Frisby's Corner: Week Four

Tim "Pops" Frisby, one of the all time fan favorites at South Carolina, played wide receiver for the Gamecocks during the 2004 and 2005 seasons, and he will now be sharing his insider perspective in a weekly column called "Frisby's Corner." Read inside for the fourth edition of this exciting and insightful piece, as Frisby shares his thoughts on the Carolina/FAU game from this past weekend.

Tim Frisby can be heard on ESPN Radio's "The Sports Drive With RT" on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 3-6 p.m. on 93.1 FM in Columbia.

This week's edition of Frisby's Corner will be a condensed version of my usual column. Why you may ask? Well, quite frankly FAU is not the type of quality opponent that can be used as a barometer for future South Carolina opponents. Let's face it; this game was in the "W" column before the season started. However, we can use this game as a measuring stick to internally gauge this Gamecock team.

I wonder if there is anything to an opponents nickname? I wonder if it is a coincidence that the three teams whose nickname is "Owls" (FAU, Temple, Rice) have three of the worst programs (statistically) in the country. Anyway, I digress. Howard Schnellenberger is a great coach (check out the National Championship bling on his finger.) Hopefully one day the Gamecocks can slip one of those bad boys on their fingers.

Let me give a quick breakdown on what to expect Thursday night:

OFFENSIVE LINE

I mentioned before the season started that there would be no reason to whine about our fortunes on the offensive line. The fact of the matter is that Coach John Hunt will have to work with the cards he has been dealt. A few of those cards have already been folded, such as Gurminder Thind and Web Brown, who are both out with injuries. Converted replacement Seth Edwards and true freshman Hutch Eckerson are not quite ready for the rigors of the SEC quite yet. That leaves us with Garrett Anderson, Thomas Coleman, Chris White, Jamon Meredith, and Andy Boyd at tight end. Let's hope we can get a little help from reinstated lineman James Thompson (a pre-season projected starter) and converted defensive lineman Matt Raysor, who looked impressive in spot duty against FAU.

The theme for Thursday night is "Pass Blocking." Please let us protect our QB, let's save Syvelle Newton's spleen. He's just a kid. Let's also open some holes for our running backs. We had some success running off left tackle on Saturday night, hopefully we can continue the trend.

RUNNING BACKS

Hopefully Cory Boyd can return to full strength from his high ankle sprain Thursday night against Auburn. I commend the great performance by Taylor Rank and effort of Mike Davis against FAU, but Boyd needs to be the workhorse on Thursday evening for Carolina to be successful in the run game. I still look for Bobby Wallace to give this Gamecock offense some type of spark. I feel Wallace can be effective against Auburn if used in screen situations and as a slot receiver. Hopefully Coach Spurrier is now comfortable enough to bring in Rank to spell Boyd and Davis on occasion.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Sidney Rice's five touchdown performance against the Owls set a new Carolina record, and Rice came within one score of tying the NCAA record. All of this was done in one half, I must add. Let's hope Sid was saving some touchdowns for Thursday night.

Noah Whiteside returned to duty Saturday night and made his presence felt with a 15-yard reception for a first down. Hopefully Noah will see more passes thrown his way to keep the Tigers defense honest in their coverage of Sidney. Kenny McKinley will be called on once again to have a solid performance. Maybe we can even get a punt return of some reasonable distance this year.

Folks, to be honest, I'm not quite sure we are going to get any production out of O.J. Murdock this season. You just don't step into the thick of your SEC schedule and expect any kind of numbers from a receiver who has not produced all season. I do think that we will see increased production from Moe Brown. His confidence is building as the season progresses and he has been groomed wisely.

QUARTERBACKS

Downplayed on Saturday was the fact that on the other end of Sidney Rice's 5 touchdown performance were 5 TD passes delivered by Syvelle Newton. My experience has always been that the quarterback was credited first with throwing the touchdown pass, not the receiver catching it. I'm still scratching my head on that one.

I have come to the conclusion that Syvelle Newton is simply not comfortable in his current position as USC's starting quarterback. However, the bottom line is that he is winning! Winning, in itself, never seems to be enough here at South Carolina though. Newton will continue to play QB because he is a team player, but I think Syvelle feels like he is in a no win situation. As a former teammate, I will guarantee the Carolina faithful this: Syvelle Newton will give his best effort Thursday night against Auburn. I see a lot of scrambling taking place against the Tigers. I hope that I am wrong, but if I'm not, let's hope that Syvelle can make enough plays to keep this team in the game. If Syvelle can't move the ball on the ground or in the air, then look for Blake Mitchell to be inserted to try to get the ball moving. However, if we can't get any consistent pass-blocking, look for Syvelle to ride it out. It will be no use inserting Blake if we cannot protect the passer.

I would love to see us get a ground game going with Boyd, allowing us to extend possessions and keep the clock running. That would definitely open up the passing game later in the contest.

DEFENSE

The Gamecock defense will have to play the game of their lives on Thursday night. The Tigers posses a great offensive line, and USC will need to play assignment football with minimal mistakes.

Hopefully Coach Nix will be able to develop a game plan in this short week to counter an experienced offensive machine. Auburn's intent will be to establish the running game early, but if we can force Auburn to put the ball in the air, I think we can capitalize on some turnovers for immediate points or good field position. The game may very well come down to field position.

Let's face it, Auburn will score, but it will be imperative to hold Auburn to field goals throughout the night. We can be successful if we can keep them out of the end zone and limit them to three points, rather than seven.

OBSERVATIONS

This is one of those ultimate gut check games. A game that separates the contenders from the pretenders. First and foremost, we have to enter this game expecting to win. You should always respect your opponent, but never respect them to the point that you have no chance to win the game. If that's the case, then why play the game? Yes, Auburn is awfully good, so what? They put their pads on the same way we do!

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