Bowl Season

ACC vs. SEC Atlanta
Georgia Dome
Dec. 31
7:30 p.m.
John Havard, of was nice enough to answer some questions about the Gamecocks.

BS: This is a monumental 9-4 season for the Gamecocks as they got to the SEC Championship Game. How important is it for South Carolina to win this game to avoid "just another 5 loss season" and get that elusive 10 win season?

John Havard: On the one hand, the idea that a loss would mean that 2010 would be "just another 5 loss season" isn't exactly accurate. Let's say we lose. Will any reasonable South Carolina fan really look back and say that this season was no different than 2008 and 2009? I couldn't do that with a straight face. We might have five losses, but we'd also have nine wins and would have had to play in an extra game to get to five losses. Moreover, we'll always be able to look back at 2010 as a season where we handled many of the better teams we played. This hasn't been another season where we won our games against the OOC cupcakes, a couple of SEC bottom feeders, and maybe staged one nice upset. This year we did all of that plus a few more big wins. We also won a championship. Even with a loss in the bowl, I'll look back at this season as a milestone for Carolina football. A loss would be disappointing, certainly. In a season of milestones, it would be nice to add another couple of firsts by finally coming to play in the post-season and getting that tenth win. But a loss isn't going to make me seriously question this season's accomplishments.

BS: How much has the SEC east title changed South Carolinians views of Steve Spurrier?

John Havard: It's vindicated his tenure as our coach and put the fanbase back squarely in his corner. Spurrier has had a better-than-average tenure by Carolina standards, but up until this year, many fans were increasingly questioning his failure to break through. He had that season this year and, with a young team in place, appears poised to continue chasing a first SEC Title for Carolina.

BS: The offense had a very good season. Talk about the 3 headed monster of QB Stephen Garcia, RB Marcus Lattimore, and WR Alshon Jeffery and the offense in general.

John Havard: In past years, Carolina has tended to have a somewhat effective passing game but no running game. That was, for the most part, the case last year, when Garcia and Jeffery keyed the offense. Both have improved this year, but the emergence of Lattimore has been the major difference in helping Carolina transform into a truly effective offensive team. Lattimore has turned Carolina into an efficient team that picks up first downs more often than not and scores when it gets to the red zone. He's also helped open things up a lot for Garcia, Jeffery, and others. He's the spark plug for this offense.

BS: The defense had a pretty good season, but struggled against some of the better SEC offensive teams (Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky). What is the key to the defense stopping Christian Ponder and the Florida State offense?

John Havard: Carolina's defensive woes owe almost totally to its secondary, and FSU will come out throwing the ball if they know what's good for them. I think the secondary's main problem is lack of depth, which has forced us to ask our core group of defensive backs to do too much, and they've tired out over the course of games and made mistakes. I'm not sure if I think we can fix this problem between now and the bowl game, since it's a personnel issue. Therefore, I think we're going to really have to rely on our pass rush to slow down Ponder. Granted, we've not always been able to slow down opposing passing games even when we've gotten pressure on the QB. See the Kentucky game for a great example; Hartline threw the game-winning TD pass as he was getting mauled by a defensive lineman. However, generally we've been able to make up for coverage problems somewhat with our great pass rush, and I look to see Ellis Johnson aggressively blitz Ponder. Hopefully he'll get creative in doing so.

BS: If you had to choose one player who will have a breakout performance in the bowl game, who would it be?

John Havard: Offensively, we won't depart too much from the usual suspects in this game. Considering FSU's weakness against strong power running games, I think you'll see us try to run Lattimore early and often. On defense, Cliff Matthews may be due a great game. Matthews, projected to be our defensive star, played a muted role this year due to dealing with double teams and minor injuries. He came on strong at the end of the year, though. This is his last game in garnet and black, and I hope he goes out with a bang.

Thanks a lot to Mr. Havard. Check him out at .

This free website was made using Yola.

No HTML skills required. Build your website in minutes.

Go to and sign up today!

Make a free website with Yola