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September 15, 2013

Gamecocks head into bye week

Steve Spurrier took a subtle jab at Vanderbilt's weak non-conference schedule during his post-game press conference.

After losing at home to Ole Miss in the season opener, Vanderbilt trounced Austin Peay, 38-3, last weekend for its first victory of the season. Next Saturday, the Commodores travel to UMass, a program in its second year of existence in Division I (FBS) and then host UAB before jumping back into SEC play on Oct. 5 against Missouri.

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Following the game, Spurrier was asked this question - would you rather play next Saturday or keep the bye week?

"I wouldn't mind maybe playing Austin Peay this week," Spurrier said. "You laugh about that, but sometimes when you play a team like that, everybody gets to play and everybody feels pretty good. You sort of regroup and it's not a knock-down, drag-out game. We've had three in a row now. We had some good fortune against North Carolina, too. We'll take a little time off and regroup."

Defensively, USC must find ways to stop the run better, Spurrier said. Vanderbilt netted 121 yards on 33 carries, an average of 3.7 yards per carry, although USC struggled to contain the Commodores when they ran from the Wildcat formation. In three games, the Gamecocks are allowing 149 yards per game on the ground.

"We have to stop the run better than what we've been doing," Spurrier said. "But it was a good win for us. We're all happy. We're not sitting around moping. Sometimes crap happens and you lose games like that. We lost a game at Vanderbilt in 2008 when a punt hit a guy's leg. We could have lost this one with the same situation. But Jimmy (Legree) got a pick and we were able to consume clock."

Spurrier has few concerns heading into the bye week for a Gamecock offense averaging 30.7 points and 479.7 yards per contest. USC is averaging 7.0 yards per play and has converted 50 percent (21-42) of its third down opportunities.

Saturday's game marked the first time since 2006 that USC surpassed the 30-point barrier against Vanderbilt.

"We made a bunch of third downs and made some yards on them," Spurrier noted. "But they're a pretty good defense. It's probably by far the best we've moved the ball on their defense since Syvelle Newton beat them in Vandy in 2006. They've been tough on us."

WEIRD FEELING: The numbers suggest the USC defense dominated the Vanderbilt offense, holding the Commodores to 268 yards on 55 plays and just under 23 minutes of possession time. From the sidelines, though. Spurrier felt differently.

"Statistically, they didn't make 300 yards, but it felt like we couldn't get them off the field," Spurrier said after Vanderbilt had just one drive longer than seven plays. "They didn't have a lot of big plays and we had a bunch of yards and still almost found a way to lose it. Turnovers can turn the game around, as we know. Without the turnovers, they might not have scored 25 points."

Spurrier contended USC did enough good things offensively that they shouldn't get "mad" going into the bye week.

"Our guys were throwing and catching," Spurrier said. "We caught about everything in the first half. Those little quick screens is how you keep (the chains) moving. We tried to call a lot of stuff. We didn't have the ball much in the second half. But we had a pretty good night offensively.""

JIG SHAW PUZZLE: One week after becoming the ninth quarterback in Gamecock history to throw for more than 4,000 yards in his career, Connor Shaw threw three touchdown passes on Saturday night to increase his career total to 38. Tied with Anthony Wright (1995-98) and Blake Mitchell (2004-07) in that category, Shaw needs nine TD passes to catch Stephen Garcia (2008-11) for third place.

For the season, Shaw improved his completion percentage to 64.9 percent (48-of-74) for 661 yards with six touchdowns and zero interceptions. With his 19-4 record, Shaw needs five wins to tie Todd Ellis (1986-89) for most victories by a Gamecock quarterback. Garcia, Garry Harper, and Steve Taneyhill are tied for second with 20 wins apiece.

MISCELLANEOUS:

* Junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney forced the ninth fumble of his career.

* Receiving leaders after three games: Nick Jones (11 receptions), Bruce Ellington (10), Shaq Roland (8), Mike Davis (7), Brandon Wilds (6). Conversely, Shamier Jeffery is still without a reception. Nine different receivers caught a pass in Saturday's game, including redshirt freshman Kwinton Smith, who recorded the first reception of his career. Six receivers had two or more receptions. "We were hoping to get some balls to all these guys," Spurrier said. "We did have 28 completions, which is a lot for us, and 38 throws. Our receivers have worked hard. They stay after every practice, run routes and catch balls. They probably put in as much time as any group on the practice field."

* Sophomore running back Mike Davis' 67 receiving yards on three receptions eclipsed his career high of 49 yards set last week at Georgia. His 38-yard reception is the longest of his career. Davis scored a rushing touchdown for the third game in a row. He now has 341 rushing yards in three games, an average of 113.7 yards per game, putting him on course for 1,364 rushing yards in 2013.

* With eight receptions for 111 yards - both career highs - Ellington recorded the third 100-yard receiving game of his career.

* Sophomore running back Brandon Wilds had a career-high 65 receiving yards. His 33-yard TD reception was the longest of his career.

* Defensively, senior cornerback Jimmy Legree notched a career-high two tackles for loss and his fourth career interception. Overall, his seven tackles tied a career high set in last season's game against Vanderbilt. Other defensive career highs - sophomore linebacker Marcquis Roberts had seven tackles and senior defensive end Chaz Sutton had 1.5 sacks.

* Spurrier now holds a 19-2 career record over the Commodores after improving to 68-38 at USC.

* USC is now 55-14 under Spurrier when it scores 20 or more points, 38-5 when it scores 30 or more points.

* USC is now 36-5 under Spurrier when it rushes for 150 yards or more.

* USC is now 50-9 under Spurrier when it leads at halftime.

* USC's 13-game home winning streak ties Georgia for the second-longest streak in Division I football behind Michigan's 16 straight home wins. The Wolverines, though, survived a major scare from lowly Akron on Saturday. USC is 44-14 at home under Spurrier.

* Saturday's game marked the highest-scoring contest between USC and Vanderbilt since a 35-28 home victory by USC on Oct. 22, 2005. South Carolina's 35 points are the most in the series since the 2005 meeting.

SEC SCHEDULE (Saturday 9/14):
South Carolina 35, Vanderbilt 25
Louisville 27, Kentucky 13
Arkansas 24, Southern Miss 3
Alabama 49, Texas A&M 42
Oregon 59, Tennessee 14
Auburn 24, Mississippi State 20
LSU 45, Kent State 13
Ole Miss 44, Texas 23
OPEN: Florida (1-1), Georgia (1-1), Missouri (2-0)

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