Saturday, September 10, 2011

Here's What I Hope To See Today

I've spent some time the past couple of days pondering the following question:  Outside of a win, which I still find highly improbable, what would be the minimum acceptable performance today?

Here's some things I would like to be able say "Well, at least we did that better".

  • Run the no-huddle like a no-huddle is meant to be run.  If Richt & Bobo are going to stay committed to the no-huddle, then let's at least act like we're doing it for a reason.  If you are running substitutes in and out on every single play, like we did against Boise, then the no huddle loses a lot of effect.  That is because according to the rules, if the offense substitutes, the officials are required to give the defense time to substitute and get set before spotting the ball.  So there is no gain in tempo or number of plays for the offense if that happens on every snap.  With the flexibility that our TE's and FB's give us, Bobo should be able to run a number of different plays out of a number of different formations using the same personnel groupings.  That would keep the defenders on the field longer, limit the ability for the defense to make adjustments, shorten the time between plays, and achieve the goal of getting more plays in for the offense.  Against Boise, we were for the most part not snapping the ball until there were 5 or less seconds on the play clock, which is exactly when we snap the ball when we are not in a no huddle, so what was the point of going no huddle?  
  • Make Stephen Garcia beat us.  I'm not saying we can completely stop Lattimore, but I'm not saying we can't contain him either.  Auburn (regular season matchup) and Arkansas held him to 2.4 and 2.7 yards per carry last year, respectively, and neither of those two defenses were considered elite.  We barely managed to hold him under 200 yards.......that simply cannot happen again.  Garcia can be a dangerous QB when his head is on straight, and he and Jeffery very well could beat us without a big game from Lattimore, but I'd much rather lose because Garcia had a big game than because Lattimore ran all over us again.
  • Blitz. Blitz. Blitz.  It seems that no matter who our Defensive Coordinator is nowadays, we are not going to effectively cover the middle of the field.  So if we can't do that, then we darn well better get pressure on the QB, especially on obvious passing downs.  The combination of not covering the middle of the field AND not pressuring the QB is a sure recipe for defeat.  We gotta at least do 1 of the 2, and it would be nice to at least see the defense display some aggressiveness and get after Garcia.  I still think using some 3 safety sets and dropping Rambo down closer to the line of scrimmage to watch the underneath stuff in the middle of the field is a good idea (in obvious passing situations), but then what do I really know.
  • Show some level of confidence/competence/swagger on offense.  I don't care if it's from the shotgun, the wishbone, the no huddle, I-formation, empty sets, or whatever, just SOMEBODY step up and make some plays early in the game to give the offense some confidence.  If the pocket breaks down, Murray's gotta get loose and turn a broken play into a big play.  When the WR's or RB's get the ball in space, make at least one person miss.  The first down that Marlon Brown got last week with a 2nd and 3rd effort was the only time on offense that it felt like any player refused to fail.  Other than that, it was dropped passes, poor blocking, not seeing open receivers, predictable playcalling, and inability to break tackles all around.  A lot of that falls on Bobo putting the players in a position to be able to make plays..........but even if he does that, the players then have to do their part and actually MAKE the plays.  If we go 3 and out the first few times we get the ball again, that will get into the heads of the players (not to mention the fans), and it will be a long day.
We all want to win, and nobody more than me since I work with tons of Gamecock fans who already have Monday planned out to harass me endlessly.  But even if we lose, if we show tangible improvements in the above areas, I'll at least feel somewhat better about the team than I did all of this week.  There's no shame in losing to a better team, but if they do turn out to be a better than us, let's at least make them prove it.

Check back during the game, we should have some sort of live blog going.  If SimpleMan, our Mountain West correspondent (he lives in Denver now) is not able to blog, I'll attempt it from the game off of my phone.  I've been able to post from my phone before without any problems, but anyone who has ever been to a game at Sanford Stadium knows that cell phone performance can be spotty during the course of a game, so we'll see how that goes.  Enjoy your weekend, people, and GO DAWGS!


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