Tales From The Cockpit: Expectations Exceeded

Take a deep breath and read what I have to say before lashing out about the title of this blog.

Following the Gamecocks’ loss in Lexington, Carolina fans were down in the dumps searching for any and every reason why Muschamp was already a failure after just four football games.

Well one week later, the Gamecocks lost again…but I’m not sure anybody can truly tell me that there has not been an obvious improvement from one year ago.

Yes, the offense continues to ghost…but as I’ve spelled out in almost every single blog this season, there’s not much Muschamp can do with that.  At least not yet.

If we sit 5-weeks into the 2017 season and the Gamecocks still don’t have the ability to score more than 20-points a game…then okay, let’s talk about failure.  Right now, in 2016, it’s not about the underdeveloped, talent deprived offense learning a new system.

In 2016 it’s about a vastly improved defense that was basically non-existent in 2015.

The Gamecocks defense allowed 330 points in 2015, ranking them at 68th in that category.  So far in 2016, the Gamecocks have only allowed 93 points on the season ranking them 32nd in a tie with Mississippi State.  In points allowed per game, the Gamecocks defense ranks 23rd in the FBS allowing just 18.6 points per game.

Again, this hasn’t translated to wins and their total defense ranking still isn’t great, but it’s the beginning.

Of course, this will cue up the rival fans and their “quantifying losses” commentary, but guess what…that is where we are right now.  Let them talk, let them boast and let them think they’ll never have to be in our shoes again, but they will.

Eventually everybody bottoms out and has to start over.

In 2015, we bottomed out.  In 2016 we are starting over.  This isn’t fun, I know, but at this point it is what it is.  I sound like a broken record I’m sure, but right now it’s about finding the silver linings in each game.

To me, holding a high-powered Texas A&M offense to their lowest point total of the year, holding Trevor Knight to a season-low 206 yards, keeping him from throwing a touchdown pass and of course beating the spread (and my own expectations) are all silver linings for the Gamecocks.

The offense is going to take time, there’s no doubt about that.  That’s why I don’t see any reason so play Jake Bentley this year. Let Orth and McIlwain take the lumps and red-shirt Bentley.  This season is going to be mediocre at its absolute best and even that will take a miracle or two down the stretch.

I had a conversation with fan-favorite Tim “Pops” Frisby on Twitter this week and we agreed that Muschamp has a much tougher job ahead of him than Spurrier did beginning in 2005.  That Gamecocks team had much better recruits for HBC to work with.  Spurrier himself even admitted that he dropped the ball over the last few years in recruiting.

Muschamp’s cupboard is bare and to be perfectly honest, I’m impressed with what he’s been able to do with it so far…especially on the defensive side of the ball.

I am still going to hold on to my lofty prediction of a home win over Georgia this weekend, but the Gamecocks will need to exceed my expectations with a win over Missouri or maybe Florida later in the season to reach 6-6…that may or may not be possible, I don’t know, but again let’s be cautiously optimistic.

For now, keep supporting this team as it fights and claws to climb out of this gigantic hole and continue to show up and show out at Williams-Brice!

Forever to thee!

-Ditti

Find me on Twitter (@Ditti33), Facebook (/ditti33) and Instagram (dittius33).

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