Second Thoughts: Coastal Carolina
Well, that was easy.
I don’t think many people expected to see 70 points thrown on the board in the Gamecocks win over Coastal Carolina but that’s exactly what happened.
It was apparent from the beginning that South Carolina was going to have its way with the Chanticleers.
South Carolina scored on their first six possessions of the game to build a 42-0 lead over Coastal Carolina. It was clear the game was over at this point as starting quarterback Connor Shaw didn’t even finish the first quarter and the backups were having their way with the Coastal defense. The Gamecocks didn’t punt until 1:08 remaining in the first half.
A 42-7 lead at halftime increased to a 63-7 lead in the third quarter when the Gamecocks scored on their first three possessions of the second half. One more score to start the fourth quarter pushed South Carolina’s lead over Coastal to 70-7, which is the highest amount of points scored in the Steve Spurrier era during his time with the Gamecocks. This is the first time the Gamecocks had reached the 70-point mark since 1995.
All in all, 639 yards of total offense and 70 points later, South Carolina had picked up their ninth win with relative ease and came away with no major injuries and great momentum towards the rivalry matchup with the Clemson Tigers on November 30th.
There are some takeaways from Saturday’s game to mention so here are this week’s Second Thoughts on the Coastal Carolina game:
-- Congratulations are in order for Connor Shaw. He won his 25th game as the starting quarterback for the Gamecocks, breaking the record held by Todd Ellis of 24. Shaw finished the day with limited numbers, throwing for 115 yards on 8-of-11 passing with one passing touchdown. He also rushed for a touchdown and 39 yards on five carries. This might have been the best part of the game Saturday as Shaw’s mobility seemed to return after being hampered by a knee injury for several weeks. Having a mobile Connor Shaw does wonders for this offense and seeing him move around well against Coastal Carolina gives hope that he’ll be able to utilize this strength against the Clemson Tigers.
-- Little used running Jamari Smith was fairly impressive on Saturday. A guy that most people expected to redshirt his first season actually picked up some meaningful playing time on Saturday to the tune of 10 carries for 103 yards and one touchdown. He busted free for a 52-yard gain and averaged 10.3 yards per carry. He was an underrated back out of high school that put up big numbers down in the state of Florida. With the other talented backs on the roster, it didn’t seem like Smith would get his chance. But there he was, leading the Gamecocks running attack as a true freshman on Saturday. Another quality running back in what is a growing staple of the South Carolina football brand.
-- It seems like to me that the light has finally come on for Shaq Roland. Roland led the team in receiving yards with 72 and receptions with four. He also had a touchdown catch, his fourth of the season, which went for 35 yards on the play. Roland, who was suspended for three games earlier this year, has been a player that has shown flashes of brilliance. The only problem was it never translated over to the field. A big, jump ball type receiver like Roland can do big things in this offense as he’s a different receiver than someone like Bruce Ellington or Damiere Byrd. Roland is finally showing his comfort level in this offense and the stats have shown up the last few games. This former Mr. Football in the state of South Carolina has “star” written all over him. Finally, it looks like we will get to see him shine.
-- Pharoh Cooper stepped up with some big plays this Saturday. The two that stick out are his two touchdowns. One was a 71-yard carry from the Wildcat and the other was his acrobatic touchdown reception for 18 yards. Cooper came to Carolina as a defensive back with the potential to play on offense. Shortly after arriving, Spurrier wanted him on offense full-time. He’s since been a part of this offense nearly all season long but hasn’t produced that many big-time plays before Saturday. On Saturday, he made his presence known. Cooper is a guy that will get better with time. If he continues to get more comfortable in his role as Mr. Versatile for South Carolina, he’ll likely put up better numbers for the Gamecocks.
-- Saturday’s game should be a morale booster for the Gamecocks. The Gamecocks were able to establish themselves very early in this game and it afforded them the opportunity to rest several of their stars and allow for some younger, inexperienced players to get some playing time. It’s always fun when you’re scoring points and everyone gets a chance to play. This is definitely what the Gamecocks needed headed into the Clemson. Now, instead of coming off of a struggle against a lower-level team, they get to focus on Clemson with an air of confidence about themselves that should have afford them the opportunity to play at their best.
-- I was extremely impressed with the defense on Saturday. Coastal came into this game averaging 45 points per game and over 500 yards of total offense. On the ground alone, they were averaging nearly 300 yards per game. The Gamecock defense took that challenge and held the Chanticleers to just 72 net yards, including just 21 for Lorenzo Taliaferro, one of the best running backs in the FCS level. Everyone came to play on that side of the ball and forced two interceptions and just seemed ready for the challenge. This unit has progressively gotten better as the season has gone along and is now one of the tops in the SEC. They’ve certainly come a long way.
-- The Gamecocks were 7-of-7 from the red zone against Coastal. That’s taking advantage of your scoring opportunities right there.
Now that this game is out of the way, the focus turns to Clemson. I’m sure South Carolina was made to focus on Coastal Carolina this past week and it showed. They dominated on both sides of the ball. But Clemson is Clemson and now all the talk can be on the Tigers.
What can the Gamecocks do this weekend? It’s going to be a tough contest as usual to try and slow down this powerful offense. We’ve seen South Carolina rise to the occasion in the past against Clemson but will certainly have their hands full this weekend. As will their offense. The Tigers defense is much improved under second-year defensive coordinator Brent Venables. The Gamecocks offense can sometimes be their own enemy so limiting their mistakes and doing what the do best, running the football, will only help their chances of victory.
This Saturday will be the highest-ranked matchup between these two teams in school history. Before the season, it was going to be billed as a high profile football game. Things played out pretty much like everyone expected and we get to see a game between two of the Top 10 teams in the country.
It’ll be one for the ages at Williams-Brice and another fun-filled rivalry matchup between the Gamecocks and the Tigers.
I hope you’re ready.