CFN Take: South Carolina Awful In Vandy Win
South Carolina Gamecocks 2014 ... Head Coach: Steve Spurrier
2014 South Carolina
2014 Schedule |
Aug. 28 Texas A&M L 52-28
Sep. 6 East Carolina W 33-23
Sep. 13 Georgia W 38-35
Sep. 20 at Vanderbilt W 48-34
Sep. 27 Missouri
Oct. 4 at Kentucky
Oct. 11 OPEN DATE
Oct. 18 Furman
Oct. 25 at Auburn
Nov. 1 Tennessee
Nov. 8 OPEN DATE
Nov. 15 at Florida
Nov. 22 South Alabama
Nov. 29 at Clemson
Sept. 20 South Carolina 48, Vanderbilt 34
And You Care Because … South Carolina won ugly, scoring 24 straight points after spotting Vanderbilt 14 with Darrius Sims returning the opening kickoff for 91-yard score an C.J. Duncan catching an eight-yard touchdown pass for the Commodores. USC turned it around with Dylan Thompson throwing two touchdown passes and Brison Williams returning an interception 53 yards for a score. Vandy wouldn’t go away, pulling within seven late on Tommy Openshaw’s second field goal of the game, but Thompson put it away on a one-yard run.
What Else? South Carolina QB Dylan Thompson completed 22-of-34 passes for 237 yards and three touchdowns, and he ran for a score.
- Vanderbilt QB Wade Freebeck completed 11-of-20 passes for 168 yards and a score with a pick
- Total Yards: South Carolina 449 – Vanderbilt 379
- South Carolina WR Pharoh Cooper caught ten passes for 114 yards, and he ran twice for 74 yards
Game Rating: C+
Sept. 13 at South Carolina 38, Georgia 35
And You Care Because … Bulldog kicker Marshall Morgan missed field goals from 26 and 28 yards out – with the latter coming with over four minutes to play with Georgia down three – and South Carolina was able to convert a 4th-and-inches – but barely – for the tight Gamecock win. Dylan Thompson threw two first quarter touchdown passes for USC, and ran for a third quarter score, but it was Brandon Wilds who took off for a 24-yard touchdown for what would turn out to be the game-winning score ant a 38-28 lead. Georgia came back, answering with a 75-yard drive and a one-yard Quayvon Hicks touchdown, and then had a big chance late after a Damian Swain interception taken deep into Gamecock territory, but an intentional grounding penalty and a few misfires forced Georgia to go for a field goal, Morgan missed, and South Carolina saved its season.
What Else? South Carolina QB Dylan Thompson completed 21-of-30 passes for 271 yards and three scores with a pick, and Georgia QB Hutson Mason completed 16-of-22 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns.
- Georgia RB Todd Gurley ran 20 times for 131 yards and a score.
- The Georgia defense had problems all game long, but Ramik Wilson made 13 tackles with 2.5 tackles for loss and Amarlo Herrera made 11 stops with a sack.
- South Carolina RB Brandon Wilds ran 14 times for 93 yards and a score. Mike Davis ran 17 times for 66 yards.
Game Rating: A
Sept. 6 at South Carolina 33, East Carolina 23
And You Care Because … South Carolina held a 13-7 first half lead on two Warren Harvey field goals and a Chris Hairston ten-yard touchdown run, but Mike Davis ran well for the Gamecocks with two touchdowns, and Elliott Fry hit all four of his field goal attempts to keep the Pirates just out of reach. Dylan Thompson’s 16-yard touchdown pass to K.J. Brent helped USC pull away in the third, but ECU kept coming with Shane Carden pulling the Pirates to within seven in the fourth on a 17-yard touchdown pass to Cam Worthy. Fry’s 20-yard field goal finally put the game away.
What Else? This was Steve Spurrier’s 200th win as an SEC head coach.
- South Carolina controlled the game, holding on to the ball for over 36 minutes, but ECU outgained the Gamecocks 453 yards to 441.
- ECU QB Shane Carden completed 32-of-46 passes for 321 yards and a score with two picks, and Justin Hardy caught 11 passes for 133 yards.
- USC RB Mike Davis ran 18 times for 101 yards and two touchdowns.
Game Rating: B
Texas A&M 52, South Carolina 28, Aug. 28
And You Care Because … Texas A&M came out roaring, scoring on its opening drive and not stopping the rest of the way cranking up 680 yards of total offense – the most ever allowed by a South Carolina team – with Kenny Hill picking apart the Gamecock D for 511 yards. The Gamecocks came up with two big pass plays with a 69-yard touchdown pass to Nick Hill and a 46-yarder to Damiere Byrd to pull within 17-14 early in the second quarter, but the Aggies were unstoppable rolling up 21 straight points to pull away.
What Else? Texas A&M QB Kenny Hill completed 44-of-60 passes for 511 yards and three scores, and ran seven times for five yards. He was cool, calm and flawless, and while he wasn’t Johnny Manziel in terms of flash, he was brutally effective.
- South Carolina QB Dylan Thompson had one of the quietest 20-of-40, 366-yard, four score, one pick day you’ll ever see. With RB Mike Davis not quite right, and only running for 15 yards on six carries, the passing game had to keep up, but couldn’t.
- Hill’s favorite target? Malcome Kennedy, who caught 14 passes for 137 yards, but he spread the ball around without a problem. He had more than his share of options being given plenty of time. South Carolina generated just one sack and almost no pressure.
- South Carolina simply couldn’t come up with a stop to get the defense off the field. A&M ran a whopping 99 plays and had the ball for 37:38.
Game Rating: B-
(AP) COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Kenny Hill broke Johnny Manziel's single-game passing record with 511 yards and No. 21 Texas A&M beat No. 9 South Carolina 52-28 on Thursday night, ending the Gamecocks' 18-game home win streak.
Hill's performance in his first career start proved there is plenty of life in the Aggies' offense without Manziel, a Heisman Trophy winner and first-round selection in the NFL draft. Hill finished 44 of 60 with three touchdowns.
Hill was steady and confident in the pocket, leading Texas A&M (1-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) to a 31-14 halftime lead and finishing up with the most passing yards allowed in Steve Spurrier's 10 seasons with the Gamecocks (0-1, 0-1).
"I think we all had a chip on our shoulders," Texas A&M defensive lineman Julien Obioha said.
The Gamecocks played their first game since the departure of star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney -- and it showed. South Carolina gave up seven TDs on A&Ms first 11 possessions.
Tra Carson ran for three touchdowns and receiver Malcome Kennedy had 14 catches for 137 yards. The Aggies piled up 680 yards of offense, the most South Carolina's given up since Arkansas went for 650 in 2007.
Manziel held five of the Aggies' six best passing marks, topped by his 464 yards in a loss to Alabama last season. Hill moved past them all with his flawless showing on the road.
Hill's 44 completions were also a single-game school record, moving past Jerrod Johnson's mark against Oklahoma State in 2010.
Hill and the Aggies essentially put this one away in the first half, scoring on five of six possessions. Hill, who played just four games last year in mop-up duty, looked at ease against the Gamecocks and their young defense.
Hill completed passes to 12 receivers, most of them running free in a rebuilt secondary.
"That team is so much better than us, it wasn't funny," Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier said.
South Carolina, coming off three straight 11-2 seasons, had hoped to kick off a run to the conference title in a Thursday night showcase game on the startup SEC Network.
Manziel, taken 22nd overall by Cleveland, was among three Texas A&M players picked in the first round last May. And the Aggies showed they could still operate without last year's standouts.
Malcome Kennedy had 10 catches for 85 yards in the first two quarters, allowing Aggie fans to rest easier about star Mike Evans moving on to Tampa Bay.
The offensive line provided plenty of time for Hill despite Jake Matthews heading to the NFL's Atlanta Falcons.
The Aggies got going on their first possession, and Carson finished a 67-yard drive with 1-yard TD.
South Carolina stayed close on two long scoring throws of 69 and 46 yards by new starting quarterback Dylan Thompson, the second to Damiere Byrd that helped the Gamecocks close to 17-14.
But Hill and the Aggies were relentless, pressing forward through South Carolina's Clowney-less defense.
Hill, the sophomore son of ex-major league pitcher Ken Hill, led TD drives of 75 and 80 yards in the final nine minutes before the half.
The 393 yards of A&M offense at the half were more than South Carolina's defense had allowed in nine of 13 games a year ago.
Thompson passed for 366 yards and four touchdowns. Mike Davis, the Gamecocks' 1,000-yard rusher, had 15 yards in the first half before re-injuring his ribs and sitting out the rest of the way.
2014 South Carolina Preview
2013 might have been the best season in the history of South Carolina football, but the program didn’t win anything that actually mattered. Now it’s time to drain the putt.
Steve Spurrier is known for being a fantastic golfer, among other things, but even going back to the great days at Florida, his teams have been great at getting the ball close to the pin, but they can’t quite get it down.
Of course he did a phenomenal job in Gainesville and won a national title, but his Gators backed into it – Ohio State’s comeback win over Jake Plummer and Arizona State in the 1998 Rose Bowl opened that door. With the Gamecocks, his teams always come achingly close to doing something truly special, and the ball lips out of the cup.
Last season will forever be remembered for the epic comeback win over Missouri, but in the end, it didn’t mean anything because of a painful late loss to a mediocre Tennessee squad the week earlier.
The 2012 team was tremendous in an 11-2 campaign, but a close loss to LSU and a blowout to Florida turned out to be the difference. In 2011 it was a tight loss to an okay Auburn team that kept USC out of the SEC title fun in an 11-2 season. Oddly enough, the one mediocre year in the last four ended with an appearance in the 2010 SEC championship. It might have been a blowout loss to Auburn, but at least the team got there.
And now it’s time to take the next step forward.
Spurrier is the greatest coach in South Carolina history and the last few years have led to the greatest era by far. As last season proved, with seven wins over teams that finished with winning records, great victories over Clemson and UCF – the Knights’ only defeat of the season – and strong wins over Missouri and Wisconsin, this is a top program. To become elite, though, South Carolina has to win a conference title, or at least come close.
A one-loss season in the SEC probably gets you into College Football Playoff, and that means a Spurrier team has to do all of the little things right week in and week out. That’s not always a given.
You don’t get better by losing Jadeveon Clowney and Kelcy Quarles off the defensive front, but the recruiting has been good enough to restock the shelves in a hurry. The linebacking corps should be among the best in the SEC, and the secondary, while a bit of a question mark, is loaded with top-shelf athletes.
The offense might be without heart-and-soul quarterback Connor Shaw, but the line is the strongest in the Spurrier era by far, and the skill players are terrific with the backfield tandem of Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds about to start getting its due.
But does it all add up to another 11-2 season, or something more? 11 wins is a success by any standard, but South Carolina is past the point now of merely being happy that it doesn’t suck. It might not be fair and it might not be right considering the harsh world of the SEC, but considering the Ball Coach is 69, the window might be closing soon.
Spurrier never won 11 or more games three years in a row at Florida, but now he’s going for a fourth at South Carolina. With the schedule and all the holes to fill, it’s not a gimme.
What to watch for on offense: The offense doesn’t have Connor Shaw to save the day anymore. He might not have been the flashiest quarterback around, and he was more of a baller than a classic Steve Spurrier technician, but he was a winner. Dylan Thompson doesn’t have to be an all-star, and he doesn’t have to be Shaw, but he has to keep the interceptions to a bare minimum – he threw three last year while Shaw gave up just one - and he has to rely on the running game.
Always forgotten about when it comes to Spurrier is how his ground attacks are always terrific, and this one should be special with Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds working behind a tough, talented, veteran line that should be able to control games by pounding away. Thompson will have to make plays and come through big for South Carolina to have any shot at winning the SEC East, and the receiving corps is good enough hit the home run, but everything will revolve around Davis first.
What to watch for on defense: Welcome to the no-name D. The best South Carolina defensive player is … Sharrod Golightly? J.T. Surratt? Brison Williams? They’re not household names, but they’re very, very good, and around them, the defense should be better than it’ll get credit for. Everyone will lament the loss of Clowney, even after a disappointing campaign, but the bigger holes to fill are in the secondary where Victor Hampton and Jimmy Legree are gone from a pass defense that gave up just 196 yards. Even with the No. 1 overall draft pick on the line, last season was the lowest sack total generated by the Gamecocks since 2007, and the 25 was a big drop from the 43 generated in 2013. The secondary turned out to be fine, the defense overall was terrific, and the results were there. They should be again, even if you can’t tell the players without a program.
Expect the Gamecocks to manufacture pressure from several different spots, and
expect new stars to emerge from a defense that'll finish in the top 20.
The team will be far better if… South Carolina always wins the turnover battle. The difference between being good, great and special in the SEC really does come down to every little thing, and for South Carolina, it’s all about the turnover margin under Steve Spurrier. The 2009 SEC opener against Georgia was the last time the Gamecocks lost a game when they were on the plus side of the turnover margin, being in the negative in 15 of the 16 losses since then, finishing even in the 2011 loss to Auburn.
Last season, USC was worse than -1 twice – once it lost to Tennessee, and the other time it took an epic comeback to beat Missouri. In 2012, the team was worse than -1 once – -4 in the blowout loss to Florida. -3 against Arkansas in 44-28 was the only time it was worse than -1 in 2011. Since beating Kentucky in the middle of 2010, South Carolina is 1-8 when going -2 or worse.
The Schedule: Can the Gamecocks get the job done at home? They’ll have to early on with huge battles against Texas A&M, Georgia and Missouri before September is done, to go along with a manageable road date against Vanderbilt and an October kickoff at Kentucky before getting a week off to prepare for … Furman? As long as there isn’t a slip up against East Carolina, and if USC can get by the Aggies and Bulldogs, they’ll be 7-0 going into the showdown at Auburn.
There’s a week off to prepare for Florida, but that should be a far more dangerous road game to end the SEC regular season than it might seem. Don’t sleep on South Alabama as a sandwich game between road trips to The Swamp and Clemson – Steve Spurrier teams usually take a half off in games like that.
Best offensive player: Junior RB Mike Davis. He might not get the national acclaim that Marcus Lattimore received before the knee injuries, but Davis could turn out to be more productive. Helped by the running of Connor Shaw, Davis didn’t have to carry the entire load last season like Lattimore did in 2010, and
even though he's a thick back who's built to handle the pounding, that’s a good thing. The numbers won’t be there to be in the Heisman chase, but behind the terrific and talented line, he should be among the most effective backs in the country averaging close to six yards per crack.
Get him in the open field and bye-bye.
Best defensive player: Senior LB/S Sharrod Golightly. More steady than spectacular, the smallish hybrid in the Spur position turned in a nice season getting into the backfield from time to time and proving to be a solid playmaker against the run. Linebacker Skai Moore or running mate Kaiwan Lewis will likely lead the team in tackles, and the hope is for Gerald Dixon or Darius English to turn into a terror on the end, but Golightly should be the most reliable all-around defender, even if he isn’t the most spectacular.
Key players to a successful season: Senior QB Dylan Thompson. He’s as prepared as a new starting quarterback can possibly be after seeing time here and there over the last few seasons in key spots. He knows the system, he knows what Spurrier wants, and he knows how to produce. Most of all this year, he has to know how to stay healthy with a major drop-off from the one to the two. Redshirt freshman Connor Mitch is the backup – for now - but sophomore Perry Orth is right there in the mix. Spurrier will work his reserves into the fold like he always does, but to win a title, Thompson has to be terrific – and on the field.
The season will be a success if ... South Carolina wins the
SEC championship. If you're good enough to win the SEC East, you're good enough
to win the SEC championship, and you're good enough to get into College Football
Playoff. The Gamecocks might have some work to do to fill in the parts on the
defensive front and in the secondary, and it all goes to pot if the offense has
to turn to a No. 2 quarterback, but it's time to come up with an 11-1 type of
regular season with a trip to Atlanta to follow.
Key game: Sept. 13 vs. Georgia. Considering Missouri and Tennessee have to come to Columbia, and there’s a week off before dealing with Florida, battling Georgia might turn out to decide the SEC East title in one way or another. Beating Texas A&M in the opener is a must, especially at home, and going to Auburn is rough, but the Gamecocks can afford a loss in interdivisional play. If they lose to the Bulldogs, they can’t make a mistake the rest of the way and might need some help to get to Atlanta.
2013 Fun Stats:
- 3rd Quarter Points: South Carolina 111 – Opponents 26
- Interceptions Thrown: Opponents 18 – South Carolina 4
- Fourth Down Conversions: South Carolina 21-of-30 (70%) – Opponents 13-of-21 (62%)
- 2014 South Carolina Preview -
What You Need To Know & Top Players