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In-depth look at the 2013 Gamecock Defense: More Experienced than Georgia?


Recently our fearless leader here at DudeYouCrazy spoke on Jadeveon Clowney and the hype surrounding him.  He also said he figured I would be speaking soon about the Gamecock defense.  What do you know?  He was right about something Gamecock related!

Now, we all know how hard South Carolina was hit by attrition on the defensive side of the ball.  If you have been under a rock since January, we lost just about everyone on the defensive side of the ball.  Hard hitter DJ Swearinger is gone, and his presence will be more than missed.  Long time starter at Defensive End, Devin Taylor is also gone to the NFL.  Our two-deep at our Linebacker and Spur spots are depleted.  The team that takes the field on August 29th will feature almost as much inexperience as Georgia’s.

Now, how should I break this down?  Positives & Negatives?  By position? By random tidbits of information?  Let’s do this by position, so I can at least show how we have more experience than UGA, since I’m sure that statement above will be taken some sort of way by our rabid sick mutt beloved Dawg brothers.

Cornerback

This position returns the most experience even after losing Akeem Auguste.

The group will be led by veteran corner, Victor Hampton (pictured above). Victor had issues when he first came to Carolina, mostly maturity issues.  He was briefly dismissed from the team but returned not long after.  Since then, his maturity off the field has been the best you could ask for.  He learned his lesson, and has played lights out.  He knows the opportunities that are within reach and he will play the best season possible.  Will he get beat? I’m sure he will a couple of times.  Show me a corner that has never gotten beat… Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

Also returning, will be Jimmy Legree.  Jimmy saw limited action last season in a back up role to Akeem Auguste.  He did play while Akeem was injured the first few games of the season.  When he was on the field, he impressed.  If I remember correctly, he had two pick-6’s.  He has enough experience and talent that he will hold his own this season.

Defensive End

I guess you can consider this a strength to our team. (Sarcasm, sorry, its a habit…)  We return All-World Defensive End, Jadeveon Clowney, but lose the disruptive force of Devin Taylor.  Now, last season, Devin Taylor was extremely limited by Brad Lawing, former D-Line Coach.  As silly as that sounds, Devin was used primarily to contain on his side.  Even sillier, right?  Answer me this, how many plays did he make last season?  He had more pass deflections than sacks.  No slight to him, but he was a victim of the system.

To replace Devin Taylor, we bring in fifth year Senior, Chaz Sutton.  Under Deke Adams, expect him to play like there is no tomorrow.  Deke will bring a much more aggressive approach, and Chaz Sutton is an excellent pass rusher.

At the other side will be Jadeveon Clowney.  That is all.

Just kidding.

Clowney registered 13.5 sacks, and 23.5 tackles for loss this past season.  After the bowl game, the expectations surrounding him went to heights further than Vincent Smiths helmet.  As Drew said in a previous article, it was Vincent Smith, not anyone of note.  You’re right, but you put ANY runningback into that situation and he is destroyed.  When Clowney is in your face before the ball is fully in your hands, I don’t care if you’re the size of William Perry, you’re going down.

Back to Clowney.  I expect his expectations to far surpass his actual performance solely due to the fact that there will likely be two or three blockers on him at all times.  Enter Chaz Sutton and Kelcey Quarles (more on him later).  With the attention Clowney gets, expect the rest of the D-Line (and inexperience Linebackers) to get more one-on-one time.  So while I fully expect Clowney to fall short of EXPECTATIONS (not quality play), I also expect the overall performance of the defensive line to rise in meteoric fashion.  Let’s face it though, when one of your expectations involves on field homicide, it’s a good thing you don’t rise to the occasion.  Expect Gerald Dixon to get some time in rotation.

Defensive TackleThe big guys in the middle.  Everyone loves these guys.

The big name among Defensive Tackles at South Carolina, is Kelcey Quarles.  This man is huge, I’ve seen him in person.  I wouldn’t even want to have him jump on a dog pile.  He has a tendency to lose on run plays, but he’s still a solid playmaker.  Adding yet another year of workouts though could help him in that department.   Expect the rotation to include Philip Dukes, Gerald Dixon Jr (yes, there are two Gerald Dixon’s on the roster.  Same father, different mothers, same name.), and JT Surratt.

Once again, the Defensive Line will be very strong.

Safeties

Our safety positions return players who all have some experience.  Brison Williams locked down the Strong Safety spot last year next to DJ Swearinger, so we are safe there, barring some unforeseen circumstance.  TJ Gurley is another safety with experience, he was seen in place of DJ Swearinger while he was suspended a game for a jaw jarring hit.  Kadetrix Marcus saw time on special teams, so hopefully he is at least acclimated to the college atmosphere.

Not much worry in the secondary, folks.

Now for the BIG problem.
Linebackers/Spur
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/f/f5/Question_mark.PNG

We lost five in the Linebacking corps.  Not good.

Look for Kelvin Rainey (former tight end, had 6 interceptions in spring training) and Kaiwan Lewis to hold down the Linebacker positions.  (SC runs a 4-2-5, thus two linebackers.)  Kelvin Rainey will either solidify his position as a Linebacker, or will be overtaken by Ced Cooper when he returns from his injury.  Either way, this group has about four tackles worth of experience.

The upside you may ask?  Talent.  This group is the most physically gifted and talented group USC has recruited under Spurrier.  The group WILL be a strength eventually.  I doubt it will be August 29th.  I’m looking more along the October games to where they start clicking.  2014 by the time they are a true strength.

Now, let’s take a glance at the Spur.  If you aren’t sure what a spur is, it is a Safety/Linebacker Hybrid position.  This will be locked down by Sharod Golightly.  I assure you one thing about him, he does NOT go lightly.  He’s a hard hitter, and should be one of the first to really feel at home on the field in this group.

Let me simplify all of this.
Defensive Line: A+

Cornerbacks:  A-

Safeties:  B

Linebackers:  D (B+/A for Talent and Upside)

Spur:  B-

I think the way our line plays will be the determining factor of the play of the linebackers.  If the line plays to it’s potential, it will surely cause mistakes by the offense, which should (hopefully) help the linebackers.  The defense has the talent, but this question still remains:  When will the Linebackers take the next step and play to the quality of the rest of the defense?

As always, it’s Great to be a Gamecock!
JB, signing out.

//Follow me on Twitter @jbarnes24dyc
//E-Mail me at jbarnes24dyc@yahoo.com

Silencing the Critics: Shaw v. Thompson


Fellow Gamecocks, I am sure you have man crushes on these guys by now.  Speedster Shaw or Gunslinger Thompson?  That is the question on everyone’s mind.  Should we go with the guy who, in his career, is 300-of-449 for 3627 yards, 32 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, with 298 rushes for 1,125 yards and 11 touchdowns?

Or the guy who truly fits the Steve Spurrier type of Quarterback that can launch a deep ball with fair accuracy, and can be mobile enough to make three or four plays a game with his legs?

Both Quarterbacks have their upsides and downsides.

What I absolutely love about them both is their fight and determination.  Connor Shaw against Vanderbilt this past season almost made me tear up.  THAT is a real baller.   Not the flashiness, the one handed catches, etc.  It’s the hard nosed relentless attack.

As far as Thompson goes, I love when he really gets into the game, bobbing his head and having fun.  It’s even fun to watch, you have to smile.

Okay, enough pictures.

The purpose of this article, is to tell you guys to shut up.  Honestly.  We have two great quarterbacks.  Be happy the competition isn’t between Smelley and Garcia anymore.  These guys are good friends, they support each other whoever is in.  Connor Shaw was #9 in the nation is passer efficiency.  Thompson finished with a 5:1 TD:INT ratio. (10:2 reduced is 5:1, end math lesson)

BE HAPPY.  It’s a great time to be a Gamecock!

JB, Signing out.
Twitter:  @jbarnes24dyc

This Post is Graphic in Nature: Jadeveon Clowney will disappoint in 2013


Last week I told you that stud sophomores Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall would decline in production for the Georgia Bulldogs.  Those sentiments were not contrived, they were genuine (although I will repeat: I hope everything that I wrote turns out to be wrong).  But, I did strategically debut this series with that article so that I could write articles like this one without sounding completely ignorant to life itself.  With that in mind, before you think “this guy is just a pro-Georgia homer with no respect for other teams,” please go back and re-read this article.  Maybe then I won’t sound quite as crazy when I say…

Jadeveon Clowney will regress in 2013.

That is a bold statement in and of itself, and I’m sure at the end of this season some stat-geek will come back at me with an argument that is mathematically advanced in its convenient rebuttal to my assertion.  So allow me to amend my thesis:  Jadeveon Clowney will regress in 2013 relative to the mass public’s perception of his 2012 season.  How’s that?

So, will 2k13 Clowney be decisively worse than his 2012 version (90 total tackles, 57 solo tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, 2 passes defensed, 1 fumble recovery and 3 forced fumbles)?  Maybe not.  But he will be worse than fans remember him being in 2012.

What am I talking about?  Am I just offering a cop-out for my prediction?  I don’t think so.  Let me dig deeper…

 

Clowney has to be worse in 2013.

That was my thesis when I began this article.  “There is no possible way he could match his production from a year ago,” I thought.  But then I looked at his actual production – not merely the perception of his production.

Clowney registered 13 sacks for 73 total yards lost in 2012.  Those are very good numbers; there’s no doubt about that.  But they weren’t the best in the SEC last year.  Clowney’s 13 total sacks did not best Jarvis Jones’ 14.5 from 2012 and did not surpass Jones’ Conference-leading total of 13.5 in 2011.  You’d have to go back to 2009 to find a time when Clowney’s 73 sack-yards would have been tops in the SEC.  The off-season hype surrounding Clowney seems more on-par with an 18-sack season.  But that 18-sack season is not a reality.  Perception, at least with Jadeveon Clowney, is not always reality.

In my mind I perceived Clowney as registering 35+ tackles for loss in 2012.  In reality he tallied 23.5.  Again, that is beyond great (the fourth highest total in the SEC since 2007), but I don’t know that I’d call it super-human.  The hype told me he had a bigger number here.

Forced fumbles?  This one certainly stands out.

But Clowney only forced two additional fumbles all year, and this play was his lone fumble recovery.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Lack of consistency:

Bowl games always get too much hype.  They are fans’ and pundits’ lasting memory of a season that is gone.  As such, they get replayed, talked about and built up entirely too much.  Combine that with the notion that every BCS Conference team playing in a Bowl (except for two) is playing for a consolation prize (seriously, click that link.  I always liked that article) following a long lay-off and Holiday season, and it is suddenly a bit ridiculous to base predictions for an upcoming season on a bowl game.  (Dude’s note: This is not a shot at Clemson fans.  Seriously.)

Jadeveon Clowney stole Bowl Season with his hit on Michigan running back Vincent Smith.  It was incredible.  Everyone in the press box at the Capital One Bowl stopped watching Georgia/Nebraska and watched the hit on their laptops over and over and over again.  It was insane.  But it was ultimately insignificant as an indicator of Clowney’s potential success in 2013.  In addition to the fact that the play occurred during a relatively meaningless game, here are some things that you don’t ever hear discussed about that particular hit/explosion:

  • Vincent Smith is one foot (literally) shorter than Jadeveon Clowney and 81 pounds lighter.
  • Smith has braided hair.  Players with braided hair lose their helmets quite often.  Ask Clowney himself.
  • Smith carried the ball 38 times for a total of 94 yards in 2012 – a whipping 2.47 yards per carry.  Clowney didn’t destroy Montee Ball or Eddie Lacy in the backfield.  he destroyed Vincent Smith.
  • Smith was running behind an offensive line that allowed all of 69 yards rushing against Alabama’s defense earlier in the year.  Other teams/players had success in penetrating the Wolverine line.  Clowney wasn’t de-flowring an otherwise unblemished O-line.

Clowney’s hit was impressive, but Smith was about as close to being a stationary object as you will ever see in a major college football game.  He was tiny. He had very little protection.  He had no prior history of elusiveness or the ability to escape tackles.

“But don’t forget,” you might suggest, “that South Carolina’s final regular season game saw Clowney terrorize Tajh Boyd and the Clemson offense.  He registered 4.5 sacks in that game.”

So, while pundits point to Clowney “finishing hot,” could one not also say that he capitalized against an ACC offensive line that was not used to the speed of an elite SEC defensive line?  Clemson faced Wake Forest’s defensive line on October 25th, Duke’s defensive line on November 3rd, Maryland’s defensive line on November 10th, NC State’s defensive line on November 17th and then out of nowhere had to play Jadeveon Clowney and South Carolina.

That’s a bit of a harsh change of pace.  Case in point, here are Clemson’s point totals in those five consecutive games:

  • Wake Forest: 42
  • Duke: 56
  • Maryland: 45
  • NC State: 62
  • South Carolina: 17

To be fair, there are two sides to each story.   Clowney’s 4.5 sacks could have been a result of Clowney being unstoppable.  Those sacks might not have had anything to do with Clemson’s inefficiencies and inability to prepare.  But I think that theory falls apart when you look at this series of numbers:

4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42 2, 2, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 2, 1, 1.5, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0

What are those numbers?  Those are Jadeveon Clowney’s individual game Sack statistics against BCS Conference opponents other than his freak 4.5 sack game.  A few things stand out to me that make the 4.5 number seem a bit out of place:

  • Clowney registered twice as many games in this series without a sack (8) as he did with more than 1 sack (4).
  • Only once in 2012 (again, outside of the Clemson game) did Clowney register more than one sack against a BCS Conference foe.  That was his 1.5 sack performance against Missouri.
  • His 4.5 sack performance against Clemson in 2012 represented more sacks than he had in combined games against Auburn in 2011 (0), Kentucky in 2011 (0), Mississippi State in 2011 (1), Tennessee in 2011 (0), Arkansas in 2011 (0), Florida in 2011 (0), Clemson in 2011 (1), Vanderbilt in 2012 (1), Georgia in 2012 (1), LSU in 2012 (0), Arkansas in 2012 (0) and Michigan in the 2012 bowl (0).
  • Over the 19 games featured in the series above, Clowney averaged .76 sacks per game.  He recorded 5.92 times that production against Clemson.

Doesn’t that Clemson game seem a little bit “uncharacteristic,” so to speak?

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

And would we really be celebrating Jadeveon Clowney as an inhuman beast if he had registered one lone sack (still higher than his career average against BCS foes) against Clemson?  I don’t think so.

If you’ve watched Clowney play, you know that statistics don’t tell the whole story.  Accordingly, I can’t say that he is inconsistent.  And even his stats seem to deny that point.  Even a 9.5 sack season (what Clowney would have had with just one sack against Clemson), is a far-cry from inconsistent.  But I can say this: Clowney has not been a consistently dominating statistical force.  He’s been great in bunches.

A little help please…

Here’s a quick recap of who South Carolina lost from last year’s defense:

  • Devin Taylor, the other monster DE that terrorized Georgia.
  • Byron Jerideau, defensive tackle who started all 13 games.
  • Aldrick Fordham, a key reserve at DE who registered 4.5 sacks and forced two fumbles in 2012.
  • The top 5 linebackers.  All of them.   That’s 217.5 tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, 7 pass breakups, 5 INTs, 7 forced fumbles and 3 fumble recoveries.
  • D.J. Swearinger, stud defensive back who registered 10+% of the team’s tackles.
  • Brad Lawing, Defensive Line Coach since Spurrier arrived.  Was lured away by Florida.

Is it that far-fecthed to think teams might be able to scheme for Clowney a bit more with such an inexperienced defense taking the field?

If you’re still thinking about that, the answer is ”no.”  I don’t know the South Carolina roster inside and out (I’m sure Johnathan Barnes will speak in great detail about the Gamecock defense in weeks to come), but I know Georgia football and I think the following comparison captures this sentiment:

Georgia lost a lot on defense.  A whole lot.  But pretend that Jarvis Jones had decided to stay for a final season even though Alec Ogletree, John Jenkins, Shawn Williams, Sanders Commings, Cornelius Washington, Bacarri Rambo, Abry Jones, Kwame Geathers, Michael Gilliard, Christian Robinson and Branden Smith were all leaving.  Had Jarvis Jones stayed I would not expect him to match last season’s production (24.5 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks).  Jones was a focal point of opposition preparation in 2012 (as was Clowney), but he would get an even larger share of film study and double-teams with less experienced talent surrounding him.

I think that will be the case for Clowney in 2013.

Prediction

Again, Clowney’s greatness (and he is truly great), cannot be measured simply by statistics, so I’m going to use a different basis for prediction.  Clowney finished 6th in Heisman voting in 2012.  My prediction: He will not finish in the Top 6 this year.

That’s all I got/

Andrew

New Cross Division Rivalries for South Carolina in 2014: Goodbye Arkansas, Hello A&M


A new age has come in our dear SEC.  The days of South Carolina playing Arkansas every year are gone after this season.  There will be two new cross division rivalries starting in 2014.  South Carolina will begin a yearly contest with Texas A&M (Oh. No.), and Missouri will play Arkansas.  Sorry Mizzou fans, when they come back, you’ll never win.

Now, let’s further examine this new rivalry for the Gamecocks.

For South Carolina, playing every other year in Texas could seriously benefit recruiting.  Everyone knows Texas is a hotbed for talent, especially in the trenches.  Even taking a minor recruit here and there would help our offensive line.

To be honest though, playing Texas A&M yearly scares me a little.  Giving a Texas school the SEC recruiting pitch is a death sentence for outside recruiting.  Sure, some will go out of Texas just to get out of the state, but the big names will stay.  This practically ensures A&M a very good crop of recruits EVERY year.  While the coaching may not be up to par, if you recruit studs you win games.  Of course we see how that has worked out for Clemson.

Let’s take a look at that 2014 season.  Clowney? Gone.  Manziel? Likely gone, he’s a redshirt Sophomore, so he’s draft eligible.  Without Manziel, I do not believe Texas A&M wins the first game of this series since it will be in Columbia.  We’ll have an offensive attack led by seniors Dylan Thompson and Bruce Ellington, as well as Junior, Mike Davis.  Our secondary will be hurting a bit, but by game time, they should be settled in.

I’m not even going to fathom an attempt at a prediction of this game.  It’s two seasons away, and far too many variables are involved.  Let’s all admit though, without taking anything from Arkansas, TAMU is a much better team to play yearly due to the benefits to South Carolina, such as money and recruiting.  Hey, that’s why we’re in the SEC, right?  Money and big time players!

As always, it’s great to be a Gamecock!

JB, signing off.

100 Days of SEC Dominance: Day 90 – The Big Ten is Bad at Math and at Reading and at Writing and at Football and Ohio State President Gordon Gee is an idiot


“You tell the SEC when they can learn to read and write, then they can figure out what we’re doing wrong.”

That was Ohio State President Gordon Gee’s response to half-hearted (but true) accusations that the Big 10 (a conference with 14 member institutions) can’t count.  You’re all adults and I’m sure with a little effort you can track down the audio recording in which he also blasts Catholics.

Oh how I love Ohio State.  I’m so giddy over this quotation that I’m going to skip over making jokes about Gordon Gee’s appearance (I would have commented on how he looks like a more feminine version of the Six Flags dancing man) and Ohio State football as a whole.  I’m just going to talk academics.

For starters, there is conclusive evidence that the Big 10 has 14 schools and there isn’t conclusive evidence that the SEC can’t read or write.

So I had to dig a little deeper.  Upon further examination I offer this: Ohio State would be the SEC East’s fourth best institution at reading and writing. Using those two testing areas (and the SAT as the measure), here’s how Ohio State stacks up within reported data for “admitted students” and their SAT results.

School Reading 25th Percentile Reading 75th Percentile Writing 25th Percentile Writing 75th Percentile
Ohio State 540 650 550 650
Florida 580 670 570 670
Georgia 560 650 560 650
Vanderbilt 690 770 670 770

*Bold = as good as Ohio State or better than Ohio State

For giggles, I did some math on the entire SEC East and added Ohio State.  Now, keep in mind I’m allowed to do math because I know 14 does not equal 10.  Here’s what I did: I combined all of the figures above and found a happy middle-point for students admitted.  Example: Ohio State’s Reading and Writing Score = (540+650+550+650)/2. So, Ohio State scored 1195.  Practically speaking, a student with an 1195 on the Reading and Writing portions of the SAT likely was accepted into the Ohio State University.

Here’s how it worked out for the rest of the field…

Ohio State is soooooo good at reading and writing.

Ohio State is soooooo good at reading and writing.

You keep doing you, Gordon Gee.  We’ll be counting, reading and writing down here.

And winning National Championships.

 

 

That’s all I got/

Andrew

For the rest of the SEC Domination Countdown, go here.

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