Passing game aims for more

The Gamecocks escaped Knoxville with a 14-3 win over Tennessee and their SEC championship game hopes still intact. But if those hopes are to remain strong, Coach Spurrier is looking for more from his passing game and quarterback Connor Shaw in the coming weeks.

For one game at least, South Carolina found a replacement for the injured Marcus Lattimore, as freshman Brandon Wilds ran for 139 yards on 28 carries and helped the Gamecocks hold off the Vols in a defensive struggle.

But with games against Florida and Clemson still looming, Coach Spurrier said he wants more out of his offensive line and his quarterback, both of whom struggled on Saturday night.

Connor Shaw finished with just 87 yards through the air on 10-18 passing, and did throw an interception. A touchdown pass to Rory Anderson was one of the few highlights for the passing game, and star receiver Alshon Jeffery was held to just 17 yards on three catches.

"We still hope we can throw the ball around better," Spurrier said. "Tennessee's plan was try to make us not throw the ball. They weren't going to put Alshon Jeffery one-on-one very much at all until late in the game when we were running out the clock. They played a lot of deep zone coverage and challenged us to run the ball. Our passing didn't do very well early in the game. We adjusted at halftime and tried to run it."

Wilds' big game on the ground was complimented with three receptions for 31 yards, also making him the Gamecocks leading receiver. This dual-threat capability should help Shaw in the coming weeks as Lattimore had also proven himself an excellent receiver.

With a banged up offensive line hit hardest by the injury to fifth year senior Kyle Nunn, the Gamecocks struggled to pass protect and give Shaw enough time to let passing plays develop. The sophomore QB was sacked three times on the night.

"We have to pass block better," said Spurrier. "Our tackles have to give him a chance to throw the ball. They got too much pressure early in the game. When you get sacked like that early in the game it is hard to call passing plays."

More than anything Spurrier is looking to keep putting up wins and keep the Gamecocks ahead of the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC East.

A trip to Arkansas is up next for USC, who will most likely have to score more than 14 to keep up with the Razorbacks high powered attack. And while USC is looking for more chances at big plays in the passing game, Spurrier noted that as long as the ground game is effective, the Gamecocks are going to do what works.

"We are running the ball better than we are passing," said Spurrier. "The object is to win the game so that is what we will continue to do. I thought there would be more opportunities in the passing game against Tennessee but it did not work out."

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