NOTEBOOK: SPURRIER, PLAYERS REACT TO NEWTON INJURY QB
As you probably guessed, the South Carolina players and coaches were a bit stunned in the post-game media room talking about Syvelle Newton's torn Achilles tendon, a season-ending injury that will hurt the USC offense.
Rod Walters, the USC team physician, said Newton will likely have to wear a cast for approximately six weeks. Newton will undergo an MRI exam on Sunday or Monday.
Word spread quickly on the sideline during the game about the severity of Newton's injury. Head coach Steve Spurrier acknowledges Newton's injury will limit USC's offense in the future.
"It hurts our team, we all know that, but there is nothing we can do about it," Spurrier said. "It's the first serious injury we've had all year. We've been pretty fortunate most of the year. I'm not the type of guy to sit around and cry unless a guy got paralyzed or something. It's tough for Syvelle. He's got some rehab ahead of him. I don't know how you can prevent what happened."
Here's how some of the USC players reacted to the news of Newton's injury:
Kris Clark: "I think all of us are a little down because he's such a great player and such a great person. He had a great game. It would have been a shame for us to lose a game where he played so well. We won that game for him. He's going to greatly missed out there."
Sidney Rice: "Syvelle did a real good job today opening up the offense. He ran the ball well. He also passed the ball well. It's a big loss for us. Syvelle had a lot to do with this game. We have to keep our heads up and stay focused."
Blake Mitchell: "Everyone is going to have to step it up. Look at what he did today. Two passing touchdowns, a rushing touchdown. It hurts us a lot. He played a tremendous game. He's a great athlete. I thought he had just tweaked his ankle. I didn't think it was something that serious."
Ko Simpson: "It was a big blow for us. But we've got to have some guys step in and try to play. When you lose Syvelle, that's big. There aren't too many players on the teams like him."
KEY PLAYER: Before his injury, Syvelle Newton was the triple threat that Spurrier envisioned. He rushed for 80 yards on 15 carries, caught one pass, and threw two touchdown passes, one of them on a flea flicker to tight end Carson Askins. Honorable mention goes to freshman wide receiver Sidney Rice, who had three touchdowns among his eight catches. He also broke the school record by catching a touchdown pass in his sixth straight game.
KEY MOMENT: Vanderbilt took the second half kickoff and drove 72 yards in eight plays for a 14-7 lead. But USC responded with a 9-play, 65-yard drive to score the tying touchdown on a flea flicker pass from Syvelle Newton to tight end Carson Askins. USC scored touchdowns on its next two possession and never trailed again.
TURNING POINT: After Vanderbilt scored to tie the score at 28-28, Blake Mitchell's first pass from the USC 23 was batted down at the line of scrimmage. But he hit Kris Clark for a huge 32-yard gain and a 14-yard gain on the next two plays. Those receptions set up the game-winning touchdown pass to Sidney Rice with 1:41 left.
TROUBLING TREND: USC is still having problems stopping opponents on third down. Vanderbilt converted seven of 18 third-down opportunities and three of five fourth down tries.
ALL-TIME SERIES: Saturday marked the 15th meeting between USC and Vanderbilt. USC now leads the all-time series with Vanderbilt, 13-2, and has won six games in a row. USC has scored at least 30 points in five of those games. Vanderbilt's only wins against USC came in 1998 and 1999 during USC's 21-game losing streak.
RICE BREAKS RECORD: Freshman Sidney Rice broke the school record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass when he caught a pass in the end zone for the sixth consecutive game. Rice's three touchdown catches tied a school record held by eight other players. In the last two games, Rice has caught 16 passes for 257 yards.
STOPPING THE RUN: USC has had problems stopping the run all season. But Saturday they did. The Gamecocks held Vandy to 41 net yards rushing on 34 attempts. The Commodores has 23 yards rushing on 30 attempts through three quarters.
SACKS: USC has two sacks of Jay Cutler Saturday to raise its season total to 21. USC had just 12 sacks all of last season. De'Adrian Coley recorded his first sack of the season and the second of his career. Stanley Doughty had his fourth sack of the season.
BLOCKED FIELD GOAL: When Fred Bennett blocked Vanderbilt's field goal attempt late in the first half, it marked the first time in over four years that a USC player had blocked a field goal attermpt. The last time it happened was Sept. 1, 2001 against Boise State. Langston Moore msde the block in that game.
SPURRIER V. VANDERBILT: Steve Spurrier is now a perfect 13-0 against Vanderbilt in his 16-year coaching career. He was 10-0 against the Commodores while head coach at Florida and 2-0 at Duke. Spurrier's is also 13-0 against Kentucky.
CONSECUTIVE CONFERENCE WINS: Saturday's 35-28 victory over Vanderbilt, together with last week's win over Kentucky, means USC has now won consecutive conference games for the first time since the 2002 season. USC defeated Mississippi State and Kentucky on Oct. 5 and 12, 2002.
SPURRIER REACHES CENTURY MARK: Steve Spurrier won the 100th SEC game of his coaching career. His career SEC mark is 100-26-1.
HOMECOMING RECORD: This week is Homecoming on the USC campus. USC has celebrated Homecoming since 1930. USC's record in Homecoming games is now 44-29-1. The Gamecocks have won five of its last six Homecoming games. Vanderbilt was also the Homecoming opponent in 2001 and 2003.
LEADING TACKLERS: Dustin Lindsey and Ko Simpson led USC with 10 tackles apiece. Lindsey made his first start of the season at inside linebacker. Ricardo Hurley, the player he replaced, finished with two tackles.
OFFENSVE STARTERS: QB Blake Mitchell; RB Daccus Turman; WR Sidney Rice; WR Kris Clark; LT Jabari Levey; LG Freddy Saint-Preux; C Chris White; RG Thomas Coleman; RT Na'Shan Goddard, TE Carson Askins.
DEFENSIVE STARTERS: DT Chris Tucker; DT Stanley Doughty; DE Orus Lambert; DE Jordin Lindsey; OLB Lance Laury; MLB Dustin Lindsey; OLB Mike West; ROV Ko Simpson; CB Johnathan Joseph; CB Fred Bennett; FS Brandon Isaac.
SEC RESULTS (Sat. 10/22)
Georgia 23, Arkansas 20
Ole Miss 13, Kentucky 7
Houston 28, Miss. State 16
Alabama 6, Tennessee 3
LSU 20, Auburn 17 (OT)
OPEN DATE: Florida.