CFN Take: South Carolina & Shaw Get By Tigers
South Carolina Gamecocks 2013 ... Head Coach: Steve Spurrier
at South Carolina 31, Clemson 17
2013 Record: 10-2|
8/31 North Carolina W 27-10
9/7 at Georgia L 41-30
9/14 Vanderbilt W 35-25
9/21 OPEN DATE
9/28 at UCF W 28-25
10/5 Kentucky W 35-28
10/12 at Arkansas W 52-7
10/19 at Tennessee L 23-21
10/26 at Missouri W 27-24 2OT
11/2 Miss State W 34-16
11/9 OPEN DATE
11/16 Florida W 19-14
11/23 Coastal Carolina W 70-10
11/30 Clemson W 31-17
Basically … Mike Davis broke open a 17-17 tie with a two-yard run, and Brandon Wilds caught a 26-yard touchdown pass as South Carolina pulled away to end a turnover-plagued night from the Tigers. Clemson turned it over six times with Tajh Boyd throwing two picks, but running for an eight-yard score. Connor Shaw started out the scoring for the Gamecocks with a three-yard run and hit Shaq Roland on a nine-yard touchdown pass on the way to a 17-7 lead, but the Tigers came back with a Chandler Catanzaro field goal at the end of the first half and a four-yard Roderick McDowell run to tie it in the third. But the turnovers were too much to overcome, and South Carolina took advantage.
- Turnovers: Clemson 6 – South Carolina 0
- South Carolina QB Connor Shaw completed 14-of-26 passes for 152 yards and a score, and he led the team with 94 yards and a score on 22 carries.
- Clemson QB Tajh Boyd completed 19-of-27 passes for 225 yards and two picks, and he ran for 16 yards and a score.
- Clemson RB Roderick McDowell ran 14 times for 111 yards and a score.
at South Carolina 70, Coastal Carolina 10
Basically … South Carolina scored 42 points in the first half with Connor Show running for a touchdown and throwing a 35-yarder to Shaq Roland. Dylan Thompson threw two touchdown passes and ran for a score, and Brandon Wilds ran for two short touchdowns. CU got in the end zone late in the second on a one-yard touchdown catch from Lorenzo Taliaferro, but only managed a field goal in the second half.
- South Carolina QBs Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson each completed 8-of-11 passes. Shaw threw for 140 yards and two scores and Shaw threw for 115 yards and a touchdown.
- South Carolina RB Jamari Smith ran ten times for 103 yards and a score.
- Coastal Carolina QB Alex Ross completed 15-of-25 passes for 168 yards and a score with a pick.
- South Carolina outgained CCU 639 yards to 294.
at South Carolina 19, Florida 14
Basically … South Carolina scored 13 unanswered points in the second half with two of Elliott Fry’s four field goals and a 32-yard Bruce Ellington touchdown catch. Utilizing the Wildcat formation several times, and doing whatever it could to move the ball, Florida came up with a 20-yard Kelvin Taylor touchdown run in the first quarter and a 29-yarder in the second, but drives stalled throughout the final 40 minutes.
- South Carolina RB Shon Carson ran 13 times for 102 yards
- Florida QB Skyler Mornhinweg completed 10-of-13 passes for 107 yards with a pick
- South Carolina QB Connor Shaw completed 14-of-28 passes for 213 yards with a score
- South Carolina outgained Florida 377 yards to 307.
at South Carolina 34, Mississippi State 16, Nov. 2
Basically … Five turnovers and four Connor Shaw touchdown passes helped lead South Carolina to a victory over Mississippi State. The Bulldogs opened the scoring on a Dak Prescott touchdown run, but it would be their only lead of the day. Shaw hit WR Shaq Roland on two scoring strikes to take the lead in the first quarter, and South Carolina pulled away for good with 17 unanswered points in the third quarter.
- South Carolina RB Mike Davis led all rushers with 128 yards on 15 carries.
- Prescott rushed for two touchdowns and 78 yards, but he also completed 28-of-43 throws for 235 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions.
- Gamecock CB Victor Hampton had a game-high eight tackles to go along with a forced fumble, fumble recovery and three pass breakups.
- Mississippi State held South Carolina to just 1-of-11 on third-down conversions, yet still yielded 34 points in the loss.
South Carolina 27, at Missouri 24 2OT
Basically … South Carolina’s Elliott Fry nailed a 40-yard kick in the second overtime and Missouri’s Andrew Baggett clanged his 24-yard attempt of the upright to give the Gamecocks an improbable win. The Tigers were cruising along with a 17-0 lead in the fourth quarter, but USC turned to an injured Connor Shaw off the bench. He was magical, leading the way to two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, including a two-yarder to Nick Jones with just 42 seconds to play, and a 15-yard throw to Bruce Ellington on fourth down in the first overtime to keep the game alive. Maty Mauk connected with L’Damian Washington on a 96-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, and marched the Tigers to a scoring drive, capped off by a one-yard Marcus Murphy run, for a 24-17 overtime lead, but the defense couldn’t hold.
- And now the SEC East title is still alive for South Carolina. If Missouri and Georgia each lose once more, South Carolina is going to the SEC championship game if it wins out. Gamecock fans, root really, really hard for Florida to beat Georgia. If that happens, with home games against the Gators and Mississippi State, all it will take is one Tiger loss to take the East.
- The plan was to play Dylan Thompson and hope it all worked out, but he couldn’t put points on the board, even though he got the offense moving, and Connor Shaw stepped in and came up with a legendary performance, completing 20-of-29 passes for 201 yards and three scores, but give Mike Davis Credit. He might have fumbled twice, but he was fantastic on screen plays and kept drive after drive alive. Bruce Ellington finished with ten catches for 136 yards and two scores.
at Tennessee 23 … South Carolina 21
Basically … Michael Palardy hit three field goals including a 19-yarder as time ran out to give Tennessee a stunning win. Down 17-7 at halftime, South Carolina took control with tough defense and touchdown runs from Mike Davis and Connor Shaw in the third quarter, but gave up the two unanswered field goals in the fourth. Shaw gave USC a 7-3 lead on a 76-yard pass play to Damiere Byrd in the second quarter, but he ended up leaving the game with an apparent knee injury late.
- Tennessee has been really, really close to doing some nice things since the blowout loss to Oregon. How did it do it against the Gamecocks? Michael Palardy had a lot to do with it, beyond the three field goals. He averaged 40.4 yards per punt and put six inside the 20. The Vols controlled the game in the fourth quarter, held firm defensively late, and got timely offense when the chances were there. It might not have been the best-looking win, but the program will take it. It might have been a gamechanger.
- Connor Shaw takes a beating and keeps on trying. He only completed 7-of-21 passes for 161 yards and a score with a pick – with 76 yards on one play – but he took a beating on his 78 rushing yards and had to leave the game with what was first reported a sprained knee. Dylan Thompson is fine, but Shaw is a heart-and-soul type.
- After all the talk about Antonio Richardson vs. Jadeveon Clowney, how did Clowney do in the NFL matchup? 4.5 tackles, two quarterback hurries and 2.5 tackles for loss. He didn’t come up with a sak, but he was active.
- The Vols might really be just fine with Justin Worley at quarterback. He completed 19-of-34 passes for 179 yards and a score, but most importantly, he didn’t make any huge mistakes. Tennessee was able to stick around, and it came up with the drive it needed to close.
South Carolina 52, at Arkansas 7
Basically … Alex Collins gave Arkansas an early 7-0 lead on a six-yard run, and that was it for the homecoming fun. South Carolina scored 52 unanswered points with three Connor Shaw touchdown passes with two to Bruce Ellington and a 45-yarder to Damiere Byrd. Shaw added a ten-yard scoring run late in the third.
- Will Connor Shaw ever get a little bit of credit for being one of the SEC’s premier quarterbacks? He completed 19-of-28 passes for 219 yards and three scores, and ran for 37 yards and a touchdown.
- Brandon Allen: 4-of-12, 30 yards, one interception. The Arkansas offense was horrendous, failing to do much of anything to get the chains moving. The Hogs only had the ball for 16:35. That’s not how a Bret Bielema offense is supposed to work.
- After all the drama and all the craziness, Jadeveon Clowney played and came up with a grand total of one tackle. The Gamecocks failed to generate a sack, but the D allowed just 248 yards of total offense.
- The Hog ground game tried to make something work, and it averaged over nine yards per carry helped by a 50-yard dash from Keon Hatcher, but it never got control of the game. South Carolina owned the second half with first down after first down.
at South Carolina 35, Kentucky 28
Basically … South Carolina appeared to be on its way to a nice and easy day, getting out to a 21-0 first half lead started out with a 62-yard Damiere Byrd touchdown catch from Connor Shaw, along with two Mike Davis touchdown runs. The 27-7 lead in the fourth quarter seemed insurmountable, but Kentucky fought back with two touchdown passes from Jalen Whitlow and a one-yard touchdown run to pull within seven after a Shaw short scoring run, but South Carolina got the onside kick and ran out the clock.
- Can South Carolina keep its focus for a full sixty minutes? It had Vanderbilt dead, but the game became a fight late. It didn’t show up against UCF, and then the team turned it on in the second half. Kentucky might be the worst team in the SEC, but USC allowed it back in the game late with a defense that couldn’t put the clamps down. The Gamecocks got the win, but it was a fight.
- Kentucky didn’t give up, showing great fight in the fourth quarter, and now the team knows that Jalen Whitlow really can play. He didn’t lead the way to the win, but he completed 17-of-24 passes for 178 yards and two scores, and he ran for 69 yards and a touchdown. He was fantastic, and he almost pulled it off.
- Can this fourth quarter carry over for UK? With Alabama coming up next, probably not, but if the team can play like this against Mississippi State, there’s a chance to come up with an upset in Starkville. To do that, Whitlow needs help from the running backs, and the defense has to make more plays at the point of attack. South Carolina had too many manageable third down chances.
- Get ready for the storyline – Jadeveon Clowney’s ribs hurt and he sat out. Steve Spurrier was hardly happy about it, and while it didn’t matter for a while, the team needed him late. With quarterback Connor Shaw playing a week after getting hurt, and fighting his way to a 17-of-20, 262-yard, one score, 50 rushing yard day with one touchdown, Clowney sitting out could be divisive.
South Carolina 28, at UCF 25
Basically … It took a half before South Carolina woke up, but then came the running game as Mike Davis tore off three second half scores and Dylan Thompson scored on a short run. UCF had a 10-0 lead at halftime after a great first scoring drive, and Rannell Hall made things interesting late with a 73-yard touchdown catch and a seven-yard score, but the Gamecocks recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.
- This was a good second half for the Gamecocks. They didn’t play well early, and then had to show they could turn things up a few notches in the second half when they needed the running game to roll. Mike Davis took control after halftime to finish with 167 yards and three scores on 26 carries.
- UCF had a chance to get up bigger early, but it couldn’t build off a great first drive and struggled to get points on the board late. Blake Bortles completed 25-of-36 passes for 358 yards and two scores with two picks, but the passing game didn’t really get moving until it was a bit too late.
- Connor Shaw got knocked out of the game early on with a shoulder injury, and Dylan Thompson struggled, completing 15-of-32 passes for 261 yards with a pick. The offense needs the rushing element under center, and that’s not Thompson.
- Jadeveon Clowney? Two tackles, one quarterback hurry. However, he was a key reason Kelcy Quarles came up with his one sack.
at South Carolina 35, Vanderbilt 25, Sept. 14
Basically … South Carolina was waltzing with a 28-0 lead helped by two Connor Shaw touchdown passes and short scoring runs from Mike Davis and Dylan Thompson. And then the Gamecocks did everything possible to let Vanderbilt make it a game. Austyn Carta-Samuels ran for a score and connected with Wesley Tate for a 19-yard touchdown, but the South Carolina offense managed to grind it out to close.
- The South Carolina midrange passing game was nearly perfect. Dylan Thompson threw a pick, but he completed 7-of-9 passes, while Connor Shaw led the team in rushing with 84 yards while completing 21-of-29 throws. The offense moved the ball and the chains.
- Vanderbilt couldn’t convert on third downs. The offense was able to get in position to make something happen, and then drive after drive would stall. The Commodores had the ball for under 23 minutes.
- Jadeveon Clowney might be banged up and might not be the unstoppable force everyone expected, but America has to get that defensive end stat lines are four tackles, one sack and a forced fumble – on a good day.
- Vanderbilt safety Kenny Ladler had to make way too many plays happen, coming up with 14 tackles and doing everything as the last line of defense.
at Georgia 41, South Carolina 30, Sept. 7
Basically … Aaron Murray threw four touchdown passes and Todd Gurley pounded away for 132 yards and a score as the Bulldogs held off the Gamecocks. South Carolina hit several home runs throughout the first half with Connor Shaw finding Nick Jones for two touchdowns, and Mike Davis ran for a touchdown in the fourth to make it a four point Georgia lead, but Murray connected with Justin Scott-Wesley for an 85-yard touchdown to answer. South Carolina got down to the Georgia one late, but was stopped on fourth-and-goal. Gurley and the Bulldogs ground out the clock to close.
- Aaron Murray will get most of the attention for finally winning a really, really big game over a top ten team, and he was terrific, completing 17-of-23 passes for 309 yards and four scores, but this was about the Georgia offensive line. It pounded away for Todd Gurley’s 134 yards, and other backs, from Keith Marshall – who got banged up – and Brendan Douglas adding a few huge plays in key moments.
- How did Jadeveon Clowney do? Three tackles with a sack and two tackles for loss. Considering he was hurt with a foot injury, and with Georgia doing a great job of keeping in an extra blocker or two to allow Murray room to step up into the pocket time and again, he had a good day.
- The Georgia receiving corps was just fine without Malcolm Mitchell. Murray spread the ball around well to several different targets and used his backs well. Murray made everyone around him better.
- Steve Spurrier might be an offensive genius, but you never, ever, ever run wide on an option play on fourth-and-goal. South Carolina was able to power away well, and Mike Davis and Connor Shaw ran well, but it would’ve been nice if the Gamecocks could’ve operated under center and barreled it in.
at South Carolina 27, North Carolina 10, Aug. 29
Basically … South Carolina struck early with a 65-yard Connor Shaw touchdown pass to Shaq Roland, and put the game away in the third quarter on a 75-yard Mike Davis touchdown dash. North Carolina’s only touchdown came on a four-yard Quinshad Davis catch in the second.
- Hot and steamy early, the weather was a factor all game long including a 45-minute delay due to lightning.
- Jadeveon Clowney looked like it was the first game of the season. He’ll get dogged on a national scale because he didn’t come up with a sack on every play, but he came up with three tackles with three quarterback hurries.
- Where’s the snap on Bryn Renner’s passes? The North Carolina quarterback threw for 194 yards and a score, but he didn’t drive his passes well enough and didn’t push the ball down the field.
- This was as physical as the South Carolina offensive line has looked in the Steve Spurrier era. The Gamecocks ran for 228 yards, and while 75 of them came on the Davis run, the offense was effective averaging six yards per pop. North Carolina averaged just 2.8 yards per run.
Why To Be Excited ... Jadeveon Clowney isn’t in the NFL. While he should be protecting his investment – a $5 million insurance policy doesn’t cover nearly enough – he’s going to be cranking it up full tilt as the signature star of the 2013 season not named Manziel. While the defense that finished 11th in the nation has some key holes to fill, the offensive side should be settled after spending the last part of last season getting used to life without Marcus Lattimore. Losing receiver Ace Sanders takes away an all-around playmaker, but Bruce Ellington is a good No. 1 target and Nick Jones, Shaq Roland and Damiere Byrd are set to start doing more. The backfield will be fine without Lattimore and Kenny Miles thanks to the return of Brandon Wilds from injury and Mike Davis looking to do more behind a line that welcomes back four starters, and the quarterback situation will be … well … interesting. There are options now with Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson each in the mix for playing time, but …
Why To Be Grouchy ... It might be Steve Spurrier’s M.O. to rotate quarterbacks depending on the situation and the timing, but it would be nice if Shaw or Thompson could separate from the other this offseason. They’ll both get their chances, but by the time the season kicks off against North Carolina, there will likely be starter 1 and 1A on the depth chart. The spotlight, though, will be on a defense that loses seven starters including Devin Taylor off the line and linebackers Reginald Bowens, Shaq Wilson and DeVonte Holloman. Throw in the loss of defensive backs D.J. Swearinger and Akeem Auguste, and this might be just enough of a step back to be the difference between another good season and an SEC East title.
What Needs Working On ... The offensive line has to block someone. Pass protection has always been optional under Spurrier, and Connor Shaw is a bit of a runner and took a few too many sacks, but the line has to be far better and far stronger. Again, this is nothing new, and the Gamecocks have been just fine with mediocre front fives, but there isn’t a Marcus Lattimore-like talent running the ball and Shaw and Thompson aren’t elite passers who can thrive on timing patterns. After allowing 38 sacks and paving the way for just 138 yards per game and just one rushing score over the final three games, the O line, and not the defense, could be the key to the offseason.
Non-Conference Games: North Carolina, at UCF, Coastal Carolina, Clemson
Games Against The West: at Arkansas, Mississippi State
Realistic Best Case Record: 11-1
Worst Case Record: 7-5
Likely Finish: 10-2
Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: North Carolina, Vanderbilt, at UCF, Kentucky, at Arkansas, at Tennessee, Mississippi State, Florida, Coastal Carolina, Clemson
Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: at Georgia, at Missouri
Schedule Analysis: The season starts out with a bang and never lets up. North Carolina is a dangerous was to open up a campaign, but that’s just the warm-up act with the SEC East possibly on the line a week later with a road trip to Georgia. Throw in a date against Vanderbilt, and the Gamecocks have three great tests before hitting September 15th. It’s not like they’ll need the week off before diving into the middle part of the slate, but they’ll get it.
Going to UCF isn’t going to be a walk in the park to kick off a run of four road games in five weeks with only a home date against Kentucky to ease the pain. Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri didn’t go bowling last year, but they’re all going to be better and they’ll all be looking to make a statement at home – but that’s it for the travels. The game in Columbia, Missouri on October 26th is the last road date. Mississippi State will be another fight before getting a week off to prepare for the home game against Florida. The team deserves a breather against Coastal Carolina before finishing up with Clemson.
Team Concerns For 2013: The offensive line could stand some improvement in pass protection. It's been a constant problem under Steve Spurrier, and it was a big issue last year with the O line giving up almost three sacks per game. Considering the inconsistencies up front, the quarterback situation has to be settled early, or it'll be year of rotating passers Spurrier-style. As good as the defense was, and athletic as it'll be coming back, only four starters return losing almost all the linebackers. The punting game was the worst in the SEC netting a mere 36 yards per kick with Tyler Hull averaging 39.4 yards per boot.
The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Defensive linemen. There isn't a Jadeveon Clowney coming in, but tackle Kelsey Griffin is a big-time option for the interior while Devante Covington, Devin Washington and David Johnson are good pass rushing options on the outside. JUCO transfer Alfy Hill might see time right away in the end rotation. Linebacker Larenz Bryant, running back David Williams and offensive tackle D.J. Peek are nice gets, but they aren't among the superstar prospects other top SEC teams are bringing in.
2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 15. That Class Was Heavy On ... The Gamecocks need skill players to load up for the future. The last two classes have been about the superstars up top, with Jadeveon Clowney the big get last year and Marcus Lattimore the star of 2010, but there’s work needing to be done to get the offensive playmakers in place for 2013 and beyond. The receiving corps needs to be addressed, but there isn’t one glaring weakness.
2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking:
11. That Class Was Heavy On ... the secondary.
Getting Jadeveon Clowney is the crown jewel, but he's hardly the only
key part of the class. While there are big-time stars all across the board, led by top offensive tackle Brandon Shell, running back Shon Carson, and lightning fast receiver Damiere Byrd, the secondary got the most help with several terrific prospects including safety Sheldon Royster, who might be thrown on the field right away, and Brison Williams, who’s ready-made to make an instant impact after spending last year at Fork Union Military Academy. Throw in corners Ahmad Christian and Ronnie Martin, the defensive backfield that struggled so much last year should be better soon.
2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 28. That Class Was
Heavy On ... Marcus Lattimore.
Steve Spurrier focused mostly on the secondary with
five defensive back prospects signed who need to
develop quickly. There isn't a star of the lot, but
Victor Hampton with his tremendous speed comes
close. The passing game got a little help with QB
Connor Shaw and a few decent receivers including Ace
Sanders, a 5-7 speedster, but the entire class, and
especially the offense, revolves around Lattimore,
Scout.com's No. 1 ranked back. The 6-0, 207 pounder
picked the Gamecocks over Auburn, Florida State, and
Georgia, among others, and he'll be the centerpiece
of the Spurrier offense very, very soon.
2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 9. That Class Was
Heavy On ... linebacker. The Gamecocks loaded up at wide receiver with Alshon Jeffrey and Lamar Scruggs excellent prospects, and the safeties are tremendous with Stephon Gilmore and Quin Smith stars for the future. The stars are at linebacker with Devonte Holloman and Damario Jeffery safety-sized defenders who could blow up after a little bit of time in the weight room, while JUCO transfers Tony Straughter and Josh Dickerson looking to see time early on.