If there were any reservations about the improvement of the defense with the addition of new defensive coordinator Jon Hoke, they had long since faded by the end of the fourth quarter. The final score, 14-13, is neigh-unheard of in a spring game, where offense usually excels to put on a fun exhibition for the fans. Last year's affair was a 28-10 drubbing by the Black team, while the 2013 game was a bloodbath, as Black racked up 44 points to Garnet's 30. A 14-13 final is more appropriate for a St. Louis Rams-Jacksonville Jaguars game. While I did live-tweet the game for @GamecockCereal, I also have some further thoughts beyond the instant reactions.
-Connor Mitch is getting my hopes up in a hurry. His spirals are as tight as any I've seen, and he put a little bit of heat on a couple of balls. It's almost too bad his only touchdown pass was to Darius "Hootie" Rucker, but give credit where credit is due: he put it in the sweet spot where Rucker could just let it come to him. A nice pass to the back of the endzone, for what it's worth.
-Hootie Rucker sounds like the name of a street basketball legend from the 1970s.
-We need a PG-rated hashtag or meme for Connor Mitch, because all I can think of is #MitchPlease. It's extra hard because anything involving the name "Connor" just reminds us all of precious son Connor Shaw, along with his precious tiny newborn baby. That baby is adorable and will one day lead us all to victory over the machines. Didn't you know that Sarah Connor's full name was Sarah Connor Shaw? IT HAS BEEN PROPHESIED!
-Speaking of new names, I feel that Michael Scarnecchia should just shorted his last name to Michael Scarn, so I could see him do this dance after every touchdown pass:
Of course, ol' Scarnecky actually has to play in a game for that to happen. At least Spurrier gave him a nickname! That's a positive development for his career.
-Terry Googer was recognized during the half as one of the top performers during training camp, and lived up to the accolade by catching the game-winning pass for Black in double coverage. I look forward to reading the headline "Googer Goes Goofy!" after he has a big game. Or after he literally goes goofy, and is sent to an insane asylum.
-As far as top receiving performances during the game, DEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-BOOOOOOOOOO Samuel stood out with three total catches for 94 yards. Kevin Crosby and Carlton Heard also had three catches apiece. KC's development could be huge, as it would really help Jerell Adams to have another tight end as an offensive threat to draw the defense away. As for Carlton Heard, I'm just hoping he hooks up with Perry Orth on at least one play this season, just so we can see two former walk-ons make good on living the dream of playing some SEC ball at the same time. Yes I know both have already played in games, but we're going to ignore that inconvenient fact for the sake of the folk tales and the myths. When the legend becomes fact, ya print the legend.
-I guess I didn't realize it before, but Perry Orth can scramble quite a bit. I mean, he knew he wasn't going to get sacked due to the rules of the game, yet he still pretended like he was going to get crushed by 285 pounds of pure muscle, and he ran like hell to prove it!
-Spurrier played it smart with his two best offensive talents; Pharoh Cooper only appeared for one play, and Brandon Wilds didn't take a single carry, though he did catch two passes. It was preached loud and clear that keeping the players healthy throughout the game was a top priority, and it paid off, everybody left the field unscathed.
-There was one play that made me wish sacking the quarterback was allowed. Darius English had a magnificent break off the edge, and I could tell he had to stop himself from winding up to lay a big hit on Connor Mitch. English was one of the most exciting players for the defense, but the biggest acclaim has to go to Jasper Sasser, who had two interceptions on the day. This is how he got all the kids on the playground to stop calling him Sassy Sasser; he intercepted the hell outta them.
-When asked what the expectations for the season were, Steve Spurrier responded by saying "I don't know what our expectations are!" On a positive note, he seems pretty happy and excited about not knowing what the expectations are. Hey, if the Head Ball Coach is happy, then I'm happy. Welcome back, football!