Panthers Win Ugly
September 17, 2015
The Carolina Panthers did what they do best last week. They won ugly playing their trademark style of gritty football.
They were on the road. They played without their top wide receiver, then lost their best defensive player just before halftime when middle linebacker Luke Kuechly went down with a concussion.
But the Panthers found a way to win, beating Jacksonville 20-9 in a game that featured few highlights. In other words, it was an ugly win.
Panthers’ Jerricho Cotchery
Cam Newton found wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery on a seven-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter that was the offense’s only touchdown.
What was not ugly was the game-clinching drive Carolina put together to ice the game in the fourth quarter. The Panthers ran 15 plays and ran over eight minutes off the clock before making it a two-score game on Graham Gano’s late field goal. A mixture of Jonathan Stewart running the ball and some short pass completions by Newton highlighted the long fourth quarter march.
Mariota Vs. Winston
The first two picks of the 2015 draft squared off during Week One of the 2015 season. In a battle between rookie quarterbacks, Marcus Mariota (2nd pick) topped Jameis Winston (1st pick) quite easily.
Mariota of the Tennessee Titans had an NFL start for the record books. In his 1st game as a pro, Mariota was an efficient 13-of-16 passing for 209 yards and four touchdowns.
Titans’ Marcus Mariota
His passer rating was perfect: 158.3.
He left the game early in the 4th quarter with the Titans leading 42-7.
Winston, on the other hand, was awful for Tampa Bay. His first NFL throw was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. He had another interception and was sacked three times.
Winston has now lost two games since graduating from high school: once at Florida State against Oregon and Marcus Mariota, and now this one against Tennessee and Marcus Mariota.
Is Spurrier’s Run Over In Columbia?
Watching the South Carolina Gamecocks suffer an embarrassing loss at home to Kentucky last weekend, I have to wonder about the future of Gamecocks football.
It is safe to say that Steve Spurrier is a legend in South Carolina for what he’s done for the Gamecocks over the last decade. In the last 10 seasons, the Gamecocks have finished .500 or better 10 times, have been to nine bowl games, and have won the SEC East. The program became relevant again.
South Carolina, owners of an abysmal football history, were 33-6 from 2011-2013, winning 11 games each year. It was the first time the program ever won 11 games.
They’d only won 10 games once before, and that was in 1984. Before Spurrier arrived, the only other time in the football program’s 100+ year history that the team won nine or more games was in 2001.
Spurrier may have his second toughest task ahead in 2015 (first was turning the program around). He has to regroup his team and move forward without starting QB Connor Mitch who suffered a separated shoulder in the Kentucky setback. And he has to play seventh-ranked Georgia this week. Upcoming visits to Missouri, Texas A&M and Tennessee are on the schedule, plus they have to play LSU, Florida and Clemson. The Gamecocks have three likely wins this season (UCF, Vanderbilt, Citadel) but getting to a bowl game looks unlikely.
Does the 70-year old “ole ball coach” have another run left in him? I really kind of doubt it. He has not landed a 5-star recruit since Jadeveon Clowney stayed home in 2011.
We may be seeing the end for Spurrier. It will be a tough decision down in Columbia. You don’t want to shove out an icon who elevated the program to a level never before seen. Would Spurrier step down? I doubt it. Could the two sides work together so the demise does not get ugly like it did with Mack Brown at Texas or Phil Fulmar in Tennessee. You can bet the question will soon become commonplace. How do the Gamecocks smoothly move on from the best coach in school history before things unravel to the point of no return?