Lorenzo Nunez made his first start for South Carolina against UCF in Week 4. He threw for 184 yards and two touchdowns on 12-of-22 passing and rushed for 123 yards on 18 attempts.
It was the best performance by a Gamecocks quarterback thus far in 2015. Connor Mitch was lackluster before being sidelined due to an injury. Perry Orth threw more interceptions than touchdowns as Mitch’s replacement.
But Nunez provided South Carolina with a dual-threat presence that jolted the offense. In three appearances, the quarterback leads the Gamecocks with 239 rushing yards on 30 attempts. So will it be enough? Can Nunez save South Carolina’s season?
No. Absolutely not.
Cam Newton couldn’t save that team. South Carolina is — aside from possibly Vanderbilt — the worst team in the SEC.
Gamecocks fans didn’t like it when I said that Steve Spurrier was a bottom-tier coach, nor when I said his “jokes” were a mask for a flawed roster from top to bottom.
Unless Nunez is playing quarterback, filling spots on the offensive line and every defensive spot other than Skai Moore’s, he won’t be enough to save a terrible Gamecocks team from missing a postseason berth.
Nunez had a stellar performance and his credit is deserved. But it was against UCF.
Do you know how terrible UCF is this season? I live in Orlando, there are local UCF bars giving away free beer just so fans will watch Knights games.
UCF ranks No. 73 overall in total defense and No. 62 in scoring defense. This is the same team that lost games to both FIU and Furman.
And yet, the Knight still managed to hold a halftime lead against South Carolina, a team with too many flaws for one dual-threat quarterback to fix. Sure, he’s talented, otherwise he wouldn’t have ranked as a four-star prospect.
But for anybody to assume one player, let alone a true freshman quarterback, is going to single-handedly save a team as bad as South Carolina must be out of their mind, especially if the deciding factor is a strong performance against UCF.
Vanderbilt’s Johnny McCrary tied a school record with five passing touchdowns against Old Dominion in 2014. This was the highlight of an otherwise forgetful freshman campaign.
It’s not to say McCrary is to blame, its hard to carry a team with as many flaws as Vanderbilt had last season. That’s something Nunez will have to do.
I just don’t see how running the football from the shotgun on every single play is going to beat good teams. Ask Josh Dobbs what happened when his read-option offensive scheme became too predictable against Florida last week, and that’s with a group of receivers who — aside from Pharoh Cooper — are far superior to South Carolina’s.
Nunez is fresh and new. Defensive coordinators don’t know how to prepare for him.
But now that there’s game footage on Nunez and with South Carolina set to continue its SEC schedule, he won’t have a performance like the one we saw last weekend. I’m not saying he doesn’t have the potential to be a great quarterback, but let’s be honest, it was a fluke performance.
When a team like UCF — who has struggled in every game this season — faces a quarterback who hadn’t started previously, it shouldn’t be a surprise to see staggering numbers. Nunez will be humbled by a far superior Missouri defense who — despite facing the usual annual departures — manages to stay talented each season.
Again, there’s no way Nunez is enough to single-handedly carry a team that — aside from Cooper — lacks offensive talent and has a defense incapable of tackling well. The freshman can run for 200 yards a game and it still wouldn’t be enough to keep South Carolina from finishing in the bottom tier of the SEC.