One Moment Please.......We Have Just Received Word that the SC Defense has Scored Again
After a three difficult weeks where the Gamecocks struggled, I did not see this beatdown coming. Here's some thoughts:
- After going up 41-10 early in the 4th Quarter, the Gamecocks took the opportunity to get some reps for reserve players on defense. We unfortunately gave up two TD drives of 75 yards and 58 yards, although the defense did get one of their own with Nixon's pick-6. Through 3 quarters the Gamecocks held Arkansas to 158 total yards of offense and 10 points. The Gamecocks defense had 152 yards off turnover returns in the game. Also, for the game Arkansas only generate 3.3 yards / rush. That is elite defense.
- As evidence of this, three Gamecock defensive players made PFF's SEC top performer list this week: D.J. Wonnum, Dante Sawyer, and Skai Moore.
- The offense continued to struggle on 3rd Down, converting only 4 of 13. The good news is that they were fairly efficient on other downs, with an improved running game being key to this. For the game SC had 358 yards of total offense. As a result of the defense scoring twice in the 3rd Quarter, essentially staying on the field the entire time, and scoring again in the 4th, the Gamecock offense lost out on 3 possessions or so. Based on average yards / drive they would have had roughly 475 yards of total offense with the additional possessions.
- Given the patchwork nature of the SC offensive line in the game and how poorly they performed against Texas A&M the previous week, I was surprised at how well they controlled the line of scrimmage against an SEC opponent. Wolford is a great OL coach, and this reminds me of his previous stop with Gamecocks in 2009 where we saw continuous improvement throughout the year for what was a terrible line at the beginning of the season. This bodes well for the remainder of the season, especially since we should get Bailey and Helms back from injury shortly.
- ESPN FPI now has the Gamecocks slight favorites or better in 4 of the remaining 6 games of the season. As it appears now, the Tennessee and Florida games should determine whether SC finishes 6-6 or 8-4 this year.
Teriyaki Chicken Wings
After every win I'll give out a dozen wings to the players most responsible for the victory. Given their performance in the game this will be a very defense-heavy edition.
Wonnum had one of the most dominating performances by a defensive player that I have seen in a long time. He didn't generate a lot of stats, but he knocked down 2 passes at the line of scrimmage and was disruptive all night.
Skai got his second interception of the year and returned it for a TD to begin the rout in the 3rd Quarter. This was the 13th of his career, putting him just one shy of tying the school record. He also had 2 TFL, including a sack, and a QB Hurry.
Dante Sawyer had 2 TFL including a sack to along with a forced fumble that Brunson returned for a TD. He has amazingly forced 3 fumbles in the first 6 games of the season.
Top graded SEC interior defenders thru WK6:— Vinnie Ronca (@PFF_Vinnie) October 10, 2017
Recovered 2 fumbles during the game, one of which he returned 73 yards for the 2nd defensive score in the 3rd Quarter.
This guy is having a great senior season. He tied for the lead in tackles against Arkansas, and had a TFL and a defended pass. He set the tone for the game by forcing a fumble on the Razorbacks' 2nd play of the game.
Jumped a hitch route in the 4th Quarter to get the Gamecocks' 3rd defensive score of the night.
Hurst led all receivers with 76 yards on 2 catches, one of which was the 62-yard TD reception early in the 2nd Quarter. He became only the third SC Tight End to surpass 1,000 receiving yards in a career.
His highlight-reel catch in the final seconds of the 1st Half gave the Gamecocks a lead they would not relinquish.
Rico ran the ball really hard after finally getting healthy, gaining 5.5 yards / carry over 11 carries as part of an improved Gamecock rushing attack.
Cool TD reception, bro.
The OL had a great game and totally dominated the Arkansas defensive front. Donell Stanley was solid all night at RG.
That's all I've got for the win against Arkansas. Hopefully we see a few more games like this one in the back half of the season.