Friday, September 05, 2008

The window shuts

We can be clear about this now: if it was ever going to happen, it was going to happen in 2007.

The Gamecocks got over the hump early on against Georgia, basically giving themselves a two-game edge on the Dawgs. For all of the Tebow Child's glimmering brilliance, Florida's defense found itself caught in a one- (possibly two-, I suppose; we'll see) season trough of mediocrity between Zook's recruits bombing out and Meyer finding a way to reload. The Vols had Erik Ainge, luck, and not much of anything else. Spurrier's window in the SEC East was as open as it was ever going to get.

Somehow it ended up being Vandy that started a long, depressing, downward pull on that window, to where it was barely more than a crack at its bottom by the end of last season. Georgia's rebound and Florida's annihilation of the 'Cocks--and, more to the the point, how tall a hill they showed SC would have to climb this season--left the opening so thin you wouldn't be able to see any sunlight through it, just feel the slightest wisp of a draft. And then Vandy came back to shut it all the way last night.

It's closed. It's over. Steve Spurrier will not win so much as a division title at South Carolina.

(One other thing: forgive me for tooting my own horn a bit, but I think very few, if any, of the other SEC Power Poll voters ranked Bobby Johnson anywhere near Spurrier, much less above him. Tell me: after seeing what we saw last night and considering how much talent are on these two respective teams, who would you want coaching your team tomorrow?)

Southern Miss preview later today.


Acid Reign said...

.....It's sad, but Spurrier is reaping what he has sown. At Florida, they'd chuck up that deep corner, and get the defense playing scared. Corners would play off 15 yards, safeties 20. Then Spurrier's QBs would dice 'em up with short routes and draw plays.

.....And so, the SEC transitioned to faster, lighter defenders. Vandy's secondary is their best asset. They weren't going to worry about that corner or post. South Carolina doesn't have a guy who can hit a deep receiver, anyway. All of Steve's favorite screens and quick hitters were stifled.

.....These days in the SEC, you've either got to throw it over folks, or man up and block. If your backs and receivers can't elude tacklers one on one, you're toast!

.....Steve's finding that out, very painfully.

Jerry Hinnen said...

Nice analysis, AR.

I think it's also just the weight of program expectation, for lack of a better word. To turn SC into a Tennessee or a Georgia, you'd need either someone who has the energy to outrecruit larger programs or someone with such an acute tactical sense (on one side of the ball or the other) that they could make up for the talent gap. When Spurrier arrived at Florida he had the latter and "Florida" could handle the latter by itself; now at SC I'm not sure he has either one, and back-to-back losses to Vanderbilt are the result.

PhilipVU94 said...

You certainly deserve credit for faith in Bobby Johnson. FWIW I had Spurrier 4th and Johnson 8th, and I was quite consciously picking Johnson that high to offset all the 12ths posted to the mailing list.

I may have had Spurrier too high, but I don't think he's dumber just because Carolina fumbled a punt that set up a Vanderbilt TD, committed a couple of dumb penalties on 3rd-and-long, or some of the other Vandyesque misfortunes that befell them. That said -- it certainly looks like this SC team is headed for a year of disappointment, and I do agree that Spurrier looks much different in a program where he actually has to expend a lot of effort to recruit well.

I'm just trying to avoid overreacting to small pieces of data.

Jerry Hinnen said...

I would say what I tried to look at in that poll was where a given coach had his program vis a vis where the program traditionally stands ... and Johnson has his way, way above where we usually think of Vandy being. However smart/not smart Spurrier might happen to be these days, Carolina under his watch has barely been better than what we'd expect them to be with any other coach they might have hired.