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September 10, 2012

Gamecock Sports: Game Recap - Gamecocks vs. East Carolina

Nice to Meet You Dylan Thompson!

{photo source via}
I know I said I thought that Carolina’s key to the game was quarterback play, but I never would have imagined what transpired at Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday.

Upon the announcement early Saturday that Connor Shaw would not be starting the game and that back-up Dylan Thompson would get the start, I immediately became concerned. While I have full confidence in Spurrier’s coaching prowess and his ability to prepare his quarterbacks, any time a guy is getting his first start you can’t help but be a little bit concerned. Not to mention that the Gamecocks always seem to struggle against their FCS opponents.

When Dylan Thompson dropped back to pass my heart sank. Based on his limited showing the previous week I wasn’t feeling very confident. Man was I glad to be wrong! Despite missing the first deep attempt, the chance to put his strength on display not only surprised many Gamecock faithful but also gave us that “what if” hope. On the very next play our dreams came true! Thompson hit Damiere Byrd on the deep ball to the six yard line and then Marcus Lattimore punched it in on the very next play for the early lead!

The best part about this entire sequence was watching how pumped Thompson was. It was great to see that raw emotion from a young quarterback, something that hasn’t been seen too much around here in Gamecock country.

East Carolina is not slouch though. They came ready to play and at times moved the ball very well against one of the best defenses in the nation. Unfortunately for them it seemed as if every time they strung a few plays together a mental mistake kept them from capitalizing on the opportunity. A lot of the credit needs to go to the pressure that Carolina’s defensive line put on the Pirate quarterbacks all day long. While the stat lines may not show many sacks (only one actually) they had consistent pressure on ECU all day.

The most intriguing stat about Saturday’s blowout win was the number of receivers that caught at least one pass. Eleven. Yes that’s right, eleven DIFFERENT receivers caught passes on Saturday for USC. I do not ever remember seeing a quarterback spread the ball around this much, especially in their first start. From NFL all the way down to PeeWee football you can see that quarterbacks typically have their go-to receiver. While they try to spread the ball around to keep the defense on their toes, they all seem to come back to those one or two guys that they know will make the play in the clutch. Lucky for us either Thompson has not developed this relationship with any of his receivers yet or he has that great of vision on the football field! I’m praying it’s the second one.

At the half the score was 21-0 USC. This first half team reminded me of the 90’s teams from Florida that Spurrier coached. Dylan Thompson is a Spurrier quarterback of old. He, more than any other quarterback Spurrier has coached at Carolina, seems to possess those strengths that would allow Spurrier to run his notorious “Fun-N-Gun” offense that served him so well with those Gator teams in the 90’s. I don’t know about the rest of you but this may have been the most exciting thing that happened Saturday in Columbia! Oh the possibilities!

After the explosive first half the Gamecocks had things calmed down a bit on offense for the second half. This seemed to only heat things up on the defensive side of the ball. Jadeveon Clowney made his presence known, causing two interceptions and forcing the rotating quarterbacks for the Pirates to rush almost every throw.

The second half also brought a few other opportunities to get the Gamecock faithful on their feet, the best of which was Ace Sanders touchdown pass. What seemed to be a dead play that we were going to be lucky to escape without losing yards became six points on quick pass to DL Moore. Seth Strickland also got to see some playing time at quarterback as the game began to wind down and was completely out of reach for ECU.

With the final score of 48-10, Carolina had a huge blowout win that everyone had hoped for but none expected! But there was a much bigger story to come out of this game. When Connor Shaw is healthy again who will be the starting quarterback?

For the first time in Spurrier’s tenure at Carolina we entered the season without any whisper of quarterback controversy. Now as we enter Week 3 of this young season Dylan Thompson has made a case for himself. While I believe that both Shaw and Thompson have pros and cons I think that the type of offense the Gamecocks can run with Thompson may give us the better chance. My obvious hesitation with Thompson is his lack of experience against SEC play, and there is no ignoring the difference between the defense that USC played this past week in the Pirates versus the ones they will face for most of the season.

So while the offense exploded this weekend at Williams-Brice, the true meaning of this outpouring is yet to be seen. Here’s to hoping this offense continues!!

Post written by Gamecock Girl Sports Bloggess, Lauren Hall.

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