It sure felt good to get back in the saddle, didn’t it? And if you stuck it out until the end, you saw a very entertaining game in Nashville. Here’s what I took away from the night:
- North Carolina vs. South Carolina. It didn’t take long at all to figure out what a physical mismatch this was. The Tar Heels looked like a good Conference USA team – small, quick with a few good pieces here and there but little depth. And their defensive fundamentals were terrible. South Carolina, however, looks big and nasty, especially on defense. I didn’t see anything that surprised me, though. Connor Shaw is what he is, a quarterback who can hurt you if you let him set up in the pocket and if you aren’t able to contain his running, but who looks extremely ordinary if you can force him to pass on the move. The ‘Cocks receiving corps is certainly competent (if there’s one thing you can count on in a Spurrier-coached offense, it’s that the receivers know how to run routes), but lacks that scary big man who has to be accounted for on every play. The defense looked winded at times, but was never seriously challenged, although it’s not like North Carolina has the kind of running game that had to be taken seriously. In the end, it was a typical South Carolina opener under Spurrier, not the prettiest game, perhaps, but they got the job done. They’ll be a handful when they come to Athens.
- Ole Miss vs. Vanderbilt. It took a while to get there, but in the end, all this game told us is that these two teams are what they are: middle-of-the-pack by SEC standards and fun. Which is a big step up from where they were just a few seasons ago, admittedly. There were huge momentum swings throughout, which made for some highly entertaining observations in the Twitterverse, but I doubt the top-tier programs are losing any sleep over a new sheriff arriving in town. Neither team is deep enough to pose a consistent, season-long threat. That being said, the Vanderbilt squad I watched in the second quarter could upset anyone on a given day if it could play that way for an entire game.