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South Carolina Gamecocks vs. North Carolina Tarheels Film Review: Shon Carson TD Run

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

The offensive play of the game for South Carolina was Shon Carson's go-ahead TD run at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

Carolina lines up with two receivers on the weak side, one receiver on the strong side, and one back. Carson takes the handoff on a sweep to the strong side and heads to the house untouched.

Why was this play successful? First of all, it was well blocked. The UNC safety anticipates the play well when he blitzes into Carson's area. However, guard Will Sport pulls to block the safety, while center Alan Knott pulls to block the linebacker. Carson sprints into the hole left by Sport and Knott. At this point, it's up to the cornerback to make the stop. However, the corner takes too long to see what the play is, as Carson is into the second level before the corner stops defending wideout Carlton Heard's route. At this point, Heard finishes the job with a good block, and Carson is quickly into the end zone.

The other reason this play worked well is that it was a change of pace. Carolina spent most of the game running downfield with Brandon Wilds and David Williams. Everette Sands made what turned out to be a wise decision to put a fresh Carson in. Carolina then drew up a sweep play to attack the perimeter. Judging by the UNC corner's misrecognition of the play, that decision took the Heels by surprise. Given the blocking, this play would have gone for a solid gain with Wilds or Williams, but Carson's speed ensures that it results in a TD. The other two probably wouldn't have evaded the linebacker who briefly looks like he might be able to at least disrupt this play.

Wilds and Williams are likely to remain the featured backs for most of the season, but Carson showed with this play that there's a place for him in this offense. Carolina is likely to run the ball a lot this season given the weaknesses in the passing game, and when you're running the ball 50 times per game, it's good to have a third back who can come in fresh when the defense is on its heels late in a game. Carson, who is probably as healthy now as he's ever been, also has an added step of speed that allows Carolina to open the playbook up when he's in the game, as you saw here. He's also demonstrated in the past that he can catch the ball out of the backfield, something Williams struggled with in this game.