Offense looking for rhythm on the road

After a quarterback change and a 54-3 pounding of the Kentucky Wildcats, South Carolina looks to take that momentum to Starkville as they enter another SEC road matchup. With another good week of practice under their belts, Connor Shaw and the rest of the Gamecocks are expecting big things against the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Another interesting week in Gamecock country saw the dismissal of longtime starting quarterback Stephen Garcia, as well as Coach Steve Spurrier taking on a local media member, while at the same time preparing for Dan Mullen's team waiting in Starkville.

But it is a confident group of Gamecocks that came back to destroy the Wildcats and erase any bad feelings left over from a disappointing loss to Auburn the week before. A 311 yard, four touchdown passing day from Connor Shaw helped revive a struggling offense, but as always, Coach Spurrier is still looking for more from his new signal-caller.

"(We just talk about) being quick with the ball, getting the ball out," said Spurrier. "Take your steps and let it go. That's what we harp on, take your steps and let it go. If you can. If you can't, then you come down the short guy. He did the first play of the game last week, one or two other plays, he was looking for Marcus."

No doubt fans and coaches alike were pleased with the offensive output as well as the number of points scored against the Wildcats, but Coach Spurrier added that his first team offense still has a ways to go and has to be even more productive down the stretch.

"Well, we always practice pretty well," said Spurrier. "After watching the tape, you got to realize now, we only had 33 points when the second o-line went in and the second guys went in. They scored 21 at the end of the game, so it was a little misleading that we romped up and down the field. We still had to punt five times, had offensive interference on Alshon. We had some bad plays. So we still got a lot to work on."

Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was a big beneficiary of the start by Connor Shaw, hauling in six passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns. While the big target was happy with his output, he also added that the Gamecocks have to continue getting better in order to build a successful offense.

"I mean it felt pretty good, it shows what we're capable of," said Jeffery. "It's something to build on and look forward to for the rest of the season to come."

Newcomer Bruce Ellington echoed that same sentiment, saying, "Oh of course, everybody was just going on. Alshon had two touchdowns and with everybody else touching the ball we were just playing good."

Even so, a much bigger test awaits this weekend in a Bulldog team that will be playing desperate in search of their first SEC win. Mississippi State is ranked one spot ahead of the Gamecocks in scoring defense in the league, allowing just 20.2 points per game. State also ranks fourth in the conference in turnover margin, so eliminating big mistakes will be a key for the USC offense.

Jeffery said that he saw progress in Shaw after the huge Kentucky win, but will be looking for excellent play each time they take the field.

"Connor's relaxed, but you've just got to look at it as one game, Connor's got to go on to the next game," said Jeffery. "Take it one game at a time and one play at a time."

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