Slouching towards Atlanta: a look back at South Carolina-Ole Miss

Last night’s game was of interest to me if for no other reason than to calibrate the gauge by which we’ve been measuring Georgia so far.  And we got treated to the stereotypical SEC game – two great defenses, if you’re a proponent of the conference, or two pathetic offenses, if you’re a kindred spirit to someone like HeismanPundit.

The truth is somewhat more complicated than that.  Ellis Johnson did a marvelous job mixing and matching and giving Norwood plenty of opportunities to have an impact on play.  And the Ole Miss front four is every bit as dominant as advertised.  On the other hand, I was struck by how sluggish the Rebels offense looked all night, with the glaring exception of Dexter McCluster.  And it’s clear that Garcia struggles with man to man coverage far more than zone.

The quarterbacks’ mediocre play was probably the big story of the game.  Here’s how it broke down, courtesy of Team Speed Kills:

Garcia 16 34 47.1 220 1 0 111.12
Snead 7 21 33.3 107 1 0 91.85

That is not the stuff from which legends are born.  Garcia was marginally better, and that was the difference.  But he sure disappeared in the fourth quarter when the game was in the balance.

So, what to take from this?  I think it’s more of an indication of Ole Miss being overrated than where South Carolina is going.  Thus, I lean less towards cocknfire’s take – “It’s not time to put South Carolina in the Top 15 just yet. But for the first time in a couple of years, the idea didn’t seem completely laughable” – and more towards Doc Saturday’s“If Garcia and South Carolina are still basically mediocre, what does that make Snead and Ole Miss?”.

A few more random observations from a Dawg fan’s point of view:

  • I switched on a replay of the Georgia-South Carolina first half during halftime last night (damn, I’m sorry I missed this) just for a little comparison.  The good news?  That Georgia offense looked fast and – dare I say it? – purposeful once it got going.  The bad news?  The realization that Garcia’s high water mark for the season may very well be against Georgia’s defense.  An ineffective pass rush and soft zone coverage will do that.
  • Empty seats in Columbia?  What’s the world coming to?
  • All those SEC quarterback rankings we read in the preseason weren’t worth the bandwidth they consumed.
  • The over/under in the Tennessee-South Carolina game may be in the single digits.
  • Craig James sure talks a lot.
  • I do wonder how much of Ole Miss’ offensive performance was affected by the flu that swept through the team.  The on-field performance, that is.  You can’t blame the playcalling on illness, it was sickly on its own.  You think the Nuttster would like a mulligan on that fake field goal call?
  • After last night, Gamecock fans have no reason to complain about SEC officiating.  Aside from the two blatant missed calls in the fourth quarter, it’s clear that the official method that South Carolina receivers have for creating separation is the push off.  There could have been flags thrown for offensive pass interference on almost every SC possession.


Filed under SEC Football

35 responses to “Slouching towards Atlanta: a look back at South Carolina-Ole Miss

  1. Hogbody Spradlin

    Craig James and Jesse Palmer can get downright snitty. Craig still has an ax to grind because Herschel beat out Eric Dickerson for the Heisman and Georgia leapfrogged SMU in the polls in 82.

    Any conclusions you draw using other teams to yardstick yours are weak. It’s fun and good discussion, but you’re on a slippery slope. Almost every year, somebody can use that technique (A beats B, B beats C, therefore A is better than C) to show Duke should be national champion. It’s the sports version of the Kevin Bacon thing.


    • I didn’t go back and look at the replay to see if I thought Georgia was better than Ole Miss. More than anything else, I was surprised by how slow Ole Miss looked on offense last night and wanted to refresh my perspective as to SC’s team speed on defense.


    • Will Q

      What you say about James might be true, Hogbody, but he did give a shout out to Joe Cox’s performance so far this season.


    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      Hogbody, you have put your finger on the problem we have with the sports media. To many of these talking head assholes on ESPN, etc. have an ax to grind with UGA because of the past. Jesse Palmer played for FLA and UGA is their biggest rival. Lou Holtz was coach of South Carolina. Remember the trash they were all talking 2 years ago when it looked like UGA might get to play in the BCS National Championship game. Holtz and Palmer spent 2 full days trashing Georgia because we “didn’t win the SEC” because we didn’t get to play in the SEC Championship Game. We were co-champs of the SEC East but lost the tiebreaker to Tenn. So what? It has NEVER been a prerequisite to play in the BCS National Championship game to win your conference. Oklahoma and Nebraska both played in the game (both lost) without winning their conference championship. And nobody said anything about it then.


  2. Castleberry

    I was thinking about “All those SEC quarterback rankings ” yesterday. I believe the one that had Cox last was written by an Arkansas columnist. I wonder if that list made its way to the Ginger Ninja’s locker.

    Regarding Craig James, did anyone else catch him saying that Texas Tech got up 14-0 on Ole Miss last year then quit? In his mind, Texas Tech won that Cotton Bowl easily in the first quarter and just gave up. Funny – I didn’t see it that way. What a clown.


    • ArchDawg

      Texas Tech did get up really quickly, but to me it looked like they were coasting through that game, ie it didn’t really matter much to them (based on the other games I saw them play last year). It looked like Tech was playing at half-speed in that Cotton Bowl. Ole Miss was clearly much more up for that game.


  3. heyberto

    So, I’m reading all the headlines where SC beats a Top 5 Team, and how SC exposed them. Then, you have all the crap about top 5 teams falling each week. No one is making the most logical point that the pollsters are just bad at evaluating and talent. Certainly seems that teams like SC can capitalize on the milestone of beating a Top 5 team, when clearly Ole Miss should never have been close to that. It will be interesting to see how far they drop after losing to SC.


    • The Realist

      In the preseason, I likened Ole Miss to 2008 Georgia. They are living off a big win over Florida from the previous year, a good close to the season, and a much-publicized, if entirely over-hyped bowl win. They have talent in spots, but a fairly weak o-line.

      After watching last night, this Ole Miss team isn’t nearly as good as Georgia 2008.

      That, and playing tastycakes for the first few weeks of the season doesn’t really prepare you for SEC play. Just sayin’.


  4. Joe B.

    The thing that is going to be the death of the “Wildcat” is that it is beginning to take away from teams’ offensive rhythm.

    I first noticed it when the Dolphins and Falcons played a couple of weeks ago. It looked a couple of times like Miami may have some offensive momentum, and then they turned to the “Wildcat” and their offense got off track.

    Snead was never allowed to get in the flow, because they were putting someone else at QB every few plays. Nobody has ever accused Houston Nutt of being a great coach, and I thought last night showed some of his huge failings.

    When you are on the road against a tough defense, you have to have a base to fall back on. Besides the fake FG, Ole Miss ran a reverse on 3rd and 2 in the 4th quarter, and the drive after they hit that big pass down the middle, they went right back into the “Wildcat.”

    It is difficult for a QB to make plays consistently on 3rd and long. It is doubly difficult to do so when the QB was on the bench for 1st and 2nd down.

    Too much gadgetry.

    Oh, and how much do they miss Michael Oher? A team like Ole Miss does not simply plug in a new guy to replace a 1st round draft pick.


    • SCDawg

      Their LT looked awful. How in the world do you let the Defense get to the QB when they rush two and drop nine? The DT’s were dropping two yards back and letting only the DE’s rush and they still got pressure.


    • georgiadawg85

      You might be right about the Wildcat, except the very next week Miami ran the wildcat against Indianapolis with devastating effectiveness. In fact, it was more effective than their traditional offense. It all depends on the personnel. Miami has the two perfect backs to run it, but it won’t work against a team that has game planned for it and has the speed on D to counter it.


  5. Section Z alum

    craig james bleauxs, but he is far better than the ever so brain dead jessie palmer, who makes sure in each and every sentence to wanker forth about the “quarterback position” on the “football field” because we wouldn’t know what he was talking about if he simply said “quarterback.”


  6. Some random thoughts:

    1. Craig James (I think) observes that, aside from beating a top-5 team, South Carolina was “a play away” from beating Georgia, asks Palmer where they should be ranked. Jesse: “Well, I think they’re a top-15 team.”

    Sorry, Jesse, the correct answer there was “behind Georgia.”

    2. The officials took a massive dump on Ole Miss’s last drive. The non-fair catch call and missed facemask call doomed Ole Miss.

    Garcia seemed pretty hurt by the 4th. How else to explain all those worm burners he was throwing?


    • Also, did anyone notice how Ole Miss basically ran the same play with McCluster the whole fourth quarter and Jesse kept saying “I love it. Ole Miss keeps dialing up different plays to get McCluster the ball.”

      Jesse, you’re a quarterback. You ought to recognize when a play is being repeated until the defense proves it can stop it. Hell, that’s Spurrier’s whole MO.


      • Ben Rockwell

        Maybe I feel bad for the guy, but Palmer doesn’t annoy me nearly as much as the rest of the crew up there. I just find him to be simple and a great stater of the obvious. At one point in the 4th quarter he said, “They’re just going to bleed the clock here” talking about USC and game management.

        I wonder, though, if he’s only up there b/c his contract with the Bachelor said, “If this doesn’t get me married off, I’m not going back to Canada. You have to give me a spot in the booth on Thursday nights.”


    • ArchDawg

      Garcia did get banged up quite a bit. He was facing pressure all night, and he’s also a scrambler so he’s going to take hits that way, too.


  7. Please don’t mistake my saying the idea isn’t laughable with an endorsement of it. The South Carolina team I saw Thursday night is still a long way from being Top 15 material.

    However, I still don’t get the facemask. I saw several of the missed calls against South Carolina, but that one still eludes me. It seemed pretty clear that the guy didn’t grab the facemask, and if you listened carefully to the announcers, they didn’t actually say he did. What they said was that it looked like he did, and the officials should err on the side of calling it if they’re not sure. Which is fine, but discounts the notion that maybe the refs did see the play clearly and saw no facemask.


  8. Senator – So do do we take away from this, as it pertains to your Dawgs, that Georgia’s offense might be better than expected (scoring 41 as they did on a seemingly decent USCe defense) but that your defense, especially secondary, is suspect (313 yards to the meh Garcia)?

    If so, it actually makes me more concerned about the WLOCP.


    • Funny you should say that, because I was wondering the exact same thing this morning.

      The biggest tell in favor of Georgia in the series of late is that Georgia wins when it scores at least in the 30s. I’m beginning to be nudged in the direction of thinking that this offense may wind up being more dynamic than last year’s.

      Of course, with this team’s luck, Cox will break the pinky on his throwing hand during the off week before the WLOCP.


      • It wouldn’t even be a broken finger, Senator. It would likely be something related to harsh sunburn after spending a few hours outside at night the Wednesday before the game.


      • Well by yards-per-game surrendered ASU is the nation’s top defense, albeit after only 2 games against pretty lousy teams. Still it will be worth watching what UGA can do.

        And kudos to Georgia for scheduling such fascinating games. It is really interesting to see matchups against both the Big 12 and Pac Ten with the different styles the conferences play.

        You hear that Foley? Charleston State and FIU and whoever else you can get to fall off the short bus doesn’t cut it.


    • georgiadawg85

      Honestly I think that the offense is much better than expected (speaking of Georgia’s) but it’s also a big reason why the defense is giving up so many points. Turnovers on our own side of the field has really put the D in tough spots in all of our last 3 games, which has made our wins look a lot tougher than they should have to be. So yes, I think the offense is better than expected, but they’ve also got some pestering mental errors to deal with before we face the big boys.


  9. Castleberry

    For what it’s worth,
    I’m pretty sure the entire announcing crew was wrong on the “bad call” on the fair catch. If the return man makes the get away signal, they are not supposed to return the ball.
    I’ve seen that called delay for the same signal before.