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South Carolina Trickeration Touchdown Against Wisconsin

South Carolina pulls a trick play on Wisconsin as wide receiver  Bruce Ellington completes a pass to quarterback Connor Shaw for a touchdown in the Gamecocks 34-24 over the Badgers victory on New Year’s Day. (P.S. - yes, trickeration is a real word)

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Carolina’s Shaw Back At Practice After Illness

connor-shaw-helmet-offTwo weeks ago, Connor Shaw injured his left knee in a loss at Tennessee.  Then he braced the knee up and fought through illness to lead South Carolina to an upset win at Missouri last weekend.  His illness kept him off the practice field on Monday and Tuesday.

Yesterday, the Gamecocks’ talisman was back on the practice field, prepping for Saturday’s date with Mississippi State in Columbia.  Steve Spurrier’s take:

 

“He should be fine (for Saturday), but it is unusual you haven’t seen your starting quarterback since last Saturday night.  He’s had a bug that is hard to shake…

Hopefully, he’s got an idea of what we’re doing (gameplan-wise).  He’s played an awful lot so he doesn’t have to practice too much.”

 

Quarterbacks coach GA Mangus agreed that Shaw should be “ready to go” this weekend.  “He’ll get a good night sleep and hopefully get a bunch of (the reps on Thursday.”

South Carolina’s offense immediately came to life when a less-than-100% Shaw entered the game at Mizzou.  Down 17-0 with less than 13 minutes to play, the Cocks rallied to tie and then won 27-24 in overtime.

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Carolina’s Spurrier Flip-Flops On Media Attention

steve-spurrier-looks-over-shoulderOn October 15th, Steve Spurrier was riding pretty high.  South Carolina had just whipped Arkansas on the road to the tune of 52-7.  Spurrier’s offense — led by quarterback Connor Shaw — was one of the SEC’s best.  And speaking of Shaw, the Ol’ Ball Coach made it clear that his QB didn’t care that he wasn’t getting enough attention from the national press:

 

“Having a wonderful season is a lot more important to them than how much attention they get.  Ten years from now, people aren’t going to ask Connor Shaw, ‘How much attention did you get?’  They’re going to ask him ‘What was your record?’ And he’s going to tell them what his record is.”

 

Fast forward to yesterday, October 21st, just two days after a shocking 23-21 loss at Tennessee.  It’s fair to say Spurrier’s views on the media coverage afforded his offense have changed:

 

“Maybe we had too much press.  We thought we were too good, maybe.  I don’t know.  I thought Tennessee played strong up front.  I thought their D-line played well, and their linebackers.  We did pop a few, and of course Connor had that one long run, but we didn’t have many passing yards, that’s for sure.”

 

For those who haven’t been keeping score at home, Spurrier is not a real big fan of the media.  He plays the media like harp every season at SEC Media Days, tossing out pie-in-sky ideas that get repeated over and over by those of us in the press, but that doesn’t mean he likes the fourth estate.  Check out his comment from yesterday regarding Missouri, Carolina’s opponent on Saturday:

 

“According to the media experts, ESPN and all those guys, nobody saw this team coming from where they are now.  They weren’t picked to do much that I know of by hardly anyone, but they have got an excellent team — offense, defense, special teams, the whole bit.  They haven’t been winning by any fluky means.”

 

One must wonder where an “expert” like Spurrier would have placed Mizzou in his preseason picks.

Spurrier’s voicebox has ruled the SEC for two decades.  Whether he’s joking, needling, or complaining, the media is ever-quick to disseminate whatever Spurrier says.  It’s ironic, then, that he can find ways to dig at the press regardless of whether reporters are giving his club too much press or not enough.

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Quarterback Connor Shaw Will Start Against Kentucky

Connor ShawThe diagnosis over the weekend for South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw was that he would miss two to three weeks.  It turns out he won’t miss a game.

Coach Steve Spurrier announced Wednesday that Shaw will get the start against Kentucky Saturday.

Shaw was knocked out of the game against UCF Saturday in the first quarter with a shoulder injury. He’s thrown for 665 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions this season.  South Carolina is a 21-point favorite against Kentucky Saturday.

 

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Carolina’s Shaw Could Play Saturday Vs Kentucky

connor-shaw-helmet-offWell that was quick.  Injured in last week’s hard-fought victory at UCF, South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw was expected to return to action in two or three weeks.  Now it looks as though Shaw’s shoulder sprain might be well enough for him to be back in, oh, about three days.

According to The Charleston Post & Courier, Shaw “picked up a football and chucked it downfield, high and spiraling through the air like he had a healthy shoulder” after Monday’s practice.  Running back Mike Davis took to Twitter and said, “Connor Shaw is the toughest football player I have ever been around.”

Shaw’s ability to fling the pigskin with a bum shoulder has led Steve Spurrier to say that he “should be ready” to play Kentucky this weekend, where backup Dylan Thompson was expected to start.

 

“The trainer had him out two to three weeks.  Yesterday, he threw a ball 60 yards.  So, I don’t know.  You need to ask the trainer how he made such a miraculous recovery.  It wasn’t 60, but it was about 55, I would say…

Who knows the pain factor?  Nobody knows.  So you just sort of guess that.  But Connor is a very tough kid who wants to play, and he should be ready to play this week.  He’s played very well for us.  His record speaks for itself, percentage-wise the winningest quarterback.”

 

It’s entirely possible, of course, that Spurrier is engaging in a bit of gamesmanship ahead of his team’s visit from the Wildcats.  If, however, Shaw does play versus Kentucky, his rapid recovery from what seemed to be a serious injury will make him even more popular across the Palmetto State.

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My Left Foot: USC QB Shaw Goes Skydiving With Healthy, Repaired Foot

SunsetTandemSouth Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw is back from foot surgery and ready for action.  Any kind of action apparently.  Including skydiving.

The senior-to-be missed all of spring practice after undergoing a procedure to repair a bum foot that required him to take pain-killing shots and pain-killing bills before and during games last season.  (We now know one difference between the two starting quarterbacks in the SEC’s two Columbias.)  Now, Shaw says the football is “all good.”

So good that he went skydiving over the weekend (warning: paywall):

 

“It was an incredible rush.  I think we jumped out at 17,000 feet and opened our chute at 5,000.  It happened so fast.  It felt like you were just floating up in the air.  I would absolutely do it again.”

 

And what did Steve Spurrier think of his starting quarterback skydiving on a surgically-repaired foot?  “I don’t think (the coaches) know yet,” Shaw told The State newspaper in Columbia.  “So we’ll see how that goes.”

Now that Shaw has gone skydiving, we’ll see if he goes Rocky Mountain climbing.  Or if he can go 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu.

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USC’s Spurrier Says QB Shaw Will Likely Start Vs UT; Not Worried About Tiebreakers

Steve Spurrier isn’t worried about tiebreaker scenarios.  After destroying Georgia at home his Gamecocks have gone on a two-game slide losing at LSU (close) and at Florida (not so close).  Now his South Carolina team will need to win out while Florida loses out if it’s going to reach Atlanta.

The Ol’ Ball Coach said yesterday that he’s not worried about such issues.  According to The Charleston Post & Courier, Spurrier said, “I’m pulling for Florida (against Georgia this weekend), but I think it’ll be a close game.  I’ve got my own problems around here trying to make a first down.”

Only then was Spurrier informed that Carolina actually needed Georgia to win Saturday’s game with the Gators in Jacksonville.

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Carolina Backup QB Arrested; “Here We Go Again”

South Carolina redshirt freshman quarterback Tanner McEvoy has been arrested, charged with speeding, and charged with driving after consuming while under the age of 21 (that’s a lesser charge than a DUI, by the way).  Per USC’s policy, McEvoy was automatically suspend as a result of his Sunday arrest in North Carolina.

This probably wouldn’t make major news outside of the SEC if McEvoy weren’t following in the footsteps of former Gamecock quarterback Stephen Garcia.  Because he is, McEvoy’s arrest has gotten a bit more pub than one might expect.  The “Garcia Curse” has already been mentioned by NBCSports’ college football site.

Personally, I think it seems a bit quick to jump to that conclusion.  One arrest and suspension does not equal five suspensions.  Same position, same team, but not the same person.

From a football perspective, McEvoy was expected to compete to be the #2 man behind Connor Shaw during fall camp.  Depending on the length of his suspension, the competition he’ll get from others, and Spurrier’s view of his decision-making, his chances of landing that gig might have just taken a hit.  Again, that depends in large part on how strongly Spurrier feels about the other signal-callers on his roster.

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Spurrier Says Carolina Will Do More Running, Pick Its Spots To Pass

In 2008, South Carolina passed the ball 452 times and ran it 403 times.  In 2009, USC’s offense passed the ball 402 times and ran it 409.  In 2010 — with Marcus Lattimore arriving on the scene — the Cocks tossed 389 passes and ran the ball a whopping 522 times.  Last season, the passes were down to 317 while the rushes jumped to 553.

Spot the trend?

As anyone who’s paid attention can tell you, Steve Spurrier has learned to win in an different way from his old Fun N’ Gun Florida days.  If you want to know the mark of any good coach — or businessman, for that matter — it’s the ability to reinvent oneself and change with the times.  Most coaches can’t do it.  The greats can.

Paul “Bear” Bryant threw out an offense that had won him three national titles, replaced it with a wishbone and went on to collect three more championships.  There’s a reason Spurrier’s visored mug would be carved alongside Bryant’s on an SEC Mt. Rushmore of coaches.  He’s proven that he can adjust and adapt.  He’s gone from a pass-first coach to a run-first/play-good-defense kind of leader.

And it sounds like you can expect even more running from the Gamecocks this year with Connor Shaw at quarterback:

 

“We’ll probably be more of a running team, play defense, pick your spots to throw the ball.  That’s not a bad formula.  A little different that I’ve coached int he past.  As all of us know, you can win a bunch of ballgames doing it that way.”

 

Spurrier’s proving that he can win a bunch of games in two different ways.  That’s impressive.  As was the way he switched up last year’s offense to utilize more zone-read plays when Shaw took over for Stephen Garcia.

When Spurrier was hired, a Carolina fan who happens to be a friend of mine said that at least USC football would be fun to watch.  But instead of being competitive in high-scoring games, the Cocks are winning grind-it-out affairs.  It might not be as exciting as watching 50 passes per game, but those winning is a lot more fun than just being competitive.

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SEC Media Days Roundup: Day One

1. South Carolina as national championship contenders? Dennis Dodd: “Once you get past Alabama, LSU, Arkansas and Georgia in the SEC, Carolina is one hell of a fifth option. Not just for the conference, for the national championship.

2. South Carolina will use last year’s loss to Auburn as motivation.

3. Maybe it was losses to the Tigers that had Steve Spurrier forgetting Cam Newton.

4. Scott Rabalais:  ”There ought to be a Steve Spurrier channel.”

5. What to expect from South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw this fall: “I’m not going to take my legs away me, but I’m definitely going to rely on my arm more.”

6. James Franklin knows how to sell Vanderbilt football: “We have more things to sell than any other program. If you’re the best and the brightest, where else would you go?”

7. Robbie Andreu on Franklin:” In his one year in Nashville, he’s made Vanderbilt relevant.”

8. Franklin on the Vandy-Tennessee game: ”To be honest with you, I don’t really consider it a rivalry,” Franklin said. “It has to be a lot more competitive before it becomes a rivalry. It’s been onesided.”

9. Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rogers on his coach: “He’s a psycho but we love him.”

10. Bruce Feldman on Texas A&M:  “There is a lot of reason for optimism.”

11. Key for the Aggies? Replacing their quarterback.

12. Players get a lot of questions about SEC competition: Aggies linebacker Sean Porter: “I don’t think it’s going to be overwhelming for us.”

13. Ron Higgins: “If this thing gets any bigger, they may have to move it to a domed stadium.”

14. A thousand media members with a thousand questions.  For A&M and Missouri – welcome to the SEC.

15. Andy Staples: “On the field, the Tigers and their fellow newcomers from Texas A&M have been warned that the league’s teams stock their rosters with fire-breathing, boulder-chewing monsters whose Ess Eee See Speed allows them to outrun Camaros.”

16. The Missouri Tigers want everyone to know their spread offense is different:”We had the ninth-best rushing team in all of college football last year,” wide receiver T.J. Moe said. “We had 3,000 yards running and 3,000 yards passing. 

17. Moe on the Missouri-Georgia game: “If you ask me, it’s probably going to be the most anticipated game in Missouri football history.”

18. And what do the Tigers know about the Bulldogs? “Not a whole lot yet.”

19. Matt Hayes on the Tigers: “It could be a defining moment. Or it could be, meh.”

20. Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel defends Joe Paterno: “Joe Paterno’s a friend that I got to know professionally, and you can’t take away the greatness of this man.”

21. Day One - best and worst moments.

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