Since we only have a week of football under our belts, the only thing we can do right now for comparison's sake is look at what teams did last year versus what they did this year. So with that in mind, let's take a look at how South Carolina did against NC State both last year and this year.
As with previous comparisons, sack yardage has been taken out of the rushing totals.
|CATEGORY||vs. NCSU '08||vs. NCSU '09|
|Yds. per Pass||7.3||6.7|
|Yds. Per Rush||4.9||3.2|
|Time of Poss.||34:57||32:25|
|Sacks All.||4 (-14 yards)||3 (-17 yards)|
Well the good news is that in 2009, South Carolina didn't have Tommy Beecher throwing a hailstorm of interceptions. That's approximately where the good news ends though. Steve Spurrier went with an overly conservative game plan and if not for the generosity of the Wolfpack, his team might not have even scored.
Everything was down across the board: yardage, yards per pass. yards per rush, even time of possession despite the run-heavy play calling. As Chris Brown noted in the piece linked to in the previous paragraph, Stephen Garcia was perfectly competent throwing on first down. Expect to see a lot more of that against Georgia this weekend.
|CATEGORY||VS. NCSU '08||VS. NCSU '09|
|Yds. per Pass||2.5||3.0|
|Yds. Per Rush||2.8||3.7|
|Time of Poss.||25:03||27:35|
|Sacks For||1 (-10 yards)||6 (-33 yards)|
As good as South Carolina's defense looked, it was actually a slight step down from last year in this game. That's because Russell Wilson actually stayed healthy this year, not that he was a revelation or anything. NC State took better care of the ball, but Wilson led the team to just .5 yards per pass more, 0.9 yards per carry more, and he took five extra sacks. The Wolfpack offense played badly, but the Gamecock defense played a big hand in that.
For anyone who watched last Thursday's game, it comes as no surprise to see that the defenses dominated the game. South Carolina regressed in more categories than it advanced in, but as I said, a conservative offensive game plan and Wilson's presence on the field the whole game probably play into that.
Unfortunately, this comparison is too inconclusive to say much of anything about where the Gamecocks are going. We'll need to see more games for that. The safe bet, though, is that it's another year of offensive struggle and defense winning games.