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Spurrier Shuffle

USC's Garcia, Smelley tag-team Razorbacks

Published on 11/09/08
BY TRAVIS HANEY
The Post and Courier

COLUMBIA — South Carolina got stuck on six wins a year ago. The Gamecocks, with some vintage quirky coaching by Steve Spurrier, appeared bent on keeping it from happening again.

Switching quarterbacks on virtually every play and regularly employing funky offensive formations, South Carolina had a relatively easy time Saturday afternoon in getting past Arkansas, 34-21, in front of 80,290 fans at Williams-Brice Stadium.

It was another one of those days when Spurrier found more bad than good to say about his team. But, in the end, he couldn't discount the record.

"We're 7-3," Spurrier said. "We didn't play very well, really. ... We've got a lot to work on, a lot to yell at them about."

The seven regular-season wins match South Carolina's high in Spurrier's four years at USC. The 2005 team won seven, and then the Liberty Bowl.

Like that season, the Gamecocks (4-3 in the SEC) are assured they will finish at or above .500 in the league. They might move back into the top 25 this week.

With out-of-the-norm things like Tennessee being out of the bowl

picture, USC looks more and more in line for a New Year's bowl game.

Representatives from the Chick-fil-A (Dec. 31), Outback (Jan. 1) and Capital One (Jan. 1) bowls were present Saturday.

"Every game is for a better bowl game," said senior receiver Kenny McKinley, who set the school's all-time yardage mark with a 130-yard day. "We want to play in January."

But trips to Florida and Clemson are next.

"We're looking for nine (wins),"

senior defensive end Jordin Lindsey

said. "We're not satisfied with seven."

The Gamecocks were in control early, leading 17-7 at intermission, but Arkansas started making a little run in the second half thanks in part to a 15-play, eight-minute scoring drive after the half.

The Razorbacks (4-6, 1-5) had the ball late in the third quarter down

20-14, but Lindsey responded with an athletic, leaping interception and a 40-yard return that set up the touchdown to help USC pull away.

"We talked about it on the sideline," Lindsey said. "We knew something had to change. We were on our heels a little bit. We needed something to throw it back in gear our way. That was it."

South Carolina's defense gave up 309 yards, just above its highly ranked average. But 70 came on an early touchdown pass, with blown coverage by safety Chris Culliver and corner Carlos Thomas.

With that long drive as the exception, the defense played fiery, with memories lingering of last year's 542 rushing yards surrendered.

"We've been hearing it all week from our coaches," said Lindsey, who missed last season because of academic issues.

USC's defense knocked Hogs running back Michael Smith (stinger) and quarterback Casey Dick (concussion) from the game.

Smith, the SEC's leading rusher coming in with 123 yards a game, couldn't play the second half after his shoulder popped out of socket. He finished with seven carries for 26 yards.

Oh, and about that gimmick-centric USC offense.

Spurrier set the tone with the first series.

Sophomore Chris Smelley started the game at quarterback. He was replaced on the second play of the game by Stephen Garcia. The flip-flopping continued throughout the game, with only a couple of exceptions.

Garcia's first snap came in the famed Emory & Henry formation, with linemen and receivers strewn about the field. Garcia flung it to McKinley for a 30-yard gain on a screen pass.

The Emory & Henry was unveiled a few more times during the game. As was that LSU-born "Cajun" play that USC scored on at Kentucky. The Gamecocks also had a few direct snaps to running backs.

"We're probably better in funny formations than the normal ones," Spurrier said, adding that the offensive coaches would have to come up with some new ideas for the Gators.

But USC had some success in formations that weren't necessarily "funny." Specifically, on an 11-play drive, capped with Mike Davis' 13-yard touchdown run, that iced the game.

The Gamecocks ran on each of the 11 plays.

USC entered the game averaging 67 rushing yards a game in SEC play. The team had 72 on that drive alone. It finished with 132 in the game against the league's worst rushing and total defense.

The drive took six minutes, 21 seconds. Compare that to USC's first five scoring drives (three touchdowns, two field goals), which took all of 5:55.

Reach Travis Haney at thaney@postandcourier.com. and check out the new South Carolina blog at www.charleston.net/blogs/gamecocks.

S. CAROLINA QUICK TAKE

The Good

Steve Spurrier has stuck by the

troublesome Lindsey twins and,

on senior day, defensive end

Jordin made a key interception to

halt Arkansas' momentum.

The Bad

Chris Culliver, for some reason,

decided to start punching an

Arkansas player's helmet. And it'll

cost USC its starting free safety for

a half next week at Florida.

The Wacky

Spurrier took the quarterback

rotation to the extreme, going

from Chris Smelley to Stephen

Garcia on each play for just about

the entire game.

– Travis Haney

Source: Click here

GO GAMECOCKS!