Any cache of good will that South Carolina football head coach Will Muschamp built up with Gamecock Nation with the road win over then No. 3 Georgia three games ago is now out the window with Saturday's 41-21 loss to Tennessee.
In fact, Muschamp …
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In fact, Muschamp is likely once again in arrears, a place he has been most of his four years in Columbia, whether justly or unjustly.
As well as Carolina's defense played against Kentucky and Georgia and against Florida, it was just as inept against the previously woeful Volunteers.
USC could get no pressure against UT quarterbacks Jarrett Guarantano or J.T. Shrout, neither of whom would have likely played if Brian Maurer hadn't been injured. There were receivers running loose throughout the secondary, and Tennessee ran the football effectively enough to keep Carolina honest.
Offensively, South Carolina failed to show any consistency in its play calling. It ran the ball 21 times in the first half to only nine times in the second half, while throwing it 32 times. It continues to abandon the run way too quickly, and there is no creativity to the play calling, whether running or throwing.
And it's that consistent inconsistency that leads to the utter frustration for Gamecock Nation. Hearing Muschamp say that he, his staff and his team need to continue to work to get better has grown very old and very lame.
Fans have seen too many of the moments where USC plays really well against teams in which it almost has to play a perfect game and too many of the games where it has laid an egg against a team that is of equal or lesser talent.
I had someone text me that USC has lost to three teams this year which had inferior talent, being North Carolina, Missouri and now Tennessee. Whether those teams aren't as talented can be argued, but there is no way any of those three have more talent.
USC appears to lack the desire to be aggressive on defense. Tennessee had two quarterbacks that possessed little if any confidence and an offensive line that was pieced together due to injuries. Yet Carolina got no sacks and just three hurries.
It appeared as though the Gamecocks were willing to sit in zone coverage - for the most part - and not dial up any significant number of blitzes to force the UT QBs to react in a quicker fashion. Muschamp spoke of the Vols being in maximum protection sets on offense, yet the Gamecocks never appeared to send one more defender than UT had blockers.
And why didn't South Carolina use any maximum protection to protect its signal caller, Ryan Hilinski? The true freshman was under constant harassment throughout the game, and when you're putting it up 51 times that means he was under a lot of duress.
The Volunteers had three sacks, five hurries and broke up seven passes, many of those coming on deflections at the line. USC, on the other hand, had just one breakup.
There is no reason at this time to think the 3-5 Gamecocks should win any of their four remaining games no questions asked. They'll be favored this week against Vanderbilt, but the Commodores have beaten Vanderbilt. Then it's undefeated Appalachian State, on the road against Texas A&M and at home against No. 4 and defending national champion Clemson.
It's hard to see three wins coming out of those four to make USC bowl-eligible.
It will be interesting to see if Muschamp survives this storm. I think he will, but he may have to do it without a coordinator or two. Something has to change in how things are done.
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