Elliott: We all believe in gutsy Orth
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KNOXVILLE, TENN. -- Good or bad, quarterbacks are ultimately judged by their won-loss record.
For Perry Orth, that's probably an unfair measuring stick.
Orth made his fifth career start on Saturday as he completed 20-of-39 passes for 233 yards and a career-high three touchdowns in South Carolina's heartbreaking 27-24 loss to Tennessee.
Four of Orth's five career starts have come on the road at Georgia, LSU, Texas A&M and Tennessee. The Gamecocks have lost all four games, the latter two by a combined 10 points.
With three consecutive home games remaining in his tenure as interim head coach (he will either be hired as the permanent replacement to Steve Spurrier or replaced by a newly hired coach), Elliott has no plans to replace Orth as the starting quarterback.
"Gutsy," Elliott replied when asked to describe Orth's performance. "He could have done some better things early on in the football game, but I don't fault the guy. We all make mistakes. He lays it on the line, day in and day out, play after play.
"This is a guy that nobody thinks should be playing for our football team. But he is a great leader for us and our players believe in him. I believe in him and our coaching staff (believes in him). I think he did a good job. He put us in position to win."
Freshman Lorenzo Nunez struggled in Saturday's game, rushing for net zero yards on two carries and was essentially benched after messing up a first half play call when offensive coordinator G.A. Mangus called for a pass and Nunez tried to hand the ball off.
Without specifically identifying culprits, Elliott maintained USC made a few "boneheaded" plays in the first quarter when it fell behind 14-0.
"We call a pass protection and we're handing the football off," Elliott said. "That was one of our bonehead mistakes. I couldn't understand it. I'm not really sure what the communication error was on some of those things. He said he didn't get the pass route, so therefore he was going to hand the football off to our running back.
"From that point forward, you have to make the decision whether he is in the game or out of the game. We tried to get him in there a little bit more. But you have to say, 'Let's give ourselves a chance to win. We're not going to do that handing the ball off on a (pass) protection."
Our Gamecock team is improving and believing so stay strong Gamecock Nation. We need you more than ever against Florida!! #gamecocknation- Shawn Elliott USC (@ShawnElliottUSC) November 8, 2015
-- Elliott said USC installed the three-back set with Jonathan Walton as the fullback on Monday. He caught a TD pass off that formation in Saturday's loss. "He's a playmaker, so we need to get him on the field, defensively or offensively," Elliott said. "You will see more of him."
-- USC finished 0-5 on the road this season with losses at Georgia, Missouri, LSU, Texas A&M and Tennessee.
-- Senior offensive tackle Brandon Shell made his 45th career start on Saturday, tying him for fourth all-time in school history with Travelle Wharton (2000-03), Ladi Ajiboye (2007-10) and Devin Taylor (2009-12).
-- South Carolina's 21 points in the third quarter were the most points scored by the Gamecocks in a quarter this season.
-- Nine Gamecock players have started all nine games this year: WR Pharoh Cooper, LT Brandon Shell, LG Mike Matulis, RG Will Sport, RT Mason Zandi, DT Gerald Dixon Jr., DE Marquavius Lewis, LB Skai Moore, FS Isaiah Johnson.
-- Junior PK Elliott Fry's 43-yard field goal in the second quarter was the 49th FG of his career, tying him with Ryan Succop (2005-08) for second all-time in school history. Fry collected six points in Saturday's game to raise his career total to 258, six behind Succop for second place all-time behind Collin Mackie (330 points).
-- Brandon Wilds had 79 yards rushing on 20 carries and now has 1,784 career rushing yards, 26 behind Rob DeBoer for 20th place on USC's all-time rushing list. Wilds needs 216 yards before the end of the season to reach the 2,000-yard career rushing plateau.
-- Cooper had four receptions for 47 yards and one TD on Saturday, moving him into ninth place on USC's all-time list with 120 career receptions. He needs 22 receptions to catch Sidney Rice (142) in eighth place. Cooper has 1,846 career receiving yards.
-- Tennessee was 9-of-18 on third down opportunities, including 5-of-9 in the second half.
-- USC ran a fake/punt option for Sean Kelley with about eight minutes left. Kelley punted the football after Tennessee covered all the running lanes to block the fake.
-- Elliot confirmed the Neyland Stadium field was slippery.
SEC RESULTS/SCHEDULE (Nov. 5-7):
Mississippi State 31, Missouri 13 (Thur.)
Florida 9, Vanderbilt 7
Georgia 27, Kentucky 3
Arkansas 53, Ole Miss 52 (OT)
Tennessee 27, South Carolina 24
Auburn 26, Texas A&M 10
Alabama 30, LSU 16
SEC EAST STANDINGS: Florida 6-1, Georgia 4-3, Tennessee 3-3, Kentucky 2-5, Vanderbilt 1-4, Missouri 1-5, USC 1-6.
NOTE: Florida clinched the SEC East championship on Saturday as the Gators beat Vanderbilt with a late field goal.
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Shawn Elliott postgame presser: Video and quick recap https://t.co/ASD5iRYpkp pic.twitter.com/VVP5xPyMPB- GamecockCentral.com (@GamecockCentral) November 8, 2015