South Carolina's September was not a smooth ride.
A loss to Georgia. Close games with Vanderbilt and Central Florida.
The injury to Connor Shaw.
Things are not going South Carolina's way. But don't worry Gamecocks fans. It's only the end of September.
The Gamecocks' season is still young, and there are many things that we have learned about this team.
Here are the five most important takeaways from September.
South Carolina's defense is not up to snuff.
One of the major flaws is occurring in the secondary, where the team is allowing big plays.
Cornerback Victor Hampton goes in and out of having good coverage. He has the talent but needs to maintain some consistency on the field.
Opposite Hampton, cornerback Jimmy Legree looks pretty good. He has an interception from the Central Florida game and seems to have a solid grasp of how to read plays.
At safety, T.J. Gurley is finding ways to be involved in every play, which is great to see out of a young safety.
But with all the positives, this team does not have consistency in the secondary.
One minute the Gamecocks make a few great plays, and then the next they give up a big play.
Consistency. Consistency. Consistency.
South Carolina needs to keep working on the ongoing project that is the secondary.
Here's where the real issue lies for the South Carolina defense. The linebackers.
The talent is there.
The potential is there.
The smarts are there.
The execution is not.
South Carolina's linebackers are struggling with one of the absolute basics of defense. Tackling.
Wrap him up. Take him down.
The inexperience of the Gamecocks' linebackers is showing. But, the good news is that it is only the end of September, and the unit is gaining valuable experience.
Kaiwan Lewis is back. T.J. Holloman is starting to come into his own. Marcquis Roberts has had his moments.
There is nowhere to go but up, and that bodes well for South Carolina.
During the offseason, head coach Steve Spurrier seemed to have an urge to use his tight ends a lot.
In September, we learned that the Gamecocks are not unleashing the three-headed monster of Rory "Busta" Anderson, Jerell Adams and Drew Owens. And these guys are too good to not be integral parts of the offense.
Anderson has six catches for 75 yards.
Adams has three catches for 60 yards.
Owens has two catches for 13 yards.
This just isn't enough production out of such a talented unit of players.
The emergence of Mike Davis could have a say in this matter, but I think that Davis' play should be opening up the use of tight ends.
Davis' running should provide the opportunity for play-action pass plays.
With Connor Shaw's injury and Dylan Thompson going under center, Davis will run more out of the power formations, and the tight ends will be in to block. Thompson can then unleash the play-action playbook and use these tight ends.
So while the tight ends are not a big part of the offense, the Gamecocks still need them.
Maybe the quarterback change over the next couple weeks will provide that opportunity.
So, the Gamecocks lost to Georgia.
Then Georgia defeated LSU.
South Carolina needs to think with this mentality: "So what!"
The Bulldogs are in the driver's seat, but all is not lost.
The Gamecocks can win out and hope for a Georgia loss. It could happen. Stranger things have happened.
While Georgia's only tough remaining game is at home against Florida, who will be without quarterback Jeff Driskel for the rest of the season, the SEC is a dangerous place. Who knows what will happen?
South Carolina's September did not go according to plan. Though, the takeaway is that there is still hope to win the division.
The Gamecocks just need to stay focused and take matters into their own hands as much as they can.
One word. Beast.
Running back Mike Davis is the offense.
He is the bailout man. When in doubt, feed the pigskin to Davis.
Davis looks like a more explosive back than Marcus Lattimore ever was. With his breakaway speed and productivity between the tackles, South Carolina has a true stud at running back.
He can catch, block and flat out run.
It's Davis' angry running that makes him so effective, especially when he gets into space.
With 71 carries for 508 yards, a yards per carry of 7.2 and six touchdowns, Davis is a total monster. He looks unstoppable.
South Carolina has a perfect option to get the football to, and the Gamecocks need to trust in Davis and let him carry the team to victories.
This is the biggest takeaway of September because people knew Davis would be good, but maybe not this good.
His future is bright, and that is important to South Carolina as the team moves forward.