South Carolina Football: Top 5 Individual Performances of 2011

Adam GarrettAnalyst IJanuary 24, 2012

South Carolina Football: Top 5 Individual Performances of 2011

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    There are certain individual performances that fans will always remember.

    2011 was one of those years where there were several impressive individual performances for the Gamecocks. South Carolina had high hopes heading into the 2011 season and it turned out to be their greatest season yet.

    Star power is rampant on the Gamecock football team and it's a big reason why they finished in the Top 10 in the final college football rankings.

    Let's take a look at some of those top performances from the 2011 season in no particular order...

No. 1: Marcus Lattimore Against Georgia

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    Marcus Lattimore has turned the Georgia Bulldogs defense into his own personal punching bag his first two seasons as a Gamecock.

    Lattimore came up big yet again for the Gamecocks as he rushed the ball 27 times fro 176 yards and one touchdown.

    The Gamecock running attack was stuffed early on against the Bulldogs, but there was no way they would keep Lattimore in check. The star sophomore tailback would eventually tally 94 rushing yards in the fourth quarter alone and his three-yard touchdown helped put the Gamecocks up for good.

    A lot of hopes were placed on the shoulders of Marcus Lattimore when he stepped onto campus and he's certainly lived up to his potential.

    His performance against Georgia this year just adds to the growing legend of Marcus Lattimore.

No. 2: Alshon Jeffery Against Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl

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    Alshon Jeffery made big plays for the Gamecocks time and time again.

    His last catch as a Gamecock will go down in the history books.

    Jeffery was able to snag the Hail Mary pass from quarterback Connor Shaw by out-jumping several Nebraska defenders, turn towards the end zone and make a diving attempt at crossing the goal line.The 51-yard touchdown catch put the Gamecocks ahead at halftime and helped jump start a great victory over a tough Nebraska football team.

    Alshon Jeffery's totals for the day were four catches for 148 yards and one touchdown. This was by far his most impressive performance of the 2011 season.

    The performance of Jeffery in the first half of the Capital One Bowl kept the Gamecocks in the game and will go down as one of his most impressive performances in a Gamecock uniform.

No. 3: Connor Shaw Against Clemson

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    Connor Shaw saved one of his best performances of the season for South Carolina's hated rival.

    Shaw threw for 210 yards and three touchdowns on 14-of-20 passing with no interceptions while rushing for a career high 107 yards on 19 carries with one touchdown.

    I'm not sure we've seen a more solid, overall performance from a Gamecock quarterback like that in a long time and it was one of the best individual performances of the 2011 season.

    This young quarterback grew over the season and really impressed each time he stepped out on the field. The quarterback position has had its ups and downs over the years but it appears to finally have a settling presence.

    Coach Spurrier has to be pleased and Connor Shaw can only get better from here.

No. 4: Melvin Ingram Against Georgia

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    Melvin Ingram only had one total tackle against the Georgia Bulldogs but his performance in other areas really solidified him as one of the SEC's best defensive players.

    Ingram was able to score two touchdowns with one coming on defense and the other on special teams. Both plays changed the momentum of the game especially his special teams score.

    The special teams touchdown seemingly came out of nowhere when Ingram took the direct snap on a fake punt and raced 68 yards for the touchdown. Ingram looked like a running back on this play as he showcased some speed that's not seen very often from a guy who's 6'2" and weighs 276 pounds.

    Ingram's defensive touchdown came on a fumble recovery of five yards from Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray who fumbled the ball after being thrown around by USC's Jadeveon Clowney.

    This play happened mere seconds after USC took a three-point lead late in the fourth quarter and gave the Gamecocks enough of a lead to withhold the Georgia comeback and beat the Bulldogs for the second straight year.

    Melvin Ingram went on to have a stellar year and became an All-American. I'd say his performance against Georgia was the one that jump-started his great year.

No. 5: Marcus Lattimore Against Navy

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    No one should be surprised to see Marcus Lattimore's name on this list twice.

    The Gamecocks needed a strong performance from Lattimore against Navy to escape what would turn out to be one of the Gamecocks' toughest games of the year.

    Navy threw a lot at the Gamecocks with the triple-option but South Carolina had its own running weapon in Lattimore and he put up some big numbers.

    His 246 yards on 37 carries with three touchdowns was what the Gamecocks needed to just get by the Navy Midshipmen. This performance by Lattimore would be the fourth-highest rushing total in the history of Gamecock football. This ended up being Lattimore's career high in rushing and the three touchdowns tied a career-high as well.

    Marcus Lattimore's season ended up being cut short due to injury but his impact was felt early and often for South Carolina and this performance against Navy was one of his most impressive yet to date.

Other Notable Performances

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    There were a few other performances that needed to be mentioned from the 2011 season.

    Here are some of those:

    Defense against Vanderbilt—It was an overall defensive performance against Vanderbilt as the Gamecocks shut down the Commodores to 77 total yards of offense in a 21-3 victory. It was one of the more impressive defensive performances of the season.

    Connor Shaw against Kentucky—Shaw's first "real" start at quarterback for the Gamecocks was impressive. He threw for 311 yards on 26-of-39 passing with four touchdowns and no interceptions. He also added 42 rushing yards as well.

    Defense against Kentucky—The defense's performance against Kentucky was similar to what they did against Vanderbilt. South Carolina held Kentucky to 96 total yards and it was another dominating performance from the South Carolina defense.

    Antonio Allen against East Carolina—Allen put his name on the map in the East Carolina game with 16 total tackles, two forced fumbles and one fumble returned for a touchdown.

    Defense against Tennessee—Knoxville may not be the same team as it used to be but the Gamecocks performance at Neyland Stadium was one of their best of the season. South Carolina held Tennessee to 186 total yards of offense and forced two turnovers in the red zone as well.

    Brandon Wilds against Tennessee—The true freshman had a tough task replacing Marcus Lattimore in the lineup but Wilds was up to the challenge. He rushed for 137 yards on 28 carries and become a force for the Gamecocks over the next few games.

    Connor Shaw against The Citadel—Shaw rushed 90 yards and one touchdowns and threw for 217 yards and three touchdowns as USC pulled away to beat The Citadel, 41-20.

    South Carolina had some great individual performances this year, but you win or lose as team and plenty of times this year had the Gamecocks coming together as a team.

    2011 was a great season and one that will be remembered for many years to come.

    These performances are just a few of the reasons why South Carolina was successful and why they have a great chance of repeating that success in 2012.