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September 4, 2013
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South Carolina signal caller Connor Shaw's skill set doesn't jump out at you on film. He doesn't possess excellent accuracy. He doesn't have the strongest arm. He isn't a big guy. He does, however, know how to make plays. Shaw is one of the toughest quarterbacks in the country and is as accurate as he needs to be almost all of the time. Shaw's mobility is one of his biggest assets and he very much understands how to extend the play and get as much yardage as he needs. Shaw is excellent when working the middle of the field with the pass. He does a great job of stepping up in the pocket and finding holes in the defense. When throwing the outside, he doesn't have the arm strength to stick the ball in tight spaces on the perimeter, but he throws the ball with excellent touch on corner and fade routes. His backup, Dylan Thompson, is also a more than capable passer. Thompson, like Shaw, is great in the middle of the field and throws the ball with touch on deep routes to the outside.
After reviewing the film from the North Carolina game, it is apparent that South Carolina's duo of running backs is going to be more well-known as the season progresses. The best of the two is Peach State native Mike Davis. Davis runs with a tremendous pad level and excellent vision. He explodes out of his cuts and is a multi cut runner who can put his foot in the ground, get up field, and then make a second cut to more daylight. Davis does a great job of keeping his feet moving at contact, and runs with an attitude. Brandon Wilds is a big, physical runner who is hard to knock back. Wilds has the ability to string together a large number of carries without being thrown for a loss because of his running style. He likes to get north and south as quickly as possible, and, like Davis, his legs area always churning. He isn't the kind of back that is going to make multiple cuts and beat you with the big play consistently, but he can explode through a seam and beat arm tackles for a big gain. Both are above average pass catchers as well.
Steve Spurrier is starting to assemble a group of receivers that is similar to the speedy, play making groups he had at Florida. The Gamecocks have a trio of receivers that are under 5-foot-10 but all three have shown the ability to make the big play. Bruce Ellington is a big time playmaker both in the perimeter screen game and down the field. Damiere Byrd is one of the quickest and most explosive athletes in the SEC. Nick Jones is a guy Gamecock Nation is hoping will break out and do so soon. He has shown flashes, and it looks as if 2013 is a year where he will get more opportunities. South Carolina's biggest receiver is sophomore Shaq Roland. Roland almost equaled his receiving totals from 2012 in game one of 2013 against North Carolina, and showed that he has the potential to be a deep threat going forward. Junior tight end Rory "Busta" Anderson missed South Carolina's opener on Thursday, but is expected to play on Saturday. Anderson caught five touchdowns a year ago and proved to be a major weapon for Shaw and Thompson. If he is unable to go, Jerell Adams will likely get most of the snaps. Adams isn't as strong of a blocker as Anderson but he is a great athlete that can make plays in the passing game.
This group is huge. The Gamecock offensive line averages 322.4 pounds per man, and they move well. The tackles, Corey Robinson and Brandon Shell, are the biggest of the bunch. Robinson is a good but not great athlete that possesses tremendous length and does a great job lengthening the edge to protect in the passing. Shell is slightly less athletic than Robinson, but also uses his length well. Both are very good at the point of attack in South Carolina's zone scheme. The guards, A.J. Cann and Ronald Patrick, are both strong at the point of attack as well. Both do a good job of getting up to the second level but they have had trouble with quick interior lineman that work up field. The center for the Gamecocks is Cody Waldrop and he is a freshman. Saturday will be his first road test so it will be interesting to see how he handles that. He had no issues last week against North Carolina.
? 1st Down - South Carolina is a run heavy team on first down as the Ole Ball Coach turns to the run just under 71% of the time.
? 2nd Down and long (7 or more yards) - This is a more balanced down that many would expect with the Gamecocks going to the air 52% of the time
? Second down and medium (4 to 6 yards) - Second and medium is another run heavy down and distance for South Carolina (58%).
? Second down and short (less than 4 yards) - The Gamecocks like to take shots down the field on second and short but Spurrier and Company still turn to the ground game more often than not (61%).
? Third down and long - South Carolina goes to the air 77% on third and long.
? Third down and medium - The Gamecocks also tend to put the ball in the air on this down and distance (64%).
? Third down and short - South Carolina keeps it on the grown most of the time on third and short (81%).