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October 12, 2013

Clowney happy to be back on the field

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Jadeveon Clowney was credited with one tackle in Saturday's crushing 52-7 victory over Arkansas at Reynolds Razorback Stadium, a statistic that could bare him to another week of wearisome scrutiny from an overzealous national media.

The happiest guy in the stadium after the game? Clowney.

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"We came out and did what we had to do today," Clowney said after the game. "I told the guys that everybody was talking about me right now and we were going to turn it up and have fun. Let's get together and all have fun today and put 11 hats to the ball. We still have some questions to be answered. We gave a lot of long runs and too many rushing yards, but it's going to happen. We just have to get past the big plays, keep your head in the game and keep playing."

Head coach Steve Spurrier rejected the suggestion that the national media commotion over Clowney's decision not to risk further injury and sit out the Kentucky game served as a distraction for USC this week. Quarterback Connor Shaw insisted last Tuesday the Clowney situation wouldn't be a distraction and he was right.

"There was no distraction, there really wasn't," Spurrier said. "There was a little bit last Saturday night, but come Monday there was no distraction. Jadeveon got treatment, got in the training room twice a day there for three or four days and he was ready to play. He really added a spark to our entire defense."

Clowney took matters into his own hands following the seven-play, 64-yard touchdown drive by Arkansas in the opening 2:58 of the game.

"After that, I got them (the defense) on the sideline and said you'd better all get your head into this game," Clowney said. "We can't keep doing this every week. I told them we had to come together and be a team and be accountable and everybody do their job. I depend on them and they have to depend on me."

Clowney acted like he was happy to be back in a Gamecock uniform, Spurrier said.

"He was fired up. He was even giving little pep talks in the locker room before the game," Spurrier said. "That was good to see. Right now, we're in good shape."

TWENTY-TWO WINS FOR SHAW: Senior quarterback Connor Shaw has won 22 games in his career, putting him two behind USC all-time leader Todd Ellis (24 victories). Shaw also tallied three touchdown passes, moving him to within five of Stephen Garcia (47) for third place on USC's all-time TD passes list. He is also positioned to surpass 5,000 career passing yards in next week's game at Tennessee and become the seventh quarterback in school history to reach that plateau. Here are Shaw's career statistics halfway through the 2013 regular season:

Completion percentage: 67.2 (385-of-573)
Touchdown Passes: 42
Total Passing Yards: 4,773
Victories: 22
Yards per game: 132.5 (36 games)

Shaw's third touchdown pass of the game was a 45-yard rope to Damiere Byrd 3:11 into the third quarter and may have been one of the best throws of Shaw's career. He hit the speedy Byrd, who was a step behind the Arkansas defenders.

"Beautiful play," Spurrier marveled. "When he threw it, Steve Jr. up top said, 'I think he's overthrown him.' But Damiere turned on that world-class speed that he has and ran that one down. That was probably the prettiest play of the year for us as far as hitting it on the dead run."

TWO NEW STARTERS ON DEFENSE: Both Spurrier and Lorenzo Ward talked this week about starting some new players on defense due to the unit's continuing struggles. In the end, they made two changes - redshirt freshmen Chaz Elder and Rico McWilliams started at free safety and cornerback, respectively, in place of Brison Williams and Victor Hampton.

PERFECT ON FOURTH DOWN: USC was a perfect 5-for-5 on fourth down in Saturday's game, including twice in the fourth quarter on a pair of late touchdown drives. Shon Carson rushed for three yards on fourth-and-2 from the UA 36 to help set up the 15-yard touchdown pass from Dylan Thompson to Kane Whitehurst with 9:18 left.

Later, Thompson rushed four yards on a quarterback keeper from the UA 17. Two plays after that, redshirt freshman Brendan Nosovitch, who was a good running quarterback in high school, scampered seven yards for his first career touchdown.

When you consider USC was 9-of-16 on third downs, the Gamecocks successfully secured a first down on 14 of 21 chances on third or fourth down, a percentage of 66.7 percent.

"I think we went for every fourth down, didn't we, except for a (fourth-and-15) in the first half on our own (five-yard line)," Spurrier said after the game. "We felt like another field goal wouldn't look as good as another touchdown. If we missed, you (the media) would have said that was stupid. But we made it, so that made me smart, I guess. I'm a big believer that if you go for it once and miss twice, you're one point ahead. Seven (points) is better than two threes. We were better on fourths than we were on thirds."

MISCELLANEOUS:

-- In addition to reaching 100 yards for the fifth time this season, running back Mike Davis scored his ninth touchdown of the season, moving him into the top 10 for a single season. Davis has at least one rushing touchdown in every game this season. The school record is 17 by Marcus Lattimore. Davis has 743 yards on 111 carries this season, an impressive average of 6.7 yards per carry.

-- The previous high point total in the Spurrier Era on the road was 45 in the victory at Georgia in 2011. The 15-play drive that drained 9:29 off the clock was the second longest drive in terms of TOP during the Spurrier Era.

-- The 537 total yards was the second-highest of the season (579 against Vanderbilt) and the fourth-highest of the Spurrier Era. USC has six straight games of 400 or more yards this season.

-- USC rushed for a season-high 277 yards on Saturday, marking the fifth time in six games this season the Gamecocks have eclipsed 219 rushing yards in a game, joining the North Carolina (228), Georgia (226), Vanderbilt (220) and UCF (225) contests in that category.

-- In addition to Davis with 128 yards, Carson had 56 yards on 15 carries. Pharoh Cooper had 45 yards on four carries. "Mike Davis had another good day and Shon Carson came in and helped us a bit," Spurrier said.

-- Whitehurst has two receptions for two touchdowns this season.

-- The time of possession of 43:25 was, not surprisingly, the highest of the season. The previous high was 30:49 in the 28-25 victory at UCF on Sept. 28. Spurrier said he thought the 37 plays run by Arkansas was the fewest plays run by an opponent in his coaching career.

-- USC registered a season-high 32 first downs compared to seven for Arkansas, which totaled 248 yards, a season-low for a Gamecock opponent.

-- Redshirt freshman safety Chaz Elder had four tackles for the second straight week.

-- USC is 9-13 against Arkansas since the two programs started meeting annually in 1992 when both schools joined the SEC.

-- Spurrier is 7-5 against Arkansas in his career. He described Saturday's win as "certainly the most complete game of the year."

-- USC kicked a field goal on Saturday's opening drive. The Gamecocks have now scored on their opening possession in five of six games this year. Elliot Fry is 6-for-6 on field goals this season after connecting on a 33-yarder.

SEC SCHEDULE (Saturday 10/12):
Missouri 41, Georgia 26
South Carolina 52, Arkansas 7
Auburn 62, Western Carolina 3
LSU 17, Florida 6
Alabama 48, Kentucky 7
Mississippi State 21, Bowling Green 20
Texas A&M 41, Ole Miss 38
(All Times Eastern)
OPEN: Tennessee (3-3), Vanderbilt (3-3)

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