10 things we learned about the Gamecocks

GoGamecocks staff reportsSeptember 10, 2012 

1. The Gamecocks have QB depth

Dylan Thompson shined brightly in his start Saturday, throwing for 330 yards and three touchdowns on 21 of 37 passing. That experience is valuable moving forward. Both he and Steve Spurrier said after the game that there is no quarterback controversy. “Oh yeah, if Connor is 100 percent, he’s our guy,” Spurrier said.

2. More redshirts at risk

Four more true freshmen saw playing time Saturday: wide receiver Shaq Roland, spur Jordan Diggs, defensive end Darius English and linebacker Kaiwan Lewis. Barring injury, they will join running back Mike Davis, defensive back T.J. Gurley and tight end Jerell Adams as players who won’t redshirt.

3. USC wants to win the fourth quarter

Spurrier said the Gamecocks want to win the fourth quarter every game. They did so Saturday, outscoring East Carolina 13-7 and throwing the ball 10 times in 17 plays. Quarterback Seth Strickland and wide receiver Ace Sanders each threw touchdown passes in the fourth quarter. Strickland connected with tight end Rory Anderson for a 51-yard score with less than a minute left in the game.

4. USC’s defense bends, doesn’t break

Lorenzo Ward’s unit has allowed 13 and 10 points in two games. Even though East Carolina threw for 333 yards and finished with 403 total yards, the Gamecocks limited their scoring opportunities. USC has five takeaways on Saturday and has seven forced turnovers in the first two games.

5. No wildcat, no problem

Bruce Ellington has yet to line up in the wildcat formation, even though Spurrier said that might happen two or three snaps a game. On Saturday, Ellington had one carry for 16 yards and four catches for 63 yards.

6. Special teams still a work in progress

South Carolina kicked off eight times Saturday and averaged 51.6 yards per kick, almost 14 yards fewer than East Carolina. Starting punter Tyler Hull kicked four times with a 40-yard average, but most of that was thanks to a 51-yarder that rolled more than 10 yards. Backup punter Patrick Fish got a chance in the second half but shanked a 24-yarder.

7. USC can air it out

The Gamecocks had two completions over 50 yards (Anderson, 51, and Damiere Byrd, 53). DeAngelo Smith caught a 30-yard touchdown; D.L. Moore had a 29-yard score. Thompson had 15 completions of more than 10 yards. “Probably the ball was in the air more distance than any game I’ve coached here,” Spurrier said. “At least we got it down there. We didn’t hit them all. Our receivers had some fun going after them.”

8. Legree, Wilson stay hot for defense

Jimmy Legree had five tackles, two pass breakups and an interception return for a touchdown on Saturday. Spurrier called it Legree’s best game as a Gamecock. Starting for the injured Akeem Auguste at cornerback, Legree leads the team in tackles through two games with 12. Meanwhile, senior linebacker Shaq Wilson has two interceptions in two games and is second on the team with 10 tackles.

9. Playing time for everyone

Spurrier made good on his desire for more players to see the field. Corey Robinson saw time at tackle; Joshua Blue had a carry; K.J. Brent had two catches; Phillip Dukes had two tackles; Gerald Dixon had a sack. In all, sixty-four Gamecocks played against East Carolina, compared with 50 against Vanderbilt. Expect that to be a goal again this week against UAB before USC returns to the grind of the SEC.

10. USC off to a faster start

The Gamecocks have outscored Vanderbilt and East Carolina by a combined 21-0 in the first quarter. The opposing team scored first in the opening 10 games of the 2011 season, including the three contests in which USC allowed three points the entire game (Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Tennessee).

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