Monday, November 26, 2012

GAMECOCKS

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love my Gamecocks. It is almost an obsession, a love that can often temper or accelerate emotions, cause heartache or joy, confuse or clarify. At least for me and probably a couple hundred thousand other fanatics. I realize I am not alone in this mania, as millions follow their individual teams fervently as well. I don't even allow orange in my house for the most part (although since my eldest son likes the Gators, I permit certain combinations as long as blue is involved and orange is not the dominant color). How crazy is that? The only one in my family with a similar level of devotion to one team is my sister Bobbie, who loves the Buckeyes. And to a lesser extent, Paul loves the Seminoles. Both of them are suffering a little this year, as OSU can't bowl and FSU lost to UF.

The solid defensive effort put in against Clemson by the Gamecocks on Saturday, as well as a good stand-in performance by second stringers such as Dylan Thompson and Kenny Miles, was a thing of joy to watch. I kept expecting Clemson to explode, and it just didn't happen, largely because of the ability of the Gamecocks to hold the ball on long drives, repeatedly making lengthy third downs, and great defensive plays. When the ref robbed our defender of an interception midway in the game, I thought to myself, "here it comes, paid-off officials again" (which I know not to be true, but there have been odd occurances over the years). Even one of the holding calls against us on a running play looked shady. But the Cocks overcame. People complained about the interference calls against Clemson, though I thought their DBs were hitting our receivers early almost every time. Clowney simply dominated at his position, and the plan to limit touches by their offense succeeded. Their playmakers seldom touched the ball. Boyd had a great year against largely inferior ACC and nonconference foes, but against two good defenses he didn't look so good. I think talk of him winning the Heisman disappeared. I don't know what USC will do against whatever opponent we get paired up against in a bowl, but this has been another great year. It could have been enormous, had we earned three more points against LSU. The Florida debacle hurt, but anyone can have a bad game, and the team didn't play poorly defensively against the Gators. We lose a lot of great players this year, so I hope talented newcomers are in the pipeline.

So I get another year of not having to listen to the Orange smack talk. After so many years of pain, this really feels nice. A senior class that never fell to their upstate rivals. How cool is that? And we should have a competitive team next year, barring injuries. Perhaps we will get another star in recruiting this year. I feel for my Tiger brethren. . .just not too deeply! GO GAMECOCKS!

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