Why Dylan Thompson Is Struggling

FUNDAMENTALS LACKING …  By FITSNEWS  ||  Fifth-year senior Dylan Thompson is 6-2 as the University of South Carolina’s starting quarterback.  Over that time, he’s thrown for 3,186 yards and 26 touchdowns (against only eight interceptions).  He’s currently the No. 2 passing quarterback in the SEC (trailing only Texas A&M’s Kenny…


By FITSNEWS  ||  Fifth-year senior Dylan Thompson is 6-2 as the University of South Carolina’s starting quarterback.  Over that time, he’s thrown for 3,186 yards and 26 touchdowns (against only eight interceptions).  He’s currently the No. 2 passing quarterback in the SEC (trailing only Texas A&M’s Kenny Hill) – and has completed a career-high 61 percent of his passes so far this season.

All good, right?

Eh … not really.

Despite his digits, Thompson’s critics are mounting – and fans are clamoring to see what head coach Steve Spurrier’s stable of young back-up signal-callers can do.

“Five games into the season, it’s time to accept that Dylan Thompson’s fate is to be nothing more than a game manager that the Gamecocks have to win in spite of, rather than because of,” Josh Arnold of The Garnet Report  wrote this week.  “The 2012 Thompson who came off the bench to save the Gamecocks is now a distant memory, having been replaced by the current Thompson whose best skill at the moment seems to be overthrowing wide receivers.”

Ouch … but (unlike Thompson’s deep ball) “accurate.”

Earlier this week, FITS received a lengthy email critiquing Thompson’s performance so far this season – contrasting his skills with those of former Spurrier quarterbacks including Danny Weurffel, Blake Mitchell, Stephen Garcia and Connor Shaw.

“There is no doubt that Dylan can throw the deep ball and will (or might) be a successful quarterback in the SEC,” our critic began. “Thompson – at times – has proven himself to be a winner. However, these downfield passes are important and crucial plays in Spurrier’s offense.”

Indeed … and Thompson was supposed to be a better deep ball passer than Shaw.  In fact Spurrier led Gamecock fans to believe Thompson was going to excel running his offense this season – his first as a starter.

According to our critic, the five most important passing plays in Spurrier’s offense are the corner route, deep post route, deep crossing route, fade route and wide receiver screen.

Is Thompson accurate on these throws?

Not nearly as often as he should be … especially on passes longer than thirty yards.


Thompson’s accuracy on these deep throws is “borderline nonexistent,” according to our critic – who highlighted several key misses that have become emblematic of Thompson’s problems.

Take the Gamecocks recent win over Georgia – in which Thompson started the game completing ten of eleven passes only to misfire on six of his next fourteen throws.

After making one of his best passes of the season to Nick Jones on a 25-yard sideline streak route (setting up South Carolina with first-and-ten from the Georgia 22-yard-line), Thompson followed up with one of his worst throws of the season – missing a wide open Pharoh Cooper in the end zone for a touchdown that would have put the Gamecocks up 28-13.

“Terrible foot-work, terrible mechanics and throws off of his back foot,” our critic observed.

As a result South Carolina entered the locker room with an eleven-point lead, not a fifteen-point lead.

In the Gamecocks win against Vanderbilt, we saw more of the same …

Trailing 7-0 after giving up a 91-yard touchdown return to the Commodores on the opening kickoff, the Gamecocks came out in two tight-end set with two men in the backfield.  Expecting a run, Vanderbilt stacked the box and covered wide receiver Damiere Byrd – the fastest player on any college football roster – man-to-man.

Byrd ran a beautiful deep post route and was wide open downfield – but Thompson missed him by a mile.

Similarly, Thompson missed Jones on a similar route later in the first quarter – after Shaq Roland dropped a pass that was mildly overthrown.  Another post route to Cooper in the second quarter resulted in a badly overthrown pass in the end zone.

These missed connections – and others like them – are one reason why South Carolina has struggled to win games (and lost games it should have won).  Seriously … this is one of the best wide receiver corps in America, and they are getting open against SEC defenses.

Another problem Thompson is dealing with?  Locking his eyes onto his intended receivers.  Telegraphing throws was the reason Thompson was unable to connect with Cooper or tight end Rory Anderson on two deep passes over the middle during the final drive of South Carolina’s loss to Missouri.

“The missed throws just makes you cringe and question Dylan Thompson’s ability to be consistently accurate on passes of thirty yards or further,” our critic concluded.

We agree.

Let’s not get carried away with the Thompson-bashing, though.  South Carolina’s No. 1 problem this season – the primary reason it has fallen from a Top Ten program to an unranked team in precisely one month’s time – is not  Dylan Thompson’s inconsistent passing.  It’s a defensive unit that (despite showing improvement each week) remains among the nation’s worst.

In fact poor defensive play has forced Thompson into frequent situations where he was under pressure to make things happen on his own – as opposed to the grind-it-out nature of the 2011-13 Gamecocks.

But just as there are no shortages of heroes when a team’s football fortunes are on the rise, there’s no shortage of goats when those fortunes are on the decline … especially after the man at the helm of the program built such lofty expectations.

Pic: Travis Bell Photography

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okay October 1, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Putting in a different qb who I promise you will not be as good is dumb. It does nothing to address Spurrier’s insanely bad play calling and game management. Dylan is doing fine. He’s not a superstar, but show me more than one other SEC school with a superstar qb. You don’t need one to win games. Any qb will miss some passes here and there.

Play calling, awful game management and horrific defense are why this team is bad. Don’t go placing blame on random people just cuz.

Jackie Chiles October 1, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Agreed. The last 7 minutes of playcalling/game management of the Mizzou game was as bad as the last few minutes of the 2013 TN game and the 2010 KY game.

Toyota Kawaski October 2, 2014 at 9:08 am

dont leave out the 2006 bowl game, outback bowl vs Iowa,

The Colonel October 1, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Tough to believe “it’s all Dylan’s” fault when you watch the ball go through the hands of the receiver, bounce out of his hands or watch the receiver run the wrong pattern. Thompson does throw the ball hard which contributes but blaming him for the teams foibles is like blaming Big T for our state’s position in educational achievement ratings…

LJ October 1, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Kind of a joke…this article…considering the picture says he doesn’t throw off his back foot and his “elite” receivers don’t block, finish routes, catch the ball, or get open most of the time.

Will Folks aka Sic October 1, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Made a point to say it’s not all his fault. But no way to say it other than dude has missed a lot of sure touchdowns. And good luck accusing Pharoh Cooper of dropping passes.

gamecock October 1, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Many, many well thrown passes have been dropped by his receivers.

Joe Montana passing through October 1, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Dylan needs to launch the ball sooner. He holds on too long and the formations have already played out by the time he releases.

Todd October 1, 2014 at 3:32 pm

Tajh Boyd had the same problem.

SC Political Digest October 1, 2014 at 3:09 pm

True Sports Ignorance on Display!!!…The SC OFFENSE took a 13-pt lead with only six minutes left in the game. The D IMPLODED, BLEW the game…now you have every IDIOT-sports sage in Columbia trying to Blame the offense and Spurrier.

What if the score was 43-30, and the D collapsed, and lost 44-43?

Did DT have a less-than-stellar night? YES!!!!…But the D actually BLEW the Georgia game. SC’s offense, w/ Thompson scored 38 in that one, and the D gave it away (but Ga. would not take it)…

The reason Dumb@$$#$ are a problem: is that you end up looking in the wrong direction to fix the problem, because of stupidity. It’s why Spurrier is a GREAT coach. He knows what the problem is. Read SCPSD. We’ve written several pieces that contradict about all the stupidity being published..

The Colonel October 1, 2014 at 3:19 pm

Ummm, I think the point is that the score should have been 35 or 42 to 17…

SC Political Digest October 1, 2014 at 9:52 pm

When you give up a 13-point lead w/ six minutes left, it’s because the DEFENSE collapsed. It’s IGNORANT to assume gobs of points, and blame the offense for not having a big enough lead to counter a total implosion by the defense late in the game. People are SO intent to attack Spurrier, you are being absurd. It’s laughable, especially after what the D has done in every game this season.

You either Identify the problem and address it…or you theorize stupidity, and waste four or five games, before admitting who and what the big problem is. Spurrier knows it, and I bet he is already addressing it. And don’t expect the defensive coaches to be back next year.

E Norma Scok October 2, 2014 at 10:40 am

Who is WE?

E Norma Scok October 1, 2014 at 4:02 pm


You can dress that pig anyway you want and spend 15 paragraphs of bandwidth opining on it.

I’ll do it in one sentence: He’s not that good.

Scooter October 1, 2014 at 10:21 pm

He is adequate. He did not drop those passes that should have been caught. He is good enough to win with unless you screw up, royally, in other phases of the gamem.

Elfego October 1, 2014 at 4:33 pm

A lot of the idiots in here will not be satisfied until Spurrier and the likes of Thompson are gone so we can get back to being the old dismal Gamecocks and waiting on next year. I have been a Carolina fan for 60 years but I am truly ashamed of the Gamecock Traitors.

Meh October 1, 2014 at 6:08 pm

Traitors? Why are people traitors for having an opinion that the coaching staff is performing poorly? They get paid too much money to coach this poorly. Are they supposed to sing praises or just keep quiet when this kind of thing happens? Just asking.

I don’t get hating on Thompson b/c he’s one of the best qb’s in the SEC right now and people just need to keep that in perspective. He’s not the reason we’re bad.

TontoBubbaGoldstein October 1, 2014 at 7:22 pm

When the ships a-sinking…
The rats start jumping….


Thats a load of crap October 1, 2014 at 5:51 pm

“Similarly, Thompson missed Jones on a similar route later in the first quarter – after Shaq Roland dropped a pass that was mildly overthrown.”
Only someone who doesn’t know football would say that Shaq’s dropped pass was over thrown. It was right on the mark, hell it hit him square in the hands at full speed Roland just dropped the thing. that’s another 60+ yards you could have added to Dylans totals and a TD. Then in the A&M game Jones dropped a 30 yard TD pass before half that would have also added to his totals, and Anderson dropped one wide open in the endzone against Mizzou (and that 4 point difference ended up being the cost of the game). Also lets not forget the 4 or 5 passes dropped by Roland on the WR screens that were all on the WR.. Easily Dylan should have about another 150+ yards passing and 3 more TD’s on the season (all three drops I mentioed were 100% going to be TD’s as 2 were actually in the endzone) and USC would be 4-1 not to mention the the A&M game might have been a tad different with that TD at the half with momentum and the ball first to start the 2nd half.
Yes Dylan has been off at times but not as bad as some of the bandwagon /fair weather fans are acting on the radio or in here. Hell half of them were calling for Dylan at times last year or the year before. I am 100% a diehard fan, and can say that some fans have gotten spoiled for no reason and cant see that Dylan gives us our best chance to win right now. He had 1 bad game against Mizzou that wasn’t as bad as every thinks anyway or at least all his fault and everyone is ready to dump the kid. Really???

TontoBubbaGoldstein October 1, 2014 at 7:18 pm

Thompson ain’t as good as (vastly underrated) Shaw and your defense ain’t what it’s been, either.

Thomas October 1, 2014 at 8:13 pm

It is not Thompson. Shaw had just as many busted plays as Garcia though he ran to keep drives alive. Garcia was Mr Football in FLA. Shaw and Thompson ran successful HS teams. The LCD (that’s Least Common Denominator) is G.A. Mangus. G.A. Mangus was in his second of three seasons as the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee State. There was nothing remarkable about that 2007 team, nor the 2008 squad, both of which finished 5-7. Before the 2009 season, Mangus left to become the quarterbacks coach at South Carolina, under his coach from his playing days at Florida, Steve Spurrier. G.A. Mangus can recruit. Give him that job. After 5 solid years under Mangus, Thompson has lost his abilities, gained no new skills, and is not at fault. Mangus fucked the heads of Garcia, Shaw, and Thompson, not developing them for the job. Shaw smiled once a week, a man determined to forged his own destiny and place. Look at Garcia after five years, Thompson. We need a new QB coach, a DC, Conditioning Coach, Special Teams Coach, Receivers Coach…the sooner the better.

Squishy123 October 1, 2014 at 8:25 pm

Slurrier seems to be wanting to have redshirt quarterbacks for the near future, there’s been no sign of him playing anyone other than the guy who will be gone next year. Is it his plans for the next head coach to have a quarterback who has never taken one snap in a game?

Toyota Kawaski October 2, 2014 at 9:03 am

The Garnet Report=Tits on Boar Hog.
Love how Fits gets another B-list sports person each week.


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