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November 23, 2013

Cooper has breakout game

If Pharoh Cooper is developing multiple-personality disorder, No. 12 South Carolina is just fine with that. After all, at least the wide receiver/Wildcat quarterback/punt returner isn't dabbling on defense anymore.

Instead, Cooper has been busy wowing his teammates in practice and, finally, wowing fans on Saturdays as he did against Coastal Carolina with 123 total yards on just four touches, two of which were touchdowns.

Cooper scored his first collegiate touchdown with 1:44 left in the first quarter on an 11-yard pass to the corner of the end zone on a pass from Dylan Thompson that made the score 35-0, then added an electrifying 71-yard touchdown burst midway through the third quarter that put the score at 56-7.

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Not bad for anybody, and especially not bad for a true freshman.

"Pharoh's a ballplayer," Steve Spurrier said. "We know that. He needs to run it three or four times a game and catch a few passes. That catch was a nice catch in the end zone. I thought Dylan might have overshot him a bit, but he ran it down and made a good play on it.

"Pharoh is obviously a talent."

On his touchdown catch and touchdown run, Cooper said the play calls set him up for success.

"We were in twins left, it was man-to-man coverage and they were play inside," Cooper said. "I had a corner route, so Dylan threw it over the top and I went and got it.

"On the run, it was an open seam. The line did a great job blocking. It was a great hole for me to run through and there was no safety over the top and I just ran it in."

Both Thompson and Connor Shaw said they're well aware of the offensive commodity they have in Cooper.

"We knew Pharoh was going to be something special for us this season," Shaw said. "He's kind of blossomed. He finds a way to make plays."

Thompson agreed.

"Pharoh is a great player and a great athlete who can play a lot of different positions," Thompson said. "Very talented guy, works hard and is going to continue to get better."

Spurrier said Cooper's even doing things naturally he wants his coaches to teach the more experienced players how to do.

"Pharoh, when he busted that one up the middle, you noticed he sort of high-stepped away from the guys diving at our ankles and feet," Spurrier said. "I told Everette Sands, you need to tell all our running backs and some of the receivers, too, to jump out of those guys diving at your ankles. We've had a lot of guys that the last guy gets us by the swipe of the legs."

For Cooper, the breakout game - two touchdowns, two catches for 42 yards receiving, 81 yards rushing on two carries - was the culmination of a lot of hard work.

"It was a great feeling," Cooper said. "I haven't scored since my last year of high school.

"Just getting in the end zone again, I'm truly blessed to get an opportunity to play at this level. It felt good and put a smile on my face."

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