Notebook: Spurrier gets #65

Notebook: Spurrier gets #65

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier became the winningest coach in school history with his 65th victory in a 27-17 win over rival Clemson. There's not a better place than Death Valley for Carolina fans to see it happen. The tides have turned in this rivalry. Also, is Jadeveon Clowney really Superman? Just how impressive was the Carolina defense? Lastly, the SEC asserts its dominance again.

Perhaps the only place better that it could have happened was in Gainesville where he once roamed the sidelines.

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier put a target on the back of long-time coach Rex Enright when he was hired. Spurrier promised back in 2005 when he was hired that he was going to be the all-time winningest coach in South Carolina some day. He didn't know when or where it was going to happen, and he probably thought it would have happened much sooner, but Spurrier will certainly take what he got Saturday night. Spurrier got his 65th win at Carolina in a 27-17 win over rival Clemson Saturday night in Death Valley, the other one as Spurrier would say. The importance of that 65th win is that it moved Spurrier ahead of Enright and into first place in all-time wins at Carolina. In his 110th game as Carolina head coach, Spurrier led the Gamecocks to victory and Clemson fans, the one's that were left at least, had to watch Carolina celebrate that win on their own field.

"That's kind of neat that it came against our instate rival," Spurrier said. "It's interesting that a couple of my other so-called good numbers came against Georgia. Number 100 and 250 came against Georgia. To have this one as number 65 is special. The ball is worth keeping I'll tell you that. The other one for win 200 was UAB. When you beat a team like Georgia or Clemson it's a little more special."

Spurrier is now 5-3 against the upstate rivals and has won four straight in the series for the first time since the 1950's while Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is now 1-3 against Spurrier, a coach who unsuccessfully tries to throw jabs with Spurrier much like his football team was trying to win on Saturday.

"We planned the gatorade bath but the defense was on the field at the end of the game so we didn't get to do it," DeVonte Holloman said. "Maybe we'll get him at practice or something."

With the fourth consecutive win over the Tigers, and this one over arguably the best Clemson team since the National Championship team, it is perfectly clear that the tide has turned in this rivalry. This is a game that Clemson had to have. They could not afford to have its school-record 13-game home winning streak bookended by their rival. South Carolina was the last team to beat Clemson in Death Valley back in 2010. Clemson's high-powered offense was completely shut down by a much faster and more physical Carolina defense, and to add insult to injury they were beaten by a team that was without their starting quarterback and All-American running back.

Could you imagine what the score would have been with a healthy Connor Shaw and Marcus Lattimore? South Carolina, thanks to Steve Spurrier, is now the team that expects to win when these two teams meet on the football field.

"It's pretty big," Jadeveon Clowney said. "That's our rivals and we're close and we wanted to let them know that we've owned them the last four years."

Superman?

Last season it was Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd that got the "what were you thinking?" award of the year when he called the South Carolina defense soft on Twitter. We all know how that turned out.

As if that was not dumb enough, Clemson center Dalton Freeman took it to a whole new level earlier this week when he said; "We have faced guys like Clowney all year long FSU, MD, & Va Tech. It's not like he is superman or anything."

Okay.

Jadeveon Clowney entered Saturday's game as one of the nation's best in sacks with 8.5. Clowney is unblockable in one-on-one situations and sometimes even a double-team is not enough to stop him. Freeman and the Clemson offensive line learned that the hard way.

"I think he told yall coming off the field Wednesday that he was 100% and that's the way he played," defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said. "I challenged Jadeveon that, I actually misled him a little bit, Melvin (Ingram) sacked Tajh six times last year. He took it as a challenge. You have to find a way to motivate your players so he tried to get six."

Clowney certainly took that as a challenge and played like a man possessed Saturday. Clemson could not contain him and Boyd paid the price. Clowney finished with seven tackles, but had 4.5 sacks to blow past the school record of 10 and now has 13 for the year. Not bad for a player playing with one good foot.

"We stood him up and moved him around a little bit to hopefully get a one-on-one," Spurrier said. "You can't block Jadeveon one-on-one. We've got him one more year and then we're going to shake his hand and thank him for everything he's done at South Carolina."

The game ended fittingly when Clowney chased down Boyd from behind and planted him on the final play, barking at Boyd as he got up and coming back for more as the teams began to spill out onto the field to shake hands.

Maybe Freeman is right. Maybe Clowney isn't Superman. Superman has his kryptonite. We're not sure if Clowney has any weakness.

"I don't know how it feels to lose to Clemson and I'm not going to know cause we're not going to lose to them as long as I'm here," Clowney smiled after the game.

Defense dominates Clemson

For the fourth consecutive year the South Carolina defense has handled the Clemson offense. The Tigers have managed to score just 56 points in the last four games, an average of just 14 points per game. Prior to Saturday's game, Clemson has not scored fewer than 26 points all season and scored 56 points and 62 points in two games this season.

"I'm really proud of our defense," Spurrier said. "That's one of the best offenses in the country and we held them down pretty well to 17 points."

That's not just coach-speak. Clemson's offense has been very explosive all season long. The Tigers showed that explosiveness when they went 75 yards in 24 seconds, taking all of two plays to score to take a 14-7 lead in the first quarter. Clemson would manage just a field goal the rest of the game as the Carolina defense tightened the clamps and gave their offense a chance to grind out a win.

"I've been blessed to be able to coach some good guys," Ward said. "I have a good coaching staff and we thought we had a pretty good game plan going in to try and get Tajh. We felt like we studied their protection enough that we felt like we had some guys on the offensive line that we thought we could rush on and get a chance to make him move his feet. We knew going into the game that if he didn't get his first read he was going to take off and run."

Boyd did that effectively on the second drive of the game. Boyd converted a third down with his legs three times on the drive, including a three yard touchdown to run to cap off a 16-play, 84-yard drive to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead. In the first quarter alone, Clemson had 163 yards of offense on 21 plays

"We kind of settled down," Ward said. "We were real emotional early. We were missing tackles and that's what you can tell when a team comes out real emotional, the little things show up. We were right there to make a play, even on the deep balls. We knew going into the game that if we can limit the big plays we'd have a chance."

As the game progressed and emotions began to settle down, so did the Gamecock defense. Carolina twice intercepted Boyd and played a physical game.

"I love the ACC, I coached at Virginia Tech for seven seasons, but I think our style of play is different in the Southeastern Conference," Ward said. "I think we play a lot more physical football. I think when you play the schedule we play and you get to the end of the season I think we're battle tested."

After that first quarter, Carolina held the Tigers to just 165 yards on 38 plays and a Chandler Catanzaro field goal in the third quarter. In the second half alone the Tigers ran just 19 plays for 91 yards, 56 of which came on the field goal drive.

"These young men have come to work every day and all the credit goes to them," Ward said. "Coach Lawing, Coach Brown, and Coach Botkin have done a great job coaching them. I'm just blessed to be the leader."

SEC manhandles ACC

Saturday saw fourth match-ups between the SEC and ACC. Three were natural rivals and Wake Forest faced Vanderbilt in the fourth. Georgia started the day off right by completely demolishing Georgia Tech in their rivalry game, cruising to a 42-10 win. Vanderbilt would keep it going with a 55-21 beatdown of Wake Forest. The later games were much closer, but Florida was able to come from behind in the second half to pull away late in a 37-26 over Florida State, and Carolina finished the night off with its 27-17 win as the SEC went 4-0 against the ACC.

"It's the ACC vs. the SEC," Clowney said. "Everybody knows that the most physical play comes out of the SEC and we try and come out here and be physical and push them around a little bit to show them who's tougher."

Mission accomplished.

Notes

GENERAL


South Carolina extended its regular season non-conference winning streak to 17 straight games with the victory. The Gamecocks last regular season non-conference loss came to Clemson in 2008.

The Gamecocks established a school record with 21 wins over the last two seasons.

Nine Gamecocks have started every game this season: Reginald Bowens (LB), Bruce Ellington (WR), Byron Jerideau (DT), T.J. Johnson (C), DeVonte Holloman (Spur), Ronald Patrick (OG), Ace Sanders (WR), Devin Taylor (DE), Shaq Wilson (LB).

OFFENSE

Ace Sanders caught six passes for 119 yards, a career-high and his first 100-plus yard receiving game of his career at South Carolina. It also marked an individual high of receiving yards by a Gamecock player this year. The previous high was 108 yards by Justice Cunningham vs. Tennessee on Oct. 27, 2012.

Dylan Thompson tallied his second career 300-yard passing game. He was 23-for-41 in the air for 310 yards with three touchdown passes. His three touchdown passes ties a season-high by a Gamecock player. Thompson also had three touchdown passes in the 48-10 over East Carolina on Sept. 8, 2012 with Connor Shaw throwing three touchdown passes in the 38-35 win over Tennessee on Oct. 27, 2012.

Bruce Ellington had a season-high two touchdowns for the Gamecocks. He had a 13-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter with a 6-yard touchdown reception in the 4th quarter. Ellington also tallied seven receptions, the most receptions by a Gamecock receiver this year and tying for the individual high by a Gamecock player this year. Marcus Lattimore also had seven receptions in the 31-10 win over Missouri on Sept. 22, 2012.

Nick Jones had a season-high four receptions. He caught four passes for 45 yards including a reception of 31 yards.

DEFENSE

Jadeveon Clowney set the South Carolina single-season record for sacks with 4.5 sacks in today's contest vs. Clemson. He now has 13 on the year surpassing the previous mark of 10 set by Andrew Provence (1982) and Melvin Ingram (2011).

DeVonte Holloman's second quarter interception was his third interception in the series vs. Clemson. He also had interceptions in 2009 and 2011.

SPECIAL TEAMS

With his 30-yard punt return in the first quarter, Ace Sanders set a school record for punt return yardage in a single season. Sanders now with 363 yards in 25 returns. The previous record was 362 punt return yards set in 1971 by Dick Harris.

Adam Yates is now 11-for-15 on the year in field goal attempts. Yates was 2-for-2 in the contest as he connected on a 27-yard field goal in the second quarter and a 43-yarder in the third quarter.

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