Steve Taneyhill: Offensive Analysis

Steve Taneyhill has the "it factor" when it comes to leadership. From the moment he took over the South Carolina offense he put his stamp on the team in a way that grateful Gamecocks fans will never forget. He has continued his success as a state championship winning high school coach. Here he shares his unique insight into the Carolina offense and what he saw in their victory over Ole Miss.

Steve Taneyhill became the starting quarterback midway through his freshman year in 1992, and he promptly led a 0-5 team going nowhere to wins over #15 Mississippi State, #16 Tennessee, and a memorable win over arch-rival Clemson. He cemented his place in history and Gamecock hearts forever with that 24-13 win over arch-rival Clemson, in which he autographed the Tiger paw at midfield and raised his arms in triumph to the Tiger fans. In 1994 he led the team to a 33-7 steamrolling of Clemson in Death Valley, then followed that by leading the Gamecocks to their first ever bowl win against West Virginia.

He spent five years at his first coaching job as a head coach at a small private school, before spending one season as an assistant at one of the state's largest public schools. In 2005, Tanneyhill took over a Chesterfield team that had won one game in the previous three years. The Rams made the playoffs that first season, and then played in the state championship game the next two seasons, winning it in 2007. This season the Rams entered the pre-season ranked #1 in their division, and are favored to repeat as state champions at their level. Tanneyhill defers credit from himself to his players for the team's success, and loves to talk about his players.

Here he takes a look at this week's performance by the Gamecock offense, giving his perspective as a coach and former quarterback of how they did in a chat with publisher Doug Jolley. This week he takes a look back at the Ole Miss game, a 31-24 win by the Gamecocks in Oxford.

Below is Taneyhill's analysis of the South Carolina offensive effort against Ole Miss:

I thought the offense played well. Obviously Smelley had a good game; I think the key play to the offense really having a good day was the pass to Jason Barnes in the end zone. The kid made a great catch and took the big hit. It was a big difference at that point in time between kicking a field goal and coming away with seven points. I think that gave the offense and the quarterback a lot of confidence to have a good game.

It helps to get #11 back. (Kenny) McKinley is an awful good wide receiver, he makes some things happen and defenses do focus on him. The Barnes kid I thought played great. Anytime the quarterback has a great game, the offensive line has to give him time, and I thought they did better as a whole throughout the game.

We still didn't score but 24 points, because the defense had a touchdown, so there's still room for improvement. In Coach Spurrier's offense, the quarterback has to play well on a weekly basis for the offense to be productive, and I thought he did that.

I do like #22 (Bobby Wallace) at running back. I think he adds a different dimension. That boy's been there a long time, he was an awful good player at Conway, it has taken him four years, but I think he adds a different dimension to the offense. Overall, I thought the offense played well. They played good enough to win on the road in the SEC, which is awful tough.

As far as how the team has improved from earlier in the season, I think the quarterback did a better job of finding the receivers and giving them a chance to make some plays. The offensive line – that's the difference. The guys are going to get open in the offense they're running, but the quarterback has to feel comfortable, has to be able to sit in the pocket, and has to be able to find the second and third option, which I think he did this week, which was better than in previous weeks. But you've got to protect in order to be able to throw the ball, and I thought they did a much better job protecting the quarterback and giving him the opportunity to throw. He played better, but he's going to play better the more time he gets in the pocket.

It's been a different five (on offensive line) a lot of times, so it's hard to single one guy out, but as a whole they played better, and they have to find five guys to work together. The offensive line is a lot like the quarterback and receivers. They get comfortable with the guy beside them like the quarterback gets comfortable with a receiver.

On the offensive line, the more stability they have in finding the five guys, the better they're going to continue to be. I think if they can find those guys they can become a good unit. They have a lot of different protections, and it helps to trust that guy beside you. Once they get set on their five best offensive linemen, I think they'll continue to show improvement.

The SEC is by far the toughest conference in the country. I don't think people understand how good defenses are in the SEC, the size and the speed of the guys on defense is just so much different than the guys in these other conferences. I think Carolina has a good defense. They didn't play very well at the beginning (of the Ole Miss game) but they settled down. I think they ended up being awful good on defense. I think that's the one key thing that gives South Carolina a chance in every SEC game is that their defense is so strong.

The offense needs to continue to get better and better. At some point, we're going to have to run the ball, that's the only thing that I see that at Carolina that we're not very good at. I don't think we have a great back. We don't have the Knowshon Morenos; we don't have that type of running back. Once we get that type of running back, I think the offense will be even better, it will be much better.

The SEC is so tough. Look what Vanderbilt is doing, losing 13-0 and coming back to win that game. The SEC is just tough, and every week anybody can win. Kentucky hung in there with a very good Alabama team. Alabama has kind of come out of nowhere this year. He's recruiting for defense, their defense is so good, and now they have a couple of playmakers on offense. I think Carolina has a chance to win every game because their defense is good. I just worry about their offense because they can't run the ball.

I just don't know if they have "that" back there. They've used every back they have. Wallace is finally getting in there; they keep trying to find the one that fits. They need to go recruit them a good running back. The backup (Caleb King) at Georgia they say is better than Knowshon Moreno. We've got to get a better running back. I think they thought it was going to be the kid from Fork Union (Eric Baker) and he hasn't shown us that yet. I'm not second guessing them; we just have to recruit better. We keep going out and getting these kids from all over the country, but we just don't have that top-tier running back.

Even last year, Corey Boyd was a heck of a running back; he was a seventh round draft pick. We need to do a better job of having a back that fits in the offense, like Coach Spurrier had when he was at Florida. He had NFL running backs down there to go along with his passing game. That makes the offense a whole lot different and tougher for defenses to stop.

Tune in next week for Coach Taneyhill's perspective on the Kentucky game.

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