Q & A with Gamecock Man of Garnet and Black Attack
Today, we are hosting another Q&A, this time with Gamecock Man from the fine South Carolina blog Garnet and Black Attack. Our friend has an interesting history as noted on his bio. He came late to Gamecock sports having grown up in Mobile and being raised by his Auburn-loving family. But graduate school at USC turned him around to where he is all garnet and black. Damn – I should have asked him if his family still speaks to him! He’s currently in exile somewhere north of the Mason-Dixon Line getting a PhD, which explains his good writing and insightful posts (but what about his common sense?!?!).
Gamecock Man has already posted a couple of previews for this weekend’s Halloween bonanza: Previewing South Carolina at Tennessee: Topics for Discussion on the Vols’ Offense; and Previewing South Carolina at Tennessee: Topics for Discussion on the Vols’ Defense. If he keeps that productivity up, he’s going to get his degree in less that the typical three years!
He has recriprocated by posting on his blog [HERE] my answers to his questions regarding the Vols and the Tennessee-South Carolina matchup. But first, give a read of Gamecock Man’s answers to my questions on the state of Gamecock football and the upcoming game – right after the jump.
Q1 from NorCalVol: Steve Spurrier is one of the all-time great figures in college football history. He has broken through the stereotype that former great players don’t become great coaches. Steve is in his 5th season at the helm of the Gamecocks, leading the Garnet and Black to SEC East finishes of 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 3rd. Now, he is sitting at 6-2, ready to give Gamecock fans their best season since Joe Morrison’s 1984 squad (10-2) or Lou Holtz’s 2001 team (9-3). But if recent form comes to pass again this season – a poor W-L record down the stretch, including a loss to the hated Clemson – will there be serious pressure for Spurrier to step down? If not, what would it take? For South Carolina, is he an underachiever, an overachiever, or just right? [see Goldilocks and the Three Bears]
Gamecock Man: That’s a complicated question. There is certainly a contingent in the USC community that thinks it’s time for Spurrier to put up or shut up, and if this season had really gone south, you might have seen that contingent get really vocal. Even now that Spurrier has likely locked down another bowl berth, I think you may see lots of unhappy fans if there’s a complete collapse down the stretch. That said, I think as long as we win at least one more and don’t lose the others disrespectably, you’ll see most Carolina fans happy with Spurrier. A 7-5 record may not seem like much, but you have to remember that this year’s team is very young, and with Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee all facing lots of turnover at the end of 2009, 2010 may be Carolina’s window of opportunity. The fans know it, and Spurrier, if he was considering leaving of his own accord, knows it, too. An 8-4 or better record for Carolina down the stretch and you’ll see Spurrier garnering major praise from most of the USC community as well as lots of hype for 2010 from the national media.
Q2 from NorCalVol: After giving up 41 points to Georgia in the second game of this season, the Gamecock defense has rebounded to become very stingy: 16, 10, 14, 26, 20, and 10 points allowed in the last 6 games. They are ranked 14th nationally in total defense and 3rd nationally in pass defense. But is the defense deep enough to overcome injuries and guide USC to wins in 3 of the remaining 4 games down the stretch?
Gamecock Man: The defense has played well this year, but depth, especially along the front, has been a problem. We lost a starting linebacker and a key backup on the line for the season, and those losses have hurt our rushing defense a little bit. We haven’t yet completely fallen apart a la the 2007 season, but it would be safe to say that the rushing defense is “bend-don’t-break” at best at this point. We’re giving up lots of yards, but so far, we’re not giving up many big plays (outside of the Alabama game) and our passing defense is doing its part when we get into passing downs. That’s allowed to keep the scores manageable. The question, of course, is how we fare against tough running teams like Tennessee, Florida, and Clemson. We may be able to stack the box against Tennessee if Jonathan Crompton isn’t playing well, but we won’t have that luxury against Florida or Clemson, and without stacking the box against Demps / Rainey and C. J. Spiller, we could be in trouble. (As a Clemson-hating Carolina fan, I will rejoice the day Spiller leaves Clemson. He’d easily win the Heisman this year if the rest of his team were any good, and I expect he’ll be a nightmare for us again when we play the Tigers.) I think our defense is going to really have to step up in those games, or our offense will have to start scoring a lot more points. And yeah, I think another injury along the front line could be devastating.
Q3 from NorCalVol: If you could have one Vol on your roster, who would it be?
Gamecock Man: I’d almost undoubtedly have to go with Dan Williams. As you know, the Gamecocks have struggled against the run due to depth problems in the linebacking corps and on the defensive line, and Williams would solve our line problems nicely. I’d certainly love to have him this weekend as we try to stop Hardesty and Brown.
Q4 from NorCalVol: Prediction. Who will win this game and how will it go down?
Gamecock Man: I expect a low-scoring, defensive showdown. (Who doesn’t?) Tennessee’s running game scares me, but unless Crompton steps up (and to his credit, he is playing better now), we should be able to slow Hardesty and Brown down a bit by focusing on the run. On the flip side of things, Tennessee has a great defense, but I think we can gain some yardage if we patiently move the ball down the field and don’t go for the big plays until they open up. It’s also significant that South Carolina has turned the ball over a good bit less than Tennessee this year. I’ll go with a 16-13 Gamecocks victory in which field goal kicking is a difference maker.
Thank you Gamecock Man for participating in this Q&A and reciprocating with my answers to your questions as posted on Garnet and Black Attack.