Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Lingering Loss to Tennessee

The Tennessee loss lingers. It may hurt more now than it did when it actually happened and believe me it hurt a ton back then.

As Gamecock fans we are faced with the could haves, the should haves and the might haves. We should have clobbered Tennessee, we could have played for the SEC title and we might have been playing for the national title. Let that sink in for a bit, how do you feel? Yeah, I feel sick to my stomach too.

Let’s be realistic, Auburn would have been a very tough team to beat in the SEC title game. I would like to think our defense could shut down their one dimensional offense, but Alabama couldn’t do it, so more than likely neither could we. We would have been able to score on them, but would it have been enough? Probably not, but who knows. We don’t get the chance to find out.

Chances are a loss to Auburn in the SEC title game would have put us in the exact spot we are in now, outside looking in at a BCS bowl game. That is probably what would have happened but that scenario doesn’t leave the same feeling in your gut as what we may have lost by not beating Tennessee, a team that would end the season with just one conference win...ONE!

Who do we blame? The same guy who said following the game he had a real tough time sleeping. Yeah, I know the feeling!

I like Steve Spurrier a lot. I am thankful for him. He is without a doubt the greatest Gamecock coach ever. He is the main person responsible for the Gamecocks having their greatest run in the history of the football program.

We have a chance to be a top ten team for the third straight year in a row. Spurrier is responsible for that. He is also responsible for turning history on its head when it comes to the rivalry with that smaller school in the upstate.

He needs a statue, a street named after him, maybe even both. He took a mediocre program and made us elite. Being a Gamecock, it is tough not to be a Spurrier fan when faced with those facts. I love Steve. I will say it one more time....I LOVE THE HEAD BALL COACH....but...

....he deserves the complete blame for the Tennessee loss.

His in-game coaching over the past couple years has been mind boggling at times. He has spoiled us. He has raised the bar on our expectations to the point that I am writing about feeling sick over a 10-2 season and a trip to the Capital One Bowl.

In many ways, Spurrier is his own worst enemy. If he hadn’t built the program up like he has we would have been content with the idea it just couldn’t be done here. He has shown it can be done here and now we expect and ask questions when we lose to inferior teams that cost us a chance to play for all the marbles.

The Tennessee loss is inexcusable on so many levels. The refusal to run the ball, the wasting of timeouts and the just hideous clock management are all reasons why we lost to Tennessee and Auburn two years earlier at home. That Auburn loss also ruined our chance to play for an SEC title.

We almost lost to Central Florida earlier in the year due to our refusal to run the football. Coming into the game, the one weakness that Central Florida had was their run defense. Instead of coming out and pounding the ball on the ground, we came out throwing and got behind. Luckily the light went on for Spurrier in the second half as we did what we should have done all game long, run the ball.

Tennessee’s strength was their defensive backs. They were considered a solid pass coverage team. This was something that Spurrier talked about a lot following the game. It was like his way of convincing us and himself that this Tennessee team did have some talent. It left me even angrier, if their strength is their pass defense, then why the hell did we keep on throwing the ball?!

The loss still linger and it still hurts. More than anything, the loss is still frustrating. That is a good sign. It is a sign that our program really is on the move. Which brings me to the phone message left by a good friend.

Unlike myself, my friend grew up in the state and has been a Gamecock since he could walk. He graduated from Carolina with me and bleeds garnet and black.

We talk and text often during games and of course after games. We were both frustrated after the Tennessee loss, scratch that, we were both angry! My friend needed to vent and so two days after the Tennessee loss he called me. I didn’t answer and it went to voice mail. Below is his voice mail accompanied with some pictures to make it a bit more humorous..

WARNING!!!!! There is profanity. Do not listen at work or around children unless you have really good headphones. Enjoy

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