It’s easy for Wolfpack fans to wallow in the aftermath of Thursday night’s loss. And yes, it was hardly an inspiring performance by the Pack.
Thirteen games into the Tom O’Brien regime, the state of State’s offensive line is not markedly improved — worrisome, given O’Brien’s resume in that department.
(He didn’t win all those bowl games at Boston College with Rich Rodriguez’s running game. Was that an attempt to utilize Wilson’s talent — or disguise State’s weakness in the trenches? Either way, it’s hard to believe he’ll stick with the shotgun when his center threw as many interceptions as his QBs.)
At this point, looking at the schedule, three wins may seem like a best-case scenario. But all is not lost for the Pack. They have nine days to recover and regroup for William & Mary, a game that will be a world away from the nightmarish environment of Williams-Brice Stadium.
They were down 3-0 at the half, the defense looked solid and Andre Brown showed some spark before it all fell apart. Any team that has its starting QB carted off the field in Columbia is probably going to struggle in the second half, and that’s what happened.
Piggybacked onto the Maryland game, it’s an ugly way to start the season, but here are a few counterpoints to some of the negatives.
1. It’s unfair to judge any of State’s three quarterbacks on their performance Thursday. Wilson wasn’t ready for a road game at an SEC team with a great defense, but you have to figure O’Brien was hoping that while his mobility would be an asset, the learning experience would serve State well down the road. If Wilson returns reasonably quickly, that may in fact be the case.
By the time Daniel Evans and Harrison Beck were in the game, the Gamecocks’ defense smelled blood and State’s offense was totally flustered. Few QBs are going to succeed in that situation. They may not have picked up any positives, but you can’t hold the negatives against them here.
2. State’s defense has potential. The Pack wore down in the second half thanks to a seemingly endless series of three-and-outs and turnovers by State’s “inept” offense, as Caulton Tudor aptly put it.
They couldn’t stop the run in the second half and benefitted from some atrocious QB play on South Carolina’s part, but on the whole the Pack looked quick and aggressive.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t get any easier for State. After the William & Mary game, they have to go back south to the hellish confines of Death Valley to play what should be the best team in the ACC. Still, you have to expect a better two-half performance out of them on Sept. 13 if the offense can hold up its end of the bargain.