ECU, 2012 UAB, 2012 Clemson, 2013 Michigan, 2013 Central Florida, and 2013 Missouri game that Dylan played significant time in. When he gets into the game, Coach Spurrier puts the rushing attack 2nd to get the pass game going. In large part because he tries to build confidence in his QB and then mix the run game in to balance the offense out. Sometimes it worked (ECU, Clemson), sometimes it doesn't (Central Florida). Central Florida, he had to scrap everything in the game plan and just play smashmouth in the 2nd half.

Well when you got a stout defense like we had, he could get away with it. But with this year's group, he might not have that luxury. Staying balance from a playcalling standpoint and decision making from Dylan is imperative.

Gamecocks1137 05-02-2014 02:40 PM

Re: Some post-Spring superlatives
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by CoverTwo (Post 4148467)
I don't doubt the ability of our rushing attack, but go back and watch the 2012 ECU, 2012 UAB, 2012 Clemson, 2013 Michigan, 2013 Central Florida, and 2013 Missouri game that Dylan played significant time in. When he gets into the game, Coach Spurrier puts the rushing attack 2nd to get the pass game going. In large part because he tries to build confidence in his QB and then mix the run game in to balance the offense out. Sometimes it worked (ECU, Clemson), sometimes it doesn't (Central Florida). Central Florida, he had to scrap everything in the game plan and just play smashmouth in the 2nd half.

Well when you got a stout defense like we had, he could get away with it. But with this year's group, he might not have that luxury. Staying balance from a playcalling standpoint and decision making from Dylan is imperative.

I completely agree, to me the 2012 Dylan played much better than the 2013 Dylan. I am still scratching my head on that, as to why.

Lonnie 05-02-2014 02:50 PM

Re: Some post-Spring superlatives
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Gamecocks1137 (Post 4148469)
I completely agree, to me the 2012 Dylan played much better than the 2013 Dylan. I am still scratching my head on that, as to why.

There was more pressure on DT in 2013 than 2012.

I hope my hypothesis is proven incorrect.

PageUSC 05-02-2014 04:01 PM

Re: Some post-Spring superlatives
 
I still disagree with people that say DT played bad at Missouri. We would of been tied or leading that game if it wasn't for the Mike Davis fumbles. He moved the ball down the field almost every possession and mikes fumbles cost us 2 scores.

Yea he missed a few throws and was inaccurate on some but he had over 200 yards in 2 and a half quarters.

My main fear is with a QB like DT spurrier may go into a pass first mindset and put a lot of pressure on DT in tight games instead of relying on our what should be great OL and stable of backs. Really looking forward to the years that Cooper and Dave Williams can have.

Flameout12 05-02-2014 04:09 PM

Re: Some post-Spring superlatives
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by CoverTwo (Post 4148449)
3rd down conversion % is definitely going to drop some I'm afraid if, like you said, we aren't smart about playcalling.

My concern with that is passing accuracy...have to make those throws. Passing accuracy was a big part of our success last season...no Alshons, Sidneys or Tori Gurleys to snag so-so passes.
I'm with you....think Dylan has some big shoes to fill...just hope the Gamecock nation is gracious. I really like the guy and hope he kills it.

gamecock88 05-02-2014 04:15 PM

Re: Some post-Spring superlatives
 
That certainly is a whole lot of words but yes, we are in trouble with our defensive front, especially the ends.

Gamecocks1137 05-02-2014 04:28 PM

Re: Some post-Spring superlatives
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by gamecock88 (Post 4148531)
That certainly is a whole lot of words but yes, we are in trouble with our defensive front, especially the ends.

I don't feel like we are, but that is just my opinion.


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