Sep 14, 2013; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks linebacker Marcquis Roberts (21) and teammates prepare to rush onto the field before their game against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Midseason Report Card – South Carolina Gamecocks


South Carolina Gamecocks

QB: A

Connor Shaw ranks among the most underrated quarterbacks in the nation. The senior has thrown 10 TDs and no INTs through the first half of the season. He has also rushed for 319 yards and 2 TDs. Shaw doesn’t post the same huge numbers as some in the league, but his efficiency and effectiveness can’t be questioned – especially without an elite option in the passing game.

Rest of offense: A-

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier’s offense boasts a physical presence with a tough offensive line. RB Mike Davis is the SEC’s breakout star so far. He leads the conference with 742 rushing yards and 9 TDs. WR Bruce Ellington is the best of the Gamecocks receivers and provides a reliable presence for Shaw. South Carolina has scored 27 points or more in every game so far this season.

Defense: C

Perhaps the Gamecocks solved their defensive struggles this week during their 52-7 road win over Arkansas. It’s about time they started to more closely resemble last year’s unit anyway. South Carolina has allowed 25 points or more in four of its six games. Superstar DE Jadeveon Clowney has been invisible for virtually the entire season. When the defense needed a stop most, against Georgia, the Bulldogs physically dominated South Carolina to run out the clock. Still, the Gamecocks rank third in the conference in total defense after playing two of the worst offenses in the league.

Overall: B

As is the case with Georgia, Florida and Missouri, South Carolina finds itself in great position to contend for the SEC East title. The Gamecocks are the healthiest of the remaining contenders. They don’t own the tie-breaker over Georgia, but still can over the Tigers and Gators.

Offensive Spotlight: WR Shaq Roland

So far, the highlight of Roland’s season came on the first drive of the season when he ran under a Shaw pass for a 65-yard touchdown. The sophomore has just seven catches for 96 yards since that play and was suspended the last three games for a violation of team rules. Now Roland returns to the lineup and could give the Gamecocks another dynamic option.

Defensive Spotlight: DE Jadeveon Clowney

We’re all still waiting and wondering if we’re going to see the dominant figure Clowney was over his first two seasons at South Carolina. It’s no secret he has fallen short of those expectations through the first half of what will almost certainly be his final year on campus. Clowney is the most dominant defensive player in the nation when right and properly motivated. Will he ever look like that player this season?

Tags: Featured Popular SEC South Carolina Gamecocks

  • Gamecock Fan

    I’m continually boggled by people claiming Clowney hasn’t played well this season. Clowney’s impact, indeed the impact of any single DE in the game, cannot be measured in stats. Disruption is production for a DE, and Clowney has been incredibly disruptive to opposing offenses in every game he’s played. The only reason his stats, and indeed the stats of the whole defense, are down is that the 10 guys around him this year aren’t as experienced, cohesive, or efficient as the 10 guys around him last year. I hope, as that unit gains experience and starts to trust each other and their own assignments, that teams will have less success running away from Clowney and he will start to show his presence in the stat sheet. But, even if he doesn’t, that won’t mean he’s playing poorly or having a bad year.

    • Luke Brietzke

      Hey, few have defended Clowney as much as I have this season. Check the bylines through the first half of the season. Truth is, at some point stats are stats. The preseason undisputed most dominant figure in college football shouldn’t average barely more than 2 tackles per game. I have devoted entire posts to the idea that teams are running away from Clowney — just as much the fault of Lorenzo Ward as anyone as far as I am concerned. But at some point, playmakers have to make plays.

      Clowney can absolutely turn things around and enjoy a fantastic second half. He simply underachieved as part of an underachieving defense for the first half.

      South Carolina has a great chance to win the SEC East. If it does, Clowney will be a big reason why. The Gamecocks need him to be.

      • Gamecock Fan

        You make some good points. I agree with nearly everything you say in your evaluation of SC. And perhaps Clowney’s season has been a bit disappointing to this point is some aspects, but statistics don’t define a DE and I still say calling him ‘invisible’ is an unfair evaluation.

        It’s not just teams running away from him or chipping him, either, he actually has been very productive, and here’s a stat to back it up. Prior to the Arkansas game, the four QBs Clowney had faced were taking an average of 2.63 seconds to throw the ball when Clowney was not on the field. When he was on the field, that average dropped to 2.15 seconds. That’s almost 20% less time for opposing QBs to scan the field, for SC’s DBs to guard receivers, and for Clowney to record a sack. Maybe one reason his sack stats are down, and I’ll admit he did leave a few on the field at UCF, is that he gets much less time than other DEs. I don’t know, but I imagine if you checked the time-to-sack for the nations sack leaers, the subtracted for sacks which weren’t recorded within 2.15 seconds, their numbers would probably start to look more like Clowney’s this year.

        Since I didn’t say it initially, I did enjoy this post and thank you for the discussion.

        • Luke Brietzke

          First of all, thank you for all the kind words. You are a loyal poster and I greatly appreciate that.

          I actually went to say “I fully stand by my comments” yesterday and then read the “invisible for virtually the entire season” line and… well, I didn’t write that I fully stand by my comments. That was an unfair accusation, though he has been invisible for PART of the season.

          You’re right about the stats of QBs getting rid of the ball, which, to me, shows how horrible of a job Lorenzo Ward has done this season. Play tighter coverage… right? Oh well, I suppose.

          • Gamecock Fan

            I’d say that’s a fair analysis. I think there were moments when Clowney was frustrated by the success other teams were having at scheming around him and that probably affected his play at times. It’s certainly been an enigmatic season.

            And, thank you for your thoughtful analysis of the Gamecocks. I’ve been a fan my whole life and have been going to games since ’81, not that I can remember them since I was 3 at the time, but I was there. I grew up in Williams Brice and will bleed Garnet and Black till the day I die. And, sorry if my initial post was a little harsh, I had just defended Clowney on another (not to be mentioned, but rhymes with Schmee Thespian) site, so I was probably overzealous.

            I couldn’t agree more about the DBs playing soft. During the UGA game, my father and I kept asking each other what Ward was doing. I can’t remember a time SC played 10 + yards deep for that many plays in a game. And, against a QB like Murray, that’s just asking to be picked apart.

            It’ll be interesting to see if SC can build off of their success. Tennessee has a great O-Line and Neyland is always scary. I think some SC fans forget it took Clowney recording the first sack given up by that O-Line all year last year and a forced fumble to seal that game and stop UT’s potential game winning drive. If they do have another good game, that could be huge for the confidence of those young defenders.