Monday Notebook

The Sports Xchange breaks down the Gamecocks' victory over Troy and takes a look ahead at the upcoming showdown with in-state rival Clemson.

Anyone worried about a letdown after South Carolina demolished Florida to earn its first Southeastern Conference East Division title, shouldn't have been concerned.

The Gamecocks quickly dispatched Troy in their 69-24 home victory as they raced to a 56-7 halftime lead then emptied the bench in improving to 8-3 on the season.

It was a perfect scenario for coach Steve Spurrier as the blowout allowed him to rest his starters for the stretch run, which includes a road game against in-state rival Clemson, followed by a trip to Atlanta where it will take on Auburn in the SEC Championship game.

"It was good to get a bunch of turnovers," said Spurrier. "That is how you score a lot of points quickly. We started over there on their side of the field several times."

The Gamecocks forced five Troy turnovers, including two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. The offense was stellar as well, as Marcus Lattimore rushed for 102 yards and three touchdowns on seven carries before taking a seat.

Quarterback Stephen Garcia was also impressive, completing 9 of 12 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns in his half of play, while wide receiver Alshon Jeffery hauled in five passes for 123 yards.

Freshman wide receiver Ace Sanders also got into the act, scoring his first two touchdowns of the season on two catches for 66 yards.

In addition to forcing turnovers, the defense limited Troy to 264 yards of total offense, with only 81 coming on the ground.

"We came in here and devised a plan to run Marcus Lattimore and have a lot of play-action passes, and it worked to perfection," Garcia said. "That is what we try to do every week and it was good to see, especially after a big win last week."

NOTES, QUOTES

--Having the duo of freshman RB Marcus Lattimore and sophomore WR Alshon Jeffery on the field has made life easier for junior QB Stephen Garcia. They combined for 225 first-half yards prior to taking seats for good in the rout of Troy. Both players set records -- Jeffery the most passing yards for a Carolina player in a season (1,210), while Lattimore's 19 touchdowns in not only a school record, but is one off the SEC standard of 20, held by former Tennessee running back Reggie Cobb. Garcia moved into third place on the team's career passing yards list with 6,113.

--Getting turnovers have been a problem for South Carolina this season. That changed against Troy as the Gamecocks not only forced five, but returned their two interceptions for touchdowns -- a 22-yard return by safety D. J. Swearinger and a 56-yard return by end Chaz Sutton. It marked the first time the Gamecocks have scored two defensive touchdowns in a game since LB Eric Norwood scored on two fumbles returns against Kentucky in 2007.

--USC's 69 points were the fifth-most in school history. It was the highest scoring output since 1995 when the Gamecocks defeated Kent State 77-14. It was the highest scoring game under Steve Spurrier, as the 56 first-half points eclipsed the previous full -game high of 52 against Middle Tennessee State in 2006.

--The Gamecocks are rated 17th nationally in the USA Today coaches poll and 18th in the Associated Press poll. They have been ranked every week this season except the first.

GAME BALL GOES TO: RB Marcus Lattimore -- He rushed seven times for 102 yards and three touchdowns in one half. His touchdowns came in the first 6:24 of the game. Although he played in both the first and second quarters, his time in both periods was limited. He was given the second half off by coach Steve Spurrier.

KEEP AN EYE ON: DE Melvin Ingram -- He had the team's lone sack, which gave him eight for the season as he took the team lead. That's not bad for a reserve.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Those guys make my job so much easier. I hand the ball to Marcus and let him run all over the place. It helps you out a lot. It helps the offensive line and everyone else come together. Our offense has played pretty well these past two weeks and we need to keep it going." -- QB Stephen Garcia, on playing with RB Marcus Lattimore and WR Alshon Jeffery.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

LOOKING GOOD: The Gamecocks are 8-3, marking just the 10th time -- and fourth since 2000 -- that the team has won at least that many games. South Carolina has won more than eight games only twice, with 10 wins in 1984 and nine in 2001. Steve Spurrier claimed his 43rd victory at USC, moving him past Paul Dietzel for third in school history.

STILL NEEDS WORK: There was little to complain about on Saturday. Coach Steve Spurrier was disappointed his reserves did not play better when the game was turned over to them in the second half, as they were outscored 17-13 by Troy. "We scored a whole bunch of points in the first half and I was hoping we would play well in the second half with our backup guys," Spurrier said.

ROSTER REPORT:

--CB Stephon Gilmore suffered a concussion in the first half and did not return. He is expected to play against Clemson on Saturday, but a final determination will be made later in the week.

--SPUR Damario Jeffery suffered a quadriceps contusion to his right leg, but he is expected to play against Clemson.

--LT Jarriel King played as a reserve after missing the Florida game with a concussion. Junior Kyle Nunn earned his second straight start at the position.

--DE Chaz Sutton returned to action after missing four games with a broken hand. He was credited with a tackle and returned an interception 56 yards for a touchdown.

--CB Marty Markett, a junior walk-on, sprained his knee but managed to finish the game. USC coach Steve Spurrier is hopeful he will be ready to play against Clemson on Saturday. He has started the Gamecocks' past two games.


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