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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Texas A&M Post Game Analysis: Licking Our Wounds

I woke up Friday hoping it was all a dream. I woke up Saturday hoping for the same thing. It is Sunday now and it has finally set in, Thursday night was not a dream.

Going into the game I was about 95% sure the Gamecocks would win. I was about 50% sure we would play well while doing it.

My rationale was Texas A&M was loaded with talent but very young. I was thankful we had them at home and early. I liked the set up, beat the Aggies by a couple of touchdowns now and then watch those Aggies get better each week and contend for the West title in the SEC. 

My rationale was flawed, the young Aggies were ready to play and our young Gamecocks on defense were not. Understatement of the year. That is on the coaches. I don't want Spurrier or Ward fired and neither should you, but that embarrassing loss needs to be owned by them. 

The question is just how bad was it? Is Texas A&M that good or were we that bad? We don't have the answer to that. My eyes tell me Texas A&M is that good and are only going to get better. If you look at it in that context the loss is a bit easier to take, not easy but easier.

Going forward there is reason to be optimistic. While Ward and Spurrier deserve their share of criticism for Thursday, they also have a great track record for making their teams better as the season goes along. 

Last year we saw this against Georgia, our defense looked bad, not quite as bad as Thursday but it wasn't pretty last year in Athens. The defense got better and by the end was pretty good.

There is a ton of talent on this defense. I know it didn't appear to be the case on Thursday. The talent is there. Going into the season it was their youth that was the question. They will get better each game. Will it be good enough? That is the million dollar question.

The Gamecocks and Spurrier need to do things to protect the defense.  Don't get me wrong, play calling is not why we lost on Thursday. That being said, we abandoned the run right away. This is a Spurrier trait that rears its ugly head every so often. The Gamecocks strength is their offensive line and their talented and deep running backs. The Gamecocks need to get in the Power-I-Formation and pound it on the ground and then use the play action to take shots deep. This is how the Gamecocks will give themselves a chance this year. 

The goals for the season are still there, the margin of error just got smaller. The Georgia game now becomes bigger than ever. The Gamecocks will now be home underdogs, I like that. The Bulldogs were impressive against Clemson but they do have weaknesses we can exploit. It is time to lick our wounds.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

College Football Pick 'Em Contest

College football season is here and it is time for the College Pick 'Em Challenge. The contest is real simple. Each week ESPN chooses ten college football games. Your job is to pick a winner for each game and then rank how confident you are in each game you pick. The confidence value you give each pick will be how many points you are awarded if you get that pick correct. Your points will add up each week all season long.

All the games will be Saturday games and you will have until noon on Saturday to get your picks in.

This year we are adding a little more incentive with a $20 buy in. The payouts will go as follows:

1st place: 65% of the pool
2nd place: 25% of the pool
3rd place: 10% of the pool

To enter the contest, click here and create your entry. Once you do that you will then search for the group name. The group name is Otis Day and the Knights. The password is password.

You have until Saturday at noon to get your picks submitted. The $20 is expected to be paid by early October. Don't be that guy....or girl who doesn't pay. Payment information is found within the group or you can email  Good luck!

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Best Teams in School History: South Carolina vs Clemson

I have many Clemson fans who read this blog on a regular basis and I hear from them often with their disagreements about my views on things. Sometimes the truth hurts. That works both ways. This is a post that I think Clemson fans are going to like a lot. Don't worry fellow Gamecocks, I will figure out a way to spin it by the end of the post.

The topic is history, something Clemson fans live and feed off of on a daily basis. One of my all time favorite websites is Baseball Reference. Well, the people that brought you that website now have similar sites for the NFL and College Football. These sites are amazing. For example, this site makes it easy to access stats when you are trying to prove some tater wrong about something dumb they said on a message board.

The site uses the SRS which stands for Simple Rating System. The simple rating system as you can imagine is pretty simple. It rates a team on two things, point differential and strength of schedule. 

I have done a couple of blog posts comparing the rosters of both Carolina and Clemson this year along with their schedules. Carolina came out on top in both. I decided I would now compare the history of their greatest teams. I know Clemson leads the all time series and I know they have a national championship. Clemson fans for some reason tend to mention those things a few times every hour. I was hoping though that our five best teams were better than their five best teams based on the SRS. Unfortunately, the facts did not show this. I thought about destroying my research, never to be seen again, but instead I decided to post it. After all, this is a fair and balanced blog......ok...maybe not but still. Here is the research.

South Carolina
YearSRSWinsAP HighAP FinishScheduleRival Win

Time for some observations, the first is that the 1987 Gamecocks are the best team in school history according to SRS. They went 8-4 and yet get the honors. How is this possible? Well, the 1987 Gamecocks played an unreal schedule and when they lost it was close and when they won it was a blowout. As I mentioned, the SRS is simple but it is interesting how well the 1987 Gamecocks look using this system.

Now for the bad news, the four best Clemson teams are all better than any team we have ever had. The SRS is not only simple but it is stupid. Ok, I actually like the SRS and I liked it a lot more before I did this research.

I also need to be honest about the average win totals, as the chart shows both teams averaged ten wins a season during their five best teams. Since Clemson's best teams were sooooooo long ago, teams played one less game than they do now. 

Our five best teams have never lost to Clemson, their five best teams have never lost to us. Makes sense.

However, let's spin this a bit. Notice the schedule ratings? This is a topic that often comes up in debates. Once again, a Clemson fan can never talk about strength of schedule to a Gamecock fan. We will give you the history debate and all of that but please don't bring up or compare our schedules. They just don't compare now or historically.

I tip my hat to Clemson, they win the history argument just about any way you want to slice it. Trust me, I was looking for a way to slice it in the favor of the Gamecocks. However, I do want to point out that four of our five best teams in history have been the last four seasons. There also seems to be no sign of the Gamecocks getting worse.  The present is good and the future looks bright. Now, let's take a look at Clemson. 1990 is a long time ago. That is the last season they had a team that ranked in their top five historically. This is two years before Bill Clinton became President. The Atlanta Braves were the worst team in baseball and had the first overall draft pick and selected a guy named Chipper Jones. 1990 was a long time ago, a real long time ago, real long. So congrats to Clemson on their history but it is pretty clear the present belongs to the Gamecocks and the future looks awful garnet as well.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Christian Walker Rising Through The Orioles System

Christian Walker will always be remembered by Gamecock fans for the home-run he hit against Coastal Carolina in the Super Regional. The homer ignited the Gamecocks to Omaha and a national championship.

Walker might be hitting homers for the Baltimore Orioles soon. Walker was promoted to AAA less than a month ago after dominating AA. Walker went 3-4 last night with a homer. He is now hitting .286 with 3 HR in 19 games in AAA. He hit .301 with 20 homers in AA this season.

Walker's success has not gone unnoticed by the big club. On the Baltimore Orioles telecast on Wednesday night he was featured as their minor league player of the week.

Buck Showalter is high on him but cautioned the press. Showalter had a conversation with Walker after he was promoted to AAA. He told Walker he didn't care how well he hit in AAA, if his defense at first base did not improve he would not be getting called up. Apparently the conversation hit home with Walker. By all accounts he has been working extremely hard on his defense and it is showing improvement. If he keeps it up he could be joining fellow Gamecock Steve Pearce as the Orioles make a run to the postseason.

Monday, August 4, 2014

South Carolina vs Clemson: Positional Rankings

Debates have already started over which team has more talent for the 2014 season. Both teams have clear strengths and both teams have question marks. We summon the great Phil Steele once again and look at his rankings for each position within their conference. For this exercise we are just going to pretend that both the ACC and SEC are equal, difficult I know. Here are the rankings, remember, low number wins.

UnitSouth CarolinaClemson
Running Back48
Offensive Line212
Defensive Line111
Defensive Back94
Special Teams1011

Assuming that both the SEC and ACC are equal, the Gamecocks and Clemson look to be even on paper with the Gamecocks getting a slight edge.

However, the key as always will be in the trenches. The strength for the Gamecocks is their offensive line. The strength for Clemson is their defensive line. 

What raises my eyebrows is that Clemson's offensive line is ranked as the 12th best in the ACC. Keep in mind there are just 14 teams.

The Gamecocks defensive line is ranked 11th in the SEC. However, the Gamecocks are likely to go to a 3-4 defense this year meaning that linebacker play will be very important. The Gamecocks linebacking corp is ranked fourth in the SEC. In the battle of the trenches the edge has to go to the Gamecocks.

I know I told you to pretend both conferences are even. You can stop that right now. Let us be realistic, the SEC is a deeper conference than the ACC. I posted about this when talking about Phil Steele's Power rankings here. So if the Gamecocks are slightly ranked better in the SEC than Clemson is in the ACC, what does that tell you? Stay tuned.

Monday, July 28, 2014

South Carolina vs Clemson: Strength of Schedule

The South Carolina Gamecocks have had a tougher strength of schedule ranking than the Clemson Tigers have had every year since 2003. To be honest, in most of those years the rankings were not close. This is according to Jeff Sagarin. You can check out all these year by year rankings here. Jeff Sagarin doesn't work based on opinion he does it strictly using the numbers.

The funny thing is last year the Gamecocks played a much weaker schedule than they have in a long time. Clemson played a much tougher schedule last year than they have in a long time. This led to Clemson fans actually questioning the schedule of the Gamecocks. It is the equivalent of Oprah Winfrey questioning Kate Upton's diet.

Last year, the Gamecocks schedule ranked 20th in the country and Clemson 54th. That is much worse than Carolina is used to and much better than Clemson is used to, despite that, the Gamecocks still ranked 34 spots better than Clemson. No, Jeff Sagarin is not the adopted son of Paul Finebaum. Clemson fans are always looking for conspiracies.

It is now 2014 and the schedules are out. Once again Clemson fans are questioning the Gamecocks schedule. To be honest, the 2014 Gamecocks schedule might be their easiest schedule since they joined the SEC in 1992. Clemson might have their toughest schedule since 1992. Do you know what is strange? At worst, the Gamecocks schedule is even with Clemson's schedule.

It is hard to judge schedules before the season and much more accurate to do so once the season has been played. However, I went ahead and used Phil Steele's rankings to compare the schedules of both Clemson and Carolina. Here is my post on Phil Steele and his rankings.

Below is each team's schedule and their power rating number. The FCS teams do not have a power ranking number and since both teams play one FCS team each, the numbers cancel each other out. Remember, teams get a boost in their number when they play at home. You will notice that Georgia has a better number on the Clemson schedule because they are home. So even know Georgia is a common opponent between Carolina and Clemson, it is a tougher game for Clemson because it is on the road. We saw the reverse of this last season. Here are the numbers:

ClemsonSouth Carolina
@Georgia136Texas A&M126
SC StateNAEast Carolina116
@FSU149at Vandy122
NC State117@Kentucky114
Georgia State82South Alabama106
South Carolina135@Clemson132

The Gamecocks schedule gets the slight edge. The main differences is between South Alabama and Georgia State. Georgia State is really bad. The other issue Clemson has is the weakness of the bottom ACC teams. I blogged about this here the other day.

Once again this is close and I have stated I like to judge schedules at the end of the season. The point is, this could be the easiest schedule for the Gamecocks in two decades and this could be the toughest schedule for Clemson in two decades, yet they are pretty much even with a slight nod to the Gamecocks. Interesting.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

SEC vs ACC: Is the ACC Closing the Gap?

Is the ACC closing the gap on the SEC? Yes and no. The ACC is much better than it was but that is not saying much. There is this belief among some that the SEC is overrated, that their bottom teams are awful and just like any other conference they just have a couple of good teams at the top.

This is something that ACC fans are really starting to believe since Florida State won the national title last year. The ACC thinks they are just like the SEC now. They have a couple of really good teams at the top and equally bad teams at the bottom. Very simple, very easy. Not so fast.

Using Phil Steele's power ranking numbers, I decided to match up each SEC team with their ACC counterpart (Best SEC vs Best ACC, Second Best SEC vs Second best ACC etc.) to see who would win and by how many on a neutral field. The conclusion is that it is not close. Let me be clear, Phil Steele's numbers are not perfect but they are pretty accurate and the results are pretty staggering in favor of the SEC. The ACC is getting better but the depth of the SEC in comparison is no match.

1) Florida State -1 over Alabama

2) Auburn -13 over UNC

3) South Carolina -8 over Clemson

4) Georgia -7 over Louisville

5) LSU -7 over Miami

6) Ole Miss -9 over Virginia Tech

7) Texas A&M -6 over Duke

8) Missouri -6 over Georgia Tech

9) Florida -6 over Pitt

10) Miss State -7 over Syracuse

11) Tennessee -3 over NC State

12) Arkansas -6 over Virginia

13) Vanderbilt -9 over Boston College

14) Kentucky -3 over Wake Forest