I believe the Bulldogs OC Jim Chaney did the right thing Sunday, in Columbia. His plan for the Gamecocks defense was to challenge them with the run game. It turned out to be a good plan.
Nick Chubb took charge on the first snap. Few plays later he was powering his way into the end zone! Sony Michel did his thing; accelerating into the 2nd level and dashing outside. Herrien flashed some talent too. It all added up to 336 yards rushing for these 3 backs.
Chaney used a lot of heavy packages (formations geared towards running the ball) to get the backs loose. The featured formation was 2 tight-ends and a fullback. The ‘Dogs started their two best blocking receivers: Chigbu & Stanley. The intent was to challenge the Gamecocks defense to play physical against the running game. They did not pass the test and I’d be willing to bet that had something to do with Coach Muschamp’s cut lip.
Yes, the Bulldogs O-Line had their best game. The blocks were clean and forceful. Most of the action was played 3 yards INTO the South Carolina side of the line of scrimmage. Pyke, Kublanow, Wynn and the boys knocked them off the ball. They also pulled and sealed some holes. It was impressive.
Basically, the ‘Dogs did not need the passing attack in this match-up. Obviously, Jacob Eason struggled early. So, there was no good reason to push the issue and let him throw it around. He was high on some balls. His footwork appeared to be off. And he needs to consider taking some velocity off the ball, on some throws to make it easier to catch! Don’t need to throw the fastball every time.
On one 3rd down passing situation, Chaney got him a 3-WR set, with both Sony & Chubb on the field in the slot. Eason got caught staring down the 1-WR side, working against 2 defensive backs, when he should have been going to the 2-WR side, where he had an open out route. He felt pressure and threw it away. This is an example of him suffering from some growing pains.
Is Eason improving? I would say, yes. The game reps have made him more comfortable with the speed of the game. It looks to me like he is working in the pocket more effectively. Initially, he was seeing some ghosts & flushing out too soon. But again, there was no good reason to push his limits in Columbia.
As he develops, there will continue to be some ups & downs. Be patient. The kid can sling it.
– Buck Belue
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