Morning, folks. Last night’s game was far from perfect. It was frustrating in the familiar ways: inconsistent offense, jerky momentum shifts, complete ineptitude for an entire quarter (hello 2nd), etc. But for all that, the victory still seems more well-earned than the Arkansas OT nailbiter.
That’s because the defense showed up last night and played a very strong game. This week is defensively-themed.
+/- 0. Dead even. No gain on the turnover margin this week, but no loss either. Christian Kirk lost a fumble on a punt return, and the defense got one back with a Keke fumble recovery.
0.9: South Carolina rushing yards per attempt. They had 23 rushing yards on 26 tries. Of course this was helped immensely by
7. Sacks. Last week we piled up a half-dozen against Arkansas. We decided to go ahead and top that again. Four of these came in the fourth quarter, so what a way to finish. Landis Durham and Otaro Alaka each had two of their own.
12. Total negative plays by the defense. South Carolina ran 56 offensive plays. Texas A&M had a sack or tackle for loss on a dozen of them. Better than one in every five plays went negative. Impressive.
15%: 3rd downs. The Gamecocks converted 2/13 of their third downs.
15 total punts. This wasn’t an offensive showcase by any stretch of the imagination. Sumlin is adjusting his philosophy this year with a true freshman QB, trying to strike that perfect balance. Last night the defense backed him up.
23: Rushing yards allowed. Again, stellar.
42: ALAKA. Outstanding game by the junior linebacker. Nine tackles, two sacks, and FIVE tackles for loss. The defense’s top two tacklers were linebackers last night. This may be what defense feels like?
76: TE receiving yards. OK, one area of improvement here. This was nearly a third of their passing game. If there’s one weak link in the defense’s chain armor this year (there may be more than one, but anyway) it’s defending the tight end. Gamecock TE Hayden Hurst had six catches for 76 yards. A number of these were key plays to extend drives. There are few more helpless feelings than watching an opposing QB avoid pressure and lofting the ball to a big dude, who lumbers just past the chains for the first down. Alabama’s TEs are obviously going to be the best we’ll face all season.
151-7: Total offense advantage for Texas A&M in the fourth quarter. Gotta make up for that second quarter somehow, and this is a good way to do that.
279: Total yards allowed. This is the defense’s best performance since playing UTSA last November
12th Man. It got LOUD. There was a time in the fourth quarter with the game on the line where the crowd stepped up like they haven’t all year. SEC play, game tied, the defense playing well...that’s when you need to make their ears bleed. You know you made an impact when even the TV announcers can’t speak. This was the coolest part of the comeback, and Kevin Sumlin and several players mentioned how vital it was. It worked, too, for back-to-back sacks.
It was dicey in the first half, but once again the defense answered when needed. You may think it wasn’t pretty, but “pretty” is subjective. If you like sacking the quarterback a bunch, this was a beauty. Enjoy it for a few days. There’s a team called The Tide coming to Kyle on Saturday.