Chicken & Waffles. Your new favorite daily dish for all things Gamecocks. Grab a cup of joe and hide your screen from your boss as we fill you in on everything happening in the world of South Carolina athletics. Get your Chicken & Waffles right here, Monday through Friday.
A Different Kind of 2-4
Here we are again.
Sitting at the midway point of the season, during a bye week, owners of a disappointing 2-4 record.
Starting with a traditional pocket passer veteran at quarterback. Having him replaced by a 4-star dual-threat true freshman, and ultimately ending with Perry Orth at the helm.
What year is it again?
Jokes aside, that’s about where the similarities end between the Gamecocks’ 2015 and 2016 campaigns.
By this time last year, South Carolina had already lost two games by more than two scores, a demoralizing 52-20 beatdown in Athens and a 45-24 loss at LSU, a displaced game which proved to be Steve Spurrier’s last.
This year? The Gamecocks’ worst losses have both been by just 14 points — ironically both against the Bulldogs, the Mississippi State and Georgia variety.
Where last season’s narrative was the less-than-stellar defensive play, this year’s iteration of the Gamecocks is known for their seemingly inept offense.
Despite posting the lowest points per game in the country, the 2016 South Carolina offense has shown far more promise, both in scheme and talent, than the 2015 defensive unit.
The main difference between 2015’s and 2016’s respective weaknesses being that this year’s offense is undergoing a major youth movement so growing pains are to be expected.
Players such as running backs A.J. Turner and Rico Dowdle have played better than expected in their first years on the field. Though moved to the bench in favor of Orth, quarterback Brandon McIlwain has played well in bits. Freshmen wide receivers Bryan Edwards, Randrecous Davis and Chavis Dawkins have shown glimpses of the talent that made them all highly sought-after recruits. Not to mention the strong play of second- and third-year players such as Hayden Hurst, K.C. Crosby, Deebo Samuel and Terry Googer.
On defense, the Gamecocks have improved tremendously. In terms of yardage and points, the USC defense might not blow you away — but Bill Connelly’s latest in-depth, opponent-adjusted S&P+ ratings have the South Carolina defense ranked No. 27 in the nation.
The records might be the same, but the two teams couldn’t be more different. It seemed like all of 2015 a cloud of uncertainly hung over the Gamecocks, but this year it’s silver linings and promise.
In Case You Missed It
- Florida/LSU schedule change adds intrigue to Will Muschamp’s Gainesville return.
- The State on what right tackle Malik Young adds to the offensive line.
- Tight end Hayden Hurst named to the Mackey Midseason Watch List.
- Class of 2017 quarterback commitment Jay Urich showing his dual-threat abilities, from The Big Spur.
- The women’s basketball team continues to crush it with branding and marketing.
The men’s basketball team’s fresh new uniforms.
— Gamecock MBB (@GamecockMBB) October 13, 2016
Who knew Frank Martin was such a cutup?
— Frank Martin (@FrankMartin_SC) October 13, 2016
Not to be outdone, the women’s basketball team drew quite the crowd in Greenville yesterday.
— The Gamecock Club (@TheGamecockClub) October 13, 2016
#TeamGarcia lives on.
— Christopher Smith (@csmithSEC) October 13, 2016
No rest for the weary. Muschamp out recruiting on a Thursday night
— GoGamecocks.com (@gogamecocks) October 14, 2016
The Non-Rev Report
- Swimming & diving drops its season-opening dual meet against Kentucky.
- ITA Carolina Regional Championships on deck for men’s tennis.
- The No.2-ranked women’s soccer team getting some attention on the SEC Network.
— Gamecock W. Soccer (@GamecockWSoccer) October 14, 2016
Jake Bentley Watch: Day 4
The State’s David Cloninger offers up his take on what I’ve dubbed #BentleyWatch — with a touch of Shakespeare. As a former drama kid, I appreciate a good Billy Shakes reference. I lettered in drama, so I’m allowed to call him that.
To play Jake Bentley or not play him? That is the question https://t.co/m98lsukHaF
— The State Newspaper (@thestatesports) October 13, 2016
Traditionally, bye weeks are boring times to be a fan. For Carolina fans, 2015’s and 2016’s off-weeks have been anything but dull.
This year, I can’t think of a better way to spend the break than with the will-they-or-won’t-they with a 4-star true freshman quarterback.
I’m reading every article and update like it’s a tagline on a movie poster hyping the next blockbuster — let’s just hope Bentley can deliver an award-winning performance.
But he’s here, and has progressed from likely redshirt to squarely on the fence. USC’s offense is going nowhere and couldn’t play much worse with a new quarterback. On the other hand, it’s the difference between 48 future games and 42 future games.
Is it really time for Jake Bentley?