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CFN Analysis - South Carolina Rolls Big Red

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jan 2, 2012


CFN Instant Analysis on South Carolina's win over Nebraska in the Capital One

CFN Analysis   

Nebraska, South Carolina
 
 

By Pete Fiutak

- Nebraska, Job One this offseason – another offensive weapon.

- It’s unbelievable the Huskers got this far with just Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead, and Martinez was hardly T-Magic. The offensive line did what it could, but there simply wasn’t enough production. Burkhead couldn’t do it all.

- It might not have been a thing of beauty, but compared to recent South Carolina bowl games, this was a Rembrandt.

- Fine, so Connor Shaw is never going to be a special passing quarterback. He’s a gamer, though. He took some big shots, including getting blasted in the end, and he kept fighting.

- Five years from now after all the Gamecock defensive linemen are in the NFL, people are going to look back and call this one of the most talented SEC lines ever. This group is loaded and ultra-athletic, but it got shoved around a bit.

- The Gamecocks came up with six sacks. After the first quarter, there was no threat whatsoever of getting beaten by the Husker passing game.

- Give South Carolina credit. While playing in the Capital One Bowl might have been disappointing compared to what the hopes were to start the season, if you told Gamecock fans that Stephen Garcia and Marcus Lattimore wouldn’t be a part of the team late in the year, and Alshon Jeffery wouldn’t be a major factor on the year and got kicked out of the bowl, no way would anyone think this team could’ve won 11 games.

- Kenny Miles was a nice fill in. He played hard trying to do the impossible and replace Lattimore.

- South Carolina might have the million dollar stars, but Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David was the best defensive player on the field.

- This was a bad matchup for Nebraska, and the game was closer than the final score looked, but again, the Huskers just didn’t have any offensive punch and not enough weapons.

- Welcome to the Big Ten, Nebraska.

By Richard Cirminiello 

Steve Spurrier just concluded the single best season of his storied coaching career, topping anything he ever achieved in Gainesville. Not only did he lead South Carolina to the school’s first-ever 11-win season, but he did so in a year when his offensive backfield was blown up by Marcus Lattimore’s injury and Stephen Garcia’s suspension.

Gamecocks WR Alshon Jeffery is a certified beast in the passing game, who’s going to make some yet-to-be-determined NFL quarterback very happy a year from now. His Hail Mary reception just before halftime was the definition of a turning point. Nebraska never recovered in the second half.

Somewhere in Hattiesburg, Ellis Johnson had to be beaming. The new Southern Miss head coach—and former South Carolina defensive coordinator—gets a partial game ball for helping turn the Gamecocks into one of the country’s feistiest and nastiest units in 2011.

It’s not 1983. And Tom Osborne is no longer the head coach in Lincoln. Nebraska is never going to compete for national championships again unless it can develop more of a threat from the passing game. The Huskers called a solid game in the first quarter, but it gets too easy for opponents to make adjustments when the other guys are so blatantly one-dimensional.

Message to Jadeveon Clowney: Spend the next two seasons avoiding your press clippings, and engrossing yourself in becoming a student of the game. The rookie South Carolina defensive end has the potential to be the first pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, but only if he doesn’t rest on what was an outstanding debut in Columbia.

By Matt Zemek

This was the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test of football games. A two-point return of a PAT? Steve Spurrier using shotgun snaps from the 1-yard line? South Carolina turning a second-and-goal from the 2 into a scoreless possession? Drive-extending personal foul penalties on punts? Fumbles that shot 15 yards into the air? A Hail Mary touchdown to end the first half? Four penalties by Nebraska on the same individual series of downs? Alshon Jeffery getting into a fight and meriting a third-quarter ejection? Emotions were on overdrive in this contest and prudence was found in short supply. The first half was one of the most brain-spinning, head-tripping, LSD-laden servings of insanity the 2011 college football season managed to produce. Both Nebraska and South Carolina needed to settle down when the second half rolled around, but everyone inside the Citrus Bowl stadium didn’t have the foggiest idea how this vexing and volatile mind-bender would resolve itself.

Plainly and emphatically, South Carolina stepped forward to restore order, shrugging off two and a half quarters of wackiness and waywardness to put Nebraska away.

Does this game say a lot about South Carolina? It’s hard to say. The Gamecocks never did play LSU or Alabama this season. They got thumped at Arkansas and lost at home to Auburn. They beat Clemson when the Tigers were in the midst of freefall. Yet, Carolina did win 11 games in the same season for the first time in the entire history of the program. The Citrus Bowl (yes, we know about the official corporate name…) is the most prominent non-BCS bowl, and the Gamecocks claimed it decisively after their unsteady first half. South Carolina also defeated all its major rivals – Georgia, Tennessee, Florida and the aforementioned Clemson Tigers. One can say that the Gamecocks produced an all-time-great season, and one can just as easily say that Spurrier’s students weren’t tested by the very best teams in the nation. South Carolina shows that in a 12-game schedule, a team’s fullest attributes – the good and the bad – can be camouflaged. That said, 11-2 and a bowl win is one really nice camouflage outfit. The Carolina family deserves to celebrate a season rich in landmark accomplishments.

By: Barrett Sallee
Follow me on Twitter: @BarrettSallee

- A bad, but fitting end to what could be the final game of the college careers of both South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and Nebraska defensive back Alfonso Dennard. Both of them let their emotions get the best of them. Jeffery shoved Dennard in the facemask way after the play, and Dennard responded with the swing. It's unfortunate for Jeffery, whose stellar game will be overshadowed by the extra-curricular activities.

- I like what Taylor Martinez brings to the running game, but his passes look like they're coming from a low-level high school quarterback.

- I would welcome Rex Burkhead to my mythical college football team all day long.

- South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw is going to be a stud in 2012. He suffered some speed bumps when he took over the job, but he emerged as a big time player for the Gamecocks as the season progressed. The battle for first-team All-SEC in 2012 is going to be solid. Shaw, Aaron Murray, James Franklin, Tyler Wilson and Tyler Bray all are strong.

By: Russ Mitchell
Follow me on Twitter: @RussMitchellCFB

- Nebraska won the first quarter 13-9.

- Wouldn’t want to be in the Pelini household this evening. Wouldn’t want to be on the bus. Wouldn’t want to be on the plane.

- If I was a Nebraska player, I might have found my own way home from Orlando to stay away from Bo.

- Forget being outscored 21-0 in the final three quarters. Forget four penalties on one drive in the third quarter. Forget a 3-13 third down conversion rate. Forget a -2 turnover margin.

- Just remember -14 yards of offense in the fourth quarter.

- Pelini ran Burkhead too much in the first half...kid ran out of gas.

- Future NFL players SC WR Alshon Jeffery and Nebraska DB Alfonzo Dennard were both ejected in the third quarter for fighting. The Nebraska DBs were playing the entire game very physically, to their benefit.

- Despite the ejection, Jeffery still had another 100 yard receiving day (4/148, 1 TD), and was the Most Valuable Player of the Game.

- Jeffery would be crazy to skip the NFL. Two words for you, Alshon: Greg Childs.

Phil Harrison

- Another Big Ten team goes down. When you looked at the match ups on paper, it looked like the much maligned conference was going to have a shot at winning some games and finishing an average year in good shape. Not so thus far, and there is one word that sums it up. Ouch!

- How big was the hail-mary TD catch by South Carolina just before half-time? Nebraska’s defense was playing well and then the punch in the gut happened. The Cornhuskers never recovered.

- Nebraska’s inability to have confidence to loosen the reigns on Taylor Martinez’ arm has hurt them all year. In this one, if the ‘Huskers were going to stand a chance, they needed to win the turnover battle, control the clock, and clamp down the Gamecock offense. Once Nebraska got behind and lost the turnover battle, there was no way that Martinez was going to bring them back through the air.

- With the win, South Carolina finishes off a very, very good season. If it were not for toughness of the league it plays in, it could have been even bigger--perhaps national title race bigger.

- For Nebraska, this season has been nothing but a disappointment. It expected to come into the Big Ten and contend for the conference crown. Instead the Cornhuskers didn’t even win their own division in a down Big Ten, and is left picking up the pieces of a bowl loss to boot. The black shirts have to be better going forward.

- The “Head/’Ole Ball Coach” still has plenty left in the tank--apparently.