Associated Press reporter Pete Iacobelli had the best quip at halftime of South Carolina's demolition of Coastal Carolina: “The best thing about this game is that it's half over,” he said.
In my Friday chat a fan made the comment that he hoped the Gamecocks “won't be taking a peek ahead to Clemson.” The only “peek” we got from this 70-10 romp was of the future.
I checked the participation chart – 50 USC players saw action. There were five quarterbacks, each of whom threw a least one pass. Counting Pharoh Cooper at Wildcat, five running backs carried the ball. Ten different receivers caught at least one pass. It was one of those rare games that remind you of Pop Warner where every kid gets to play and make their mamas proud.
By late in the second quarter, second teamers and beyond were taking all the snaps. There were some interesting aspects, the Stadniks, Clayton and Brock, played side by side. What brothers, who have played together their entire lives, wouldn't dream of lining up together in front of 81,400 fans?
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It was very cool for Devin Potter to get some snaps. He is the running back on the scout team that simulates the next opponent's offense in practice. Coach Spurrier commented, “Potter had a couple of nice runs there, late in the game. He's a walk-on player, he hustles and gives us a good picture every day in practice.” That video will be a big hit in Granite Falls, N.C.
Everyone knew that David Williams was the number one running back target in last year's recruiting class, but when Jamari Smith committed, I watched video of him and was very impressed. He showed good speed and excellent vision, but I was most impressed with his patience in setting up his blocks. Jamari had 103 yards rushing, scored a touchdown and served notice that he plans to be in the conversation at running back this spring.
There was a sense of frustration among some of my chat fans about running back Brandon Wilds' continuing injury problems. However, he had 62 yards on seven carries against the Chants, which couldn't come at a better time, as a physical one-two punch of he and Mike Davis could be a key to keeping Clemson's offense off the field
It was one of those rare days when everyone got to play and have fun, and at the same time, rest some players for Saturday. Jadeveon Clowney had a boot on his foot, Kelcy Quarles did not dress out, Davis was dressed but didn't play. Connor Shaw played half of the first quarter, threw the ball well (8-of-11, 115 yards, 1 TD), and appeared to me to have regained his running form. I had a moment with J.D. after the game, and he said the time in the boot was really helping his foot, and that he would “most definitely” be full speed for his final home game.
This will be a historic meeting between two top ten teams from the same state, No. 6 Clemson, vs. No. 10 South Carolina, and the Gamecocks will be remarkably healthy for the 12th game of a rugged season. It has been a dream of many (not particularly mine), that the season would come when both teams would be 11-0 when they met. This is as close to that as we will likely ever see.
I want the Gamecocks to beat the Tigers for all the usual reasons (the HBC says we shouldn't hate), but I want this fifth one to set Dabo Swinney up for another “foot in the mouth” comment he made. After the annihilation by Florida State, he said that if the two teams played 10 times “we'd probably win five.”
If Carolina wins this one, he will have to predict that the Tigers are going to win five in a row. Win or lose, that's not going to happen. Fear the thumb!!
It's a 7 o'clock kick, the wind chill will be in the low 40's, which will be reminiscent of the 1987 game, and will be decided, as it usually is, by the team that makes the fewest mistakes. It's the Saturday I live for every fall.
It's a great time to be a Gamecock!