Spurrier finds different way to win with Gamecocks

Forget the ”Fun-n-Gun.” Steve Spurrier’s learned to love South

Carolina’s ”Ground-and-Pound” offense.

The Gamecocks head ball coach won a national championship and

changed the way the game was played at Florida with his complex

schemes that always seemed to spring speedy receivers open for long

gains, just the way the former Heisman Trophy winner wanted it.

These days, Spurrier’s more likely to dial up run after run

after run and let his standout defense keep South Carolina’s

opponents bottled up. The formula’s led to a landmark, 10-win

season with a chance for even more historic achievements before the

season’s done.

South Carolina ran for 210 yards, the same amount it passed for,

in a 34-13 victory over Clemson. The win gave South Carolina its

second 10-win season in 118 years of football and was the third

straight over the rival Tigers, something it last accomplished from

1968-70.

All of it brought a smile to the pass-happy coach, who’s just as

giddy about his Gamecocks current method of success.

”The results are good,” Spurrier said. ”We have a good

defense. Certainly running more than throwing is what you should

do. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

The Gamecocks have rushed for 200 yards or more in their past

four victories, content to control the game on the ground and let

the defense keep the score low. South Carolina has given up only 48

points in those four wins.

On Saturday, the Gamecocks choked off one of the country’s most

prolific attacks and the Atlantic Coast Conference passing leader

in quarterback Tajh Boyd.

Clemson was held to season lows with 153 yards of offense while

Boyd was sacked five times and was 11 of 29 passing for 83 yards.

Star freshman wide receiver Sammy Watkins had 39 yards on four

mostly meaningless receptions.

”It was very good to see our guys have another excellent

defensive game,” Spurrier said.

It’s been a benchmark for this team all year. The Gamecocks were

fifth in the country coming in and did nothing to hurt that

standing against the Tigers (9-3). They limited Kentucky to 96

yards and Vanderbilt to 77 earlier this season. Clemson, though,

figured to be a much tougher test after opening 8-0 with an offense

that averaged close to 500 yards and more than 40 points a

game.

In this one, the Tigers struggled for every yard they got as

Boyd was chased all over the field by the Gamecocks. ”I’m really

proud,” said Ellis Johnson, South Carolina’s assistant in charge

of defense. ”I think it was obvious they played with great

effort.”

South Carolina’s offense and young quarterback Connor Shaw

helped take care of the rest. Shaw passed for three touchdowns and

ran for another in the victory. He accounted for 210 yards through

the air and a team-high 107 yards on the ground as he gave the

Tigers fits in South Carolina’s zone-read scheme.

The Gamecocks also got a strong contribution from backup

tailback Kenny Miles, the team’s rushing leader in 2009 who’s been

largely forgotten about with the rise of star Marcus Lattimore.

Lattimore was lost for the season to injury in mid-October, yet

South Carolina has pieced together a more than passable lineup of

runners who keep the chains moving. Freshman Brandon Wilds had run

for 100 yards or more in three of his previous four starts since

Lattimore’s injury. Against Clemson, Miles picked up the ball for

71 yards to keep the Tigers off stride.

”I think our offense has done an absolutely fantastic job,

especially the running game, in making first downs,” Johnson said.

”That frustrates a high-tempo team because they can’t get enough

snaps.”

Color Clemson frustrated and desperate, particularly with the

Atlantic Coast Conference championship game a week away. The Tigers

have lost three of their past four games and two in row since

clinching the ACC’s Atlantic Division two weeks ago against Wake

Forest on a last-second field goal.

Clemson faces Virginia Tech at Bank of America Stadium in

Charlotte, N.C., next Saturday night. The Tigers won their October

matchup with the Hokies, 23-3, a contest that seems like a lifetime

ago.

Virginia Tech hasn’t lost since while the Tigers have dropped

three of four.

”As bad as we have played the last few weeks, I am proud of our

team for earning the opportunity to play for our league’s

championship and if we have a chance to win this league than we can

go to the Orange Bowl,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said.

Spurrier and the Gamecocks, who missed out on the Southeastern

Conference championship game, will wait for a bowl trip and the

chance for an 11th victory, something they’ve never done in program

history. Count on the Gamecocks to use the same, deliberate

approach, no matter their coach’s reputation for airing it out.

”There’s nothing wrong with the way we’re playing,” Spurrier

said. ”What we’ve been doing is best for our team.”