Cack's Toast of the Game: Texas A&M
Thursday was a tough pill to swallow. It was a pill that Gamecock fans used to be used to, but past decade/4 years has spoiled us into believing we weren't that team anymore. In College Football, on any given Saturday, a team can get a butt whooping ... we got a butt whooping.
Through all the frustrations and disappointments, there were still a few good showings Thursday night. Unfortunately, I don't feel that any of them deserve any recognition. Win or lose, I always try to find a shinning star, but unless I pick 1 catch or tackle on 1 play, it'd really be pointless.
Instead, I'll comment on a few observations that I made while at the game. I haven't watched a replay or even seen the coach's show (dvr didn't record for some reason), so if I'm off on something ... get over it.
Offensive line got punched in the mouth, and really didn't man up after it. We had some pretty good pass blocking, but the run blocking was not very good. What was supposed to be our strong point for the season looks very questionable. We won't win a lot of games if we can't open any more holes than we did. From what I recall, we had 1 run over 10 yards ... if there were more, there wasn't many more.
Thompson was a question mark for me all off-season. Even in his best games, he will float a pass here and there that could be extremely costly. There were a few passes that were wide open receivers that landed 10 yards behind them. I know I was always on Shaw because I didn't feel like he took enough chances in the passing game, but when he threw the ball he was on point.
The defense was flat out terrible, we all know that. I'm a fan of the game, I never was big enough to play any after Pee Wee, so I really don't know the in depth x's and o's ... HOWEVER, I do know that you can't bring 3 guys against 5-6 (if HB stays in to block) AND leave your DBs nearly 10 yards off the receivers. I've looked and looked, but can't seem to find the numbers, but I'd be willing to bet that 75% of their passes were screens/quick slants, and the same percentage if not more of their passing yards were yards after the catch. Nothing against Kenny Hill, but I (literally) could have completed those passes and had a great game against our Defense. We made it easy for him. If you're not going to pressure the QB, you have to pressure the receivers. I mean you can't let the QB sit back there for 4-5 seconds and let the receivers go wherever they want. I know our DBs are young and still learning, I'm not mad that they gave up a bazillion yards. I'm mad that our coaching staff made ZERO adjustments. There's not a single thing that I can look at and say "he changed this up for the 2nd half." A&M surely didn't change anything and they continued to march straight down the field. We should have AT LEAST pulled the DBs up and said "ok, beat us over the top." Hats off to A&M, they took what we gave them ... we gave them the easiest game they'll play all year.
Special Teams is still an absolute joke. On one kick off we had 3 guys RUNNING BACKWARDS to try to catch up with the coverage team. It looked like A&M had 14 guys on the field and 3 of them were wearing garnet. We don't have to return every kickoff for a TD, but we can't even get to the 20 ... which leads me to ... LEAVE THE BALL IN THE ENDZONE. If you catch the ball 1 inch inside the endzone ... take a knee. Since they brought the touchback out to the 25, I'd be willing to bet that we've returned less than 25% to the 25. Take a dang knee and give our Offense a fighting chance. Getting tackled on a 15 doesn't do anybody any good.
Ok, moving to a little more positive note. The receivers had a pretty good game. Would have put us in a really good position and given us a ton of momentum going into the locker room if Jones could have pulled in that pass late in the 2nd quarter. Other than that, the whole receiving core (tight ends included) played really good games. If Thompson got it anywhere near them, they caught it most the time. You could clearly see the frustration of Busta on a few plays that Thompson would sail the ball or that he'd make a cut and get open and not be seen.
A lot to work on if we're going to get this ship back pointed towards Atlanta. I think we have the coaches and players to do that, but a lot of work.