Head coach Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks claimed another victory this past Saturday. In the SEC home opener, Carolina dominated in every facet of the game. While it may have taken the Cocks a little time to start moving the ball consistently, the problems on offense did not seem to last long into the contest. A couple of questions arose this week, the major one concerning the quarterback controversy South Carolina has endured since Connor Shaw’s injury in the first game of the season. Another big question mark coming into the game Saturday was whether or not South Carolina’s secondary would be able to hold up without the senior leadership of D.J. Swearinger, who was serving a one-game suspension for a hit he delivered in the UAB game. The Gamecocks proved to be strong through adversity yet again and took control of the game in a way Missouri would surely like to forget.
Room to Improve
- Shaky start: After a quarter and some change of play on Saturday, it seemed as if the Gamecocks hadn’t brought their A-game. The first quarter Damiere Byrd fumble looked to be a sign of negative foreshadowing, and things only got worse on the following drive. On the first play of the next drive Connor Shaw took a draw play for an 80-yard touchdown, only to have the entire run negated by a clipping penalty that deflated most of the adrenaline and hype in the stadium. The rest of this drive consisted of two false start penalties and being stalled at the one-yard line. Missouri seemed to be ready to make this one a real contest, at least until the second quarter.
- Playing to the final whistle: Because the Gamecocks truly played a near perfect game, it’s difficult to find many serious flaws that could make or break the team. However, one little let-down did stick out. Before Saturday, South Carolina had yet to allow a touchdown from inside the red zone and were holding opponents to under ten points per game. These statistics looked to be safe for another week until the final drive by Missouri. The Tigers took a long, slow drive down the field, capping it off with a touchdown from the one-yard line with less than a minute to go. This touchdown also happened to give the Tigers ten points for the game, raising Carolina’s points per game average. This drive may have seemed irrelevant, but for the future, the Cocks need to remember that the game lasts a full sixty minutes.
- Shaw back on track: After missing his target on his first pass of the game, Connor Shaw played about as close as one can play to a perfect game of football. Shaw completed his next 20 passes, tying for second in the SEC for most consecutive completions in the process. Many questioned Spurrier’s decision to start the oft-injured junior quarterback, but it proved to be the right move. Once Shaw settled in, he looked like the signal caller we saw late last year, directing and managing the game with masterful skill. After 249 passing yards, 41 rushing yards, and two touchdowns, it’s hard to argue that there should even be any quarterback controversy.
- Lights out return game: The Carolina punt and kickoff return teams were excellent Saturday, showing off all they had to offer. Ace Sanders turned the game around during his first punt return of the day, bringing the Gamecocks close enough for Marcus Lattimore to punch it in for the first score of the game. However, that electrifying punt return was not all for junior Ace Sanders, as he compiled 106 return yards on seven punts. Bruce Ellington was also in on the action, returning a kickoff 50 yards to set up Carolina for a final touchdown before the half.
What to Expect Next Week
The Gamecocks travel out to the Lexington next weekend to take on the shiftless, trifling, helpless, hapless, terrible Kentucky Wildcats. Look for South Carolina to continue its dominance just as they have in the previous three weeks. Now that the quarterback controversy is settled and D.J. Swearinger returns from suspension, it’s hard to imagine anything slowing down the Cocks. The Gamecocks are hitting on all cylinders and will be a real nightmare for a weak Kentucky team.