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November 15, 2012

Grading the announcers: USC-Arkansas

In this weekly feature from Gamecock Central, we break down the previous game's telecast like coaches do game film, looking for praise, scorn, gaffes and downright bias on the part of the broadcasting crew assigned to the game.

Week after week, we'll put them to the test, and this week it's CBS' Arkansas crew. And besides just giving you grades, we've provided you with the highlights in all their glory or, sometimes, stupidity ("Akeem A-Goose-Tee," anyone?). Enjoy this unique content only available from Gamecock Central!

Tennessee at No. 12 South Carolina, Nov. 10, 2012, noon.

Weather: 68 degrees, sunny. Winds: S, 2 mph.

Network: CBS
Crew: Tim Brando, Steve Beuerlein
Sideline reporter: Marty Snider

Execution: I've always like the sound of Brando's voice, and he performed fine in his play-by-play role (with the exceptions noted below). Beuerlein, however, not so much. While I thought Steve did a decent job of making his points, overall, compared to other analysts this season his breakdown of plays was extremely limited. I thought with 17 seasons in the NFL (I know, right?) he'd be an amazing source of insight, but instead, he was pedestrian at best, lazy at worst. I wanted NFL-level specifics, not talking points on each team's QB I could have recited by heart myself. Grade: C

Fairness: No bias detected, besides mispronunciations. I think Brando has been quite favorable to the Gamecocks over the years, and Beuerlein also went out of his way to praise the offense's play-calling and execution. Grade: A

Accuracy: Gaffes....well, there's kind of a bad one here because both made the same one and they made it all the way through the game. Just seconds after talking about how D.J. Swearinger preferred his last name be pronounced with a hard "g" in the first quarter, Brando called him "Swearin-jer" immediately afterward and both he and Beuerlein followed suit the rest of the way. Also Beuerlein mispronounced Jerell Adams as "JER-ell" instead of "Je-RELL." Other than those, nothing else really stood out.
Grade: B

Overall: Biggest knock is on Beuerlein. At this level, the analysis needs to stand out, to really show the casual fan the detailed specifics of why plays work and don't work. They need to describe what they see with their years of professional experience, the little things casual fans don't notice, especially from a scheme/technique standpoint. Anyone can follow the ball and diagnose a well- or poorly thrown ball. So, Beuerlein's blandness takes the grade down. Grade: B-

Arkansas-USC highlights


Tim Brando: You see the series numbers there, Arkansas leads 13-7. Some of those games came before both teams joined the conference in 1992, but lately, Arkansas has owned this series. While the Gamecocks have been dominant against their rivals from the East Division, they've struggled against the Razorbacks, and Tyler Wilson has had a lot to do with that in recent years.


(On second-and-21 on Arky's first drive of the game)
Tim Brando: Tyler Wilson, when we talked to him earlier in the week, expressed a lot of confidence about this matchup, and why wouldn't he, given what he's done against them?

At this point CBS shows a graphic displaying the rush yards, passing yards and points accumulated by Arkansas against USC from 2009-2011.

Tim Brando: In those last three meetings, no fewer than 33 points and a whopping 300-plus yards the last two years offensively in the air.

Steve Beuerlein: It's been really impressive to see the way they've played against South Carolina. Quite honestly, Tim, I think it's gotten under the skin of Steve Spurrier and this coaching staff. They don't like getting beat by anybody at all, much less three years in a row by the same team. They're really fired-up about this football game.

(Prior to USC's first offensive possession of the game)
Tim Brando: Connor Shaw, who was one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the country earlier on in the season, tailed off just a bit and in fact was benched but has come off of that and in that Tennessee game two weeks ago really earned Steve Spurrier's respect all over again.

Steve Beuerlein: I think he earned everybody's respect in that Tennessee game a couple of weeks ago. The SEC Offensive Player of the Week, 22 of 32 for 350 yards and three touchdowns and also ran for a touchdown, so he's hoping to capitalize and build on that today.

(On third down, Shaw hooks up with Justice Cunningham for 26 yards and a first down)
Tim Brando: Third down and 13 for South Carolina, and they go empty in the backfield. A lot of twin tight end alignments for this team with Steve Spurrier. There's a floater, and a beautiful catch by Cunningham! It was put where only he could catch it, what an athletic maneuver by this tight end, a 26-yard gain!

Steve Beuerlein: Well, this is a phenomenal catch, not a great throw by Connor Shaw but he gave Justice Cunningham a chance to make a play on this ball, incredible adjustment. The safeties for Arkansas split and left the middle of the field wide open. A great job of seeing that and having the right route called, and then a super catch by Justice Cunningham.

Here CBS shows a graphic that in its last four games, Arkansas has not given up any first-quarter points.

(After a sweep to Damiere Byrd loses four yards, USC faces second-and-14 from the 29)
Tim Brando: Over the middle...once again, the tight end, touchdown! That's Jerell Adams with the catch, number 89, the freshman from Pinewood, South Carolina.

Steve Beuerlein: Well Jerell Adams is the third tight end, and all of these tight ends are very impressive when you watch them. I did get the impression talking with Steve Spurrier yesterday that he had a little twinkle in his eye talking about Jerell Adams, thinking that this kid is going to be something special. This kid is six-foot-six, 224 pounds and obviously a very good athlete to get open down the middle of the field.

Tim Brando: So Jerell Adams on the receiving end, that is just his fourth reception of the season, his first touchdown. They are working over these freshman linebackers using the tight ends. Three big catches from the tight ends, one for the TD. Connor Shaw is pumped, and the Gamecocks have the early advantage on homecoming Saturday.

(Coming back from the break, analyzing the touchdown pass)
Steve Beuerlein: I want you to look at this, the safeties, this is the second time they've given up a big play, you've got Rohan Gaines and Eric Bennett get a little bit of wiggle, right here is Jerell Adams, he's going to run right down the middle of the field, but watch the linebacker, A.J. Turner, he should be running down the middle of the field with Jerell Adams but he did not do it, and as a result, it's an easy throw and catch touchdown for South Carolina.

That's the youth and inexperience of the linebackers for Arkansas coupled with the fact that South Carolina's got the right kind of plays called to take advantage of that two-deep coverage. They're calling them at the right time and making Arkansas pay.

Tim Brando: When you have that many playmakers at tight end, why not line up in the twin tight end look as often as Spurrier does?

(After the USC score, Arkansas gets good field position following a good run back and faces second-and-8 from its own 44. The result of the play is a monster sack by Jadeveon Clowney where he engulfs Tyler Wilson for a five-yard loss)
Tim Brando: And again, pressure Clowney! Wilson was just rolling right into the welcoming arms of number seven.

Steve Beuerlein: There are not many people in the college football world...watch right here, that's Jadeveon Clowney, top of your screen, he's got the ability to make Tyler Wilson read that play, and he read it as a...watch right here...Clowney crashes down, and Tyler Wilson's read is if he crashes down, I keep the football, but Jadeveon Clowney is a good-enough athlete to take away both. I would not run the read option at Jadeveon Clowney again today.

(During a break in play on Arkansas' next drive)
Tim Brando: Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward told us earlier in the week that they were not at all satisfied with how they played two weeks ago against Tennessee. It's clear that in the open date week that they've shaped things up with their defense.

Steve Beuerlein: Well not only was Lorenzo Ward not happy with the performance against Tennessee a couple of weeks ago, he was not happy with what has happened against Arkansas the last three years. Specifically, he said the Arkansas quarterbacks had been carving his team up like a turkey and he's sick of that, he didn't want that to happen any more, he was gonna change and become much more aggressive. The buy week came at the right time, he's moving his players around, giving them some looks that he is sure that Arkansas has not seen before. A lot of those movement changes include Jadeveon Clowney and safety D.J. Swearinger. Lorenzo Ward said they need to know where those two guys are all day or they're going to be free all day.

(After the Razorbacks score to tie the game at 7, USC drives and faces third-and-6 at the Arkansas 10)
Tim Brando: This looks like a designed run and...touchdown! That was well-designed, really.

Steve Beuerlein: You know, I did not think they had a chance at that play because of the pressure up the field, but Connor Shaw shows his athletic ability, Kenny Miles a nice block, pops Connor Shaw outside, he gets inside that pylon for the touchdown. A good, athletic play by the quarterback.

Tim Brando: Two huge third-down conversions on this drive, the Ellington catch on third-and-4 and then the Shaw run. He found the daylight.

Steve Beuerlein: A good 'answer' drive for South Carolina. The enthusiasm Arkansas had to tie the game at 7 needed to be answered by South Carolina to get this crowd back into it, and by the looks of it now, this crowd is back rejuvenated and re-energized. That's what South Carolina needed.

(After an Arkansas drive results in a field goal, a promising USC drive faces fourth down and 5 from the 42 with 1:39 to play before the half)
Tim Brando: This is a very important part of this game here, because if they don't get the first down, you give Wilson a relatively short field, and look out.

Steve Beuerlein: You're going to give them the relatively short field if you don't get it, but that shows the confidence he has in Lorenzo Ward and the defense.

Tim Brando: Shaw, throwing to a wide open Ellington! Yeah, the Head Ball Coach had a good idea! Touchdown! When you have that many freshmen in your secondary, why not take a shot on fourth down?

Steve Beuerlein: Yeah, and what a great call. A good job by Connor Shaw stepping up on that. Look how open Bruce Ellington was down the sideline. There was something that Steve Spurrier and his staff saw during the course of the week where they expected to get a very favorable opportunity to score on that play.

Tim Brando: What you did see at the end of that play was the freshman, Will Hines, beaten. This is a patchwork secondary, we touched on it at the top of the game. Steve Spurrier decided it was worth the chance; why not? Connor Shaw, very efficient, and the old point guard did the rest. Shaw to Ellington, and a pivotal play and an 11-point lead.

Tim Brando: It's been a game of opportunities, both made and missed.
Steve Beuerlein: And one team has taken advantage of them, South Carolina. Arkansas has not done a great job of taking advantage of opportunities. Twice down in the red zone deep, the first time down there Dennis Johnson trying to fight for the extra yard, the ball comes out and South Carolina recovers, no points. The next time down, third down, South Carolina make a good play to keep Cobi Hamilton from scoring.

The other side, Arkansas has busted coverage a couple of times and South Carolina has made them pay, the first one right there to Jerell Adams for the big touchdown and then the last one, Bruce Ellington with the big touchdown to put the Gamecocks up 21-10.


(After USC drives for a field goal on the first possession of the second half, Arkansas gets the ball back and after a horse collar penalty and personal foul penalty - both on D.J. Swearinger - the Hogs have the ball first-and-10 at the Gamecocks 36)
Tim Brando: (describing the nasty Swearinger hit the play before as the ball is snapped) It was a jolting blow, a shoulder to the chest...and there's an interception! South Carolina with the pick! D.J Swearinger all the way!

Steve Beuerlein: Well that's how you make up for it, Tim, right there. A careless throw by Tyler Wilson, who does have a tendency to do that. He trusts his arm a lot more than he should sometimes.

Tim Brando: What's that old saying? Don't get mad, get even.

Steve Beuerlein: And they got more than even right there. D. J. Swearinger perfectly timed that ball, and there's no way Tyler Wilson is going to run him down in the open field.

Tim Brando: This is a young man that is known as a hitter. Everyone around the conference knows it. You could argue that that was just a big hit, that it was not illegal. You could argue that point, but they are being extra careful, as everyone knows, with defenseless players. But, he comes back, converting from safety to corner, and doing so for this game only by Lorenzo Ward, part of the changes they made specifically for Tyler Wilson, and boy did he step in and make them pay. The Gamecocks with 10 points in 39 seconds. Don't blink, because Swearinger will make you pay. The senior from Greenwood, South Carolina takes the Gamecocks to a three-touchdown cushion. An eventful few plays here for D.J. Swearinger.

Steve Beuerlein: He's involved in two significant plays back to back. Here's the big one, he's on the outside here, and he's going to bait Tyler Wilson into throwing this out, he times it perfectly and just picks it off clean and takes it back to the house. You can't play it any better than that. Tyler Wilson really thought that he had nothing but field in front of his receiver. Instead, he's looking at the heels of D.J. Swearinger.

(After holding Arkansas to a field goal, USC drives 74 yards in eight plays capped by this two-yard scoring run from Mike Davis)
Tim Brando: They run the option and it's right there for Davis, touchdown!

Steve Beuerlein: You saw a little bit of everything on that drive, Timmy. You saw some great throws and runs by Connor Shaw, Mike Davis coming in and finishing it off with some big runs as well, that was a very well-executed drive from start to finish.

Tim Brando: Given what happened on that drive, I think your criticism of Arkansas not going for it earlier on the other end is warranted, especially given how the Gamecocks have been moving through this Arkansas defense. This crowd really loves its football, and they've never really had this kind of success. A very unspoiled group these South Carolina fans.

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