November 1, 2013
Know the Foe: South Carolina; Q&A with Gamecock Central
Mississippi State is coming off its first SEC win of the season after defeating Kentucky 28-22 at home last Thursday. The Bulldogs are now set with a big match up against #14 South Carolina on the road.
Who: South Carolina (6-2, 4-2) vs. Mississippi State (4-3, 1-2)
Where: Columbia, South Carolina; Williams-Brice Stadium
When: Saturday, November 2; 11:21 a.m CT on SEC Network (Check Local Listings)
Series Record: S. Carolina leads, 8-6. The Last Time: USC: 14-12, 2011 in Starkville
About the Wildcats
This week I felt like we should get to know the opponent a little better than we usually do. I brought in South Carolina recruiting analyst and staff writer Chris Clark from Gamecock Central to give us some info on the Gamecocks and what to expect this weekend. Go give him a follow on twitter @GCChrisClark for updates regarding South Carolina this weekend.
RF:First of all, let's start with South Carolina's big win last weekend. The game completely changed when Connor Shaw went in the game in the second half. Realistically, is he the best shot of winning the SEC or is there some hope that if he went down Dylan Thompson could eventually get the job done?
CC:Shaw is the starter for a reason and he's USC's best shot to win big games. Thompson has shown that he's capable and the Gamecock staff certainly has to feel better about him as an option than most staffs would feel about its number two guy. Shaw has a sterling record as a starter and only one of his losses is to a non-ranked opponent (Tennessee this season). Things seem to go well when he's in the game. He's one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the country; when healthy he's extremely good and when banged up as he has been at many points during his career he's still very good also.
RF:Any updates on Shaw's health for this week?
CC:Shaw was in pads and practiced on Wednesday night. Quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus said the staff was preparing him to play and if he played, that he would start. It looks likely.
RF:The last couple of years the Gamecocks have had a tough break losing Marcus Lattimore to injury. This year USC has had a great season out of Mike Davis. What all does he bring to the table that makes him such a dangerous back?
CC:He's not the tallest at 5-9, but he looks bigger than his listed 215 pounds. He's just a violent runner and he's powerful. He can break tackles and run guys over but he also has some speed as evidenced by a couple of 75 yard runs this season. He's improved in pass protection and can catch the ball well (had 10 catches for 99 yards against Missouri). Davis is one of those guys that runs like his hair is on fire.
RF:Bruce Ellington might be the most versatile athlete I've seen in some time. Since you cover all sports at South Carolina, how is he able to play multiple sports and excel at both?
CC:He is a tremendous athlete. While he was an excellent running quarterback in high school Ellington signed with the Gamecocks as a hoops player. He missed football and hit the gridiron again where he turned himself into one of the SEC's best receivers. It's very tough to dedicate all of that time to two sports and still be a student as well, but he finds a way to do it. He's just one of those rare guys that can handle it mentally and physically and a lot of people around Columbia respect him for it.
RF:On the defensive side of the ball, there's been a lot of talk about Jadeveon Clowney holding back a bit maybe getting ready for the NFL early but he's still able to disrupt plays. What is your take on him this season and the type of year he's having?
CC:Watching entire games tells the story on Clowney. While he's definitely left some plays on the table and statistically hasn't had a huge year, he's played very well. He's probably the guy that's game-planned against the most by opposing offenses in college football and even when plays are run completely away from him he sometimes seems double teams. He played his best games against Arkansas and Tennessee right after being scrutinized heavily by the media for not playing while injured. He's still going to be a top five draft pick for sure and possibly number one overall depending on team need.
RF:Outside of Clowney, who should Bulldog fans be on the lookout for?
CC:On defense, Kelcy Quarles at DT. He had a big game against Missouri and seems to be stepping it up in the latter part of the season. Offensively, watch out for Damiere Byrd. He's a track-speed receiver that has really developed into a reliable target that can make tough catches or beat the defense deep.
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