Early look at South Carolina

The South Carolina offense came alive Saturday during a 41-20 win over The Citadel.

Whether the team has finally found a rhythm on that side of the ball, or the production is due to the caliber of the FCS opponent, is debatable.

Sophomore quarterback Connor Shaw had his best statistical game since Kentucky, completing 16 of 18 passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing 11 times for 90 yards. Included in that total was an electrifying 60-yard run in which he outran the entire Citadel defense to the goal line.

It marked his longest rush of the season and the team's third-longest rush by any Carolina athlete this year.

"Connor had his best game," said USC coach Steve Spurrier. "I think, ever as a Gamecock, rushing for over 100 yards and hitting 16 out of 18 for 217 yards. He definitely was a game-ball guy. It was good."

"I think so," Shaw said when asked if this was his best game at USC. "Like I've said before, I'm getting better week by week. Those are big plays, but I had a lot of help on that."

Shaw wasn't alone as freshman running back Brandon Wilds also played well, picking up his third 100-yard rushing game in four starts. He also scored two touchdowns, filling in for injured All-American Marcus Lattimore better than anyone could have anticipated. He has rushed for 387 yards and three touchdowns on 87 carries, while catching 11 passes for 115 yards.

Probably most satisfying for the Gamecock offense was the re-introduction of Alshon Jeffery to the attack. He caught five passes for 81 yards, including a jaw dropping reception for a 32-yard touchdown.

The Gamecocks were only average by their standards defensively as The Citadel used its triple option attack to rush for 214 yards. The Bulldogs only managed seven yards through the air, however.

It was Carolina's second game against a triple option team as it topped Navy early in the season.


Junior WR Alshon Jeffery, due mostly to specialty defenses and inconsistency at quarterback, has not had the kind of season statistically as he did during his freshman and sophomore campaigns. (Getty Images)
MONDAY NOTES: Junior WR Alshon Jeffery, due mostly to specialty defenses and inconsistency at quarterback, has not had the kind of season statistically as he did during his freshman and sophomore campaigns. The All-American, who is rated as a first round pick in the 2012 National Football League Draft if he chooses to forgo his senior campaign, proved he still had it when he leaped over a Citadel defender and made a one-handed catch for a 32-yard touchdown.

He had five catches for 81 yards and moved into ninth place (2,865) on the all-time SEC career receiving yards list. He is now tied for second on the consecutive games with a reception list with his 34th-straight.

* Senior Melvin Ingram had his second big play on special teams, rushing for 19 yards on fourth down when USC was in punt formation. He now has two rushes for 87 yards and a touchdown.

* Senior linebacker Rodney Paulk led the team with 12 tackles, a career high. He also added a forced fumble and a tackle for loss.

* The Carolina defense allowed only eight yards passing, the fewest passing yards allowed in a game by a Gamecock defense since Steve Spurrier took over the program.

* South Carolina rushed for 256 yards against The Citadel, the third-highest mark for a Gamecock offense under head coach Steve Spurrier. USC was 3-for-3 on fourth down attempts for the game, moving the Gamecocks to 69 percent on the year (18-for-26).

KEEP AN EYE ON: WR Ace Sanders -- The sophomore caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Connor Shaw in the third quarter. The reception was his second touchdown of the year and marks the second straight game he has made a key reception.

LOOKING GOOD: The Citadel proved to be the medicine for what ailed the South Carolina offensive line as the unit provided both running lanes for the Gamecock backs and time for Connor Shaw to sit in the pocket to look for open receivers. Freshman Mike Matulis continues to impress at right tackle as he appeared to have little trouble against The Citadel in his second straight start. The improved play comes at a good time because the unit will probably face pressure against the Clemson front four on Saturday.

STILL NEEDS WORK: Although South Carolina has been stellar against the run throughout most of the season, it was gashed for 241 yards by The Citadel's triple option attack. Senior Travian Robertson has been stellar up the middle, along with freshman Kelcy Quarles. The team has allowed back-to-back solid performances in the run game as Florida rushed for more than 130 yards a week ago.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "That is interesting, isn't it? I didn't know it was quite that lopsided, but it wouldn't surprise me that much. I can't respond to it. I'd be criticizing the refs if I responded to it." -- USC coach Steve Spurrier on the fact that rival offensive linemen have been called for only three holding calls against his team all season.

ROSTER REPORT: DE Jadeveon Clowney suffered a slight concussion. His status will be updated later in the week.

* LB Damario Jeffery suffered a high ankle sprain against The Citadel. His status for Saturday's game against Clemson is doubtful.

* WR Bruce Ellington suffered a sprained ankle and did not play in the second half. His status will be determined later in the week.

* LB Shaw Wilson suffered a sprained knee, but returned to the game.

* SS DeVonte Holloman suffered a slight concussion. It is believed he will play this week.

* LB Quin Smith did not play due to a back strain.

* LB Reginald Bowens suffered a sprained ankle.

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