This morning I watched the first Tivo replay of the South Carolina game. Of course, as usual I kept an eye on right tackle Carnell Stewart on offense and right defensive ends Kirston Pittman and Rahim Alem on defense.
Before I get to them, I want to alter and amend my comments from yesterday. Flynn wasn't his sharpest this game, but I don't think he was as bad as I originally thought. He made some very good passes, but he had some dropped passes early. I think those drops rattled him a little bit, and it affected his play later in the game. Late in the game, he was clearly way off.
Of course, the primary culprit in the drops was Jared Mitchell. He's getting fairly well eviscerated on the message boards, but I would encourage fans to cut him a break. This was a growing experience for Mitchell. It was his first really meaningful action in a big game of his entire career. He didn't come through, but that's no reason to think he won't come through later. The coaches will just have to gauge his response to this subpar performance and see if he's responding appropriately. The coaches are really high on Mitchell and think his ceiling is very high. We might be without Early Doucet for a while too, and if so we'll need Mitchell to be a threat.
Alright. Onto the player isolations. Carnell Stewart has come so far in his first 4 starts at right tackle that he's not even the same player anymore. Carnell was abused by Titus Brown in the Mississippi State game, but he may well have been our best offensive player against South Carolina. He didn't miss a block, and opened up gaping holes on the right side. He got a D for his performance against MSU, and a B-minus as I recall for his performance against Virginia Tech. Well, he got a solid A against South Carolina.
He was all over the place, and Gary Crowton saw it by running plays to his side all night. If he keeps this up, he may sneak into post-season All-SEC teams.
On the defensive side, Kirston Pittman was a beast early in the game, but he disappeared a little bit towards the middle. He made some nice plays later in the game though. I don't know if USC made adjustments to account for him, or if he just didn't perform as well, but I think the coaches would love to see him perform up to how he performed in the first couple of series for an entire game. In particular, when the play called for him to drop into coverage and/or cover a back swinging out for a pass, he really struggled.
Just one more comment on the defense. Jonathan Zenon struggled yesterday. Carolina quarterbacks completed 4 passes against him, including one for a touchdown, which happens to be the only touchdown pass allowed on the season. I hope he can bounce back from that.
Once again, Chevis Jackson didn't give up a completion.
Tomorrow: Around the SEC.