South Carolina Football: Updating the Storylines to Watch After the Vandy Win
What a crazy Week 1 game. You'd think South Carolina lost the game based on the fan reaction. Anyway, we did learn a few things from the event. The storylines have gotten juicy.
I'll open each slide with a quote from the first article.
A user named "Boomer S" will be credited with the new additional storyline to follow. He asked a question that I feel is especially important right now.
As always, if you have a question you'd like to see followed, leave it in a comment below. I'll pick one a week to add to the list.
Wide Receiver Production
My first story to follow happened to be about the Gamecocks wide receivers. I asked:
"South Carolina has a roster full of talented wide receivers and no true No. 1. How the guys shake out and produce will be one of the most intriguing things to watch during the course of the year. Will it be Ace Sanders who breaks out? A freshman? An unknown? A tight end?"
Week 1 Receiving Stats
- Marcus Lattimore: three receptions, 21 yards
- Justice Cunningham: one reception, 20 yards
- Ace Sanders: two receptions, 13 yards
- Damiere Byrd: one reception, 13 yards
Yuck. The leading receiver was a running back, and none of the receivers looked like they could get separation. Things need to get better, fast.
Marcus Lattimore's Heisman Quest
"Marcus Lattimore has a great shot of winning the Heisman if he stays upright. It's been well documented that he's a power back that has speed and agility. He is also a high-character guy and should be the leader of a great team."
Marcus Lattimore's Stats
23 carries, 110 yards, two touchdowns, three receptions for 21 yards
While Lattimore had a nice game, he fell behind in the Heisman race. He did play against a legit team in Week 1, but he went from a top-10 candidate to an outsider after one week. We will see how he does from here.
Jadeveon Clowney's Hyped-Up Sophomore Season
"Jadeveon Clowney is the world's most freakish defensive end. He's stunningly fast and capable of destroying entire plays by himself.
Many people have him listed as an All-American, All-SEC, All-whatever player in only his second season. Can this season live up to the hype?"
Jadeveon Clowney's Stats
Four tackles, one sack
Individually, Clowney was good, not great. He played high at times, but he was also triple-teamed. There were plays where a tackle, pulling guard and running back were pushing at him, and he was still coming.
He was a big reason why the rest of the team had such success with pressure.
The Corner's Development
"South Carolina has had injuries, transfers and early NFL draftees at this position, so it's really thin. Can the youth movement produce and play well? They are athletic enough, but can they understand schemes and coverages?"
- Jordan Rodgers: 13-of-23, 214 yards, one touchdown, one interception
- Passing Defense Rank: 49th
They played well enough, and they will only get better. I feel like I hit the nail on the head. They are athletic, but they need to learn when to wrap up, go for a pick or de-cleat the receiver.
The big gains were when South Carolina's corners went for a big hit or pick, only to whiff and allow them to spring free.
Victor Hampton's Role as SC's New Big-Time Corner
"Victor Hampton steps into the role of main coverage guy and has the potential to be another high draft pick from that position. He's had character issues in the past, but can he stay on the field? How will he perform in his sophomore year?"
Statistics vs. Vanderbilt
Two assisted tackles
Hampton was disappointing. He didn't play well. He was burned a few times, and he didn't produce any pass deflections or tackles. Jimmy Legree outplayed him by a mile.
The Injury Bug
"I am not sure why, but the injury bug has hit the team hard already. They need to stay on the field in order to reach (voice becomes deep, bassy and awesome as thunder strikes in the background) maximum potential."
Notable New Injuries
This could be season-altering. If he can't be healthy, the Gamecocks have very little hope. Dylan Thompson looked horrible.
Connor Shaw's Second Year as Starting Quarterback
"Connor Shaw came alive in the second half of the season, becoming a monstrous player for the Gamecocks. A true dual-threat who could destroy you with his legs, arms and brains.
Steve Spurrier loves the guy, and he will be the No. 1 from beginning to end of the season (as long as he doesn't get killed running the ball)."
Connor Shaw's Stats
7/11, 67 yards, one interception, 97 yards rushing
Boy, I hate being prophetic. Connor Shaw played OK up until his injury. After, he still ran with purpose. The passing game wasn't a factor due to his injury, but even then he made some clutch throws.
The Gamecocks need him back to 100 percent.
The Kicking Game
"There are, like, nine hundred kickers on the Gamecocks roster. Who does what? How well will they perform?"
- Adam Yates: 1-for-1 on field goals, 2-for-2 on extra points
- Tyler Hull: Six punts, 39-yard average
- Landon Ard: Four kickoffs, one touchback
Adam Yates, I have no complaints. He did everything he was supposed to do.
Tyler Hull punted terribly for most of the night, allowing Vanderbilt to get good field position. Landon Ard failed to impress. With the new kickoff rules, you are supposed to get touchbacks. Vanderbilt did. The Gamecocks went 1-of-4. It may be time to see what Nick St. Germain can do.
The Return Game
"Bruce Ellington, Damiere Byrd and Shaq Roland all seem to be great return men, and Ace Sanders is a solid (not spectacular) punt returner. It would be nice to see the special teams make some plays in that area."
The Return Game at Vandy
- No kickoff returns
- Ace Sanders: Three punt returns for three yards
Not a whole lot to go by here. Vanderbilt's kicker was hitting touchbacks all night, and the Commodores punter didn't give Ace any room.
"Beyond Jadeveon Clowney, the Gamecocks have some other sack masters. Devin Taylor should be a top defensive end drafted this year. He could be a first-round pick. He's massive and fast. Then there is Kelcy Quarles, the athletic defensive tackle."
Sacks at Vandy
Kelcy Quarles, Aldrick Fordham, Jadeveon Clowney, Chaz Sutton and Brison Williams all had one sack, for a total of five.
The Gamecocks didn't disappoint here. The pressure was intense. These guys are going to have a great season.
The Backup Quarterbacks
"I agree with your storylines, but after last night's performance, I think we have to ask the questions about QB development. Shaw got hurt early, so it was hard to get a true feel for him, but his legs seem to work fine. My questions would be, are the backups ready?"—Username "Boomer S"
- Seth Strickland: 0-of-1
- Dylan Thompson: 0-of-3, two sacks
So, so bad. Seth Strickland really didn't get much play, so I will give him a pass. But Dylan Thompson has no excuse for the wretched performance he put on in Shaw's absence.
It's looking like one of these guys may get the go against East Carolina. If they don't act like they've played the sport before, the season will be derailed early.
It isn't looking good. Maybe it's Brendan Nosovitch time?