After two straight weeks of struggling offense on the road, South Carolina got its groove back in a big way against the Tennessee Volunteers.
South Carolina rolled up a total of 510 yards of offense on Saturday, including 363 yards passing, to help the Gamecocks win a close game over the Volunteers 38-35.
All week, Steve Spurrier talked about how this was going to be Connor Shaw's game and that he would get every opportunity to go the whole game. It looks like Shaw appreciated those words of encouragement from Coach Spurrier as the junior quarterback threw a season-high 356 yards on 22-of-32 passing with three touchdowns.
You could tell from the very start that this would be the game that Connor Shaw got back to playing like the quarterback Steve Spurrier wants running his offense. Shaw started off strong in the first quarter by going 6-of-6 for 88 yards and one touchdown. Shaw completed four of his six passes in the Gamecocks' first series in the first quarter. The end result? A 7-0 lead for the Gamecocks.
Shaw was accurate on his passes from the start as he utilized his speed to get outside the pocket and make several throws on the run. It was the kind of start the Gamecocks needed and it helped build the foundation for the rest of the game for South Carolina.
Shaw added nine more completions in the second quarter to finish the first half with 15-of-19 for 228 yards with two touchdowns. A big difference from Shaw's recent performances against LSU and Florida. Shaw ended the third quarter with 297 yards and three touchdowns and would add another 59 yards in the fourth quarter to finish the day with 356 yards passing.
Helping Connor Shaw on the day was several big plays from his wide receivers, including Bruce Ellington, Ace Sanders, Justice Cunningham and Rory Anderson. Cunningham and Ellington both finished the day with six catches and over 100 yards a piece – Cunningham with 108 yards and Ellington with 101. Ace Sanders picked up 79 yards on five receptions while Rory Anderson added 58 yards on three receptions. Ellington, Sanders and Anderson all added touchdown receptions for the Gamecocks.
South Carolina's running game also appeared on track thanks to a promising strong start by Marcus Lattimore. Lattimore carried the ball six times in the first quarter, more than double that he had against Florida, and finished the first half with 65 yards and one touchdown. His 28-yard touchdown run in the second quarter looked like the Lattimore of old as he broke through the line and sprinted towards the end zone untouched for a big touchdown.
Unforuntately for South Carolina, Lattimore was unable to finish the game due to a severe knee injury suffered in the second quarter. The junior running back from Duncan, South Carolina would eventually be carted off the field and taken to the hospital for further evaluation.
All of the emotion that was drained from Lattimore's injury didn't deflate the Gamecocks offense as they continued to roll up the offensive yardage in the second half. The Gamecocks had 296 yards at half and added another 214 yards in the second half.
South Carolina got some valuable contributions from senior Kenny Miles and freshman Mike Davis to fill in for the injured Lattimore. Miles finished the day with 34 yards on 10 carries while Davis added 20 yards on five carries.
The Gamecocks would finish the day with 147 yards rushing on 46 attempts.
Considering the Gamecocks had a total of 402 offensive yards combined against Florida and LSU, today's offensive outburst was certainly much needed as the Gamecocks head towards the bye week this coming weekend.
-Lattimore's 28-yard touchdown run was his 41st career touchdown scored at South Carolina.
-Shaw set his career-high in passing yards with 356 yards in this game. His previous career-high was against Kentucky in 2011 with 311 yards.
-Ellington, Cunningham and Sanders all posted career-highs in receiving yards in Saturday's game against Tennessee.
-Today marked the first time the Gamecocks had two receivers eclipse the 100-yard mark in the same game since Vanderbilt in 2010.
Offense gets its groove back
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