Marty Simpsons big-play breakdown
In this special feature, former Gamecock football player Marty Simpson takes a look at some of the big plays from the South Carolina-Mississippi State football game.
D.J. Swearinger interception
Watch Melvin Ingram get held on this play. You can literally see his jersey get pulled by the offensive lineman. Luckily for USC, he didn't give up while being held and applied enough pressure to affect the pass.
Swearinger made a great break on the football and a really nice athletic catch. I have said this in other weeks but credit our athletic ability in actually making these plays. In years past, this play might have only been broken up as opposed to picked off. Credit C.C. Whitlock for having great coverage on his man even if Swearinger doesn't make the interception.
Alshon Jeffery TD on the fade
A promising note on this play is it looks like Brandon Wilds is capable of delivering decent pass blocking from the running back position. Watch our offensive linemen fire out low and hard in order to "cut" the defensive line. This is used on plays they know the quarterback will be throwing the ball quickly. But the stunting linemen looped around our left tackle and never got blocked and delivered a good lick on the quarterback.
I text up to four different people during the games different comments. My text before this play was to my former assistant coach and good friend. The text said, "And now for the dumb fade!" The text after this play said, "I LOVE THE FADE!"
I think this is an example of what some fans would call a tendency to be predictable on Steve Spurrier's part. I would like it noted that with a halfway decent thrown ball this is actually a good play call down here. We are just so used to an uncatchable ball being thrown on this fade pass that we view it as a bad play call. Spurrier even said that he wanted everyone to know that he has been coaching the quarterbacks to just throw a decent jump ball and he was excited that Shaw finally did it.
Also, Spurrier said the original route was supposed to be a slant to Jeffery, but MSU's corner jumped inside so quickly it caused Shaw to adjust and throw the jump ball. The fact that Shaw made this adjustment on the fly is actually amazing, all things considered.
This entire offensive exchange is kind of perplexing. This means that MSU predicted the slant, even though the fade was the predictable route. So somehow this year's predictability is not as predictable as we all thought. (But the other teams are still able to predict them!)
So to clarify, every Gamecock fan thought we were going to throw the fade, but MSU somehow knew we were throwing the slant. When they "jumped" the slant so quickly, it caused Shaw to throw the fade, which we all knew was coming to begin with. As Jeffery caught the fade, my head exploded thinking about it.
Back to actual analysis.
Shaw does a fantastic job of putting the ball in a place where Jeffery can at least make a play on it. (As opposed to out of bounds!) Jeffery just "mans up" and makes the play the Gamecocks needed in crunch time.
Why 15 yards wasn't added to the kickoff for Alshon getting his helmet ripped off is a mystery to me, but either way, this was a great play. Also, at first I thought the player on the ground continued to play rough by pulling Alshon to the ground after he had ripped his helmet off, but I was wrong to think that. Actually, Bruce Ellington gives Alshon a loving push as he helps him up as if to say, "Way to go, man!" But instead it sort of played out like one of those middle school tricks at recess when a buddy would bend over behind someone and you would push them over your buddy.
All in all, just a great play for the Gamecocks.
Nick Jones 17-yard WR screen pass
The best thing about this play is the fact that it's fourth-and-two and we actually snapped this ball before Mississippi State was even ready for it. Credit Shaw's savviness that enables the Gamecocks to execute this type of "fire drill."
There's a great block by Justice Cunningham out in front of Jones. Jones' man was actually one of the defenders not ready for this play and he therefore missed the initial tackle. Rewind this play and watch Jones' man sprinting across the formation as this play began.
What is missing from this replay is the scramble to the line of scrimmage with no hesitation that the Gamecocks executed.
For what it's worth, the fourth down that we got stopped on is not in the highlight reel for me to dissect. I would just like to note that Navy also stopped the toss sweep to the double-wing formation as we ran into the short side of the field and now MSU has stopped it again. Is it too much to ask of Spurrier that he commit to NOT running toss-sweep toward the double-wing set into the short-side on fourth down again this season?
Devin Taylor sack
Rewind this play and watch it several times specifically watching Devin Taylor and Jadeveon Clowney, the Gamecock defensive ends. Clowney makes an extraordinary effort to crash the down block in front of him, which allows the pulling linemen to overtake him. However, his effort is unbelievable on this play as he recovers from the initial collision of the pulling linemen and actually is the first defender to reach the quarterback.
Taylor has been overshadowed somewhat by the more "attention grabbing" plays made by Ingram, Clowney, and Antonio Allen. However, Taylor has played very good football. This game was a great game for Taylor and this play was one of his highlights. Rewind the play and watch the top defensive end and concentrate on his relentless effort to continue his pursuit of the quarterback.
(One special note that's not related to football but more to technology. Don't let the play reach its end all the way before clicking the timeline play area at the beginning to snap it back to the beginning. This will save you having to see the Dodge Ram commercial so many times. You're welcome.)
Reginald Bowens interception
Rewind this play a few times to watch Clowney's rush from the defensive right end position. Mississippi State's offensive tackle attempts to "cut" Clowney and Clowney just hurdles him.
Travian Robertson does a great job of getting his hands up in the air and he makes the initial batting of the ball. Bowens lined up originally as the defensive right linebacker. He took his pass drop and when he saw the ball had been tipped he made a great break on it.
Also watch Ingram's patented spin move to completely defeat his blocker and cause pressure for the quarterback.
Lattimore TD run
This appears to be a run/pass option for Shaw to make at the point of attack. If you notice the top two receivers you will see what I mean. Ellington breaks out to block Jones' defender and Jones turns to look for the ball in case Shaw pulls this and throws it to him. So for all the "lack of imagination" grief that has been given to Spurrier over the last few weeks, it's worth noting that this is a fairly complex play from a concept standpoint.
Jones will be catching this ball from behind the line of scrimmage if he is thrown the ball, therefore the offensive line can fire out and go downfield and the play remains legal if it is thrown to the receiver.
Now to discuss the actual running play. The right tackle does a good job of sealing the inside allowing Lattimore to get singled out onto one defender. Lattimore usually makes this one defender miss, and this play is business as usual.
It's pretty clear this is a run/pass option and I want to point out the lack of confusion or lack of craziness in our execution of it all. Meaning, Shaw being the quarterback might have alleviated some of the strangeness of looking to the sidelines and seeming unorganized and confused.
Lattimore 16-yard reception from Ellington
One thing I hate to read is when a columnist points out something and makes a negative comment about it and then when it changes over time that columnist never acknowledges the change. I have been harping on the Gamecocks' general lack of deception when it comes to play-action passing. Last week versus Kentucky a true, well-designed, play-action pass created an easy touchdown and this week, this play would have created an easy touchdown, if not for the lack of "perfect" execution.
Ellington does a fantastic job of "tucking" this ball to make it really look like a running play. This causes the playside corner and the free safety to come flying up for run support. This allows the playside receiver, in this case, Lattimore, to break free up the sideline wide open.
If Ellington would have planted his foot and really "backed up straight" it would have given the pulling center a better angle to block the defensive end that ends up in Ellington's face. However, Ellington really showed his athletic ability on this play as he was able to get the ball out with a defender in his face.
For those of you thinking this was a bad route to have two of our players ending up side by side, I think that was more due to the nature of the quick throw. I think this was a standard combo route with the outside receiver running a fly route and Rory Anderson running an out route. Lattimore was just forced to stop his route short making it look like he and Anderson were in the same area.
17-yard pass to Ellington
There is a not a good way to write about bad officiating. No matter what angle a columnist takes about poor officiating it will come across as whining. All I am going to do to help point out the catastrophic incompetence of this SEC officiating crew is highlight an instance where they missed an egregious hold by one of the Gamecock offensive linemen. Therefore, we can rejoice in their ineptitude on this particular play, while also providing evidence of how ridiculously horrible at officiating they are.
Watch our offensive right tackle the entire play. In my opinion the same eyes that ignored a half-dozen holds by MSU tackles on both Clowney and Taylor, also ignored the Gamecocks holding on this play.
Regarding the actual play's execution, this is another example of our play-action passing game's improvement. The three linebackers all react to the initial play fake to Lattimore. It's still not completely sold out to the deception aspect of football, but it's a huge improvement over the "token" fakes from the start of the season. The space created by the linebackers' steps towards the line of scrimmage is the space that allows Ellington to make an easy catch.
We ran this same play in the game earlier to Ace Sanders. The only question I was left with after the second time seeing this play work so well was, "Why didn't we run this a few more times in the game?"
From coach to comedian: Marty Simpson is a former Academic All-Conference player for USC who scored the Gamecocks' first 6 points in the SEC. During 8 years as a high school varsity coach, Simpson led his team to the state finals. He's now a stand-up comedian.
See Marty perform stand-up comedy in Columbia, S.C., on Oct. 22 at New Kirk Presbyterian Church.
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