Miles praises spectacular Gamecocks
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Until the final snap of the second quarter, South Carolina trailed LSU, 14-10, battling the Tigers on close to even terms on the scoreboard. LSU didn't begin to break the game open until the third quarter when an 87-yard TD run by Leonard Fournette and a 62-yard TD scoring pass off a deflection gave LSU a 31-10 lead.
Yet, the Gamecocks kept battling and trailed by just two touchdowns entering the fourth quarter despite a wide disparity in total yardage (514-250) and first downs (25-10).
It wasn't until LSU drove 67 yards and scored on a 1-yard TD run by Darrius Guice and then made a defensive stop midway through the fourth quarter could LSU fans finally feel comfortable, let alone the Tiger coaches.
Afterwards, LSU coach Les Miles saluted the Gamecocks for overcoming a tidal wave - literally - of adversity since last weekend, and making an unscheduled trip to the Bayou, forfeiting a home game against a Top 10 team.
"I recognize the difficulty that South Carolina is going through," Miles said. "It's not easy in any way to put together practice plans and game plans with the perimeter that is going on in South Carolina right now.
"I thought what Coach Spurrier and South Carolina did was spectacular. They were dead in it and fought. They came up with a great game plan. Considering the situation South Carolina was in, they did a great job.
USC was designated the "home team" for Saturday's game, so they had the first choice of uniforms and LSU, as the visiting team, called the coin toss at the beginning of the game. The LSU band played the Gamecock fight song and the Alma mater, and 'Sandstorm' blasted over the speakers.
Still, Miles realizes the Gamecocks were, in reality, far from the 'home' team taking everything into account.
"That's Tiger Stadium. That's our home venue," Miles said. "It doesn't make any difference on how you cut it. It is just very difficult for an opponent to come in here and pretend they are the home team."
Spurrier spoke in less flattering terms about his own team, insisting the players had no excuses not to play well despite traveling to Baton Rouge.
"(This week) has been difficult for so many South Carolinians," Spurrier said. "Our football team didn't have it bad. We have no excuses. Last night, our chaplain asked how many players had been flooded out. Nobody raised their hand.
"We've been fortunate and blessed. We had a normal week of practice. I don't know if we had played them at home it would have been any different, to tell you the truth. A lot of people had it rough. But most of us were spared and we're thankful and grateful."
WHAT HAPPENED TO BRANDON WILDS?: Brandon Wilds' bizarre season continued on Saturday. He appeared on USC's dress list and went through pre-game warm-ups. He was cleared by team doctors to play. But then he told the coaches he couldn't play because his bruised ribs were still bothering him. Thus, he missed his third straight game.
"Brandon Wilds took himself out," Spurrier said after the game. "Brandon Wilds said, 'My ribs hurt, I can't play.' That's why Brandon Wilds didn't play. (It happened) pre-game. Yeah, it was a surprise. He said he was hurt and couldn't play. We're not going to put anybody out there that doesn't want to play if they say they're hurt. That was his situation."
Some photos from today's game and surrounding activities - http://t.co/03hJpZPWRg - #Gamecocks pic.twitter.com/1i1P4YhYnF- GamecockCentral.com (@GamecockCentral) October 11, 2015
-- Moving Saturday's game to Baton Rouge means USC currently has just one scheduled home game (Vanderbilt) between Sept. 26 and Nov. 14.
-- USC team captains were Pharoh Cooper, Isaiah Johnson, Mike Matulis and Skai Moore.
-- LSU now leads the all-time series over USC, 18-2-1. Saturday marked the second time under Les Miles the Tigers have amassed more than 600 yards of total offense. They had 624 yards against the Gamecocks, most against a SEC opponent since 1987.
-- With Brandon Wilds sidelined, David Williams made his first career start at running back. He finished with 25 yards on seven carries and caught two passes for 9 yards. Afterwards, Spurrier expressed his frustration at USC's running backs. "I get frustrated watching our guys," Spurrier said. "They run in there and nobody tackles them and they fall down. I had to yell at a few of them today. Their guy breaks about eight tackles on one run and our guys go in there and fall on the ground. Shoot, that's just the way we were, I guess."
-- Quarterback Perry Orth tallied career highs in completions (14) and passing yards (200) on Saturday.
-- Shamier Jeffery made three catches for 35 yards, including a sensational one-handed grab that made ESPN's 'Top 5 Plays of the Day' in college football. He increased his career reception total from nine to 12, a jump of 33 percent.
-- Pharoh Cooper caught seven passes for 105 yards and one TD, and became the 15th player in school history with 100 or more receptions. He has seven or more receptions in three games this season. His 43-yard TD catch in the third quarter was his 13th career TD catch. With 105 career receptions, Cooper needs 11 more catches to climb into the Top 10.
-- Defensive end Marquavius Lewis registered his first career sack and led USC with a career-high nine tackles. Jordan Diggs had a career-high seven tackles.
-- After heading to the halftime locker room trailing 17-10 on Saturday, USC has now trailed at intermission in all six games this season.
-- Placekicker Elliot Fry booted a field goal and three extra points Saturday to pass Marcus Lattimore for third place on USC's all-time scoring list. Fry needs just three points to catch Ryan Succop in second place:
1. Collin Mackie (1987-90) - 330 points
2. Ryan Succop (2005-08) - 251
3. Elliott Fry (2013-15) - 248
4. Marcus Lattimore (2010-12) - 246
5. George Rogers (1977-80) - 202
-- In addition, Fry extended his school record to 111 straight made PATs. He ranks fifth among active kickers in that category. He has 116 career PATs, one shy of the school record held by Scott Hagler (1983-86).
-- For the second straight game, the USC defense didn't force a turnover from the opposing defense. LSU fumbled twice on Saturday, but a Gamecock couldn't fall on the loose football. "We can't get a fumble on defense," Spurrier said. "We caused two, but can't seem to get one."
-- LSU had two running backs with 150+ rushing yards for the second time in school history, and the first time against a SEC opponent. In addition, Travin Dural caught four passes for 109 yards. LSU had two 150+ yards rushers and a 100-yard receiver for the first time in school history.
-- Prior to Saturday, the last time LSU wore purple jerseys against a SEC opponent was 2009. Last time they wore purple jerseys in Baton Rouge against a SEC opponent? 1994. Saturday also marked the fourth time in the modern era LSU wore white helmets and the seventh time they have worn white pants.
-- USC and local vendor School Cuts have teamed up to sell a T-shirt with proceeds distributed by the Central Carolina Community Foundation, the American Red Cross of South Carolina and the United Way of the Midlands to agencies providing flood relief statewide. The shirt, manufactured by School Cuts of Columbia, will sell for $15.
SEC SCHEDULE (Oct. 10):
Ole Miss 52, New Mexico State 3
LSU 45, South Carolina 24
Tennessee 38, Georgia 31
Mississippi State 45, Troy 17
Alabama 27, Arkansas 14
Florida 21, Missouri 3
BYES: Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, Auburn.
SEC EAST STANDINGS: Florida 4-0, Kentucky 2-1, Georgia 2-2, Missouri 1-2, Tennessee 1-2, Vanderbilt 0-2, USC 0-4.
Video: Steve Spurrier press conference - http://t.co/ZaDcf4OJQm - #Gamecocks pic.twitter.com/oL1slwPNVT- GamecockCentral.com (@GamecockCentral) October 11, 2015