Gamecocks at the NFL Combine

February 26, 2013

Below are a summary of the South Carolina Gamecocks that participated at the 2013 NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

PLAYER

40-YARD DASH

BENCH PRESS

VERTICAL JUMP

BROAD JUMP

3-CONE DRILL

20-YARD SHUTTLE

60-YARD SHUTTLE

TE-Justice Cunningham

4.94

DNP

31.5

116.0

7.12

4.45

11.88

RB-Marcus Lattimore

DNP

LB-DeVonte Holloman

4.76

15

33.0

113.0

7.30

4.26

DNP

OL-T.J. Johnson

5.33

32

25.5

96.0

7.83

4.74

DNP

WR-Ace Sanders

4.58

7

32.0

117.0

6.81

4.37

11.29

S-D.J. Swearinger

4.67

17

37.0

124.0

DNP

DNP

DNP

DL-Devin Taylor

4.72

14

35.0

128.0

DNP

DNP

DNP

Source:  NFL.com

For all of the players, there is room for improvement at the Gamecocks’ Pro Day and the players’ individual workouts.  There were good performances in some drills, but no player had an overall impressive workout.

Each player could use to decrease their 40-yard dash time.  Of all the players, Ace Sanders’ 40-yard dash time is the most disappointing.

Devin Taylor impressed scouts and coaches at the NFL Combine with his athleticism, but it would help his draft status if he can show a little more strength.

Justice Cunningham’s numbers were also good, but he will definitely need to show that he can do all the things a tight end does.

T.J. Johnson will only help himself if he can prove he is versatile enough to play all the positions on the offensive line.  It also helps that he played center.

DeVonte Holloman is an intriguing prospect, as he enters the draft as a linebacker.  He played some safety and the SPUR position for the Gamecocks, which brought Holloman more into a linebacker’s position in a traditional defense.

D.J. Swearinger has the tools, but his numbers were so-so, and he will need to prove that some of his antics this past season are a thing of the past.  An NFL coach will only give you so many chances.

Players also have to go through the interview process with teams.  For some, it’s a good thing those aren’t publicized.  For others, it puts the foot in the door to get a shot at the NFL.

Unless someone has a spectacular workout before the draft, don’t expect any Gamecocks’ players to be taken in the first round of the NFL Draft.  The two main candidates to be taken first of the Gamecocks will be either Taylor or Marcus Lattimore, likely on day two (second and third rounds), or early on day three.

An updated NFL mock draft will be coming soon, now that the 2013 NFL Combine is complete.

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Outback Bowl Pick: Gamecocks Just a Little Better

December 31, 2012

The 2013 Outback Bowl should be a great match-up between the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Michigan Wolverines.  Both teams have a lot of similarities, but one is just a little better.

Michigan had a tough season at times.  The Wolverines did have to face both teams who are playing in the National Championship, plus an undefeated Ohio State team.

For the Wolverines, it was supposed to be a dual threat attack with the running ability of QB Denard Robinson and RB Fitzgerald Toussaint.

Toussaint suffered a gruesome ankle injury late in the year, while Robinson developed a nerve injury in his throwing arm, that has relegated him to an all-purpose player, lining up at both quarterback and running back at times.  Devin Gardner is the quarterback for Michigan.

Michigan also has a top-20 defense in terms of points against, ranking 16th in the country.

Meanwhile, for the Gamecocks, this was supposed to be the season that everything was put together, making a run for an SEC Championship.

After being on top of the world with a statement win against then 5th-ranked Georgia, South Carolina lost a tough one on the road against LSU, before having their fate sealed with an embarrassing loss against Florida.

However, for a team that does not have a long history of winning football, a 10-win season still is not too shabby.

The Gamecocks’ offense has had moments of greatness, followed by moments of inconsistent play.  A late season injury to RB Marcus Lattimore also hurt the offense.

This was supposed to be the year that the quarterback position would be stable for South Carolina.  Injuries to starter Connor Shaw opened the door for Dylan Thompson to see some action.  Thompson helped to lead the Gamecocks to two wins, including rival Clemson the last week of the season.

Shaw is the runner with passing ability.  Thompson is the passer, with running ability.

The key to the Gamecocks’ offense is going to be the running game.  South Carolina has to be able to run the ball against Michigan, to take the pressure off the quarterbacks, to give them an opportunity to win.  Senior RB Kenny Miles has a knack for coming up big in significant games.

Defensively, the Gamecocks must force the Wolverines to pass.  Michigan offers a lot of options running the ball, with the versatility of Robinson.  It will be important for the Gamecocks’ front-7, which includes All-American DE Jadeveon Clowney, not to over-pursue the run, and get pressure on the quarterback with the pass.

Despite some good plays, the Gamecocks’ defensive backs are not good enough one-on-one in coverage, without getting pressure on the quarterback to force bad throws.  South Carolina’s defense thrives on that pressure.

At the end of the day, while these two teams match-up well, the Gamecocks are just a little more battle tested, especially this year.

In 2012, the Big Ten Conference’s competition just did not seem up-to-par, as seen when a 7-5 Wisconsin team, only in the championship game because of penalties to Ohio State and Penn State, demolished the conference’s best team, Nebraska.

The SEC was as strong as ever in 2012, with two teams ranked in the top-3 to end the season.  While the strength of this conference is still in the Western Division, there are about 10-12 teams in this conference that could compete with anyone in the country.

Like last year’s Capital One Bowl, it is close for three quarters, but the power of the SEC pulls away late.

Gamecocks 34, Wolverines 24


Defense is Key to South Carolina vs. Clemson Winner

November 21, 2012

As crazy as it might sound, the key to Saturday night’s game between the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Clemson Tigers, is defense.

However, when you take a second to think about it, it’s not as out there as you think.

The Gamecocks defense has been one of the top in the country in 2012, but has struggled against the option and pass heavy teams.

Of course, Clemson does not run the option, but QB Tajh Boyd has been putting up spectacular numbers the last few weeks.  Add on the running of RB Andre Ellington and the big play abilities of WR Sammy Watkins and WR DeAndre Hopkins, the Clemson offense can be almost impossible to stop.

The key to South Carolina’s defensive success will be getting pressure on Boyd.  If Gamecocks’ Defensive Coordinator Lorenzo Ward cannot get pressure on the Tigers’ quarterback, it will expose the defense’s biggest weakness, the mediocre cornerbacks.

D.J. Swearinger has been all over the field, legally and illegally (quite regularly) tackling the ball-carrier and making big defensive plays in the secondary.  But Clemson has as many weapons offensively as anyone the Gamecocks have faced this season.

The health of Jadeveon Clowney is crucial.  Clowney sat out last week’s game against Wofford to rest his foot and knee injuries.  If he does not play, the Gamecocks will not be able to get the consistent pressure on Boyd to slow down Clemson’s offense.

Clemson’s defense is a little surprising, and it might not be as bad as people say it is.

Take a look at these numbers–19, 27, 7, 49 (loss), 31, 31, 17, 13, 20, 10, 48–that’s how many points the Tigers have given up in each game this season.

While there are a couple of numbers that stick out, there have been several good defensive performances this season.

Clearly, Clemson’s best defense, is its offense.  But the Tigers’ defense will have it a lot easier if Gamecocks’ QB Connor Shaw does not play.  Since the injury to RB Marcus Lattimore, the offense’s success solely rests on Shaw’s ability to make plays.

Shaw is the key to the Gamecocks offense, and his back-up, QB Dylan Thompson has not shown he can beat a top-ranked college program.

For South Carolina to win this game, they will need both Shaw and Clowney available to play, and hold Clemson to fewer than 40 points.  If not, the Gamecocks’ offense will not be able to keep up.

So, it’s simple, defense is the key to determining who wins this game.


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.


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.