"We looked more like the offensive team we've hoped we would have," Franchione said.
Franchione didn't say it, but it may have been the offense he hoped for in his wildest dreams. After all, who could anticipate a 36-point, 516-yard outburst after three games with feeble offensive production?
"I wouldn't have thought for a second that it would be 37-36," Franchione said. "I would have believed 17-16 far quicker."
The end result was a loss, of course, with either score, but Franchione gave the bulk of the credit for the offensive explosion to quarterback Tyler Watts.
Watts completed 20 of 25 passes for 231 yards, with a touchdown and one interception. On the ground, Watts churned out 162 yards on 22 carries with two touchdowns.
Watts had a hard time getting excited about his performance after the loss. "That's good, but it's not good enough," he said. "We should never be satisfied with a loss. It doesn't matter if we score 100 points.
"Our job is to put points on the board. We did a better job moving the ball forward - a couple turnovers beat us today and are going to beat us in the future."
His teammates were willing to give credit to Watts for his performance, particularly his gritty running style. Watts never cowered from tacklers and fought for extra yardage, including one first quarter dive in which he landed on his head.
"He tried to make plays and get everyone involved," wide receiver Freddie Milons said. "He left it all on the field."
Milons was the primary beneficiary of the increased offense Saturday, notching 72 yards on eight receptions. There were mistakes and miscues on offense, however, Watts threw a rare interception on an uncharacteristically risky pass. He also lost a fumble once and had trouble on the handoff exchange to Ahmaad Galloway and Santonio Beard.
"We had some miscues handling the ball, which we hadn't had all year," Franchione said.
Saturday saw the return of the option. The option was called extensively in the opener against UCLA, then shelved for games against Vanderbilt and Arkansas. "We haven't run the option the last couple of weeks because the defenses weren't allowing us to," Watts said.
But Saturday was different. The Gamecocks decided to key on the running back, taking him out of the game. That left Watts free to run for big plays.
Watts said South Carolina caught on in the second half. "Late in the third quarter, they took me out of the picture, but it freed up the running back," he said. Now the goal for Franchione and Watts is to build on the offensive gains made Saturday.
Franchione's post-game message for the Tide was clear. "I asked the team what I would have if we had won: 'How are we going to respond?'"