Frankly Speaking: There Remains A Lot Of Work

Gamecock fans were relieved to have avoided the blowout, or were they? In a show of changing times, many expected to win and were disappointed with the close loss in Athens. Knowledgeable Carolina fans recognize the fact that there remains much work ahead ...

After watching the film from the Georgia game a couple of times, it remains clear that the first order of business for Steve Spurrier, is to keep signing productive prospects. If he continues to sign the caliber of player that he signed in his first class at South Carolina, the rest of the SEC Eastern Division will be in trouble two or three years from now. For the time being, Spurrier will have to make do with less depth and less size than his major adversaries.

In the immediate future, Spurrier is going to have to find a running game. The 1.5 or so yards per carry average his team is touting now, is embarrassing. The Gamecocks are two games into the season and they have yet to total 100 yards net rushing total!

There are two rules that shall forever apply to college football if you expect to win games. They are; run the ball with authority and play good defense. Some argue that you cannot do the second without the first. An argument clearly evident against Georgia as the Carolina offense was unable to give their defense a breather, especially in the second half.

The Gamecocks must find their running game. Where to look is the question. Are the running backs lacking in ability? Is it the offensive line? Or is Steve Spurrier's offense simply not geared toward running the pigskin?

The talent in the backfield appears to be more than adequate. And it is a well known fact that Spurrier would rather run first and throw the ball second if he had his druthers. So using that process of elimination we are staring into an offensive line problem that leaves us worried.

Someone needs to fix the problem with the offensive line's inability to drive defenders off the line of scrimmage. This is going to be a long season if Carolina cannot get their running game issues resolved.

Another issue, at the opposite end of the spectrum, is how to effectively stop opposing teams from running the ball on the Carolina defense? Talk about a potential nightmare! Try making it through this season without being able to run the football nor being able to stop the opponent's rushing attack.

There was a recent season where week in and week out every opposing running back that ran against Brad Scott's defense, broke their school's record for total rushing yards in a game.

The Gamecocks are dangerously close to having something similar to that happen to them ... again. They need to find a way to slow down opposing running backs or it is going to be a long season. There will be more close losses.

Blake Mitchell appears to be improving week to week although it is still too soon to tell. Several things that he will need to correct in coming weeks are; he needs to work on a quicker release. He must find a natural reaction groove and get himself out of the forced reaction rut he is in right now. Time itself will eventually force all quarterbacks into mistake laden situations. Too much time allows a quarterback to think too much about what he needs to do. An open receiver is usually in the pipe for a second or less. Mitchell should be firing at the open receivers. He should be anticipating where and when that receiver will come open based upon the field of play in front of him. Right now Mitchell is waiting for his receivers to ramble into his comfort zone where he feels confident throwing the football at a viable target. Once Mitchell becomes comfortable with the offense and his skills are developed he will reach his full potential.

Blake Mitchell is quieting his critics. He has surpassed the expectations of most and proven that he can operate behind center in a Spurrier offense. But he has to take it to the next level in a hurry. He has to read coverages better than he does now. Everything has to become second nature to him and it needs to happen soon. The time will come, in the very near future, when Mitchell is going to have to make a throw or check off at the line in such a fashion that it turns the table in Carolina's favor.

Special Teams have been lacking for two consecutive weeks. Fumbles, missed field goal opportunities, poor coverage at times and inconsistent punting is going to hinder Spurrier's efforts to win a big game before this season is complete. The potential is there. Ryan Succop's booming kick-offs deep into endzones are a welcomed changed from years past. But every other aspect of special teams play needs work.

Be glad that the Gamecocks hung on for a two point loss if you want. The fact of the matter is that this team is good enough to win games such as the one they lost in Athens. That null and voids all claims of a moral victory. South Carolina could'uv and should'uv won the game if not for shooting themselves in their collective feet on several occasions.

This week's game verses Alabama is key and almost a must win game for the Gamecocks. Close losses have a way of eventually demoralizing a football team and they begin to believe they are jinxed or snake-bitten. South Carolina needs to put together a game plan and execute it as flawlessly as possible as soon as possible. The best golfers in the world are not necessarily the ones that hit it the farthest, but rather the ones that hit it the straightest and are able to play within their physical limits while overcoming the hazards on the course.

This South Carolina football team needs to approach their game in the same fashion. They must learn to play within their limits but do it as perfectly as possible. And what they showed us Saturday against Georgia is that they have the potential to win a lot of football games this year and in coming seasons. What they must do first is fix the major problems and then by mid season, once they have shown some consistency, they can begin fine tuning.

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