South Carolina vs. Arkansas: 10 Things We Learned from the Gamecocks' Win

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistOctober 12, 2013

South Carolina vs. Arkansas: 10 Things We Learned from the Gamecocks' Win

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    Bruce Ellington caught two touchdowns, but he wasn't even South Carolina's best player.
    Bruce Ellington caught two touchdowns, but he wasn't even South Carolina's best player.Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

    Despite the "controversy" surrounding Jadeveon Clowney, No. 14 South Carolina absolutely dismantled Arkansas by a final score of 52-7.

    Behind a superb offensive attack and lock-tight defense, the Gamecocks controlled the ball for a ridiculous 43 minutes and 25 seconds.

    Senior quarterback Connor Shaw led South Carolina to 38 consecutive points and accounted for four touchdowns. Sophomore running back Mike Davis added 128 yards and a score on the ground.

    And during an absolute beatdown like this, the Gamecocks were definitely teaching college football nation more than a few lessons.

Connor Shaw Was on a Mission

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    A few SEC buffs around the nation chose Arkansas to upset South Carolina.

    Long story short, Connor Shaw refused to let that happen.

    Shaw threw for 219 yards and three scores while gaining 37 rushing yards and a touchdown, leading six scoring drives and tallying 38 consecutive points.

    He may be a better quarterback at home (13-0 career), but Shaw dominated this road game.

Mike Davis Continues to Be a Force

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    Mike Davis dodged tackles and carried defenders throughout the day. He rambled for 128 yards and added a touchdown—his ninth score of the year.

    Davis matched his season average of 6.7 yards per carry, and nine of his 19 carries resulted in a first down or a touchdown.

    With 742 yards on the ground, Davis now leads the SEC in rushing.

Bruce Ellington Returned to Form

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    Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

    After two solid games against Vanderbilt and Central Florida, Bruce Ellington disappeared vs. Kentucky, hauling in a single pass for seven yards.

    But on Saturday, Ellington caught six passes for 96 yards and two scores, including a 53-yard catch to move South Carolina near the red zone.

    The junior receiver has now made 21 receptions for 332 yards during 2013.

Damiere Byrd Redeemed Himself

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    Damiere Byrd had a touchdown in his hands, but Arkansas defensive back Tevin Mitchel knocked the ball out of Byrd's grasp.

    Three plays later, Byrd was in the end zone, but he couldn't get a foot down.

    But on the opening possession of the second half, the junior receiver hauled in a 45-yard touchdown to extend the Gamecocks' lead to 24 points which effectively sealed the game.

    Byrd finished the day with two catches for 57 yards and a score.

The Offensive Line Was Fantastic

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    South Carolina racked up 537 yards of total offense, and the Gamecocks offensive line was the main reason why.

    Well-protected throughout the game, Shaw, Dylan Thompson and Pharoh Cooper combined to complete 24-of-35 passes for 260 yards and four touchdowns.

    Then, with open running lanes, South Carolina's running backs carried the ball 54 times for 277 yards (5.7 yards per attempt) and scored three touchdowns. Plus, as mentioned earlier, the Gamecocks possessed the ball for more than 43 minutes.

    The lone setback was guard Ronald Patrick limping off the field, but Josh Kendall of The State notes Steve Spurrier said the injury was not as severe as it appeared.

South Carolina Converted from Everywhere

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    The Gamecocks experienced few issues with late-down situations.

    South Carolina converted 9-of-16 third downs and went a perfect 5-for-5 on fourth-down attempts.

    Connor Shaw scrambled for an 18-yard gain on 3rd-and-17, so the Gamecocks managed to steal a first down from long distance, too.

    Unsurprisingly, Shaw and Mike Davis accounted for South Carolina's first nine conversions. When the Gamecocks needed a big play, they trusted their two best players.

Jadeveon Clowney's Stats Are Irrelevant

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    Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

    Real question: Does it really matter if Jadeveon Clowney rode the team bus?

    Ultimately, the much-criticized defensive end can't win off the field, but Clowney sure helps the Gamecocks win on the field.

    Whether or not he puts up huge numbers in the box score is irrelevant; Clowney demands two or three blockers.

    Clowney looked anything but lazy throughout the day, fighting through triple teams and pressuring the quarterback. Arkansas repeatedly ran the ball away from the junior, but South Carolina contained the Razorbacks' ground game.

    Clowney officially finished the game with a single tackle, but his impact goes far beyond the stats.

Victor Hampton Made the Game-Changing Play

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    Earlier in the week, junior defensive back Victor Hampton lost his starting spot.

    Early in the game, Hampton stole the momentum from the Razorbacks and propelled South Carolina to victory.

    Arkansas' Brandon Allen dropped back and fired a pass toward the right sideline, but Hampton jumped in front and picked it off.

    He was tackled at the Razorbacks' 6-yard line, and Mike Davis scored the Gamecocks' first touchdown of the day on the next play.

    Following the interception, Arkansas failed to find any sort of offensive rhythm, especially through the air.

The Defense Was Ridiculously Good

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    The Razorbacks waltzed down the field on the game's first possession, gaining 64 yards on seven plays.

    But after that score, South Carolina's defense turned up the heat, and Arkansas tallied 248 total yards and averaged just 2.3 yards per pass. Plus, 79 of the 248 yards came on two plays that ended with a fumble.

    Essentially, the Razorbacks managed 169 yards throughout the entirety of the game and only 105 after their opening-drive touchdown.

    Aided by a fantastic offensive attack, the Gamecocks allowed Arkansas to run just 13 plays in the second half and 37 snaps overall.

    No matter how it's spun, South Carolina was dominant.

South Carolina Stayed Alive in the Messy SEC East

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    The Gamecocks entered the day with a lone loss to Georgia but in a precarious position.

    Well, Georgia fell to Missouri, Missouri lost its quarterback, LSU defeated Florida and the bottom half of the East Division is just bad.

    All of the sudden, with upcoming games against Tennessee, a James Franklin-less Missouri squad, Mississippi State and a struggling offense team in Florida, South Carolina is arguably the division front-runner.

    Losing to Georgia hurts the Gamecocks in tiebreaking scenarios, but injuries to the Bulldogs are hurting more.

    Ultimately, South Carolina is in fantastic position to earn a trip to the SEC Championship Game.