Offensive line asserts itself
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - On the field moments after the final whistle of No. 14 South Carolina's dominating 52-7 win over Arkansas, USC defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward went up to offensive line coach Shawn Elliott and gave him a massive bear hug.
It was a fitting thank-you for Elliott, whose offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage all afternoon and was the unit most responsible for keeping the Arkansas offense on the sidelines as the Gamecocks enjoyed a 43:35 advantage in time of possession to the Razorbacks' 16:35. In the decisive second half, Arkansas got off only 13 plays to the Gamecocks' 42.
I'm so proud of them," Shaw said. "They plowed throughout the day.
"They're kind of the unsung heroes. We have a lot of experience up front, and we rely on those guys a lot. They played well.
"Coming into this week, all you heard was how they lead the league in sacks and have two really good pass rushers, and I thought our offensive line played really well."
Against a defensive front leading the league in sacks and featuring three players in the league's top 10 in sacks - Chris Smith, Trey Flowers and Robert Thomas - A.J. Cann said this week's focus on how good Arkansas' defensive front was served as motivation to the entire unit.
"We knew they were good watching film," Cann said. "We heard about their pass rush. Coach Spurrier preached all week that we had to come out and be more physical than them, and we came out and played more physical than them."
While the line did allow three sacks, it crushed an Arkansas unit ranked third in the SEC in total defense SEC (339.5) to the tune of 537 total yards, including a season-high 277 on the ground. The 52 points gave Steve Spurrier his largest margin of victory on the road and the most points scored on the road in his USC tenure. The 32 first downs were also a season-high.
"(The line) had a good game," Spurrier said. "We must have run for a bunch of yards. Mike Davis had another good day and Shon Carson had a good day. He had a chance to help us today and did."
For Cann, regardless of how well South Carolina played Saturday and the fact that Georgia lost, nothing changes in the Gamecocks' locker room.
"We have to continue to do what we do. We have Tennessee next week, and we have to focus on them. We can't worry about Georgia."