South Carolina’s secondary is limping, and Jordan Matthews probably is salivating.
With starting cornerback Vic Hampton (ankle) and safety Kadetrix Marcus (shoulder) still hobbled four days before the No. 13 Gamecocks game against Vanderbilt, the Commodores senior wide receiver must be thinking about having a big day.
The 6-foot-3, 206-pound Matthews already leads the SEC in receiving with eight catches per game. His 18.1 yards per catch are third most in the league.
“One of the best in the country, no question about it,” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. “He looks a little bit like Sidney Rice out there catching passes, although I don’t think his hair is quite as long. Have y’all seen Sidney lately? I don’t think he’s had a haircut since he left South Carolina.”
Last season, Matthews caught eight passes for 174 yards and a touchdown against a healthy (and more experienced) South Carolina secondary. He will line up in several positions for the Commodores so the Gamecocks will have to be ready for anything.
“He has a combination of a lot of skills,” South Carolina defensive backs coach Grady Brown said. “No. 1 he is long, has good hands, run good routes. He’s tough. As you would imagine, he’s a smart receiver, and he just does a good job of playing hard. He has deceptive speed. When you line up in front of him, if he catches a pass on you and you’re not close, you’re probably not going to catch him.
Speaking of Brown, he’s gotten a couple of nice and random mentions around the country recently. He popped up here in a piece on Sports Illustrated’s TheMMQB.com by Arizona Cardinals defensive back Patrick Peterson, who Brown helped coach at LSU.
He also gets mentioned here in a story about Georgia freshman cornerback Brendan Langley. The one-time South Carolina commitment started Saturday against the Gamecocks and was picked on all day by South Carolina. Langley handled the tough outing with class, saying he knew it was coming.
“I came away with a PBU (pass break-up)," Langley said. "I call it a dropped pick."
I didn’t realize until I read this how much trouble Vanderbilt has had the last two seasons stopping the read option. Jeff Driskel ran for 177 yards against the Commodores. Jeff Driskel. One-hundred-and-seventy-seven yards. Connor Shaw rushed for 92 against Vanderbilt last year despite injuring his shoulder, and Ole Miss’ two quarterbacks combined to rush for four touchdowns against the Commodores in the first game of the season. We're not telling Commodore coaches anything they don't know, but this is a problem fellas.
Want to go back and rewrite history? What if Cam Newton had gone to Mississippi State (yes, it was a possibility with Dan Mullen, Newton’s former offensive coordinator at Florida, as the Bulldogs head coach) instead of Auburn? For one, Gus Malzahn probably wouldn’t be the head coach at Auburn right. For another, Dan Mullen might have a national title ring instead of a hot seat on his office chair. The Tigers and Bulldogs get together Saturday in a battle of former offensive coordinators looking to win big as head coaches.
You’ve heard about the Johnny Cam right? CBS will have one camera devoted to following Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, and Manziel only, during Saturday’s Alabama-Texas A&M game. Did you know it’s possible the network could make that feed available continuously and live on CBSSports.com. Yep, it’s as creepy as it sounds, but, don’t worry, it’s probably not going to happen. The SEC, meanwhile, says it’s comfortable with the idea of Johnny Cam. Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin? Not as much.
“I just don't understand why there's got to be one guy singled out and put a camera on all the time," Sumlin said. “That's not what we're about, that's not what we're trying to promote and, certainly, from my standpoint all the criticism about individualism on the football team, I don't think this helps enhance the team concept one bit.”
The Kentucky-Louisville football rivalry doesn’t get much attention, and I get that, but if you’ve got a moment, this list of 20 items commemorates the weirdest and wildest moments of what has been an eventful 20-year rivalry.