Brown analyzes season, fellow receivers
Carolina heads into Saturday's matchup with SEC East Division rival Tennessee fully aware that, with a 5-3 record and four games left to play, the possibility of having an excellent season is still within its grasp. The flipside? Finishing poorly against this regular season's final four foes will result in a disappointing campaign for a team that has come oh-so-close in all three of its losses.
The first obstacle in the Gamecocks' make-or-break stretch run is a Volunteer team that has struggled to a 3-5 start, with a single win in five tries against conference foes. Saturday's result may very well determine what type of year the Gamecocks will ultimately have.
"That sums it up very well," Brown said of the importance of getting a win against the Vols on Saturday. "We've got four opportunities ahead of us and that's the way I like to look at it and that's the way the team likes to look at it. We plan on seizing this opportunity. We can leave this thing 9-3 or we can leave it 5-7 or somewhere in between, but of course we are shooting for the former more than the latter. I believe we have a great chance to pull off 9-3... I believe we can play to anyone's level and above anyone's level. It's just a matter of doing it."
Brown indicated that last weekend's open date gave the offense a chance to improve, primarily by getting back to the basics and polishing up on the fundamentals.
"Oh yeah, man," Brown affirmed. "When you have a bye, you have an opportunity to go back and focus on the small things. We really didn't go into the bye week thinking about Tennessee. It was more just tweaking the little things within the offense, focusing on running our route trees a little better. Getting the fundamentals back down and trying to get ready to focus on the rest of our season."
Brown's 22 catches rank him third on the team in receptions so far this season. His breakout game came against Georgia, when the junior from Anderson hauled in seven passes for 130 yards and a touchdown. Conversely, he has had three games with two or fewer catches, including a total of only one in the last two outings. That doesn't necessarily indicate poor play or lack of effort, however.
"It's just kind of the way it is in this offense," he explained. "Our coaches play to scheme the opposing defense. Certain defenses allow certain positions to get open more and allows them to get the ball more. So different weeks, it might be a different receiver getting open and getting the ball more than other weeks. So, one week (a receiver) might be quieter than others because your position might not match up well against that defense. So it comes with the territory. When it's time for your number to be called, you just have to be ready to go make that play."
Brown is a leader within the Carolina pass catching corps, and was singled out for praise earlier in the season by fellow wideout Jason Barnes for providing tips and encouragement while Barnes was struggling. That being said, "Coach" Brown was asked to comment on several of his fellow Gamecock receivers.
On Joe Hills: "I tell Joe Hills every day that he has the capability to be the best receiver in the nation. You're talking about someone who is a physically talented speciman. He's 6-4, 210 with four percent body fat that can run with anybody and is strong as an ox. I tell him he has the opportunity to become one of the best, if not the best (receiver), to come through USC, and I really do believe that."
On Jason Barnes: "He shows you what he can do. People don't realize how quick his feet are. I actually took a couple of moves from him. He's one of those guys who works hard and learns very well. He's got a little swagger to him and the ability to make plays. He's a great receiver."
On Jared Cook: "He's a tight end but he's 6-4, 240 and runs a 4.3 (forty-yard dash). That almost says enough right there. He's a leader. He's an emotional leader. He stays on us and tries to make sure we're doing the right things. He's just a good guy, man, and a great player, obviously.
On Weslye Saunders: "He's one of those guys that has the potential to be however good he wants to be. Now, what he's going to be is going to be up to him. He's learning and getting a lot better, and I think he's going to be great for USC before he's done."
On Kenny McKinley: "Kenny McKinley. That's pretty much all you have to say. He's pretty much the best receiver to come through USC. His stats speak for themselves. He's one of the emotional leaders, too. The thing I love about Kenny, though, is that he gets more excited when other people make plays than when he makes plays. Kenny wants you to do well. I don't think people realize this about him, but he is one of the biggest "team players" on this team, as well as being a great player on the field."
And lastly, himself: "I consider myself a pretty smart player, and I always try to figure out how to find that extra inch in the defense. I think my speed and knowing the game are probably my best abilities."
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