Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Spurrier has his “Cocky” Back

For those Gamecock fans who are old enough to remember the Paul Dietzel era, you hear story after story about the success Herman Helms had at The State in spewing negativity to the point that a change was made.  Certainly the modern day moron over there has done his best to keep up that legacy of the “hometown” paper antagonizing USC for the sake of being confrontational. 

For the first time ever, that effort has failed and a Coach has survived.  Steve Spurrier’s first five seasons were an absolute grind.  Just like other legends that had come to Columbia, it appeared that the Head Ball Coach’s tenure would end badly.  At that point you could hear all kinds of “Dietzel the sequel” references from old-school Carolina fans.  

Instead of that “typical” ending, Spurrier roars into season #9 with his best roster ever and the national spotlight on Williams-Brice like it’s never been before.  The Gamecocks have a very difficult schedule as they always do and will, but this one appears to be manageable.  The SEC road trips include Athens, Mizzou, Fayetteville and Knoxville.  A bonus trip to Central Florida is badly-timed and dangerous but it is there. 
For the first time since he has been in Columbia, you get the sense that the HBC is actually “happy” with his quarterbacks.  Connor Shaw is the angelic choir boy with the great work ethic (Spurrier’s ideal QB).  Then you have the more media-friendly “gunslinger” Dylan Thompson.  Thompson being there when things get tough for Shaw or the little guy gets beat up a bit has paid dividends already.  (See Clemson and the Outback Bowl)  

So why is this the year that Spurrier seems to have finally turned back into the “cocky” ball coach we all used to hate in Gainesville?  After all, there are certainly some BIG question marks about this season:  1. Can USC’s new linebackers get the job done?  2.  Is there enough depth in the secondary?  3.  Can Connor Shaw finally win a really big marquee game on the road?  

I get it that Spurrier doesn’t have to worry himself with the first two defense concerns but he has to know that #3 lingers in the air in a big way.   Shaw has done just about everything else you can do as a QB at Carolina….except win that signature road win as a starter.  Miss. State and Tennessee in 2011 were nice wins of course, as were Vandy and Kentucky in 2012.  But Alshon rescued us in Starkville by making a tremendous catch and the Vols were sleepwalking through one of their worst years ever and we end up slipping away 14-3.  

Fair or unfair those wins are overshadowed by the losses at LSU and Florida last year and the disastrous trip to Fayetteville in 2012.  At some point this season, Shaw (who has been brilliant in Columbia), must lead us to a victory on his own on the road under pressure circumstances.  That is part of an SEC QB’s legacy.  I would say that there is one golden opportunity for that early on this fall:  Between the hedges.   If he does, then Spurrier’s return to swagger and cockiness will be justified!  Go get ‘em Connor.  It’s the chance you have been waiting for.  

It’s a great time to be a Gamecock!

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