David Cloninger looks at the highs, lows and in-betweens of South Carolina’s win over Coastal Carolina.
NO. 12 SOUTH CAROLINA 70, COASTAL CAROLINA 10
WAIT TILL NEXT WEEK: Ole Miss didn’t do USC any favors. And while I’m certainly not foolish enough to suggest that Texas A&M’s defense will definitely shut down Missouri next week, the chance is still there for USC to win the SEC East. It’s just not as great of a chance. But still a good thing, after this season’s SEC aspirations were thought to be lost after Georgia and Tennessee.
STERNO: The Gamecocks’ offense showed up and was throwing firecrackers like a 10-year-old at summer camp. 28-0 in the first quarter? 42-0 with half the second quarter left? As Steve Spurrier said, the Gamecocks needed to have a game like this. There was no better time for it, with Clemson on deck and the offense for the last four games resembling something I won’t even say. Eleven receivers caught at least one pass. Eleven different players had at least one rushing attempt. Six different quarterbacks took at least one snap. USC put up the fifth-most points it ever has and the most under Spurrier. It got everybody feeling good just before a game where it just may have to score a bunch of points.
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GLOVES UP: Connor Shaw, folks. Looked bad last week, great this week. Much m ore explosiveness running from the pocket, and a great reaction to avoid the blitz, step into the lane and gun the ball to Shaq Roland for a touchdown. He became the winningest quarterback in USC history, which can be a skewed statistic depending on how you look at it. But there is no doubting that Shaw has left everything he has on the field and with this program. USC is lucky to have him.
ATTAQ: Roland has caught three touchdowns in the last three games. He’s fulfilling the massive promise he showed at Lexington High School. USC may have more productive receivers, it may have faster or stronger receivers. It does not have more freakishly talented receivers.
TOO MANY LOOKY-LOOS BE LOOKIN’ FOR CLUES: Jamari Smith ran the ball. Shon Carson ran the ball. Brandon Wilds ran the ball. Kwinton Smith, Kane Whitehurst, Jody Fuller, K.J. Brent were on the field and produced. Pharoh Cooper was picking teal out of his cleats. There is a lot more tape to look at it for Brent Venables and Co. this week.
FOR STANDING LIKE A STONE WALL: The man they call “Whammy” joked in the post-game that Coastal didn’t score on the first possession. He raised his arms and yelled, “Yayyyyy!” He wasn’t kidding, either. It’s become a constant problem for USC this year, to let an opponent have an immediate advantage, but after that first 25-yard pass for a first down, the Gamecocks padlocked that offense like it was keeping state secrets.
DON’T LET ME DOWN: There was no foot off the gas this time. As many times as USC has had an opponent on the ropes, went for the haymaker and ended with a weak flutter to the elbow, the Gamecocks kept going this time. Spurrier decided to sub in Dylan Thompson up 21-0 in the first after a fumble recovery, and Thompson’s first play was a 35-yard touchdown pass to Nick “The Quick” Jones.
K.I.T.: KEEP IT TOGETHER: Sharrod Golightly had an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty just after recovering a fumble (although I personally didn’t think the spike was that egregious). Skai Moore had the same flag after a great punt. Just foolish penalties. But not like they ended up hurting USC.
ALMOST: I have no doubt that USC is leading the country in almost-sacks. Nearly every time the Gamecocks get into the backfield, they have a clear shot at the quarterback, only to run right past a hip shimmy or a step to the right and end up with handful of grass (carpet?) It’s frustrating to watch and doubly so for the unlucky player. For the next game, those almosts need to become definites.
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