Some short, quick, barely researched, not fully formed thoughts from South Carolina’s 19-14 victory over Florida on Saturday night:
Winning ugly. Florida deserves a tremendous amount of credit for coming in to Williams Brice and putting up a valiant fight on Saturday. They have been decimated by injuries, were coming off a home loss to Vanderbilt, and were starting a freshman quarterback who had never taken a snap in a game. But Will Muschamp and staff put together a game plan that nearly worked.
Florida tried to shorten the game by using a power running attack, and I think surprised the Gamecock coaches by not even considering pass plays in the first half, even on obvious passing downs (Florida’s first rushing TD was on 3rd and 14). But after rushing for 169 yards in the first half, the Gamecocks loaded the box and held the Gators to only 31 yards in the second. When forced to make throws, Skyler Mornhinweg eventually made a freshman mistake and was picked off by Jimmy Legree to seal the game.
It was an ugly win, and one that makes you wonder what we can realistically expect in our final three (four?) games. But an ugly win is fine, because there’s no such thing as a pretty loss.
Seven and Seven. There were times early in the season when Shon Carson looked like he might be losing his place on this football team. He was third team behind Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds*, had lost his kick returner job, and didn’t look confident or capable in the limited carries he was getting. There was even talk of taking the redshirt off of freshman David Williams when Wilds went down with an elbow injury. But Carson has gotten better each week, and with Davis nicked up last night, our offensive number 7 came up with the best game of his career with 102 yards on 13 carries, including a 58-yard run that set up the go-ahead field goal. Considering how much Carson has gone through since he’s been at USC, it’s good to see him making such a meaningful contribution.
Our other number 7, you know, the guy on the defensive side, was vintage Jadeveon Clowney. Even with an injured foot, he was flying off the ball and seemed like he was in the backfield more times than not. This season has been a disappointment numbers-wise for JD, but anyone who watches him play week in and week out like we do know he’s still the best player in college football.
*Carson may be the number two back even when Wilds is fully healthy. Steve Spurrier did not seem too happy with Wilds when he claimed he had a sore hamstring and couldn’t play.
Just four kicks. Steve Spurrier hates kicking field goals. I mean, he HATES kicking field goals. But he knew the way Florida was playing last night that points were going to be at a premium. So when the offense stalled on multiple occasions, he called on true freshman walk-on Elliott Fry, who responded by hitting four of his five attempts. The Texan has been a revelation this season, and has been at the lone bright spot in an otherwise dismal season of special teams.
Busta move. As we wrote last week, the tight ends have not been nearly the threat this season that we expected them to be. But Busta Anderson came up big against the Gators with 3 catches for 69 yards. The biggest of those was a leaping 34-yard grab on 3rd and 9 from the Florida 36-yard line. Had he not made that play (and had he not been interfered with), the Gamecocks would’ve been faced with a tough decision down 14-13. It was arguably the play of the year out of our tight end position.
Whammy. For some reason Lorenzo Ward has been the target of a lot of criticism this season. He has taken a squad with the most inexperienced linebacking crew in the country and turned them into currently the third best defense in the SEC. Last night he did that thing we always talk about coaches needing to do – make adjustments. After halftime he put more people around the line of scrimmage, and the Gator rushing attack went away. Coach Ward deserves a lot more credit than he’s gotten this year.
Unsportsmanlike. I cannot tolerate stupid penalties, and under the HBC we haven’t seen too many over the years. But Jordan Diggs and J.T. Surratt committed two of the worst in recent memory, and they could’ve cost us a lot worse than they did. I’m sure they will be reminded of those penalties in practice this week.
Prayer on the Plains. The first piece to an SEC East title for the Gamecocks had been falling into place all afternoon as Auburn had been dismantling Georgia. But I watched in relative horror as the resilient Aaron Murray led the Bulldogs back, and saw them take the lead with under two minutes to go on a questionable touchdown run. My heart sank as Auburn lost yardage on their first three downs, and faced an impossible 4th and 18 from deep in their own territory.
Then, this happened.
Somehow I didn’t even react. I just watched and soaked in what I immediately knew was one of the greatest plays in SEC history. And a play that could very well get us to Atlanta the first weekend of December.
Wild, wild East. Speaking of, the path for both Missouri and South Carolina to the SEC Championship Game became a whole lot clearer yesterday. If Missouri beats Ole Miss and Texas A&M, they go. If they lose either, we go. Let the scoreboard watching commence.
Go Cocks, beat The Citadel!