In last week's 21-7 win over Vanderbilt, the Gamecock offense produced nearly 500 yards to pull away late in the game. Six different receivers produced 355 of those yards and two touchdowns.
"It was a pretty good day," Gamecock receiver coach Steve Spurrier, Jr. said. "(We) had 31 passes for the receivers. It was a lot of fun watching it all unfold."
Despite Alshon Jeffery breaking the 100-yard barrier for the fifth time in seven games with 158 yards and a touchdown, it was Tori Gurley's performance that caught the eyes of most Gamecock fans. Gurley came up just one catch shy of tying the single-game record for receptions with 13, and finished with 109 yards and one touchdown. Zola Davis was the first receiver to have 14 catches in 1998 against Vanderbilt, and the late Kenny Mckinley tied that record with his 14-catch effort against Tennessee in 2007.
"Honestly, he just got fortunate to be in a position to catch," Spurrier, Jr. said. "I think he caught eight balls behind the line of scrimmage - and caught five more within five yards. He just happened to be in a spot to catch a lot of balls."
While those numbers aren't entirely accurate off the head of Spurrier, Jr. it does pretty much tell the story. Other than Gurley's 23-yard reception in triple-coverage and his 15-yard touchdown reception, most of Gurley's catches came from around the line of scrimmage.
"In the second half we actually kind of changed a little bit of how we're going to throw that pass, he just happened to be in the spot," Spurrier, Jr. said. "Honestly, the best guy at running it is Alshon - he averages about 10-12 yards every time he catches the screen."
Still, when you're talking about a guy whose previous career-high was four catches, Gurley's performance was impressive.
"Tori had an awesome night," Jeffery said. "We started out just throwing me the ball to get me involved, but we saw that they kept double-teaming me so whoever was open we'd just try to get them the ball."
Spurrier, Jr. made sure to mention two big mistakes Gurley made. On the opening drive for the Gamecocks, Gurley made a first down reception on a third down pass from quarterback Stephen Garcia, but he fumbled the ball. Luckily for the Gamecocks Kenny Miles was able to fall on it. Gurley also had a penalty go against him as well.
"He still had a fumble and two penalties, so I'm still not happy with him. He could have played a lot better."
Spurrier, Jr. was not very happy with the two holding penalties against his receivers. Gurley's penalty took away a first down, and D.L. Moore's holding penalty stalled the drive that resulted in Spencer Lanning's field goal being blocked.
"What hurts those guys is when they play so much special teams, too," Spurrier, Jr. said. "On special teams you're kind of taught to grab and hold and ride. As receivers, anytime you're in the area of the ball and you're grabbing a guy, it's holding. You've got to get out of the habit of not grabbing - you've got to learn to hit and push. Those two holding penalties where critical errors."
For receivers, you really don't think that much about blocking, but it's a very important aspect of any offense. The difference between a seven or eight yard gain and a 20-30 yard gain often depends on the receivers blocking. That is something the Gamecocks work on.
"We'll spend three days, 10-15 minutes doing it a decent amount and getting after it," Spurrier Jr. said. "I try and emphasize it."
Now the Gamecocks must turn their attention to the Vols. Tennessee enters the game ninth in pass defense, giving up 242 yards per game. In SEC play, the Vols are dead last with 243 yards allowed.
"Actually, I expect them to come after us a little bit from different directions and give us some different looks," Spurrier Jr said. "But we've got a good plan in place and we'll be ready to go and play so we'll see what happens."
A lot has been made of head coach Steve Spurrier's comments in his Tuesday press conference about play-calling. One of the guys he has given credit to for play-calling is offensive line coach Shawn Elliott. Spurrier credited Elliott after the Alabama game for telling Spurrier to run the ball in for the game-clinching touchdown. Elliott downplays the credit.
"I don't have anything to do with it," Elliott said. "I just prepare them to run the plays that whoever calls so I'm pretty pleased with whatever works. If we block them and protect everything seems to run smoothly."
"The scheme of things - the zone stuff that we do - is a little bit of my input," Elliott continued. "But we all have a lot of input in everything we do. I don't think there's any individual that has more say or not.
Lattimore Vs. Miller
The best news for Gamecock fans this week is the news that Marcus Lattimore is back.
"I feel real good," Lattimore said. "I feel 100% now. I'm able to cut off my left foot. (Last week) It was real tender and hurt when I cut off my left foot, but now it's fine."
Lattimore missed the Vanderbilt game last week, the first game he's missed in his football career.
"It was tough, but we won so I was happy." Lattimore said.
Lattimore will be back just in time to go up against good friend and Byrnes High School teammate Corey Miller. Miller, a defensive end on the Vols' team, is also a freshman.
"I talk to him every day," Lattimore said with a smile. "(I)Can't wait... run him over."
Lattimore says he isn't the only one that does the talking. Miller talks his own share of friendly banter, but Lattimore says it's all in love. Gamecock fans can rest easy because #21 will be back in the line-up Saturday afternoon.
"It's going to be fun playing Tennessee," Lattimore said.
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