USC Gamecocks Football

November 27, 2012

Second-half report: Football MVPs, surprises, more

We take a look at accolades and moments worth recognizing from the season’s final six games.

South Carolina had many memorable and several forgetful moments over the second half of its season.

The Gamecocks were 4-2 over the final stretch of 2012, with wins over Tennessee, Arkansas, Wofford and Clemson that followed losses to LSU and Florida.

Just as we did with our midseason report, we take a look at accolades and moments worth recognizing from the season’s second half.

OFFENSIVE MVP

... Bruce Ellington: Had 100-yard receiving performances against Tennessee and Arkansas, and scored twice in Saturday’s win over Clemson. Over the last six games, Ellington had a team-high 25 receptions for 337 yards and five touchdowns.

... Honorable mentions: Quarterback Connor Shaw, who had a career-high 356 yards passing and three touchdowns vs. Tennessee. He also threw for 272 yards and accounted for three scores vs. Arkansas. ... Wide receiver Ace Sanders had 24 catches for 329 yards and four scores over the final six games.

DEFENSIVE MVP

... Jadeveon Clowney: Had 4.5 sacks in the win over Clemson to set the USC single-season record with 13 sacks for the year. Over the final half of the year, the defensive end had 29 tackles, 6.5 sacks and a key forced fumble against Tennessee.

... Honorable mention: D.J. Swearinger, who had a team-high 54 tackles as a safety and cornerback in the last six games and returned an interception for a touchdown against Arkansas.

SPECIAL TEAMS MVP

... Adam Yates: The senior kicked eight field goals on 10 tries over the last six games. He also had 16 touchbacks on 27 kickoffs, including a perfect 6-for-6 against Clemson.

... Honorable mention: With his 30-yard punt return against Clemson, Ace Sanders set a school record for punt return yardage in a single season. Sanders finished the year with 363 yards in 25 returns, including 100 yards over the last six games.

STEADIEST STANDOUT

... Kenny Miles: Had 72 carries for 258 and a touchdown, most of it after taking over for the injured Marcus Lattimore. The senior also grabbed 14 receptions for 133 yards. Miles had a career-high 127 rushing yards on a career-high 27 carries against Wofford.

... Honorable mention: Shaq Wilson, who led linebackers with 47 tackles and a sack over the final six games, finished with a team-high 77 tackles on the year.

BIGGEST OFFENSIVE SURPRISE

... Dylan Thompson: Filled in for the injured Shaw against Clemson, and the sophomore quarterback threw for 310 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He also ran for 73 yards, but lost 35 of those to sacks.

... Honorable mention: Justice Cunningham, who caught six balls for 108 yards in the win over Tennessee.

BIGGEST DEFENSIVE SURPRISE

... Akeem Auguste: Had his first career interception against Arkansas, then scored his first touchdown a week later on a fumble recovery vs. Wofford. After missing five games with injuries, the senior worked his way back and started the final two games.

... Honorable mention: Brison Williams, who had 20 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in the second half of the season. He also came up with a key interception in the fourth quarter against Clemson when it appeared the Tigers were regaining momentum.

UNPLEASANT DEVELOPMENT

... Marcus Lattimore injury: Lattimore suffered a devastating right knee injury during the second quarter of the Gamecocks’ win over Tennessee. Lattimore, who has 2,677 career yards and a school-record 41 touchdowns, tore the ACL in his left knee last year.

... Honorable mention: USC’s 44-11 loss to Florida, which was South Carolina’s worst defeat since a 56-17 loss to Auburn in the 2010 SEC championship game. The Gamecocks lost three fumbles, including one by Connor Shaw on the first play of the game. It was the only game in which USC did not score a touchdown this season.

BEST FRESHMAN

... Mike Davis: Ran for 158 yards and a touchdown, most of that as Miles’ backup down the stretch.

... Honorable mentions: Jerell Adams, who converted a fourth down and almost scored against LSU with a 16-yard catch. The tight end also caught a 29-yard touchdown against Arkansas. Brandon Shell held down the fort at right tackle.

MOST IMPORTANT INDIVIDUAL PLAY

... Clowney’s sack and forced fumble vs. Tennessee: Playing on an injured foot, Clowney made a key adjustment with the game on the line and came up with a sack and strip of Volunteers quarterback Tyler Bray to protect a three-point lead.

... Honorable mention: Facing third-and-19 in the fourth quarter against Clemson, Dylan Thompson had 20-yard run on a quarterback draw. The Gamecocks scored three plays later to go ahead 27-17.

BIGGEST WIN

... Victory over Clemson: The Gamecocks extended their win streak over Clemson to four straight with a 27-17 victory on Saturday. Steve Spurrier became South Carolina’s all-time winningest coach with the victory (No. 65). It was the second time the Gamecocks have won four straight in the 110-game rivalry.

... Honorable mention: South Carolina beat Arkansas 38-20 on Nov. 10 to snap a three-game losing streak against the Razorbacks. It ended South Carolina’s conference season at 6-2.

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