If the 2008 South Carolina Gamecocks' season were to be compared to a fighter jet, then consider Thursday night to be heavy damage to the right wing that may have caused engine failure as well. This was supposed to be the year the Gamecocks began progressing toward the top of the SEC and proved to the nation they should not be taken lightly.
Vanderbilt had other plans on Thursday night in Nashville as it derailed the Cocks, 24-17. An offense that struggled mightily for a half a week ago failed to ever really launch Thursday.
This was mostly due to an inability to run the football, something SC did for only 92 yards against Vanderbilt. A measly 3.2 yards per carry against arguably the least talented team in the SEC will not get the job done, and, as a result, the Gamecocks leave Nashville today with their heads in their hands.
Remember, it was a year ago the Commodores came into South Carolina and shut down the 6-1 Gamecocks with a 17-6 win. After the loss, coach Steve Spurrier and his troops went on to drop the final four contests of the season and miss qualifying for a bowl game. Are the Gamecocks in trouble of facing that same reality this season?
Looking ahead is something that is hard to do after only two games, but it seems obvious that the Gamecocks' offense is not where it is supposed to be. The schedule for the rest of the season does offer a few very winnable games for the Cocks, but, realistically, how many may it include?
Next week the Georgia Bulldogs come to town, and in order to derail the preseason No. 1, South Carolina will have to be firing on all cylinders. After watching the Gamecocks Thursday, it is obvious they are far from that.
With a very ineffective offense, do not count on next week to be much of a game with Georgia. The only way South Carolina was able to score against Vandy is when it began possessions at its own 45-yard line or better. Granted, field position is a huge battle in the game itself, but when you are relying on that on top of everything to help you score, there are problems.
Following Georgia, there will also be LSU, Tennessee, Florida, and Clemson on the South Carolina schedule. This is year four of the Steve Spurrier regime in South Carolina, and we really have yet to see "the Old Ball Coach" get things going. Back-to-back losses against the laughingstock of the SEC makes many wonder if Spurrier is the right coach for a struggling football program.
Granted, if South Carolina played in a conference like the ACC, it would most likely improve its win total enough to become bowl eligible. However, with slates against opponents like Woffard, UAB, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt, there are what should be very winnable games on the schedule.
Steve Spurrier has obviously yet to get things going at South Carolina. Sure, he was capable of winning at Duke of all places, and nobody with any SEC knowledge has to be reminded of what he did with the football program at the University of Florida. However, when will we see success start to come from the Gamecock football program?
Lou Holtz showed the capability of bringing the Gamecocks to a few New Year's Day Bowl Games in his tenure at South Carolina. I understand that there have been a few misunderstandings between the admissions department and Spurrier during his tenure, but he is a coach that is supposed to be able to recruit players no matter what school it is at.
Forget blaming the academic standards that the school laid down, recruiting-wise; it is my personal belief that without a magical turnaround that brings the Gamecocks to a bowl game, Steve Spurrier should grab a ticket in the unemployment line at season's end.
South Carolina was supposed to be closing the gap on teams like LSU, Florida, and Auburn when they hired the Old Ball Coach; instead, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and Mississippi State are the ones closing the gap on them.