Boyd's Career Night Leads USC To Victory
Before the 2006 season began, junior tailback Cory Boyd stated that one of his goals for the upcoming season was to eclipse the 100 yard rushing mark in a game for the first time in his career. It took until the sixth game of the season, but he reached that goal in grand fashion on Saturday night, as he rushed for 113 yards and 1 touchdown on 25 carries in the Gamecocks hard fought 24-17 road victory over the Kentucky Wildcats. Boyd served as the workhorse back throughout the night, as he was the only running back to carry the ball in Saturday‘s contest, and he also showed off his versatility by catching 4 passes for 61 yards. However, after the game, Boyd deflected all the attention away from himself and praised his offensive line for their performance against the Wildcats.
"I'm just thankful for my line blocking. They took pride in what they did today. I saw a cockiness with them out there, and I just rolled with them. I told them, ‘I just work off whatever y'all do,' and basically I went out there, and they gave me the lanes. I tried to do what I could do," said Boyd.
The Wildcat defense struggled to stop Boyd's punishing running style throughout the night, but Boyd was at his best when the Gamecocks were working to protect their 17-10 fourth quarter lead. Boyd carried the ball 9 times for 46 yards in the final period, averaging over 5 yards per carry, and even when the Kentucky defense knew what was coming, they could do little to stop the determined Boyd on Saturday evening. Boyd stated after the game that he knew the team was counting on him, and Coach Steve Spurrier had asked him to carry the load in the clutch.
"(Coach Spurrier told me to) take care of the ball, stay in bounds, and keep the clock going. Just get as many yards as you can and get down."
Boyd, who has always been a fan favorite for his enthusiastic and physical style of play, has taken his game to an entirely new level in the 2006 campaign. The 6'1, 209 pound New Jersey native prides himself in being able to gain yards after contact and push the pile forward on nearly every carry, and due to his unrelenting attitude, Boyd has averaged over 5 yards per carry on the season. He stated after the game that his bruising running style stems from what the coaching staff asks of the running backs.
"Our coaching is intense, and they want us to just get four (yards) and not worry about the big plays. They say we shouldn't have any lost yardage plays, so I just drive on not letting one person get me down. Just keep your legs churning when you're in the pile, and you never know, they'll probably give up on it, and that's when the big run will probably happen."
The South Carolina rushing attack has steadily improved during the first half of the season, and over the past two weeks, the Gamecocks have averaged 150 yards on the ground against conference opponents Auburn and Kentucky. Boyd credits the young offensive line's improving confidence for the recent spike in the ground game.
"They're building their confidence. They're a young group, but they're coming together. They're realizing the importance that the team needs them, and they're taking pride in what they do. They're finally getting that cocky side to them that they're supposed to have."
After escaping Lexington, KY with the win, the Gamecocks are now 4-2 (2-2) on the season, and as Boyd noted after the game, any road win in the Southeastern Conference is a good win.
"When you're in the SEC, any win is a good win. We're glad we came here and we got it."
Coach Spurrier Not Satisfied With 4th Quarter Defense
Despite capturing the 24-17 victory on Saturday night, Coach Spurrier expressed his frustration with the defense's mental errors late in the game. While protecting a 24-10 fourth quarter lead, the Gamecock defense had a couple of key breakdowns, one of which resulted in a 63 yard completion to Dicky Lyons and ultimately resulted in a Kentucky touchdown two plays later. Spurrier, who has always been known as a perfectionist, was understandably livid with his team's missed assignments after the game.
"Our guys almost gave away a game… Obviously we don't know how to play with a lead. It was pitiful. It was sad watching our secondary play and watching our pass rush at the end of the game. I told the defensive guys that we'll put three wide receivers back there and let them play three deep when we get the lead from now on if we're that bad," said Spurrier.
The Head Ball Coach has insisted since his arrival at South Carolina that the culture of the Gamecock football program needs a radical change. He reiterated that sentiment on Saturday evening.
"We're still South Carolina. We still can't shake being a South Carolina team that doesn't know how to win. It's sad to say, I don't know if it's happened in the past, but I'm not used to it happening to teams I'm coaching. (We get) a two touchdown lead and almost just say, ‘Come on back boys, and hopefully we can hold on and edge you out.' That's almost the attitude of a bunch of our defensive guys."
Cory Boyd commented on Spurrier's reaction in the locker room after the game, and Boyd emphasized Spurrier's plea for the players to display more pride when playing with a lead.
"Words can't express what that was. I really don't know. We caught the bad end of the stick on that at the end of the game. (Spurrier wasn't pleased) with the way we ended the game defensive-wise. We could have stopped them, and we have to take more pride in the end of the game, finishing off strong."
While the defense did not play up to Spurrier's standards, he did praise the offense for their performance against the Wildcats on Saturday evening.
"We won the game. A lot of our guys played their hearts out. Cory Boyd, Syvelle Newton, and a lot of those offensive linemen played really well, and we did some good things to win the game."
The Gamecocks will now enjoy a much needed bye week before traveling to Nashville, TN for another road contest with the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday, October 21.
Injury Update: The Gamecocks reported no new injuries in Saturday's game against the Wildcats.
Trick Play: Coach Spurrier praised Kenny McKinley for making a picturesque throw to Syvelle Newton in the end zone on a throw back pass in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats appeared to be in good position to stop the trick play, but as Spurrier noted, Mckinley, who played quarterback in high school, made a beautiful throw. "I'll tell you what, they had good pressure on Cory Boyd, and Kenny McKinley came around and probably should have run with it. They had a defensive end chasing Syvelle (Newton) and another guy coming over, but Kenny (McKinley) put it in the corner, and Syvelle went up and made a nice catch on it… He wasn't that open. They sniffed it out fairly well, but Kenny made an excellent throw, and Syvelle made a beautiful catch. Nice play." The score served as the winning margin for the Gamecocks in the 24-17 victory.
Bold Call: Up 24-17 with less than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter, Coach Spurrier elected to go for 4th and 7, rather than letting Ryan Succop attempt a 37 yard field goal to give the Gamecocks a two possession lead. The Gamecocks ultimately fell short on the attempt, and the Wildcats got the ball back with a chance to tie the game with 22 seconds remaining, Spurrier admitted after the game that the happenings of a game earlier in the day influenced his thinking on that play call. "(We went for it) because I didn't want a bad snap. Did you watch Wake Forest and Clemson today? I did, that's why. There's no guarantee… We weren't going to take a chance on (them) blocking the field goal and letting them tie the game. I don't believe in that. If we had a nine point lead, maybe we try the field goal, but not a seven (point lead)."
Gamecocks Well Represented: The Gamecocks brought a ticket allotment of 4,000 fans to Kentucky for Saturday's game, but the Gamecocks were well represented with a couple thousand more garnet and black clad faithful spread throughout Commonwealth Stadium.
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