The Weedeater Bowl is avenged! Connor Shaw is vindicated! And the Special Teams are heard from (in a good way).
Missouri will win a lot of games in the SEC - bank on it. They're a good fit for the league and they belong. But they won't win their first SEC game over us.
That was a commanding performance all around Gamecock fans, but we left points on the field with three redzone turnovers. Do that against Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, LSU or Clemson, and we likely lose.
A couple of notes:
- I said I thought it would take a minimum of 400 yards of offense to beat these Missouri Tigers. We only had 396 yards of offense. I wasn't counting on 164 yards of punt/kick returns.
Ace Sanders and Bruce Ellington's combined 164 special teams return yards were just one yard shy of Missouri's total receiving yards (165) and eclipsed the Black and Gold's running attack (109).
- our thirty-three year losing streak to Missouri is official broken. We're now 1-2 all time versus Mizzou.
- we're on a two game winning streak on the SEC on CBS. Gary and Verne actually had to fill the air saying nice things about us. I am not at liberty to discuss our overall mark <cough, cough, 3-17 cough, cough> on the telecast. Stephen Garcia got our first one (Alabama, 2010), but blew a certain gimme (Auburn, 2011). Connor is 2-0 on CBS as a starter, though (Florida, 2011, Missouri, 2012). If we keep this up, we'll have plenty more chances.
- Adam Yates is a great PAT kicker, and looks like he's found his FG groove. But for the life of me, I don't understand how he's so inconsistent on kickoffs. Fortunately, our coverage teams looked good.
- the OL really seemed to gel after the first quarter.
In the Gamethread, Walknbalk asked who was the game MVP? Good question. Let's consider the candidates after The Jump and then answer the Fan Poll!
Connor Shaw. Fire up the grill and a dozen crow-steaks for me after not only calling for Thompson to start, but thinking that Connor Shaw's injury had relegated him to the second team. Not so fast, my friends. Connor played brilliantly this evening - seeing the field, checking down through his progressions, picking up timely first downs with his feet and using his head by not leading with it. How about these stats? 290 all purpose yards (249 pass, 41 run). Two TD's, No INT's, 20/21 completions, including twenty in a row. Oh yeah - and the 80 yard TD run called back on a highly questionable "clipping" call. Connor was a superb blend of game-manager and play-maker. I'm proud that this young man from "Flowery Branch, Florida" (per Uncle Verne!) is a Gamecock.
Ace Sanders. Oh, baby. The best special teams player on the special team's best day. 106 yards of punt returns on six punts (avg. 17.7) with an unforgettable long of 48 that just missed scoring and really was the dagger in MU's heart. Just one reception (23 yards) but it was a beautiful over-the-shoulder catch for a TD against Mizzou's best CB. Never mind that head-scratcher motion penalty in the third quarter. Ace owned the Place!
Marcus Lattimore. Number 21 had a relatively "quiet" night with 85 yards on the ground (long 21) on 21 carries and a mere two TDs - and, ho hum, in the process breaking the record for most USC rushing touchdowns held forever by George Rogers and Harold Greene (32). Now Marcus holds USC's records for all-purpose TDs (36) and rushing TDs (34) in just 24 games. Oh, did I forget to mention the sixty yards receiving on seven receptions (long 24)? He's likely not going to be talked about much for the Heisman or the Doak - barring some eye-popping numbers in future games - but he is still a difference maker for us. Gary Danielson reported on the air that Marcus told him that he was "not yet vintage Lattimore." Could have fooled me. The HBC is easing Latti back in slowly. But the brace is off and he is getting stronger and stronger each game.
Jadeveon Clowney. Doo-Doo seemed to own his OL counterpart with spin moves and QB hurries. His stat line of 4 tackles (2 solo, 2 assist) and 1 sack, however, just doesn't seem to tell the whole tale, does it? He seems to have come along way since even the Vandy game. Granted, he was blatantly held a lot in the second half, but you don't really expect the refs to call holds against us, do you?
The Whole D Line: This is what ESPN's David Helman said:
The Gamecocks' defensive front manhandled Missouri's offensive line. South Carolina limited Missouri to 109 rushing yards on 34 carries -- the Tigers did not eclipse 100 yards until the game's final minute. The Gamecocks also sacked Missouri quarterback James Franklin three times.
Awesomely awesome. Did I leave miss anybody deserving of a gameball or helmet sticker?
Speaking of clipping, it's generally defined as a block where the initial point of contact is below an opponent's waist from behind. Was that a clip by Matulis? If so, how was it that Matulis was in front of the Missouri defensive lineman? Bad call. I think the ref thought there might have been a chop block, but it was called a clip to save face.