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A by-the-numbers look at how the Gamecocks and their opponents fared over the weekend.
South Carolina 38, Kentucky 17
Marcus Lattimore: 23 rushes for 120 yards (5.2 ypc, long of 23). Number 21 really is starting to looking better with each passing game. He's still not quite driving piles forward the way he did before his injury, but I think we'll see full strength Latty soon enough. Also, there's a strong chance that his sub-superhuman performance to date is just Marcus' way of trolling Mark Richt.
Connor Shaw: 15/18 passing for 148 yards, 3 sacks for -20 yards (6.09 yards per attempt), 2 TD, 0 INT. 16 rushes for 116 yards (7.25 ypc). 83% completion rate raises season mark to 78.1%. The only blemishes in this line are the 14% sack rate and the 6.09 yards per pass attempt. Bad pass protection and downfield passing would seem to be issues that are at least somewhat related.
South Carolina's seven sacks against Kentucky are two more than Florida's vaunted defensive front has had all season. DeVonte Holloman, Jadeveon Clowney, Devin Taylor (1.5), Aldrick Fordham, Kelcy Quarles (0.5), Reginald Bowens, and Byron Jerideau all got in on the SACKtion. Damario Jeffery would have joined the party as well but for a bogus facemask call that eventually led to a Kentucky touchdown.
Going into the game against South Carolina, Kentucky was only giving up sacks on 2% of its passing plays, but on Saturday night the Gamecocks were able to drive Jalen Whitlow and Maxwell Smith to the turf on 22% of the Wildcats' passing plays. That mark makes this the Gamecocks' best effort in the pass rush since their last SEC road game, in which South Carolina sacked Jordan Rodgers on 20% of Vanderbilt's pass attempts in the season opener in Nashville.
According to linebackers coach Kirk Botkin, DeVonte Holloman has played well all season despite not showing up a whole lot in the the Gamecocks' box scores. That changed on Saturday night as the senior SPUR registered six tackles (including 2 TFL), an interception, and a sack.
Jadeveon Clowney: 4 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 sack. Clowney is now just 4.5 sacks shy of the USC season record (10), tied by Melvin Ingram in 2011. Doo Doo is making a habit of generating defensive performances that are at once dominant and ho-hum. His quickness off of the line of scrimmage is just unreal. When you go back and watch the replay, notice how many times Clowney is already in the backfield before the left tackle even realizes that the ball has been snapped.
Georgia 51, Tennessee 44
In a game that was notable for its bizarre plays, Georgia was still the better team on a per play basis by a decisive 8.0 to 5.3 ypp margin. Georgia's running game was impressive once again, averaging 7.3 yards per rush, pulling their season mark to 6.20 yards per rush, good for 4th in the nation. Georgia's defense is still something of a mystery, however. After returning just about everybody from a defense that ranked 7th nationally in ypp (4.06), the Bulldogs are yielding almost an entire yard per play more than their 2011 selves (5.04), which ranks a pedestrian 43rd among FBS teams.
Missouri 21, UCF 16
Technically, Missouri exceeded expectations in this game, as they entered their tilt with the Golden Knights as 2.5 point road dogs. Still, the Tigers were outgained by a margin of 395 to 346. James Franklin was finally able to generate some explosive plays in the passing game, including an 80-yard touchdown strike to Dorial Green-Beckham that has to have the folks in the other Columbia feeling better about the otherwise unheard from true freshman's rookie season. Gary Pinkel's Tigers get Vanderbilt at home next week in what I'm sure will be dubbed the James Franklin Bowl.
LSU 38, Towson 22
The mighty Towson Tigers outgained the power rushing attack of LSU by a 187 to 159 margin on Saturday night en route to Louisiana State's second consecutive shaky performance against an overmatched foe. Zach Mettenberger threw for 238 yards and two scores but was sacked 4 times (13.3% of LSU's passing attempts). Gamecock fans have to be feeling a quiet confidence at this point about their October 13th matchup in Baton Rouge.
TAMU 58, Arkansas 10
Arkansas gains 514 yards of total offense but only manages to score ten points while giving up 716 yards of offense to Kevin Sumlin's Aggies. Johnny Manziel goes 29/38 for 454 yards and 3 TDs and adds 104 yards rushing and a TD on 14 attempts. This game marked the point at which my reaction to Arkansas getting humiliated transitioned from glee to pity. Any quarterback that doesn't earn SEC offensive player of the week after playing Arkansas should be immediately benched.
Mississippi 14, Alabama 33
Ole Miss was completely overmatched but can hang its hat on a salty defensive performance in which it limited the Crimson Tide to 4.3 yards per play. Hugh Freeze's 3-2 Rebels seem to be getting better with each passing week and have an outside shot at becoming bowl eligible, with winnable games coming up against Texas A&M, Auburn, Arkansas, and Vanderbilt left on the schedule.