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October 29, 2011

Carolina game balls



NO. 14 SOUTH CAROLINA 14, TENNESSEE 3

GAME BALLS

Connor Shaw
Once again, Shaw proved that he may not be the biggest, most talent-laden or future No. 1 draft pick quarterback in the country, but he can get the job done. All he has to do is not lose the game, and he did that. The interception he threw wasn't good - it was tipped, but it was also thrown to a receiver that had a defender in front of him - but Shaw more than made up for him. Asked to help spell the rushing game by using his legs - and also being told to run at the first sign of pressure - Shaw dashed 16 times for 64 yards (he had 13 more that were wiped by sacks). He wasn't afraid to take a hit, either, sticking his nose into a few piles when he knew he could about two seconds from taking his meals through a straw. Shaw also proved he had some moxie, connecting with Nick Jones on a crucial third down and better yet, drawing the Volunteers to him on a fourth-and-1, then lobbing over everybody's head and trusting a freshman tight end (Rory "Buster" Anderson) to be there. That became a touchdown, and USC never trailed again.

Brandon Wilds
Yeah, the kid can do it. Wilds busted loose for 137 yards and 31 more through the air, anchoring the Gamecocks' offense and proving that his name might not be Marcus Lattimore, but he can definitely provide a presence. Wilds rumbled through holes and refused to go down on first contact, also continuing to get up after a couple of hard shots. Wilds insisted that he could play right away despite everyone telling him he couldn't, and showed why on Saturday. The Gamecocks gave him the ball early and often, and Wilds was up to the challenge. He'll be the guy going forward, and everybody who doubted his college abilities is now swallowing a large chunk of crow.

Stephon Gilmore
Gilmore continues to improve and play to his potential, making big plays when the team needs it most. Knowing that Justin Worley would probably try to go for it right away after Wilds fumbled the ball in his own territory, Gilmore played his assignment and ran right with the route. He stepped in front and in shades of three years ago, picked off a Worley pass. He also had two tackles.

D.J. Swearinger
For the second straight game, Swearinger was a ball-hawk on the goal line. With Worley facing second-and-goal from the USC 2-yard-line, he threw to the flat and Swearinger dove for the interception. Swearinger came up big against Mississippi State and again against Tennessee, having the big year that everybody predicted for him.

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