Good day, Everyone,
It was wet, windy, and cold in Columbia. The Wind was up and changed directions on the field, and you could see the popcorn blowing out of the boxes of fans in the stands. Hats flew off folk’s heads. I have been to games in worst conditions, but I was younger and never had as long a walk to the car as I did after the Vols at the Gamecocks on last Saturday night. I was chilled and whipped when I got to the car.
A few points pre-game. Coach Spurrier is a really good offensive coach. He had talent, especially on the offensive side of the ball and his team was picked by many to be the class of the SEC East. The Gamecocks drilled the Dawgs. Both teams have had tough losses and had film on each other’s weaknesses and strengths. Both had demonstrated weaknesses and strengths. In my opinion, neither team “surprised” the other team with players or with play calls. It came down to execution on both sides of the ball. Both teams were banged up from tough earlier games. Guys were playing with pain and bumps. Coach Spurrier had his offense and defense ready to play. All in all, the Vols proved to be more ready to play the entire game than the Gamecocks.
Looking at the game, the Vols WON!! The Gamecock fans were great! They were early and loud. The place was full and there were very few open seats when the game started. It was a great game atmosphere. I was not happy when I was surrounded by Gamecocks in the “VOL SECTION”. I ordered tickets in the first hour they went on sale on line. I was in the top five rows of their place and still was surrounded by their fans. Go Figure! Still they were really good seats for a view not for the walk up the steps.
The Gamecocks were able to get their best WR matched against our weakest CB as Bama did. Basically the same plays. Put him in slot and if we show blitz by the Safety send him deep. They also sent him across the formation where he would have to be picked up by a LB. Then they showed Play Action runs away from the motion, the LB’s reacted to the run and the guy was wide open for a short pass in the flat. They have a really good RB and were able to get in good down and distance situations as Bama did. We had to bring up run support and that opened their short passes up for first downs. One point on this they made plays but not every time they tried it. Also the Vol LB’s, DL, and DB’s reacted well on these plays and unlike last year they did not result in repeated long scoring plays.
The defensive calls resulted in our Safeties making a lot of tackles on their RB’s. Their long plays were set up by that situation. Note that they stayed away from Cam Sutton in passing situations. Also note that as the game went on, they were guessing a lot and we were able to slow them down.
Key points for the Vols. First, we did not give them good field position with turnovers. Second, we made them work for their points as a rule. They had two “Big Plays” for scores because of our mistakes on defense that gave then a lead. Third, the Vols did not “GIVE UP”. They kept going and came back. We should never discount the impact that it has on team when they hit you with their best punch. You do not blink and come back with a hard counter-punch. Third, this team is in shape to play. I was listening to the Gamecock announcers and they commented in the fourth quarter that the Gamecock defense did not have good “body language” on the field and looked tired. In the last four minutes of the regular time and in the OT, the Vols had a lot more snap especially on defense. Their WR’s were not getting past the DB’s and the OL was not able to stay with the Vol DL. I think that this was the case for both the offense and defense. We had more “Pep in Our Step!”
Things really are shaping up for the Vols. Dobbs and Hurd are giving defenses fits. What can you say about Pig? He is playing his best ball as a Vol. They appear to be getting better as the season moves along. They are playing the game and not thinking about it as the plays are ran. On either side of the ball in the SEC if you think too much, the other team nails you. One thing that impresses me about Josh, he makes his reads fast. Now that can result in some errors, but with hindsight on the past two games, he makes the correct decision more often than a “Goof Decision.” The “Off Week” is at a perfect time for the walking wounded (and the Vols have a lot of “Walking Wounded”) to get healthy before the two home games. I think Butch and his staff has shown that they are teachers. To me the week off allows them to work on problems before the game preparation starts for the next game.
I am looking forward to the next three games!
Go Vols!! Beat the Wildcats!!