Here are some quick, barely researched, not fully formed thoughts from last night’s 35-7 dismantling of Georgia:
The Big Time. First up, congratulations and thank you to everyone at the University of South Carolina who had a hand in putting on a great show yesterday. It all started at 9 a.m. with ESPN GameDay, and culminated with an absolutely spectacular scene at Williams Brice Stadium last night. I would’ve loved to have been there in person, but I can tell you it all played out on TV like we are a big time football program with big time support.
And it played out that way because we are.
Ambush. There was no reason to believe the game last night would play out differently than any other South Carolina-Georgia matchup. The game has historically been a nail-biter, with a few comfortable victories by the Bulldogs sprinkled in. But a South Carolina blowout? Nobody, and I mean NO-BO-DY saw that coming.
The spread favored USC by 2.5 points, which is about the margin you get for home field advantage. Prognosticators were split, maybe favoring UGA slightly. Desmond Howard even said on GameDay he flipped a coin, and went with the Gamecocks.
But with five minutes left in the first quarter the score was 21-0 in favor of USC, and the Georgia players looked shell-shocked at what was happening to them. They were dominated from the opening bell, and never had an answer with their high-powered offense.
Normally when we beat the Bulldogs they refuse to acknowledge we’re better – “well, if we hadn’t fumbled deep in your territory” (2010) or “we outplayed you in every phase of the game” (2011) – but there is no sugar-coating what happened last night. That was a flat-out no doubt ass-kicking, and the better team won. I haven’t heard any Georgia fans acknowledge that yet, but then again I might not hear ANYTHING from them for a few days.
Statistically speaking. Georgia came into the game averaging 536 yards and 48 points per game, and left the W-B last night with 224 yards and 7 garbage points. Aaron Murray, the leading candidate for first-team all-SEC quarterback, finished 11-31 for 109 yards and 1 INT (and probably experienced garnet-colored night terrors trying to sleep).
Our favorite new Hollywood couple, “Gurshall”, combined for a whopping 76 yards on 25 carries. Actually, if you take away Georgia’s first play from scrimmage, a 15-yard gain by “Gur”, the total is 61 yards on 24 carries.
Also, Georgia had exactly two drives of more than 20 yards all night (h/t to @gamecockhoops). Let that sink in.
More stats. We passed the ball 10 times completing six for 162 yards and scored 35 points. Georgia Tech threw the ball 14 times against Clemson yesterday. Do with that what you will.
More Latti. We won’t know for a while if Marcus Lattimore will forgo his senior year to jump to the NFL, but if he does his final stat line in three games against UGA: 88 carries for 467 yards (5.3 ypc) and 4 TDs, plus 5 receptions for 48 yards. Solid.
Heisman Watch. There is a player on the South Carolina football team that deserves to be invited to New York in December for the Heisman ceremony, and his name is not Marcus Lattimore. While Lattimore is arguably the best running back in the country, Jadeveon Clowney is arguably the best football player in the country. Clowney’s stat line looks rather pedestrian from last night – 4 tackles, 1 sack – but his impact on the game goes much further than that. At times he was occupying three offensive players for Georgia, creating one-on-one situations for our other linemen or blitzers. His athleticism is unparalleled for someone his size and was on full display last night.
Clowney was the talk of the game last night on a defense that was spectacular, and the talk will only grow as the season continues. The chances of him winning the Heisman are exactly zero, but the Downtown Athletic Club needs to do the right thing and send the best player in the country an invite and a plane ticket.
Ace. I just don’t know how to feel having an actual living, breathing punt returner on our team. Once again, Ace Sanders was electric last night. What a great bonus to have a guy who can give you, or set you up for, six points on a special teams play. It’s a luxury we haven’t had at USC since 1987 with a guy named Sharpe.
Great expectations. I don’t know about you guys, but my expectations began to shift last night as I watched N.C. State rally to beat FSU. We will move up to #3 in the polls today, and one of the teams ahead of us we will have the opportunity to play in the SEC Championship game if we continue to take care of business. I know, I know, trips to Baton Rouge and Gainesville await, and both of those games will be street fights. But I make no apologies for looking ahead, because after all, I don’t have to play (thank goodness).
There are many obstacles in the way, but there’s no denying a path has been laid out for this team to get to Miami.
Let’s go streaking. South Carolina now owns the longest winning streak in the country at 10 games, which also happens to be the longest winning streak in school history.
Look in Damiere. In addition to his great catch on the second play of the game, Damiere Byrd once again saved us on special teams. For the third time this year, Byrd tracked down a kickoff returner to prevent a touchdown. And it’s not like Malcolm Mitchell is a slow dude. Aside from Ace Sanders, Byrd has probably been our most valuable special teams player.
Keeping it on the D.L. D.L Moore has been somewhat maligned in this space and on TRC Unleashed, but he deserves major props for his great catch last night. Because of his size, we keep wanting him to be a shadow of Alshon Jeffery, and last night he delivered, out jumping and out fighting a Georgia DB to set up the TD that was the final nail in the coffin. Mad props D.L.
The other 21. Devonte Holloman, another great game last night.
Two fiddy. Congratulations to Coach Spurrier on his 250th career victory last night. Fitting that it came against his old nemesis.
Go Cocks, beat LSU!