Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Week 11: What it Means for the Gamecocks

The South Carolina Gamecocks stand at 8-2 (6-2) but find themselves one game out of repeating a trip to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game. As it stands, the Georgia Bulldogs will have to beat the lowly Kentucky Wildcats for them to overcome the two early losses they had against Boise St. and South Carolina. The Dawgs find themselves one game away from being in the SEC Championship Game despite the fact that they have the same overall record as South Carolina and lost to them in a thrilling 45-42 game played in Athens. The only advantage they have over the Gamecocks is their 6-1 record in conference play. But can this be a good thing for South Carolina? The Gamecocks have two more games remaining on their schedule against The Citadel and Clemson. South Carolina is ranked #12 right now in the BCS Standings and if they manage to win these last two games, they would have an outside shot at making a BCS Bowl Game. Of course a lot of domino's would have to fall in place but anything is possible right? With this in mind, if South Carolina were to miraculously play in the SEC Championship Game, there is little hope that they would be able to beat LSU and would threfore fall out of contention for a BCS game. The game against Clemson will especially have a lot to say in terms of who will have a chance to qualify for a BCS game since both teams will most likely be ranked in the top 12. As if this game needed for hype.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Gamecocks Now on the Passenger's Seat

With a realistic possiblity to still make it to the BCS National Championship and in the driver's seat to make a trip to Atlanta for the SEC Championship in back to back years, the South Carolina Gamecocks went into Fayeteville with more to win than to lose.  They suffered a major blow defensively when they decided that Antonio Allen was declared to be out for the game. Allen leads the team in tackling, has made key plays in key situations and is the leader of the defense.  His absence was evident in a play right before the end of the 2nd half when Arkansas' quarterback Tyler Wilson threw a pass into the endzone to a wide open receiver who was supposed to be covered by Allen's replacement Demario Jeffery.  The Gamecocks gave up too many big plays and the defense didn't live up to it's potential.  When the Gamecocks scored the first touchdown of the game, Arkansas returned the following kickoff for a touchdown, giving Arkansas the lead back in less than 10 seconds.  When Devin Taylor picked off Tyler Wilson in midfield and returned the interception for a touchdown, the Gamecocks gave up a touchdown on the first play of Arkansas' following drive.  The offense for the Gamecocks was better than it has been in the last couple of weeks but was greatly inexistent.  They had 4 turnovers against a team that can score in a hurry and is near impossible to beat when given a short field.  The offensive line was atrocious and gave the running backs no running room.  Their pass protection was the worse I've seen from them the whole season and their poor play might cause Connor Shaw to miss their next game against Florida due to suffering a concussion late in the game.  Steve Spurrier went away from what had been succesful throughout the season and that is running the ball.  Shaw ran it extremely well but Brandon Wilds only carried the ball 10 times for 21 yards after having a strong game against Tennessee.  It is evident that the passing game will not win games for the Gamecocks as Shaw only had 128 yards and also threw one interception.  Alshon Jeffery has to be frustrated with the passing game thus far as he only had three catches for 19 yards.  South Carolina's leading receiver in the game was running back Kenny Miles who caught two passes for 30 yrards.  South Carolina has to make sure it fixes all the problems it had against the Razorbacks if they want to beat Florida.  Eventhough Florida doesn't have the passing offense that Arkansas has, they have dynamic players that can put up points in a hurry.  Special Team's play also has to drastically improve against the Gators since they have two of the most explosive returners in the country in Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey.  They now have no shot at the National Championship and have to depend on Auburn beating Georgia in Athens to make it back to the SEC Championship Game.  However, before they can root for the Tigers, they have make improvements in order to beat Gators.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Gameday Notes

  • Spur linebacker Antonio Allen is expected to play aftering missing practice this past week with a sore neck.  Allen is a leader on the South Carolina defense and leads the team in tackles.
  • Wide receiver Alshon Jefferey needs 33 yards to match Kenny Mckinley's record for all-time receiving yards.  He needs three catches to pass Sterling Sharpe for second all-time in career receptions.  He also needs three touchdowns catches to tie Sidney Rice's record of 23.
  • South Carolina is still looking to score first in a game.  They have fumbled an opening kickoff against Kentucky and a punt before their first offensive possession against Tennessee.
  • Steve Spurrier is 1-2 against Bobby Petrino since Petrino joined the Razorbacks after leaving the NFL's Atlanta Falcons.
  • The Gamecocks are looking to win seven stratight "true" road games for the first time in school history.  They beat Vanderbilt, Florida Clemson last year and have won games this year at Georgia, Mississippi State and Tennessee.
  • A win would give the Gamecocks eight or more wins in a season for just the 11th time in history.
  • A win would also give the Gamecocks six SEC wins in a season for the first time in school history.
  • Arkansas leads the all-time series against South Carolina 12-7 with a 7-2 advantage at home.  The Razorbacks have won two games in a row and 4 out of the last five.

Gameday in Fayeteville

It's finally here.  The South Carolina Gamecocks and the Arkansas Razorbacks will face off in a #7 vs. #9 matchup that has SEC Championship as well as BCS Bowl implications.  The Gamecocks are coming off a not so impresive win against Tennessee and Arkansas is coming off a game where they beat Vanderbilt by three on a missed field goald by the Commodores.  This will be an intense matchup as the Gamecocks will look to seek revenge from last years debacle where Arkansas won 41-20 at Williams Brice Stadium.  Winning this game puts the Gamecocks one game away from winning the SEC East and heading back to Atlanta in December.  The game expects to be exiting with both teams showing a lot of heart, passion, and desire to win. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Wilds gone Wild

Last week's game against Tennessee was the first game the Gamecocks played without their star running back Marcus Lattimore.  No one outside, and even some inside the football program could have predicted what was to come from freshaman running back Brandon Wilds.  He started the season fifth on the running back depth chart and was almost redshirted.  However, injuries to Kenny Miles, Shon Carson, Eric Baker and Marcus Lattimore pushed him to the starting position.  Before the Tennessee game he had 13 carries for 75 yards and had looked fairly good coming in relief for Lattimore late in 4th quarters when the game was out of reach.  During his first start Wilds looked patient, in control, and confident as he shredded the Tennessee defense for 137 yards on 28 carries and 3 catches for 31 yards.  He didn't look like a freshman making his first career start as opposed to Teneessee's quarterback Justin Worley, who was also making his first start.  When he was off the field, Wilds was getting advice from Lattimore and his performance showed the impact that Lattimore has had on his development.  The patience he showed was reminiscent of Lattimore and it also shows the great teammate he is.  The game against the Vols was a good sign for Wilds and the Gamecocks but with a vital trip to Arkansas this weekend Wilds is going to have to be near perfection for the Gamecocks to win.  That means taking care of the football and not giving Arkansas a short field.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

BCS Championship a Stretch but Possible

It's clear that this weekend's game between LSU and Alabama has National Championship implications.  However, another SEC game that may also have a saying in who plays in New Orleans in January will be South Carolina at Arkansas.  With both teams ranked in the top 10 anything is possible.  A couple of domino's would have to fall in order for the Gamecocks to reach the Championship game though.  If the Gamecocks are able to come out of Fayeteville with a win, they would move up a spot and possibly two spots if the loser of the Alabam-LSU game drops below them in the rankings.  This would put the Gamecocks at #7.  #4 Stanford would have a matchup with #7 Oregon with the loser dropping below Carolina, therefore moving the Gamecocks up to #6.  A season ending matchup of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State would also have the loser moving below the Gamecoks and placing them at the #5 ranking.  However, Carolina would have to take care of Clemson for this to happen.  The Gamecocks would be going into the SEC Championship game ranked #5 and would most likely have to play the loser of the Alabama-LSU game.  If the Gamecocks manage to win this game, they would move up one spot and most likely pass Boise State in the ranking placing them at #3 in the country.  The #1 and #2 teams at this point would be either Oklahoma or Oklahoma State, or Stanford or Oregon.  The new Pac-12 has a Championship Game this year so either Oregon or Stanford would be playing in that game and if they happen to lose, South Carolina would be ranked second in the country and heading to New Orleans.  This whole scenario, of course, starts with this weekends game at Arkansas.  So if you thougt the LSU-Alabama game was the only meaningful game this weekend, think again.

Arkansas Looms

With their win at Neyland Stadium yesterday, the Gamecocks improve to 7-1(5-1) and are a step closer towards reaching the SEC Title Game in Atlanta.  With Georgia beating Florida, Carolina is still in first place because of the tiebreaker over the Dawgs.  However, Georgia's remaining SEC shedule includes Auburn at home and Kentucky.  Carolina has to deal with the likes of Arkansas in Fayeteville and Florida at home.  It's not going to be an easy stretch for the Gamecocks but coming out with a win at Arkansas would be a huge accomplishment and would almost guarantee a spot in the championship game.  With the Gamecocks bolsering the best pass defense in the country, it's going to be interesting to see what Tyler Wilson can do.  Arkansas has struggled out of the gate against Ole Miss and Vandy in the last two weeks as well as Texas A&M.  If Arkansas comes out the same way against the Gamecocks, the offense is going to need to put up points because Arkansas can score fast.  I expect Carolina's defensive line to overpower Arkansa's offensive line and I also expect Steve Spurrier to air it out early and often if Arkansas comes out sluggish once again.

Pre-Kickoff Comments

We're two hours away from kickoff in Knoxville, TN.  I'm excited to see what kind of game Connor Shaw has without Marcus Lattimore.  He had a good game at Mississippi State two weeks ago but Knoxville is a whole different enviroment.  Brandon Wilds hasn't looked bad in the few carries that he has had throughout the season but we all know Marcus can't be replaced.  I'm looking for Alshon Jefferey to have a solid game against a not so stout Tennessee secondary and he needs 95 yards to pass the all-time receiving yards record at South Carolina.  He also needs one 100 yard game to also pass the record for most 100 yard games previously held by current Seattle Seahawks receiver Sidney Rice.  The defense I think will have its biggest game of the year so far.  They will be facing a true freshman quarterback making his first career start, a very below average running game as well an average offensive line.  This one will be a good one and has the potential to be the game that decides the SEC East.