Tales From The Cockpit: State of Gamecock Nation 2018

Mike Venditti
December 30, 2018 - 1:10 pm

Well...that was ugly...

Our Gamecocks completely laid an egg in the Belk Bowl and were shut out by the Virginia Cavaliers. It happened, it's over and I promise you that Deebo Samuel wouldn't have made all that much of a difference outside it not being a shutout maybe.

Of course, there is a lot to be frustrated with after such an abysmal performance, but in the end, let's take a deep breath. All isn't lost because of a poor Belk Bowl showing. There are far more factors involved than any one game shows.

First and foremost, this game changes nothing about what Will Muschamp has accomplished so far at South Carolina.

Boom took over a 3-9 program that had folded against The Citadel and lost a handful of solid recruits because of the change in regime. He then led the Gamecocks to a bounce-back 6-6 season and a bowl berth.

Following that opening season, Muschamp's Gamecocks won 9 games including the Outback Bowl against Michigan before overcoming a plethora of defensive injuries this season to finish with 7-wins and yet another bowl berth.

Before losing your mind over one Saturday, try focusing on the bigger picture.

The Gamecocks are on the rise again, they are undoubtedly trending upwards and have recruits on the way that could propel them at the very least into the scuffle for the SEC East very soon.

That being said...a LOT has to change after what we witnessed in Charlotte this weekend....a LOT!

Spring practice needs to focus on pass catching and wrapping up tackles. Those two, seemingly simple, things have been the Gamecocks undoing all year long, including in the bowl game.

Beyond that, the offensive line must improve at protecting whomever is the quarterback in 2019 and the defensive front has to find a way to get more pressure on the opposition's quarterback. The latter will probably happen with Zachh Pickens on his way to Columbia.

If Muschamp's staff can fix these problems, even with the extremely difficult schedule in 2019, the Gamecocks could make another stride forward in this reboot.

Moving on to the quarterback situation.

I hate to have to say this, and I take no pleasure in doing it...but Jake Bentley has not done enough to guarantee his spot as the Gamecocks' starting quarterback in 2019.

Muschamp and B-Mac need to completely open up the quarterback competition heading into 2019 and give everybody and anybody the shot without playing favorites. With Joyner already in uniform and Ryan Hilinski on his way, Muschamp can't afford to wait and see if Bentley finally gets it together next season.

With the pressure from the fan base and boosters, Muschamp will have to have a better 2019 to keep the heat off of his seat. In order to do that, he and Bryan McClendon will have to make sure the right guy under center that will get the job done consistently.

This team can not afford to wait on the quarterback position to get it together and continue to move the program forward.

The offense showed real signs of improvement in 2018, but again, the consistency was never there and led to losses in games that should have been wins (see: Florida). That has to change and again, I'm not convinced that Bentley has done enough to have earned the job yet.

So let's open it up, give the young guys a chance and give Bentley the fear of losing his spot, maybe that will light the fire and bring out the Bentley we all were expecting.

The last thing I want to touch on is the Deebo Samuel conversation, and I don't want to spend much time on it because I find it lazy to blame him for what happened in Charlotte.

Sure, with Samuel, the Gamecocks probably wouldn't have been shut out...mainly because he didn't drop passes. But you cannot convince me that the game would have been any different with #1 on the field.

This game was an absolute collapse on every level for the Gamecocks. Execution was non-existent on both sides of the ball.

Deebo alone wouldn't have fixed all of that...so stop it.

In closing, there is nothing to panic about Gamecock Nation...at least not yet. Year 4 of the Boom Era will be the all important year for me when it comes to judging where this program is heading. From what I've seen up until now, I'm still confident....but if things don't change by next winter, then it's time to start thinking about a different path.

For now, I still put my trust and belief in Coach Muschamp. I think he can continue to improve this program and take them back into the national conversation, hopefully this time for more than just a few years.

Keep the faith, Gamecock Nation. The boys deserve that.

Forever to thee.


Find me on Twitter (@Ditti33), Instagram (dittius33), and Facebook (/InsideTheMindOfDitti). Any and all feedback is welcomed, as long as you aren't vile about it! 


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