Notebook: Gamecocks top Commodores
Jeffery, Gurley contribute big games to lead USC offense
Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery continued his rise to the top of the Gamecock offensive attack, contributing an 8-catch, 161 yard performance against Vanderbilt on Saturday night. With South Carolina trailing 10-7 in the 4th quarter, Jeffery snagged a pass from Stephen Garcia and took it 43 yards to the end zone for what would prove to be the winning touchdown. For an offense that gained yards easily but struggled to put up points, it was a welcome relief to finally reach the end zone again.
Coach Steve Spurrier was complimentary of his young playmaker after the game. He said, "Alshon of course had another big game. What I like about Alshon is that he'll come over and suggest plays. Sidney (Rice) used to do that. Alshon has a feel for the game. He knows the offense very well now."
While Jeffery has continued to make his presence known since the South Carolina State game, one player that Gamecock fans had not heard from in a while was his fellow receiver and freshman, Tori Gurley.
Not only did Gurley contribute 3 receptions for 62 yards, he also had a key reception on the winning drive. On 1st and 10 from their own 1-yard line, the Gamecocks went deep to Gurley down the left sideline. He made a highlight-reel, one-handed catch while falling down, securing a 43-yard gain and a momentum shifting play for the Gamecocks. They would go on to finish the go-ahead touchdown drive of 99 yards with Jeffery's touchdown.
"Tori (Gurley) made a heck of a catch," stated Spurrier. "In fact, we gave Tori the game ball. That was a good catch in the midfield and of course Alshon's (Jeffery) catch, that was one of the best plays we've had this year. Stephen (Garcia) hit him perfectly on a third and long, and that ended up being a big play."
Miles tops the century mark to pace Gamecock ground game
Alshon Jeffery was not the only Gamecock that contributed a 100-yard night against the Commodores, as running back Kenny Miles chimed in with 102 yards on 18 carries. The redshirt freshman out of Lawrenceville, Georgia was able to add an extra dimension to the offense and take some of the pressure off of quarterback Stephen Garcia.
Spurrier noted that "Kenny ran the ball well, but we still need to block better."
Miles said after the game that he was happy with the progression of the offense, especially moving towards an offense that is dangerous both in the passing and running game.
"I still think that there's a lot of things we need to work on," stated Miles. "You know a lot of mental things, a lot of stuff like that. But I think as far as the playcalling and the schemes, we're starting to get that clicking (and) going."
Miles, in gaining his 102 yards, did not have a single run that went for negative yardage.
Wilson leads dominant South Carolina defense
Middle linebacker Shaq Wilson showed up big again for the Gamecock defense on Saturday night, securing a team high 12 tackles, including 7 unassisted tackles. In the past two games, the Gamecock defense has given up exactly one touchdown, and Wilson has been a big part of that dominance. The sophomore from Jacksonville has contributed 23 tackles the past two games.
Wilson is considered undersized by some at 5'11'', 210 pounds, but said that for him it is not about size at all, but the heart with which you play the game.
"The ball was coming my way tonight, and I was just making tackles," said Wilson. "It's all about heart. When you play football, it's all about heart. I'm not that big, but I have work ethic."
Despite injury, Matthews and defense finish off ‘Dores
Defensive end Cliff Matthews and the Gamecocks know how to finish games. In three contests this year prior to Vanderbilt, South Carolina has had to depend on its defense to step up at the end. In wins against North Carolina State, Ole Miss, and Kentucky, the Carolina defense held strong and preserved a win. It was no different against Vanderbilt, and Ellis Johnson's unit was up to the task once again.
"That's something we preach about – finishing in big games," said Matthews. "It's especially important when it comes down to the wire like it did tonight. Whatever it takes for us to win, we'll do. We had a good win, and we're going to celebrate it the rest of the night. Then we'll move on."
Matthews left the game late with a neck stinger that Coach Ellis Johnson later said was not serious. But by that time, all the Gamecocks were feeling good.
Along with Matthews, safety Devonte Holloman was the only other injury of the night for the Gamecocks. He suffered a right shoulder contusion, which coaches said also should not be considered serious.
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