The Gamecocks performance against the Georgia Bulldogs last Saturday night was historically awful. They were crushed 52-20 in Sanford Stadium and allowed the Bulldogs to set both school and national records. Georgia tailback Nick Chubb became the second fastest Bulldog to reach 2,000 yards after gaining 159 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Not to be outdone, Bulldog quarterback Greyson Lambert set the school record for consecutive completions and set an FBS record for completion percentage after going 24-25 for 330 yards and three touchdowns. The quarterback not good enough for Virginia was one pass away from perfection against the Gamecocks. Commence panic mode.
For the third consecutive game, South Carolina will have a new starting quarterback when they take the field against the University of Central Florida on Saturday. Lorenzo Nunez is going to get the start. Make no mistake, this has nothing to do with Nunez ability to throw the football. In limited duty Saturday night, he completed four out of five passes for a grand total of 18 yards. That’s an anemic 4.5 yards per completion. No, the reason that the true freshman is being thrust into the starting lineup after three games is because of his legs. He led the Gamecocks with 76 yards on 10 carries and scored a touchdown on Saturday. The Gamecocks offense is in desperate need of a playmaker.
I’m not sure it would matter much if the Gamecocks did have a quarterback capable of throwing the ball down the field since they don’t seem to have anyone who can catch it. Their entire wide receiving corps seem to have hands of marble. So in that respect, it makes sense to concentrate on running the ball and divvying the carries between Nunez, wide receiver Pharoh Cooper, and tailbacks Brandon Wilds and Shon Carson. But, it’s a decision that ultimately ends the season for the Gamecocks.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier switching to a running quarterback is the equivalent of the Denver Broncos benching backup caliber Kyle Orton to start Tim Tebow. While it worked out for a little while in Denver, Tebow was cut after the season and hasn’t started a football game since. “Go out and pretend you might throw” is not a sustainable offensive scheme. Spurrier admits that Nunez is not always sure where his wide receivers are supposed to be, but the Head Ball Coach says it’s time for him to start, anyway. Yikes.
The defense is so bad it doesn’t look like it will matter what the offense does. Georgia pushed this team all over the field. Not only did Chubb and Lambert go crazy but Sony Michel, Georgia’s backup running back had three touchdowns. The Gamecocks had no pass rush, forced no turnovers, and allowed 576 yards of total offense including 246 yards on the ground. They forced the Bulldogs into only four third downs all game, and Georgia didn’t punt until the end of the third quarter. I don’t see how you can fix every phase of the defense all at once.
South Carolina defensive coordinator Jon Hoke has to try something, so he is talking about moving linebackers around. Skai Moore goes back to the weak side, where he played last year, and T.J. Holloman gets the middle. This means someone new at the strong side position while Jonathan Walton, who had been at the weak side, goes to the bench. Deck chairs on the Titanic, I tell you.
Hopefully, the Titanic doesn’t sink this weekend and the Gamecocks new starters at least have an opportunity to build some confidence. South Carolina hosts UCF, the team with the worst offense in the nation after three games. They just lost to Furman. Furthermore, they just announced that they have dismissed their all-conference running back for violations of team policy. It doesn’t appear that UCF will three-peat as conference champions or make it back to a BCS bowl game this year.
So enjoy this one while you can Gamecock fans. You won’t get too many weekends like this for the rest of the season. Just remember, there is an iceberg out there looming on the horizon and it’s name is Leonard Fournette.