The monkey – or more specifically, the Hog – is off the Gamecocks’ back.
After three straight exasperating losses to Arkansas, South Carolina (8-2, 6-2 SEC) snapped its losing streak to the Razorbacks with a crisp, roundabout-is-fair-play, 38-20 win at Williams-Brice Stadium. The win also assured South Carolina its second straight 6-win SEC season.
The Gamecocks bookended their bye week with identical 38-point showings. Unlike the Tennessee game, this finish had far less drama. And given the misery the Razorbacks had inflicted on the Gamecocks, it had far more satisfaction, too.
“Notes, Quotes, and Anecdotes” on a happy Homecoming at Williams-Brice:
Inside The Interception: D.J. Swearinger thrives off emotion. His teammates feed off it. It’s an inextricable part of his football DNA, and a big reason why he has become of the most tenacious hitters in the SEC.
Yet after incurring a personal foul penalty for a hit above the shoulders on wide receiver Javontee Herndon in the third quarter, the senior didn’t let his temper spill out.
“When they threw the flag, I didn’t even think about it at all. I got ready for the next play. I didn’t get mad at all,” Swearinger told me afterwards. It was a more muted reaction, he admitted, than the one he had after his personal foul against UAB, which landed him a one-game suspension.
The cooler head prevailed one play later. With Arkansas facing a 1st-and-10 from the Gamecock 36 yard-line, Swearinger picked up a Tyler Wilson pass and romped 69 yards for a touchdown, extending South Carolina’s lead to 30-10. Amazingly, the Gamecocks have scored a defensive touchdown in three straight games against Wilson, a likely first-round NFL draft pick next April.
I asked Swearinger how he sniffed out the interception. He said he picked up a pattern as the Razorbacks broke their huddle.
“’11’ [Cobi Hamilton] being in there in the slot, the coaches helped us – and I watched it on film – that he’s only going to run two routes, an out route or a curl route. He ran the out route. I was just sitting in the zone, and I read the quarterback’s eyes and broke on the ball,” Swearinger said.
The interception – which accompanied a career-high 13 tackles for Swearinger – deflated Arkansas’ hopes for good.
Dog-Eat-Dog World: Bruce Ellington sported an ice wrap on his left hand after the game, a precautionary measure for an old dog-chasing injury.
You read that right.
During his senior year of high school in Moncks Corner, S.C., Ellington, his friend, and his cousin were hanging around outside one night when a dog – a pit bull, he believes – began chasing them.
“I was running, and I jumped over a porch. It was dark, so I couldn’t see. I just heard him coming toward us,” Ellington said, his breakaway speed apparently not limited to opposing cornerbacks.
Ellington escaped the predatory pit bull, but he popped a tendon in his pinky finger on the jump. The injury eventually required surgery. Ellington said he landed on the hand after a catch, giving him some lingering, non-serious soreness.
It wouldn’t surprise anyone if Ellington needed the ice to cool off his hot hands. With 5 catches for 104 yards, the sophomore broke his career high of 101 receiving yards set in the last game against Tennessee.
Quote of the Night: “I appreciate him for that.”
– Swearinger on Gamecocks kicker Adam Yates. After Swearinger’s unsportsmanlike conduct penalty backed the Gamecocks to the 20-yard line on the ensuing kickoff, Yates drilled his kick to the Arkansas 1.
Running For Miles: In his first game subbing for an injured Marcus Lattimore, Kenny Miles rushed for 37 yards and added another 44 yards receiving. But according to quarterback Connor Shaw, the senior’s best move came on Shaw’s 10-yard touchdown dash late in the second quarter.
On film, the Gamecocks noticed that Arkansas blitzed heavily from the wide (field) side. Under ordinary circumstances, the Gamecocks would call a running play away from the blitz. On this occasion, though, Arkansas steamed from the short (boundary) side, where the Gamecocks’ keeper was designed.
“Kenny had the ‘first come,'” Shaw told me. “Kenny picked up the first [blitzer, linebacker A.J. Turner]. There was another guy free, and I just had to make him miss. It was a great block,” he told me.
Lattimore has long been praised for his blocking ability. Miles paid him proper homage, helping Carolina stretch its lead to 21-10 before halftime.
In Fairness: On Friday’s “Inside The Chart,” we lauded Tyler Wilson’s ability to stand firm, and deliver throws while taking a hit. His touchdown strike to Keon Hatcher as Jadeveon Clowney leveled him was as impressive a throw by any opposing quarterback this season.
First Things First: In its last four games, Arkansas outscored opponents 55-0 in the first quarter. Freshman Jerell Adams snapped that streak with his 29-yard touchdown grab.
And Finally… With 38 more points Saturday, the Gamecocks continue to test the limits of the BeastBoard’s circuitry. Carolina now needs 32 points to break the 1995 school record for points scored at home in a season. That ’95 team – helped generously by a 77-14 thrashing of Kent State – scored 271 points. The Gamecocks enter their home finale against Wofford with 239 points.
Most Points at Home – School History
1. 1995 (271 points)
2. 2012 (239 points)
On that note, join us next week as we begin our chart prep for the Terriers. Thanks for diving “Inside The Chart” with us. -AD–