10 things we learned about the Gamecocks

GoGamecocks staff reportsNovember 12, 2012 

1. It was a good win for several reasons

South Carolina (8-2, 6-2) has won six conference games in back-to-back seasons. The Gamecocks also have won eight games in three-straight years for the first time ever. For South Carolina’s seniors, it was a school-record 35 career wins — and the first against the Razorbacks. The victory left Steve Spurrier one win short of the school’s all-time record. He would tie Rex Enright with 64 victories at the school if South Carolina beats Wofford this Saturday.

2. Room for improvement on offense

As good as the Gamecocks played, they could have played better. Connor Shaw threw an interception in the endzone. Adam Yates missed a field goal. Receivers were targeted in the endzone on at least two other occasions. USC's run game finished with 104 yards, and there were several plays where there were no holes for the tailbacks. “We didn’t play super,” Spurrier said. “As a coach, you like for your guys to really play well. We played good enough to beat them, but we didn’t really play well, so hopefully we can keep trying to get better.”

3. The defense made adjustments

Arkansas' Tyler Wilson had success, especially in the first half when he threw for 192 yards and had the Gamecocks on their heels. But with DeVonte Holloman moving to boundary safety and D.J. Swearinger playing mainly nickel, they made second-half adjustments to limit the Hogs to 139 yards, with 85 yards coming through the air. The red-zone defense helped. Arkansas was inside the USC 20-yard line five times but came away with two field goals, two touchdowns and a costly turnover in the first half.

4. D.J. Swearinger was fantastic

Swearinger finished with a team-high — as well as his season-high — 13 tackles and his interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter took much of the wind out of the Razorbacks’ sails. After Swearinger scored, he threw the ball into the student section to draw USC's third personal foul penalty in as many plays. On Sunday he was named National Defensive Player of the Week by the Walter Camp Football Foundation; Monday he added SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Week honors.

4. Connor Shaw showed toughness again

Shaw joined Jadeveon Clowney in playing with a bad foot and doing well. Shaw passed for 272 yards and two touchdowns against Arkansas. He now has 1,610 yards and 14 scoring tosses in nine games (compared with 1,448 yards and 14 touchdowns in 10 games last year). The foot injury clearly limited his trademark running ability, as he finished with 10 yards on eight carries. Spurrier on Sunday said Shaw aggravated his foot injury and is in a walking boot for the second straight week.

5. The running game was OK, not great

Kenny Miles and Mike Davis looked good on several runs Saturday in their first full game since Marcus Lattimore's injury. Miles almost broke a long run and contributed in the passing game with three catches for 44 yards. Davis scored and led the team with 53 yards rushing (including a 20-yard run). The run blocking, however, was lacking at times. Miles alone lost 17 yards on the ground as the team finished with 104 yards on the ground.

6. Bowl possibilities change

South Carolina's hopes for a trip to the Sugar Bowl are all but gone after Texas A&M upset Alabama. Three bowls were represented at Saturday's game: Capital One, Chick-fil-A and Gator. The national projections have the Gamecocks going to either the Chick-fil-A (vs. N.C. State or Georgia Tech) or the Outback Bowl (vs. Michigan or Wisconsin).

7. The future was on display

The South Carolina stars of the future saw plenty of action Saturday. Running back Mike Davis saw the most reps, finishing with 13 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, receiver Shaq Roland caught two balls for 25 yards and was targeted once at the endzone. Tight end Jerell Adams scored his first career USC touchdown on a 29-yard reception early in the game. All three could be key contributors the rest of the way this year - especially Davis - and in the years to come.

8. Bruce Ellington is a football player

The sophomore receiver collected his second consecutive 100-yard performance after switching positions with Ace Sanders. Ironically, the move was made to get Sanders more looks. Ellington had four touchdowns and leads the team with 28 receptions for 470 yards. That's up from his 2011 debut performance of 17 catches for 211 yards and one score. He'll switch to basketball at some point (Frank Martin says after the bowl game), but for now he's making his mark on the gridiron.

9. (Almost) everybody got to play

It's always a good sign when everyone gets to play. It's even better when that comes against an SEC team. USC was able to get some playing time late for linebacker Mason Harris and tailbacks Jacob Baker, Joshua Blue and Blair Lowery. Shamier Jeffery got in the game late, and the second-team offensive line played the last few series.

10. It's all-hands-on-deck for Wofford

Spurrier said Sunday that Shaw will start against Wofford if he's healthy. In fact, there are no plans to rest anyone, Spurrier said, as the Gamecocks try to have a perfect home record in 2012. “If he’s ready, we’ll play him, definitely,” Spurrier said. “This is a huge game for us. This is a chance to win seven home games, and we know it’s not going to be easy. It never has been easy to beat Wofford. I don’t know why we’d think it’d be easy to beat Wofford and hold some guys out. We’re not holding anybody out this week.”

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