Frisby's Corner: Week Nine
We may be seeing the beginning of a cohesive unit as pertains to our offensive line. The line actually played up to its potential for the majority of the game on Saturday against a talented Razorback front. That is more than can be said for the offense as a whole. I do know that our pass blocking was excellent throughout the game. The problems the O-Line encountered were due to Arkansas stacking the box in the first half to eliminate Syvelle Newton as a running threat.
The only thing the offensive line was asked to do in the second half was to provide pass protection for Blake Mitchell. I will have to grade them out with a ‘Gold Star' for their second half effort. Blake was provided ample time to set up and make throws from a well-defined pocket with little or no pressure.
There may be more to the Cory Boyd disappearing act than meets the eye. I know Cory, and if he dresses out, believe me he is ready to play. To get zero run attempts from our leading rusher in such a critical game is inexcusable provided he was healthy? The absence of Boyd in the first half was crucial. Carolina was not able to establish any kind of running attack, and as a consequence, the offense was out of balance. In essence, they were not able to establish a proper run/pass ratio to influence a change in the Razorback defensive alignments.
To be fair to the backs we were behind the whole game, which is not conducive to any kind of running game. However, Mike Davis carried 7 times for 29 yards and was out rushed by quarterback Syvelle Newton who ran the ball 7 times for 37 yards. Bobby Wallace scampered for another 8 yards on his only carry. This calculates to a grand total of 65 yards rushing. Sorry, but that dog won't hunt in the SEC.
Anticipating Cory Boyd's return to the lineup next week, this team is still in search of a consistent #2 back. Any takers?
Well, it sure looks like Sidney Rice has returned to form. Obviously he would be the leading receiver in the nation and a Heisman Trophy candidate if our offensive line had been able to protect the QB earlier in the season. It has become quite apparent that he can't be covered without utilizing a variation of zone defenses to double and triple team him. The problem is for future teams who plan on utilizing these zone defenses. These zones have allowed Carolina to groom other receivers to pick up Sidney's slack. Kenny McKinley has emerged as a quality and dependable receiver. A healthy Mike West is waiting for a breakout game, and Freddie Brown, while not a spectacular athlete, has proven to be a dependable receiver with good hands. Noah Whiteside continues to be a trump card for Carolina. Noah is capable of having a big impact in Spurrier's vertical offense provided we can protect the passer.
We are getting absolutely nothing from the tight end position from a receiving standpoint. It seems that coach Spurrier is comfortable utilizing the TE's as blockers for the time being. Don't be surprised if you see some plays for the TE vs. Florida. I look for Jared Cook to come up with a big reception against the Gators.
We finally saw Syvelle Newton have an off night. Instead of bemoaning that fact, let's take this opportunity to thank him for sacrificing for the team and bringing this program a measure of respectability this season. If not for the play of Mr. Newton, one only knows what this team would look like at this juncture of the season. Syvelle cannot feel good about his impending demotion to backup, no real competitor would. My question is how do we get Syvelle involved in the game plan from other than the QB position. He is too valuable of an asset to have sitting on the bench awaiting backup quarterback duty. You must have your best athletes on the field.
All that being said, let us further applaud the efforts of Blake Mitchell. Blake shook off six games of rust and played like he was under center for the entire year. One must take advantage of opportunities when they are presented, and Blake did an outstanding job of making the best of this second chance.
Let me say this. There has never been any argument that Blake Mitchell is the best QB we have to run a "Spurrier Type" offense. That is an offense that throws the ball vertically downfield, but more importantly requires outstanding pass blocking from the O-Line. As witnessed by Arkansas, this offense is nearly unstoppable when executed correctly. It will be up to Florida to pick their poison. I am quite sure they will try to force Spurrier's hand by pinning their ears back and coming after Blake. If they are successful, Spurrier will have to utilize Newton who is more mobile. If they decide to play straight up, hopefully our line will continue their improvement and be able to pass block effectively. If the line does hold up, look for some fireworks from this Gamecock offense.
We knew what was coming from Arkansas and were still unable to stop it. Arkansas came into the game as one of the nation's leading rushing offenses. They left the same way. Darren McFadden rushed 25 times for 219 yards. What? We didn't watch any tape on Mr. McFadden? Marcus Monk came into the game as the Razorbacks only real threat at receiver. Maybe there was no tape available on him either? Well, after eight catches and 192 yards he is still Arkansas' only receiving threat.
I, for one, was tired of seeing the Arkansas sweep on Saturday evening. To stop the sweep a defense must get up field penetration and turn the run inside. There was no sign of penetration or pursuit to string out the play.
Once again third and long was our achilles heel on defense. We just cannot seem to stop teams in third and long situations. To compound matters, Arkansas employed a hurry up offense that caught us with our pants down time and again.
We must do a better job of being aware of game situations. There is no way the Razorbacks should have scored a 50-yard touchdown with :02 to go in the half, especially not when two Gamecock defenders have their hands on the ball. Forget about the interception stat fellas, knock the damn ball down and let's go to the half.
Another play that sticks in my mind is the final third down and eight conversion by the Razorbacks. Our DB's were either in a back pedal or face guarding their assignments. Not only did they not turn to pick up the ball, they allowed Arky's number one target Marcus Monk to come wide open. Game over.
I usually mention a few players who had outstanding games in my column. However, I can't think of any one defensive player who had an outstanding game Saturday. I think Coach Nix would agree with me.
We are still not getting anything from our special teams. There is nothing special about them. We are at the bottom of the SEC in both kickoff return and punt return. This is an area that we must address. Let's get someone back there who can give us some excitement. I nominate Bobby Wallace.
I guess the "Mighty Turtles" were not impressed with the environs of "Death Valley" on Saturday afternoon. Seems like someone forgot to tell Maryland they were the underdogs. Just be thankful the Tigers are fitted with a parachute to survive its freefall from the rankings. However, all is not lost. Now don't go getting all hot and bothered with me, just turn down the volume in the "General Lee" and hear me out! Much like Carolina, you need not dwell on your misfortunes, but rather embrace the positives from this weekend.
Ok, here we go. I see Will Proctor is finding some success between the 20s? Someone please alert him to the fact that the end zone is not between the 20 yard lines. I thought Carolina played bad Saturday, but Clemson did us one better. 7 of 20 on third and fourth down conversions; 0 for 6 inside the Terps 40; and 0 for 4 inside the Terps 20. Now that folks is offensive futility. "It all came down to the red zone," Chansi Stuckey said. "We did good between the 20s, then we got there, and it was like the Terps had our number." Ya think?
Seriously, I don't know what Clemson needs to do to right the ship. Well, actually I could recommend a few things, but I'll leave that for another column. Usually Clemson struggles out of the gate, then plays well when it counts. This year it is a reversal of roles. Clemson did well out the gate and seems to be losing when they need to win. I do know this. The Bowden Pressure Meter, which has been dormant most of the year, is continuing its steady climb and is now positioned at "Pressure Building." I can hear David Bowies "Under Pressure" playing in the background. Tommy kind of favors Bowie as a matter of fact. Is that a compliment or not?
One problem for Clemson is that they have not properly groomed a backup QB. Now that Proctor's limitations have been exposed, Clemson has no contingency plan. So the Tigers have no other choice then to ride out Proctor for the remainder of the season. It seems the Tigers could have taken some advice from the Big Gamecock himself Foghorn Leghorn " I say, I say boy, you've gotta keep your feathers (QB's) counted for just such an emergency."
Fortunately for Clemson, I don't think N.C. State could stop the Tigers running game even if they wanted to. Clemson should be able to pick up a "W" against the Wolfpack, depending on which Jekyll or Hyde team shows up in "Death Valley."
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