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The South Carolina Gamecocks and the LSU Tigers were two teams that seemed to be headed in opposite directions heading into this game. The LSU Tigers had high hopes going into the season, but were trying to recover from a defeat at the hands of the Florida Gators. The South Carolina Gamecocks had jumped into the top 5 due to a blowout win over the Georgia Bulldogs, who many had picked to win the SEC East. The big question going into the game was whether or not South Carolina could go on the road, into a hostile environment, and duplicate their effort from the previous week.
The defenses dominated the first half. South Carolina led 7-3 at the half and their touchdown was setup by a 70 yard interception return by Gamecock corner Jimmy Legree to the LSU 1 yard line. Connor Shaw passed to Ace Sanders for the touchdown, the only one for either team the first half. LSU responded on the first possession of the 3rd quarter, taking the kickoff and marching 69 yards in 9 plays to take a 10-7 lead on a touchdown run by freshman running back Jeremy Hill. Two possessions later, South Carolina took advantage of a poor LSU punt and went on a 5 play, 54 yard drive with Marcus Lattimore taking it over from two yards out. The Gamecocks led 14-10. At this point, Hill took over. He had seen little action up until this game, but he dominated the second half, carrying 17 times for 124 yards and 2 TD. His last touchdown was from 50 yards out with 5:00 left and gave the Tigers a 23-14 lead. South Carolina responded with a touchdown to cut the lead to 23-21 with 1:41 left, but when they got the ball back they only had 0:35 left and Connor Shaw was picked off to end the game.
Here are my thoughts on the draft eligible players from this game. I will start with the winning team:
Zach Mettenberger–QB–Jr: Zach Mettenberger has struggled in his first year as a starter. To be fair, the Tigers lost starting left tackle Chris Faulk for the season and they were also missing tackle Alex Hurst due to personal reasons. Mettenberger’s receivers also haven’t done him any favors, dropping numerous passes. He is doing a better job of staying in the pocket and delivering the football but at times he waits too long and ends up being sacked. He is a competitor who doesn’t mind altering his delivery if it means getting the ball to his receiver. Mettenberger completed 12 of 25 passes for 148 yards and 1 interception.
Michael Ford-RB-Jr: Michael Ford is part of a rotation that the Tigers use to pound the defense into submission. Ford is 5’10” and 215 pounds, but he looks bigger. He has sneaky speed which allows him to turn the corner on rushing plays. He is also their kickoff returner. Ford carried 7 times for 41 yards and averaged almost 30 yards per kickoff return.
Spencer Ware-RB-Jr: Spencer Ware is a 5’11” 225 pound back that is very powerful. He keeps his legs churning after contact and bangs off of tacklers, fighting for extra yardage. Ware is a former high school QB and he took a few snaps in short yardage situations. He had 55 rushing yards on 11 carries and had a 27 yard reception.
J.C. Copeland-FB-Jr: J.C. Copeland is a huge fullback that is a former defensive lineman. He is 6’1” and weighs in at 272 lbs. He has done a good job as a lead blocker and now is even getting to run the ball some in short yardage situations. He is more nimble than you would expect from a former defensive lineman and has shown an ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Copeland had 3 carries for 12 yards.
Chase Clement-TE-Sr: Chase Clement is a good blocker that is rarely used in the passing game. His ability to block is one of the keys to the Tigers dominant rushing attack. He had no catches during the game and was called for a false start penalty.
Josh Dworaczyk-LT-Sr: Josh Dworaczyk is a versatile offensive lineman that has proved very valuable for the Tigers with all the offensive line issues they have had this year. He is their most experienced lineman, having been granted a 6th year of eligibility after a 2011 knee injury that caused him to miss the entire year. Dworaczyk is a former starter at left guard, but this year he has moved around to try to get the best five offensive linemen on the field. He started at left tackle against South Carolina which matched him up with super sophomore defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. He struggled at times against Clowney, but held him without a sack. Dworaczyk is more suited to play guard, but you have to give him a lot of credit helping the team out wherever they need him.
Barkevious Mingo-DE-Jr: Barkevious Mingo is a dominant pass rusher with a good speed rush. Mingo was #4 in my preseason rankings of draft eligible defensive ends. He has the speed to run right past the offensive tackle. Mingo also does a good job keeping plays to the inside of him where he can get help making the tackle. He had 4 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack and 1 QB hurry.
Bennie Logan-DT-Jr: Bennie Logan is a leader on the defensive side of the ball. He is a run stuffer that also pushes the pocket on passing downs. Logan is active and disruptive and at times can be dominating.
Sam Montgomery-DE-Jr: Sam Montgomery is a dominant defensive end. He is my top rated defensive end for the 2013 draft and some people think he could be a top 5 pick. He has a good inside move on his pass rush. He is hard to block and it’s impossible to use a back to pass protect against him. Montgomery is a player that demands double teams. He had 3 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 sacks and forced a fumble.
Lamin Barrow-MLB-Jr: Lamin Barrow was all over the field and made several big plays for the Tiger defense. Barrow had a stop on 3rd down to force a punt and also had a very good tackle in the red zone to prevent a touchdown. He had 12 tackles, 1 tackle for loss and 1 QB hurry.
Eric Reid-S-Jr: Eric Reid did a good job playing center field for the Tigers and spying on Gamecock QB Connor Shaw. He is able to read the QB’s eyes and break on the ball to make a play on it. Reid had 7 tackles and interception which he returned 29 yards. The interception setup LSU at the South Carolina 22 yard line and led to a field goal that gave LSU a lead it would never give up.
Craig Loston-S-Jr: Craig Loston contributed to the LSU defense and special teams. He had a big tackle on a kickoff to give the Gamecocks poor field position at their own 15 yard line. Loston also intercepted a tipped Connor Shaw pass to seal the win for the Tigers and had 2 tackles.
Connor Shaw– QB- Jr: Connor Shaw is the gritty leader of this offense. He is a smart player that is the son of a high school football coach. He is a quick runner that makes plays with his legs. Shaw is an average passer, but he does a good job when he can roll out to his right. He completed 19 of 34 passes for 177 yards with 2 TD and 2 INT. The Tigers did a good job defending him running the ball, holding him to -1 yards rushing.
Marcus Lattimore – RB- Jr: The LSU defense also did a good job stopping Marcus Lattimore. He was never really able to get rolling running the ball. He only got 34 yards rushing on 13 carries. Lattimore also contributed 4 catches for 23 yards. He still does not look like he is 100% back from his knee injury last year.
Ace Sanders-WR-Jr: Ace Sanders is becoming this team’s major big play weapon. He is an electric kick returner who is a threat when he is in the open field. Sanders has the ability to stop and start on a dime which makes him very difficult to tackle. As a receiver, Sanders seems to have a knack at getting open and he bails out his quarterback when the play breaks down. He had 5 catches for 49 yards and had a 48 yard punt return.
Justice Cunningham-TE-Jr: Justice Cunningham is a good 3rd down receiver that knows where the chains are, but he also has surprising speed for a big man. He can use his size to get high in the air and make the catch over the defender. Cunningham had 3 catches for 36 yards and had a 29 yard reception.
Byron Jerideau-DT-Sr: Byron Jerideau is a strong inside player. He had 6 tackles and 1 tackle for loss. His tackle for loss came on a 3rd down play which forced an LSU punt.
Shaq Wilson-MLB-Sr: Shaq Wilson is a playmaking linebacker that is all over the field. He is a senior leader for the Gamecocks. He does a good job wrapping up ball carriers when he makes the tackle. Wilson had a big game with 14 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack and a forced fumble.
DeVonte Holloman-OLB-Jr: DeVonte Holloman is a former safety that was moved to linebacker last year. He uses his speed to make plays all over the field. Holloman is strong enough to take on a running back and stop him in his tracks or to drive blockers back into the backfield. He had 8 tackles, ½ tackle for loss and on pass breakup.
Reginald Bowens-OLB-Sr: Reginald Bowens had injuries early in his career which slowed down his progress. He has been healthy the last two seasons and he is now making plays. He is a good form tackler that wraps ups the ball carrier and drives him backwards. He had a stop inside the 1 yard line that led to a Tiger field goal. Bowens had 8 tackles and ½ tackle for loss.
Akeem Auguste-CB-Sr: Akeem Auguste is a physical corner that contributes on run defense. He is not afraid to go low and take on bigger running backs. Auguste had 5 tackles.
Jimmy Legree-CB-Jr: Jimmy Legree did a good job defending LSU receivers. He baited LSU QB Zach Mettenberger and picked off a pass, returning it 70 yards down the sideline and being forced out-of-bounds at the 1 yard line. Legree did a good job following his blocks on the play. He has to fight through a tendency to jump routes, as that sometimes gets him in trouble. Legree also had 3 tackles.
D.J. Swearinger-S-Sr. D.J. Swearinger is a contributor in both run and pass defense. In pass defense, he will battle the receiver for the ball and uses his physical style to break up passes. He will stay with the play and not give up. Swearinger had 10 tackles.
by Dwayne Wilton