Yes, we're still behind schedule. We're going to figure this out eventually. In the meantime, we talked to Gamecock Man of Garnet And Black Attack about what is currently known in baseball-crazed Columbia as "that other sport" -- i.e., football. The answers follow.
I think everyone agrees that Stephen Garcia is critical to the Gamecocks' success this year. What do you expect from him?
Garcia's play is certainly critical. I think that if Garcia can maintain the level of performance he provided last year, the Gamecocks can win the usual seven games or so, but that of course isn't what we're looking for. The question, to me, is whether or not he can improve his performance, particularly by becoming more consistent. Consistency was definitely Garcia's problem last year; some nights, he was great, while on others he struggled with accuracy and decision making. That has to change for the Gamecocks to have the breakthrough year that everyone wants. I'm going to be very honest, though: I currently have my doubts about Garcia being able to do this. His performance during spring training as well as Spurrier's constant criticism of him do not suggest that he's making much progress. Gamecocks fans can only hope that whatever it is that's holding him back -- and I agree with Spurrier that it's attitude and dedication -- is being resolved over the summer.
How concerned are you at losing Eric Norwood this year?
Not as much as you might think. Certainly, losing Norwood is a major blow to the team. However, we otherwise return a lot of defensive talent, enough to make me think that this will overall be a more talented and deeper defensive unit. I particularly think it's important to recognize that this team should be stronger on the defensive line and secondary than it was last year. So while losing Norwood will hurt us, particularly in that it will be almost impossible to replace Norwood's production in the pass rush, we should be able to balance that loss with improved play in other aspects of defensive play.
What is a successful season for South Carolina? Another bowl, an eight-win year or something more?
Success is at least eight wins or bust. Considering that this is almost undoubtedly Spurrier's most talented team in Columbia -- don't forget, that heralded 2007 class is now at its senior season -- and that the East should be wide open, anything less than eight wins will have to be considered a failure on Spurrier's part to get this team over the hump. There's no better time than now for us to do it.
What reason, if any, should we expect Steve Spurrier's sixth year in Columbia to be any different than the first five?
Talent. This is the deepest, most complete team Spurrier has had in Columbia. I've already talked about the defense. The offense, too, has the right tools in place. The backfield and, even more so, receiving corps are among the best in the conference. The question marks, of course, are Garcia and the offensive line. I like the offensive line's chances to improve this year, as it should only show progress with each passing year out of the shadow of John Hunt. Garcia I'm not so sure about, but you at least have to assume that he'll be decent, and even just that might be enough to make this a somewhat memorable year. I should reiterate, though, that is this team is to really have a great year -- i. e., go into the Florida game with a shot at the Division Title -- Garcia has to become a much better QB, and I have my doubts about that happening. That has me thinking that this team's ceiling is nine wins.
How many visors will Spurrier go through this year?
Four. He'll lose the first three after (1) Weslye Saunders drops the tying touchdown against Auburn, (2) Garcia throws three bad fades against 'Bama, and (3) Spencer Lanning's game-winning kick is blocked against Florida.
We thank Gamecock Man for answering our questions and remind you to follow the Gamecocks at Garnet And Black Attack.