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Five Key Plays: USC-Akron


Gamecock Central looks at five key plays from South Carolina's season finale.

1. Deebo!

There wasn’t much special about South Carolina’s first touchdown. It was a fly sweep to Samuel, who ran through the defense for a 15-yard touchdown. But it showed the offensive philosophy for the first half: get the ball to the playmakers and work sideline to sideline. That worked well for the Gamecocks, who scored all 28 points in the first half.

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2. You should probably cover Bryan Edwards

It was a busted coverage all the way, so bad that Jake Bentley seemed to hesitate on the throw, in disbelief over how open Edwards was. Edwards ran a go, the corner didn’t. He sat on a route that wasn’t there, and left Edwards open. Bentley hit him, and Edwards outran the safety for a 70-yard touchdown. It was the longest play of the day for the Gamecock offense, which was unable to move the ball consistently and needed the explosive plays to score.

“They just left me open and Jake saw it,” Edwards said.

Also see: What we're hearing: Gamecocks bowl update

3. Deebo Again!

In the second quarter, with the rain coming down, Akron lined up to punt. The snap went through punter Nick Gasser’s hands and toward the end zone. Gasser did a good job chasing down the fumble and falling on it, but Samuel did a better job. He sprinted toward Gasser and jumped on him right as Gasser fell on the football. A pileup ensued, and Samuel ripped the ball away from Gasser, turning a safety into a touchdown. It counted as a defensive fumble recovery, meaning Samuel has a touchdown passing, rushing, receiving, on kick return, and on defense in his career. Not bad.

4. Fumble?

It wasn’t just the Gamecocks and Zips that looked sluggish for most of the second half, the officials too seemed like they were tired of the cold and rain. The officials had several blown calls, but was most obvious on a third quarter play. Brad Johnson and Kobe Smith combined to strip-sack Kato Nelson. The fumble was scooped up by Ernest Jones, who took off for the end zone. After he was about 20 yards downfield, the officials blew the play dead, saying Nelson was down. Javon Kinlaw was so mad he pointed a finger in referee James Carter’s face, drawing a flag. Replay corrected the call, giving the ball to the Gamecocks, but taking away Jones’ touchdown. In a tight game, it could have been a game-changing mistake. In a lopsided game, it was just another long delay as officials struggled to figure out what happened.

5. Bailey injured

On the final play of the third quarter, Mon Denson got a handoff. He gained four yards, but Zack Bailey got caught up in the pile and suffered a broken fibula. Bailey surely didn’t want to leave his final game on a cart, but that’s what happened. Will Muschamp said the injury wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but it was still disappointing.

“It’s obviously a setback, but it’s not a catastrophic injury,” he said. “It’s not good, but it’s not what it could be.”