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
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
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
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
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
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
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.”