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October 15, 2011
Carolina game balls
NO. 15 SOUTH CAROLINA 14, MISSISSIPPI STATE 12
Shaw didn't have a huge day, but only missed eight of his 28 passes and controlled the game. His two interceptions were tipped, and Shaw still had enough courage to throw the fade pass to Alshon Jeffery for the game-winner, when he knew the Bulldogs would be lining up to stop it. He was confident, mostly avoided the panicky running when the passing lanes didn't develop, and answered each time that MSU went ahead. He may not be the all-star gunslinger that some want him to be, but he's leading the troops.
Jeffery's season is obviously not going the way he wants it to go, but he keeps lining up, catching screen passes and trying to get loose even when there is zero blocking in front of him. After Shaw mis-fired trying to hit Damiere Byrd on the streak route, Jeffery knew he would get his chance later - as it turned out, it was for the game. Jeffery feels he can win any jump-ball, and the last pass proved it. He was absolutely mauled on the come-down, but held onto the ball even as his helmet was removed without his permission. Then he stood up, faced the MSU crowd and flexed. Deservedly.
Not much doubt now that Ellington will continue to be a major part of USC's game-planning, especially if Marcus Lattimore has to miss extensive time. He rushed four times for 25 yards, caught four passes for 32 yards and completed 2-of-3 passes for 24 yards. He had folks scrambling to find out who the last USC athlete was to throw, catch and rush in one game (Syvelle Newton?) and established that he can indeed make an impact.
While other receivers continue to regress as the defenses get tougher, Jones continues to find Shaw's eyes and make plays. He caught four passes for 45 yards and was excellent on the screen, using his speed to skirt the corner and get upfield. Long regarded as a good player who probably wasn't good enough, Jones has proved that he is more than good enough.
His game-saving interception was beautiful. The pass was away from him, yet he streaked across the field, dove and caught it in mid-air. It saved the day for the Gamecocks and prevented another heartbreak, and kept one bright moment in a frustrating season shining - no matter the situation, somehow, some way, the Gamecocks feel they will still win. That has never been the case.
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