In his recent post, So right, so wrong: Revisiting Mississippi State, South Carolina predictions, John Crist, eats it.
— John Crist (@SaturdayJC) November 18, 2016
You don’t need to click on his post. The quote below sums up anything of any importance that he wrote:
If USC wants to go bowling, it better beat 2-8 Western Carolina at home Saturday. Upsetting Clemson on the road in Week 13 isn’t going to happen. Still, Muschamp and Co. are a lot further long than I anticipated. Kudos to them.
This guy was so negative I wrote two pre-season, blog posts to rebut him:
— Edwin Turnage (@torpedotube) August 28, 2016
— Edwin Turnage (@torpedotube) August 13, 2016
There was a tiny bit of engagement from Crist. However, it was just to ridicule the Gamecock coaching staff and to make sarcastic responses. Here’s a sample:
— John Crist (@SaturdayJC) August 12, 2016
All that remains is for the Gamecocks is to make ACC homer Crist eat his words about the 50-0 Clemson win he predicted. Ain’t gonna happen.
Muschampisms. They are like Spurrierisms only better. Last week’s press conference was great. We learned a new word, tripley. This week’s post game presser was even better!
First there was the snooker reference about @Lammons_1’s bad luck, “the rub of the green.” Muschamp next describes what to do to an opponent when you have a two-score lead, make them bleed. Finally, we get two a rat analogies.
White out the Gamecocks.
Ralph Webb guaranteed victories.
“This is our night,” from Derek Mason.
Talk is cheap.
Earlier this week, I wrote why @Jeff_Dillman’s weight program would make the Gamecocks better in 2016. I asked a friend what he thought about my post.
My friend is a sad Gamecock. He’s a skeptic. He believes the national touts are probably right about the 2016 team sucking. He argued that comparing the 2015 and 2016 rosters showed little change in the defensive linemen weight. Therefore, he saw little evidence for hope Jeff Dillman’s program was any better than last years.
Was my friend right? Sure enough, the average weight of the Gamecocks returning defensive linemen changed hardly at all, only about 2 pounds per man. But I am looking closer at the data and think there is still a lot of room for optimism. Here’s a chart with my findings:
The defensive linemen who were undersized last year and needed to gain weight did gain. Both Shameik Blackshear and Darius English put on significant weight, 15 and 20 pounds respectively.
On the other hand, the defensive tackles who last year looked overweight lost a lot of weight. Defensive linemen Griffin, Lamin, Sawyer, and Wideman, all lost significant pounds.
I don’t know if these numbers will correlate to a quicker, faster, stronger, and more effective defensive line. But it sure looks like Jeff Dillman’s S&C staff addressed issues on the defensive line on an individualized basis. That is exactly how a good S&C team works. The art of it is working with individual athletes on a person by person basis.
On July 29, Vanderbilt released a statement called, “The ‘Dore offensive line.” The statement touted the full-strength return of redshirt senior Andrew Jelks (pictured above):
Jelks, a 2013 Freshman All-America and SEC All-Freshman performer, suffered a season-ending injury in  summer camp. Jelks has returned with an impressive offseason regiment and enters his final season at full strength.
It is obvious Jelks was a big part of Vanderbilt’s 2016 plan. Unfortunately, Jelks recently suffered another season-ending knee injury.
There are no words to describe how I am feeling. I am beyond sorry I won’t be able to play with my brothers this year.This hurts #AnchorDown
— Andrew Jelks (@El_Jefe_50) August 12, 2016
Losing a veteran leader like Jelks is a blow. Nobody wants to see that happen to a player. It’s just sad. Losing Jelks hurts Vanderbilt particularly because Vandy was hoping for stability on the OL–not another repeat of the 2015 season. In 2015, its offensive line was beset by injuries. Players moved around from position to position like they were stuck in a horrible game of musical chairs.
Following the 2015 season, Derek Mason fired the OL Coach, Keven Lightner. I watched the replay of the Vandy game against Kentucky and thought that Lightner’s OL looked pretty good. Two guys, Jake Bernstein and Spencer Pulley, even signed free agent NFL deals after the season. However, Mason saw it differently and let Lightner go citing, “a difference in philosophy.”
Vanderbilt is scrambling in camp to find young offensive linemen who can replace Berstein, Pulley, and now Jelks. On August 10, Offensive Coordinator Andy Ludwig’s statement indicated the Vanderbilt OL situation is still fluid.
Offensive line. Different guys at different positions. That’s a group we’re still looking to jell.
Adding to the OL yo-yo, Vanderbilt is breaking in a new offensive line coach, Cameron Norcross. Norcross comes from Fresno State (3-9).
Like Vanderbilt’s star running back Ralph Webb, Norcross talks a good game.
I want guys who are nasty. I want guys who are right on the edge. I want guys who push the envelope a little bit.
Hopefully, the Gamecocks defensive front seven creates chaos in an offensive line on a learning curve. Mercilessly out-nasty the nasty. Show no sympathy to Vanderbilt. Pressure its young quarterback Kyle Shurmur all night. And, shut up Ralph Webb.
The offensive line is probably the most important (if unheralded) position group on any team. The OL allows a team to control the clock. It gives your defense rest. It helps put points on the board. A good offensive line imposes its will on a defense. It takes away the energy of opposing crowds. The offensive line is the heart and soul of your football team. It is the first and foremost reason why I remain optimistic about 2016 despite the drumbeat of negativity from national and regional touts about how much the Gamecocks suck.
It could be disheartening to hear such an important position group disrespected by touts. Like we heard this summer when they published this crap.
ESPN spoke with an anonymous coach who didn’t sound too excited about the Gamecocks’ offensive line: “There are a lot of third-year sophomores, fourth-year juniors that just aren’t SEC players.”
On the other hand, it is invigorating and inspiring to hear a contrary opinion, even if it’s a biased one from a Gamecocks assistant coach.
This is a real deal offensive line. These guys are good. @DJPark2013, @, @. These guys are real deals. Their big. Their physical. Their good kids. Their hard-nosed. @. All those guys. And you know what? To me that’s the best thing about our situation right now. To me, we’re [the defensive line] competing against a really good SEC offensive line. So, I tell our guys, if we can compete against these guys and we can perform at a high level consistently against these guys, we’re going to be ok when we get to Saturdays. So that part has really been beneficial. @‘s been great. We’ve had a lot of drills against each other. That does nothing but make our guys better.
Lance Thompson has coached as an assistant football coach on SEC defenses for 11 years over a span of two decades. He coached on premier SEC defenses like those at Auburn, Alabama, LSU, and Tennessee. With all due respect to ESPN and its anonymous coach sources, it seems like Thompson might have a sound basis upon which to base an opinion about whether an offensive line stinks or not. Not.