Dear South Carolina Gamecock fans,
You are a fickle bunch. One minute, you're irrationally high, the next, you're irrationally low. I am a born and bred fan, a third-generation Gamecock fan who knows exactly what it feels like. You never can bet on the Gamecocks.
I was blasted during the offseason for saying that the early running would be difficult. I was blasted for saying that the defensive backs would struggle. People thought that everything was perfect. I still predicted an 11-1 season for the Gamecocks.
After Thursday night's game...I still do.
Hearing all of the insane comments from some Gamecock fans this morning almost makes me ill. These guys have gone from thinking that the team was a 12-0 national champion to a team that will be lucky to win six games.
Did you really think it would be easy? Did you really think the team wouldn't be challenged?
So, while some other SEC teams are blowing out Eastern Calcutta Barber College and Cosmetology School (some of the other SEC opponents for the week are Bowling Green, Buffalo, Southeastern Louisiana, Jacksonville State, North Texas, Central Arkansas and Jackson State), South Carolina joins Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Kentucky and Auburn as a team playing a legitimate opponent.
All of those teams have the chance to lose. Vanderbilt's last six games against ranked SEC opponents have been decided by less than six points.
What needs to improve the most?
Vandy is a team with a fast defense, good quarterback with a pedigree, good receivers and good running backs. This is a team prepared to beat a few solid SEC programs this year.
While South Carolina didn't play its best game (when has it in game one?) and has work to do to reach its goals, this team showed many positives.
The defensive line is as good as advertised. Jadeveon Clowney and Co. had a big impact on the game. Marcus Lattimore looked to be about 90 percent back. Give him a couple of weeks, and he will be all the way back.
Connor Shaw is a leader, a gutsy and amazing runner. He's a better passer than he showed on Thursday night, but when your throwing shoulder is flapping in the wind at the end of the second quarter, it's amazing to even be in the game.
The offensive line, defensive backfield and special teams all looked rocky. We knew this (or should have, if you looked at the team with any sense) before the season starter.
The team didn't show nearly all of the weaponry it has. If you've been to any practices, you have seen a plethora of formations you didn't see during this game. Am I saying Spurrier held back?
Vanderbilt gave the Gamecocks its best possible game. It was the team's "Super Bowl." The fans were into it. It was an away game, against a quality opponent, in the first week of the season. The Gamecocks walked away with a W, when in the past they would have shriveled away and lost.
Back away from the ledge. This team will be just fine.
The more you doubt your team, the more you look like an idiot at this point in the season. Give it time, and don't count the Gamecocks out just yet.
At the end of the day, they are still 1-0.
A battle-tested, heartfelt, character-built 1-0. I'll take that any day.