Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Gamecocks Begin Historical Tough Journey

Although a common road for USC, the Gamecock football team must travel a route all too familiar on their 2009 schedule, full of bumps, debris and traffic jams, and they rarely find ways to detour without damage or a severe wreck.  If you are wondering what I'm talking about, lets look at the last five seasons for the Cocks when their bags are packed with a winning record, and even a few goodies like a national ranking, for this annual trip.  Unfortunately, they seemingly fail to properly prepare for the journey, as more often than not they return damaged and destroyed.  Last year after recording a victory in game 7 and sporting a 5-2 record, the Cocks went 2-4 the remainder of the season, winning against Tennessee and Arkansas and losing to LSU, Florida, Clemson and Iowa, in the Outback Bowl.  In 2007, the nationally ranked Gamecocks started the trip loaded with a 6-1 record until the severe wreck (0-5) occurred losing to Vandy, Tennessee, Arkansas, Florida and Clemson and no bowl selection.  In 2006, the 5-2 ranked Gamecocks had just beaten Vandy to begin the treacherous journey taking damage with losses to Tennessee, Arkansas and Florida, while avoiding obstacles with wins over Middle Tennessee State, Clemson and Houston in the Liberty Bowl.  In 2005, the team took off already with a unit in need of repair at 4-3, and were able to minimize the damage by going 3-2 with wins over Tennessee, Arkansas and Florida, losing to Clemson and Missouri in the Independence Bowl.  The 2004 year was much of the same packing the 5-2 for the trip, the Gamecocks stalled in the orange orchard again losing to Tennessee, Florida and Clemson and winning only against Arkansas to finish the trip 1-3.  Over the previous five years the Cocks have set out on a season ending journey that has yet to become a vacation.  At best it has become a dangerous adventure, almost always ending in unit damage and tragedy, as evidenced by the 9-17 record for this annual five game journey which began collectively at 25-10.  In each year, including this year, the Cocks have won game 7.

This year more mirrors 2006 when USC had just defeated the Commodores before starting the yearly scheduled trip, with the Vols, Razorbacks, Gators, Blue Raiders, Tigers and Cougars all in the path of the trip to the end of the season.  Unfortunately, that year only damage avoided were the victories over MTSU and Clemson in the regular season finale and Houston in the Liberty Bowl.  The Gamecocks next three opponents, Tennessee, Arkansas and Florida are scheduled in the same order with similar strengths and obstacles for the Steve Spurrier squad, with only a bye replacing MTSU. 

Coach Spurrier and his staff will have to prepare this team for this journey as if it is a life threatening adventure.  They will need to be armed with extra weapons and use them at every opportunity.  They will need to study the map (playbook) to victory and then allow execution to exceed all other aspects of travel this year that has delivered this years team to the 21st spot in the polls.  Each player will have to be on the look out for the blind side hits of sacks and run losses, the loss of fuel through turnovers and silly penalties, and read the signs and not vacate lanes on special teams and last but not least stay away from friendly distractions and wrap up and tackle on every play to avoid the severe damage that the big plays bring to destroy the unit and make the trip impossible to finish.

The bags are packed, the staff is refining the map and the trip is confirmed.  So my recommendation to make this an enjoyable trip...."Let Stephen Garcia drive, let the Captains navigate and allow the young guns to run wild and just play, so they aren't intimidated too early and make the kinds of mistakes that cause crashes and total loss wrecks."  Good luck USC Coaches, you're on a field trip with no chaperones and who knows where your journey will take you in the end.  Hopefully, the strength of this team has little knowledge and/or memory of the previous trips.   http://gamecocksonline.cstv.com/

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