COLUMBIA, S.C. — In this edition of the SEC Country mailbag, we take a look at South Carolina football and recruiting before the Week 7 showdown with Tennessee.
These questions were received via Twitter.
With the offense performing the way it did against Arkansas, does it make a case for Kurt Roper that the offense is in good hands with him? —@Gamecock_Tim
That’s sort of a loaded question. South Carolina did some good things on that side of the ball, and it feels like there could have been more production if the defense hadn’t blown the game open with back-to-back scores by the linebackers.
I think you’ve got to feel good about the output of the run game with Rico Dowdle, Ty’Son Williams and A.J. Turner combining for 24 carries and 116 yards. That’s a step in the right direction, especially if Dowdle is starting to get healthy.
But the Gamecocks went 4-for-13 on third down. And, inside the red zone, they were just 2-for-4 on scoring touchdowns against the Razorbacks. Each of those have to be better, not just in one game, but also over the course of the season. For the most part, South Carolina has struggled with both this season.
That being said, I’m not a fan of gauging things on a week-to-week basis. I try to look at them in totality. Plus, with the injuries to Deebo Samuel, Zack Bailey, Cory Helms and Malik Young, it’s made things a little more difficult on Roper and everyone else involved with the offense.
However, six games in, South Carolina ranks in the bottom of half of the SEC in most of the major statistical categories, the exception being passing offense, where the 242.7 yards per game is third.
But I’m certainly not down on Roper like a segment of the fan base is, that’s for sure.
Upcoming commitment dates for our targets? — @brandon29us
To my knowledge, the only one with a firm date is K.J. Henry, who’s set to announce on Dec. 20. Dylan Wonnum is expected to reveal in December, but I don’t know of a specific date. For now, I’m assuming that Rick Sandidge will decide on Signing Day.
Everyone else, I believe, is still kind of up in the air.
If we win by 10+ on Saturday, does Butch Jones survive through Sunday? Or do you think he immediately gets the boot? — @GamecockSavages
According to an item from The News Sentinel, Jones would be owed up to $8.48 million if he was fired on Sunday after the South Carolina game. And, of course, the assistants are owed a pretty fair amount of money if they’re also let go.
I know nothing about the state of the Tennessee athletic department’s finances, but they better be certain that’s what they want to do, if indeed they do it, because $13.89 million — the total that includes assistants’ buyouts — is an awful lot of money.
Thoughts on K.J. Henry? — @jamaicanlife04
I’ve said for a while that I believe he’ll ultimately land at Clemson. That’s just sort of my gut feeling, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right. It’s been wrong in the past.
I’m not going to try to call this a package deal, because I don’t think it is, but if there’s a school that’s interested in hiring his dad as a 10th assistant coach, that could change things significantly.
Earlier this year, the NCAA approved the extra coaching position, though it’s not available until Jan. 9 and Henry is set to announce in December. Keith Henry has an extensive resume as a college coach, working on both sides of the ball. Now the running backs coach at Charlotte, his previous stops include Wake Forest, Ohio, North Carolina A&T, Charleston Southern and Gardner-Webb.
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Where would you say we stand with Dax Hollifield after this past weekend and seeing Skai Moore’s play, who Muschamp said he would replace? —@B_shobes
Hopefully, I’ll have some more information about Hollifield before the end of business on Thursday, but he profiles as a middle linebacker, not a weakside linebacker. However, you’ve got to think he liked the atmosphere, in addition to the product on the field. He visited earlier for the Kentucky game, so South Carolina went 1-for-2 there.
Dorian Gerald and Jaycee Horn: Are they really that tied to UT already that they’d stay after Butch goes (hypothetically)? — @Packard Goose
I think it’s safe to say that both would take a serious look at their other options if Jones and his staff are let go. Does that mean they’ll de-commit? I can’t say for sure, but probably.
Which recruit has the closest decision date? —@DHannum8
I’m not certain of a specific date or timeframe, but I would assume that it’s Channing Tindall, who was once planning to announce in September. If he’s able to get in a couple of visits before the end of the season, then we could see some movement before the end of next month.
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