The Honeymoon: It Is Officially Over

In every coach's stint, in every program's experiment with a staff, there comes a time when the hard questions are eventually asked. With this quarterback controversy and the problems with the offense - things have changed. Coach Lou Holtz raised the expectations and in the process may have awakened the sleeping monster ...

"Someone is really going to have to step forward to unseat Dondrial (Pinkins). I'm a Dondrial Pinkins fan."

That's how Lou Holtz answered the media Tuesday afternoon when asked about the current quarterback situation. You never know what Lou is saying for sure, but this could develop into a problem - a true full-blown quarterback controversy and more ... a coaching controversy.

The problem for the program could be, in a situation such as this where the general consensus among the fans is that a change has to be made, that it is tricky for Coach Holtz to play what may be perceived as word games at this point. It's almost as if the collective intelligence of the Gamecock Nation is being questioned.

This is a critical time in the relationship between Holtz and the Gamecock faithful. Signs are that the honeymoon is finally over. The recruiting has been great, the public relations super. Holtz is as loved and adored by the fans as always. But USC's most ardent devotees clearly want much better offensive production now - and fans are always going to point in three specific directions when the production is lacking:

1) The Quarterback
2) The Offensive Coordinator
3) The Head Coach

Something has got to give. It hasn't become critical yet, but the tension in Gamecock land is tighter than a gnat's butt stretched over a #10 washtub. Something is ready to pop.

Coach Holtz, Lou, has clearly stated that Skip is in full charge of the Gamecock offense and is calling all of the plays. That is not an issue this year - at least the 'who' part. Skip is going to receive all of the blame for the play calling. The truth of the matter is that the play calling has not been as bad as some might claim. In fact the play calling has been above average - it's the execution that has been hidiously-horrendous ... a real stinky poo at times.

It's not like Gamecock fans have been hounding Lou about Skip's and his offenses ... but the questions have been there, lingering, needing to be answered.

Then comes Coach saying, "Someone is really going to have to step forward to unseat Dondrial."

Someone has, someone did. At least in the eyes of even the most casual of observers.

For readers of this web site the catch phrase is not "catchable ball" this week. That's old news. This web site,, made issue of Pinkins' inability to deliver an accurate and catchable ball last week - along with the potential consequences.

The great debate for true insiders has never been whether Dondrial throws a perfect spiral or not. Nor has it been how he holds the football. Skip answered those questions last week for the umpteenth time.

There is no more debating about any of the physical aspects of the passing game woes for the Gamecocks - at least not among those of us in-the-know who subscribe here. A conclusion has been reached. Footballs are not being thrown into a catchable zone, in a catchable way, when catches are needed the most. Proper plays are not being checked into at the line of scrimmage. Overall execution is sadly lacking. It's all about things to do with being a big-time, game-winning, quick-thinking SEC quarterback.

Dondrial Pinkins does not have the football-mental capacity to run a SEC championship caliber offense. There, it is said. And in the rugged SEC you had better have championship caliber football-mental and football-physical skills if you hope to compete from week to week. Otherwise you are not just beaten - you are embarrassed ... sometimes on national TV.

Last week in Athens the Gamecock offense did not compete - they barely survived. But not for the pine riders USC would have been shut-out.

Now Gamecock fans need solutions. Answers to simple questions. Solutions and answers to problems and questions that should have been solved and answered last season in the minds of many.

1) Why is there not a capable quarterback somewhere on the roster - a go-to man right now? Or is there?
2) Why has Gamecock offensive production consistently declined for the past several seasons?
3) Why is it always QB draw, delayed draw, draw draw draw up the middle?
4) If anyone else were the offensive coordinator, would they have received this much patience and understanding from a man who is so well known for demanding excellence from everyone around him?

These are but a few of the questions out there, and those asking them are beginning to ask louder and louder.

Gamecock fans are not anti-Dondrial but, this is Dondrial's fourth year in the system. If you cannot make accurate reads, if you cannot check off into proper formations while giving yourself a chance to beat the defenses, if you cannot deliver a catchable ball after four years in the system ..... then it is time for a change.

Gamecock fans are not anti-Skip. They are cheering for Skip to do well. They want Skip to do well and to inherit the Gamecock Nation. But doubts are surfacing and the first big test is before us all - now - as we type and read.

What will the Holtzs do with regard to the current quarterback situation? This is going to be the biggest decision, as coaches, that Lou and Skip have made since their arrival. The Derek Watson decision was nothing compared to this. Replacing Fabris and Strong was nothing compared to this. This one is bigger. This one will have far more reaching effects - one way or the other.

Only a visible change, a new Gamecock quarterback under center starting the game Saturday against UAB, will really satisfy the subsconsious worries of the Gamecock faithful - the football connoisseurs ... those who know what they are watching on any given Saturday in the SEC.

Gamecock fans are Dondrial Pinkins fans too! Coach Holtz does not hold the monopoly on being fans of a young man who has worked so hard and has such a pleasant and amiable personality. But Gamecock fans need to see improvement - right now. They need to see their team, their players and their coaches not making the same mistakes week after week, season after season.

It is a reasonable demand. The honeymoon is over and this weekend against UAB the Gamecock coaches will send a message to their fans, the waking monster. Fans once known as a sleeping giant whom Coach Holtz himself kicked out of its mediocre slumber and turned into a grumpy group expecting excellence and nothing less.

Coach Holtz can blame the presence of the monster on the man he sees each morning in his own mirror. He promised championships - and it is championships that the monster craves.

This Sunday before the Gamecock coaches and players begin their preparation for the Volunteers of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Gamecock fans - the monster that they have become, will send a message back to their coaches. What will be said depends upon a decision that has yet been made. It's all about who has his hands under Chad Walker when the first "hut" is sounded this Saturday against UAB. It's all about choices. It's all about expectations.

The monster is watching.

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