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 COUNTDOWN TO KICK-OFF "2019" GAMECOCK FOOTBALL

post-2-0-09566000-1521979948.pngSouth Carolina Gamecocks vs. North Carolina Tarheels NC_38x38.png

 

2k15

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  1. I watched a lot of Sam Howell's 2018 tape from high school. Kid has the measurements, throwing technique, arm power, speed, and elusiveness to be a legit NFL starter one day. But as of right now, his accuracy is spotty, his eye discipline is absolutely horrendous, his decision making is slow, and he does not have a very good understanding of how to read defenses. He is a talent, but much too young, inexperienced, and not coached enough to play well in Game 1 of his collegiate career, especially against our defense. I like our chances of dominating his throwing game. Like I said, he could be eventually coached into a real NFL talent, but as of right now, he is not ready to start in a college game. Way too slow mentally, does a terrible job reading defenses, and has awful eye discipline, telegraphing who he is throwing to way before he throws the ball.
  2. I decided to relive the blunder that was the UGA game today, and specifically try to watch how Jake reads his receivers.I'm no coach, but consistently what killed him that game was waiting too long to pass to the open receiver. He would consistently throw the ball to the right receiver who was open, but the problem was he hung on to the ball way too long before attempting the pass, resulting in UGA's DB's being able to come up and bat the ball away as he stared them down. Combine that with our run blocking being awful that game against UGA's defensive line, and we I think that constitutes the majority of why we couldn't put up a fight. Jake's good throws would come when he passed to a guy like Edwards or Deebo, where he did not hesitate making the decision to pass to them. Where he would hang on to the ball too long is when throwing to a TE or one of the more unproven receivers.In a similar vein, Muschamp's recent report from scrimmage says that Jake is holding on to the ball too long. That tells me that our secondary, which, as Muschamp said, is becoming SEC caliber, has learned to consistently read Jake's eyes and beat out his hesitant throws. And a possibility as to why he is becoming so hesitant is that without Deebo, who made our WR corps so electric, he may not have complete trust in his receiving corps to catch the ball. If you ask me, I think that's why he struggles in big games. It's not necessarily that he gets anxious and plays worse, I think it's because he can get away with being too late on his throws against bad defenses, but not quality secondaries. That also would explain his struggles (primarily interceptions) in the red zone, too. When the field gets short for him and he needs to fit it inside tighter windows, being late on your throws sets up a lot of 50/50 balls. That's what happened against UVA, for example. His hesitation and staring down the open receiver lead to INT's. I think Jake plays his best football when he is confident in his receiving corps as a whole, and is ready to just lay it all on the line. He was locked in against Clemson this past year, putting full trust in his receivers, and it paid off. A lot of guys made catches that night, and while it was the Deebo show, Jake's ability to get the ball in other receivers' hands helped spread out that Clemson secondary and give us more opportunities through the air. In games where he struggled, like UGA, he would stare down an open receiver (again, unless it were Deebo or Edwards), unsure if he should throw it to them, and when he did, it was already too late. On the bright side, I am glad that our secondary is finally able to really test Jake, and really compete against our receivers. It will force Jake to trust his receivers more and not think twice about throwing to the open man if he wants to keep his job and find success against talented defenses. If we want to have a shot against anybody good this year, Jake has to play with confidence not only in himself, but against his receivers. I'm rooting for him.
  3. I've been pleased with the practice reports so far and updates on their progress, but if you ask me, I'm not going to put much stock into thinking they could have a breakout year. It's all the same personnel, sans Feaster, so there's no reason for me to believe they'll perform any different until I see it with my own eyes. I am rooting for them, I just need to see production in Game 1 and consistency before I am ready to feel really good about our offense as a whole. I think our win total hinges on how well the run game does this year, though. The defense should be SEC caliber, the receivers will be quite good, Bentley should be pretty good, and if the run game steps up and is reliable for the first time in 5 years, I can see us winning 8+ games this year. The run game being consistent helps take the weight off of Jake's shoulders too, so I think he would play better and not try to force the ball in tight windows as much as he usually does. If that's the case, it could be a legitimately great season. However, if the run game is much of the same, I see a 6 or 7 win season, and the offense struggles.
  4. It's exactly what I like to hear. On the defensive side, we're tackling well and covering well. Those things are simply technique issues that a good defense should have down pat. It definitely means it's real competitive out there because defenders are putting in effort when they're tackling well. Offensively, I'm not too worried about the passing game. It's something we've done well here for years now, so at this point our receivers are likely just not too concerned with their ability to play well. That's not a positive, in fact I would rather have them busting their ass to make plays, but I'm sure as we get closer to game time, the energy and effort will hike up for those guys are they get in game mode. It's great to hear about the running backs. The fact that Dowdle and co. is performing better even without Feaster in practice means they understand they need to step it up, and they're taking every handoff like their career depends on it. All this report tells me is the guys are putting in the necessary effort to continue to elevate themselves.
  5. I'm sorry, Marc Ryan is an idiot who reports information with the sole intention of stirring conflict to get clicks and traffic. He's decided to arbitrarily side with Clemson because he works upstate, and has since been writing reports and tweeting anti-Gamecock / pro-Tiger rhetoric in every single post he's published. The man is worthless as an analyst, reporter, or radio head. I simply refuse to give him any kind of traffic that supports his business.
  6. I spent a good few hours pouring over depth charts, listening to interviews, looking up stats and highlights, and familiarizing myself with UNC’s team to provide you all with a little in-depth analysis of what type of talent, experience, and size we should be lining up against August 31. Hope you enjoy, and please correct me on any errors, or anything you would like to add in. I tried to be as non-biased as I could.In addition: I am NOT analyzing special teams, only the offensive and defensive depth charts. Sorry.UNCHead Coach: Mack BrownDefensive Scheme: Hybrid 3-4 (base alignments depend on offensive formation) Offensive Scheme: Oklahoma StylePrevious Record: 2-9 (1-7 ACC)Offense: Quarterback: North Carolina will be installing a new quarterback, true freshman Sam Howell, a highly touted 4 star dual threat QB ranked #3 in the nation at that position in the last recruiting cycle. Behind Howell is RS freshman Cade Fortin, who started in two games last year, but appeared in four. He had moderate success in those appearances, passing for 388 yards on the season with 1 TD, 1 INT, and a 49% completion rate. He played against NC State, Duke, Virginia Tech, and East Carolina. He is a pro-style QB. UNC is anticipating a battle between these two for the starting job, although many have projected that Howell will likely start, given his mechanics and athleticism are naturally above Fortin’s. Do not be surprised though if we see a good deal of each quarterback, though.Running Back: At running back, Junior Michael Carter and Senior Antonio Williams will split the majority of carries, with true sophomore Javonte Williams getting some touches as well. Carter averaged 7.1 yards per carry on 84 carries in 2018, and Williams ran 91 times for 5.5 YPC. Carter is the speedy back, who can be dangerous if he can cut into the outside. Williams is the beefier of the two, a little bit slower, but he has some really good agility and jukes if he can cut into the second level of the defense. I actually expect that Carter may be more effective against the Gamecocks. Considering the youth and inexperience on the interior of the UNC O-line, a speedier back may be more effective against the quick USC D-line that should be the strength of the defense. Carter is also a pretty good receiver, so we should see the screen pass to him quite often. Javonte Williams, though, may be UNC’s secret weapon. His freshman year, he appeared in 11 games, racking up 224 yards on 43 attempts and 5 TD’s. A smaller built back at 5’10”, 215 lbs, but he’s got tree trunk legs that tend to keep him upright and churning away. His teammates have compared him to Ezekiel Elliot. The running back spot should be the strength of UNC’s offense.Receivers: The receiver positions are without star playmaker Anthony Ratliff-Williams, who was the gem of the UNC offense in 2018, and decided to forego his senior season to go to the NFL (now playing for the Titans). However, the Tar Heels still have some experienced options to go to. Junior Dazz Newsome has been a starter since his freshman season, catching 44 passes for 506 yards and 2 TD’s last year. Newsome is a pretty all around receiver at the slot position. He makes some good cuts and has decent speed, and knows how to knock down corners with his large physique. He’s not the largest guy at 5’11”, 190lbs, but he’s well rounded enough to be dangerous. At the X slot is Beau Corrales, who is also pretty large and has some pretty good hands, but is rather slow. His 2018 stats show 18 receptions for 220 yards. He is most effective against shorter corners, when the QB throws it up only where Beau can reach it and muscle it away. In this case, putting a tall guy like 6’4” Israel Mukuamu on Corrales would be an advantageous matchup for the Gamecocks. Then you have Dyami Brown, a true freshman last year who caught 17 passes for 173 yards. There aren’t many visible highlights on his 2018 season, but he was rather highly recruited and is known for his breakaway speed and size. He could be UNC’s best receiver given his natural ability, but he needs to step up this season and deliver. Their tight end is senior Carl Tucker, who is a pretty good blocker more than anything, but puts up marginal receiving numbers. All in all, UNC’s receivers as a unit look to be less than average, especially with the loss of Ratliff-Williams. Dazz Newsome should be the leader of the receiving corps, and watch to see if Dyami Brown can finally step into a significant role, but otherwise UNC suffers from inexperience and a lack of speed. They may be mismatched against the tall, physical USC secondary. However, under Phil Longo’s new offensive scheme, the plan is to spread the ball around pretty evenly among receivers. Just something to keep in mind, schematically. O-line: Keeping it rather short, the offensive line returns some veterans, but they are quite thin at depth. Only three linemen, Charlie Heck (6’8” - 315lbs), Nick Polino and Jordan Tucker (6’7” - 337lbs), have starting experience, and they will play at LT, Center, and RT respectfully. However, the two guards at LG and RG are redshirt freshmen coming into 2019; Ed Montilus (6’3” - 315lbs) and Joshua Ezeudu (6’4” - 325lbs). As 6’3”, 305lbs veteran Nick Polino shifts from right guard to center this year, it appears that UNC is trying to make sure they secure the edge of the line and the snap, sacrificing any experience at their guard spots. Looking at the measurements of their outside tackles, Heck and Tucker are massive, and should do a pretty solid job setting the edge and protecting the QB from corner blitzes and edge rushers. What remains to be seen is how a more undersized and inexperienced interior will fare.Verdict:The offensive line is plagued with inexperience on the inside, making it more difficult for their quality running backs to power up the middle, although they should be able to handle edge rushers well on the outside. Against USC, the Gamecocks have a lot of beef and speed on the inside with Kinlaw, Sandidge, Thomas, Smith, and Pickens, so that should be a concern for the young Tar Heels' interior coming into the game. The receiving corps is rather thin and inexperienced, sans Daz Newsome, and you can’t help but be worried about the prospect of starting a true freshman QB, even though he was recruited pretty highly. I just think it would be smart of UNC to start Cade Fortin over Howell at quarterback in Game 1, just to give the offense some confidence that they have experience leading the team. Otherwise, if Howell starts, it sounds like it could be a disaster for a true freshman QB to start his first game behind an interior freshman O-line. The biggest thing to watch for is the speed and power of UNC’s running backs, which is something USC could load up the box on to combat, and make the Tar Heels’ new QB beat you through the air. But those backs are dangerous.Defense: D-line: UNC looks to have a talented, veteran first string on the defensive line, despite losing their best lineman and pass rusher, Malik Carney. Three seniors and one junior start - DE’s Tomon Fox and Allen Cater, and DT’s Aaron Crawford and Jason Strowbridge. Starting with Strowbridge, he’s a Keir Thomas-type tackle, slightly taller. A bit of a leaner, smaller guy, but exhibits great speed and pursuit, and very strong. He does a great job getting after the quarterback and creating pressure. Last year, he had 36 tackles and 5.5 sacks. Next to him at the other tackle spot is Aaron Crawford, a 6’1” senior given credit for his stout run defense, having a reputation as the ‘anchor’ of the UNC defense by his teammates. Crawford was out for all but one game of last season, which heavily affected UNC’s ability to stop the run last year, so he’s ready to come back and make a difference on that line. He has 78 tackles and 4 sacks in 4 years at UNC (including a redshirt year). On the edge, you have Tomon Fox, a hybrid DE/LB, who has started 10 games in his collegiate career, appearing in 20 total. In 2018, his RS Junior year, he started and appeared in 8 games, recording 17 tackles and 2.5 sacks. He’s comparable to Kingsley Enagbare - 260 lbs and 6’3”, and long arms that wrap up or at least trip a ball carrier whenever they come his way. Finally, senior Allen Cater, another hybrid DE/LB, has the same height and weight as Tomon Fox. Cater is a senior, receiving limited time the past three seasons, and having his best season last year with 12 tackles, 2 sacks, and a forced fumble. He’s been further back on the depth chart in past seasons, but he will see more of a leading role in his final year. One other player that should be a valuable asset in the defensive line rotation will be junior DE Tyrone Hopper, who has 18 career tackles, but past that, UNC is relying on very inexperienced, young players to give their veterans some rest. What is interesting to note is that this year, UNC’s defense will be playing a lot of different base formations - meaning we will often see defensive ends play their usual position, but also drop back and play linebacker at times to play more zone coverage. This is why the defensive ends are marked as DE/LB hybrids. This will also assist to help UNC’s extremely young and inexperienced linebacker corps, who needs veteran communication back there. The biggest question for this UNC defensive line is if they can generate any pressure on the QB, but they should improve their run defense without a doubt with Strowbridge and Crawford next to each other on the inside.Linebackers: Linebackers are the biggest question mark for UNC as a team. Their best player and leading tackler who graduated last year was senior linebacker Cole Holcomb, selected in the 4th round of the NFL draft, and leaving a sizeable leadership and talent hole to fill. Despite the uncertainty of who is going to step up, Mack Brown commented on two players whom he believes will likely start - Jeremiah Gemmel, a 6’1”, 228lbs redshirt sophomore, and 6’4”, 228lbs senior Dominique Ross. While Ross has an extensive career at UNC, appearing in 30 games for 66 career tackles and 1.5 sacks, Gemmel has only seen action in four games, making one career tackle. Brown says that he’s seen Gemmel become a lot stronger since he’s been at UNC, and thus he feels confident that he will make the start. Besides that, Brown has noted that the rest of the guys are coming along, and the roster will form itself throughout fall camp. Names like Chris Collins and Matthew Flint, a sophomore and freshman, have been reported as having good athleticism, but still need to work on letting the game slow down for them. There’s just not a lot of experience besides Dominique Ross at the linebacker position.Secondary: Finally, the secondary is the strength of the UNC defense. Headlined by seniors Patrice Rene (CB) and Myles Dorn (FS), the Tar Heels fill out a talented veteran starting five. Rene is 6’2”, 208 lbs, and started all 11 games last year for 31 tackles and 2 INT’s. Dorn is the same height and size, with a bit more productive stats last year - 54 tackles for 2 INT’s. Both these guys are multiple year starters, with Dorn being the hard hitter and leader of the secondary. At the other cornerback spot is 6’0”, 188lbs Greg Ross, a redshirt junior who made his first start last season, starting in six games and racking up 31 tackles. Myles Wolfolk, a 5’11”, 205lbs junior, starts at the Strong Safety position, having 56 career tackles and 2 INT’s in two years of play. The the nickel spot is Trey Morrison, a 6 foot 188lbs sophomore who had a standout freshman season, gaining a reputation as a vocal presence on the defense. In his first year, Morrison tallied 46 tackles and 2 sacks. In rotation, UNC has RS junior DJ Ford, who has spent the past two seasons serving as a backup, making 15 tackles last year, and RS sophomore Tre Shaw, who also has seen very limited action, with 13 career tackles. In all, UNC has a pretty vocal and experienced starting five that should play well. They aren’t the tallest defensive backs, but they're a returning veteran group that has chemistry and covers well as a unit. Verdict: A respectable starting defense, but quite thin at depth. UNC will show up with a wealth of experience starting on the D-line and secondary, however as the game goes on, that lack of depth on the defensive line, paired with youth and inexperience at linebacker is sure to wear down. At the end of the day, if South Carolina can't run the football effectively or protect Bentley, then we know we're having issues on our offensive line. UNC just doesn't have the personnel to remain stout or consistently provide quarterback pressure throughout the coarse of the game. Expect receivers to be covered well by the UNC secondary, and expect Jake to pay for errant throws. Again, UNC is running a hybrid 3-4 defense. They intend to line up with two defensive ends at times, but also drop those ends back to help out the young linebacker position communicate and cover. This means we'll see their base 3-4 scheme, but also a more conventional 4-3, as well as 2-5. Because they are leaning towards more zone protections, don't expect too much pressure after Bentley, and don't be surprised if USC decides to run the ball up the middle a lot. Their lack of depth and inexperience at linebacker may force UNC to show us what they're doing based on how the DE/LB hybrid players line up.
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