Rapid Fire Picks for October 29th

October 29, 2011

There was an issue with the site that these are normally posted on, so they will be here today.

NFL:

Last Week: 7-6
Overall: 69-33

Titans over Colts
Saints over Rams
Dolphins over Giants
Panthers over Vikings
Ravens over Cardinals
Texans over Jaguars
Bills over Redskins
Lions over Broncos
Patriots over Steelers
49ers over Browns
Seahawks over Bengals
Cowboys over Eagles
Chiefs over Chargers

College Football (Rankings based on BCS Standings):

Last Week: 18-7
Overall: 164-43

#3 Oklahoma State over Baylor
#5 Clemson over Georgia Tech
#6 Stanford over USC
#7 Oregon over Washington State
#9 Oklahoma over #8 Kansas State
#10 Arkansas over Vanderbilt
#14 Nebraska over #11 Michigan State
#12 Virginia Tech over Duke
#13 South Carolina over Tennessee…SC 23-16
#15 Wisconsin over Ohio State
#16 Texas A&M over Missouri
#18 Michigan over Purdue
#19 Penn State over Illinois
#20 Texas Tech over Iowa State
#21 Arizona State over Colorado
Florida over #22 Georgia
#23 Auburn over Ole Miss
#24 Texas over Kansas
#25 West Virginia over Rutgers

ACC:

Florida State over North Carolina State
Maryland over Boston College
Wake Forest over North Carolina

SEC:

Kentucky over Mississippi State

Other Games:

Notre Dame over Navy

Fundraiser:
Remember that WUSC’s fall fundraiser runs through November 3rd. To donate, click on “Support” at the top of the page or call the station at (803) 576-WUSC or online at wusc.sc.edu

Show Correction:
During the show, I kept saying that Texas hasn’t lost back-to-back games since August. That was the Texas Rangers, not the Texas Longhorns football team.

Have a Happy Halloween!!

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Clemson Takes Spotlight from South Carolina

October 26, 2011

If you have not seen the Clemson Tigers this season, here is what you have missed.

They’re good.  They’re really good.  They’re great.

They are also fifth in the most recent BCS Standings and have a legitimate shot of going to a BCS game, if not the National Championship.

Wait, wasn’t this supposed to be the script for the South Carolina Gamecocks?  Wasn’t this supposed to be the Gamecocks’ year?

While the Gamecocks had their run at an undefeated season broken up against Auburn, the Tigers are quietly undefeated and have one of the most explosive offenses in the country.

They now have a Heisman Trophy candidate in Tajh Boyd and the most exciting freshman in the country in Sammy Watkins.

This is from a team that many people thought might make it to a bowl game and end up spending the offseason looking for a new coach.

Now, Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney is known as the guy who gets too excited in post-game interviews.

Instead, the Tigers are suddenly two tough games (Georgia Tech and South Carolina) and a potential ACC Championship game berth away from re-kindling the magic from the 1981 season.

They upset both Virginia Tech and Florida State, and pulled out a miraculous comeback against Maryland to get in this position.

For a team that everybody wrote off earlier in the season, they are for real.

They have enjoyed being outside of the spotlight with all that has gone on at South Carolina, whether it was Stephen Garcia being kicked off the football team or Marcus Lattimore’s season-ending knee injury.

The Tigers might be the best team nobody is talking about.

And for Clemson fans and Clemson haters, they are young and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Author’s Note:  Yes, I know this show and website is from the University of South Carolina.  However, sometimes there are situations where a hated rival has to be given credit where its due.  This column was in no way, shape, or form trying to slight one school or the other, just pointing out a really good team.


Gamecocks’ RB Lattimore Out for Season

October 16, 2011

SC’s star player tears ligaments in left knee in win over Mississippi State

South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier announced in his teleconference on Sunday that sophomore RB Marcus Lattimore is out for the remainder of the season after tearing ligaments and damaging cartilage in his left knee in Saturday’s 14-12 win over Mississippi State.

Lattimore suffered the injury during the fourth quarter drive to win the game.

This is a big loss for the Gamecocks, especially when the offense is in a transitional period as Connor Shaw takes over the reins as starting quarterback.

Brandon Wilds has shown potential as a true freshman in the playing time he has received so far.  He shows the capabilities of being a bruising running back at times.

The wild card will be senior Kenny Miles.  He has played very little this season as he continues to recover from a wrist injury.  He did not travel with the team to Starkville, Mississippi.

Don’t rule out WR Bruce Ellington and Shaw to also figure into the running game for South Carolina.

A position that was thought to be very deep, has suddenly become thin with the injury to Lattimore.  This Gamecocks team is now one that must replace the centerpiece of its offense, as they attempt to defend the SEC Eastern Division title.

It is a perfect time for an off week, to formulate a game plan for the remainder of the season, before traveling to Knoxville to take on the University of Tennessee Volunteers next week.


Spurrier, Garcia Create Crazy Day in Gamecock Country

October 11, 2011

Spurrier criticizes reporter in morning press conference; School Dismisses Stephen Garcia

Whether it was South Carolina Gamecocks Head Coach Steve Spurrier’s rant against a columnist, or the end of the Stephen Garcia era, it has been a crazy day in Columbia, South Carolina.

It is truly a day in the life of the fifteenth-ranked team in the country.

Hardly.

It all started this morning at Spurrier’s weekly press conference.  Before ever sitting down, he explained that The State’s sports columnist Ron Morris is the second journalist he has had to ‘disassociate’ himself from in 26 years of coaching.

The rant comes as Spurrier criticized the truthfulness of a story during the spring about WR Bruce Ellington trying to be a two-sport star, after starting his career with the Gamecocks as a point guard.  Ellington does intend on playing basketball as well this season.

Spurrier was upset of Morris saying that he ‘poached’ Ellington away from the basketball program.

Spurrier has the right to give his opinion on this, and he has a right not to talk to anyone he does not want to.

However, a display in front of all of the reporters, both print and television, is a poor way to solve the matter.  It brings shame on Spurrier and the football program.

Fans also believe that Morris is the one to blame.  The truth is that he comes out the winner.

It is Morris’s job to analyze and critique sports as a columnist.  His job is not to glorify the Gamecocks’ football or any athletic program.  It is to give his opinion on different items, and that includes pointing out the positives and the negatives.

The second news item came early Tuesday afternoon, as Athletics Director Eric Hyman announced the dismissal of fifth-year senior QB Stephen Garcia.

Garcia’s dismissal comes after Connor Shaw threw for four touchdowns in a big win against Kentucky.

The dismissal stems from Garcia’s suspension over the Summer, and according to reports, tested positive for alcohol and marijuana.

Hyman released this statement earlier today: “Being a student-athlete at the University of South Carolina is a privilege, not a right, and we remind all of our student-athletes that there are consequences for their actions.  For Stephen to return to and remain with the football squad this fall, we agreed on several established guidelines.  Unfortunately, he has not been able to abide by those guidelines and has therefore forfeited his position on the roster.  We wish him the best of luck as he moves forward in life.”

The dismissal ends the collegiate career of one of the most controversial players at South Carolina.

Garcia was suspended on five different occasions, most recently during Spring Practice and through the summer.

Garcia finished his career with 7,597 passing yards, only the third quarterback in school history to reach the 7,500 plateau.  He was 20-14 as the school’s quarterback.

There clearly would not be a sixth chance for Garcia.

Just an average day in Columbia, right?


Vintage Spurrier Shines in Gamecocks Beat-down of Kentucky

October 8, 2011

Connor Shaw threw for over 300 yards, and South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier displayed some of his old ‘Fun ‘n Gun’ offense from Florida, as the Gamecocks (5-1 overall, 3-1 in the SEC) defeated the Kentucky Wildcats (2-4, 0-3) 54-3 Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Gamecocks’ running back Marcus Lattimore added 102 yards rushing, and the defense held Kentucky to just 96 yards and six first downs.

“It was a good win for us.  The defense was outstanding.” said Spurrier.  “We had a balanced attack.  We got over 600 yards.  We haven’t done it much.”

The Gamecocks totaled 639 total yards of offense against the Wildcats in Shaw’s first start at quarterback, replacing the ineffective Stephen Garcia.

Shaw also believed his preparation for this game, as opposed to his start against East Carolina, made the difference.

“In Charlotte I don’t think I was as prepared as I was (today).  They let me know early in the week (this time), so I just had a good mindset coming into it,” said Shaw.  “My teammates were really helpful and the o-line came to me and said we have your back.”

While confidence may be on the back of South Carolina, the Wildcats lost any they might have had entering this game.

Kentucky only managed 96 yards of total offense, and turned the ball over six times.

“Ugly is how you can describe it.  Especially offensively, (we) had a chance to make a play early in the first half, wide open guy but threw it inside and [they] made an interception,” said Kentucky Head Coach Joker Phillips.  “[We have] an offense that can’t make plays, can’t stay on the field, an offense that turns the ball over six times, numerous times on first down.”

Wildcats’ quarterbacks Morgan Newton and Maxwell Smith combines to complete only 4 of 26 passes attempted, throwing four interceptions, for only 17 yards.

Phillips said that his team will use the off-week to figure what will work on offense.  They face Jacksonville State on October 22nd.

Meanwhile, the Gamecocks will take its new starting quarterback and much needed confidence to face Mississippi State in Starkville.

However, South Carolina’s Assistant Head Coach Ellis Johnson summarizes what this game, and last week’s loss against Auburn means for this Gamecocks team.

“One game doesn’t make a season, and one season doesn’t make a program,” said Johnson.  “We are going to continue to work and improve.”

Work and improve is definitely something this team will need, as three consecutive road games will define its 2011 season.


Gamecocks Struggle in Loss to Auburn

October 2, 2011

The South Carolina Gamecocks (4-1, 2-1) allowed a late touchdown pass to Philip Lutzenkirchen, giving the Auburn Tigers (4-1, 2-0) a 16-13 win Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Auburn RB Michael Dyer rushed for 141 yards and a touchdown, leading the more effective running game against South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore.  Lattimore rushed for 66 yards and a touchdown.

South Carolina QB Stephen Garcia was 9-for-23, passing for 112 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.  Garcia also rushed for 62 yards.

It continued the downward spiral of a team that could battle anyone offensively the first three weeks of the season.  After struggling to beat Vanderbilt last week, the luck ran out for South Carolina.

“Offensively, we could do nothing.  We were pretty sad, pretty sad the entire game,” said South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier.  “We couldn’t run the ball and we’re not a really good passing team.”

South Carolina held the lead for most of the second half after Lattimore’s 15-yard touchdown run in the middle of the 3rd quarter.

But 92 offensive plays by Auburn eventually wore down a South Carolina defense late in the fourth quarter, leading to the Tigers taking the late lead.

South Carolina next week takes on a Kentucky team that came back late in the fourth quarter and beat them last season.

In practice this week, Spurrier will have to find eleven guys that would like to play offense.  Spurrier, always known for his flashy offense, may only have to look at himself.

After weeks of putting all of the blame on Garcia, it’s time to look at Spurrier’s play-calling.

If Garcia was just a little above average, this would not be a problem.  If Spurrier would utilize his Heisman Trophy candidate running back, this would not be a problem.

Spurrier continues to push a passing game, and it has only led to heartache the last two weeks for fans.

This does not leave Garcia off the hook.  Throwing everything high and his best passes being to the other team is crucial to point out as well.

But even when the defense stuffs a talent like Lattimore, you have to keep going back to it to wear down a defense.

Instead, Spurrier is insistent in trying to have some passing game, working the run off the pass.

However, Spurrier’s best teams in his coaching career have had a solid running game, making the pass work off of the run.

Yet Spurrier’s play-calling eliminates the opportunity for the running game to work, and allow a fifth-year senior continue to look like a freshman.

Are the other quarterbacks just that bad.  What would it hurt to give someone else, Connor Shaw, Andrew Clifford, or even Melvin Ingram (he does everything else; fun to think about, but won’t happen in a million years) a drive?  You can always go back.

But Spurrier continues to run passing plays, putting Garcia in tough situations, that everyone knows he is not capable of executing properly.

Run the ball, and maybe that will open up the pass, even on the tough days.

We will see if the changes Spurrier promised in his post-game news conference, actually come true next Saturday against Kentucky.