His hometown may say Flowery Branch, but Connor Shaw actually grew up in Rabun County, Georgia, about a 40-minute drive from Athens. Dyed-in-the-wool Bulldog country. Not a good place for a kid who idolized Steve Spurrier, had his bedroom walls painted orange and blue, and pulled for archrival Florida growing up. The situation hardly lessened when Shaw's family moved to Flowery Branch in middle school. "Every one of my coaches in high school, except for my Dad, were Georgia fans," Shaw told me after the game.
So yes: for a guy who grew up near Georgia, but had no love for the Bulldogs, this one felt sweet.
In front of a school-record crowd of 85,199, Shaw and the Gamecocks delivered a masterful, 35-7 victory over #5 Georgia. Choose any adjective you want. It still may not capture what happened at Williams-Brice Stadium Saturday night. The only thing louder than the crowd, it seemed, was South Carolina's statement to the rest of college football.
"Notes, Quotes, and Anecdotes" from a record-breaking night in Columbia:
Nicely Done: On South Carolina's first touchdown, the Gamecocks ran an old play from their playbook, but with a change in pass pattern that they installed in practice this week. With Shaw rolling to his right, the Gamecocks slanted Bruce Ellington against the grain. The wrinkle left Georgia confused, and Shaw hit Ellington with ease for a 14-yard touchdown.
Shaw's completion percentage may take a hit following his 6-for-10 passing performance. But the Gamecocks controlled the tempo, leaving Georgia's defense "grasping for air," as Marcus Lattimore said afterwards.
Connor Shaw led the Gamecocks to their third straight win over Georgia.
Quote of the Week: "I'm so glad I don't have to go up against them on Saturdays."
-Connor Shaw on the Gamecock defense. Entering Saturday night, Georgia led the nation in plays of 20+ yards (43). The Bulldogs only mustered two against the Gamecocks - one of which came on their final drive.
All In The Eyes: DeVonte Holloman and Stephon Gilmore, former teammates at South Pointe HS, have developed a new ritual this year. After Carolina's game on Saturday, Gilmore texts Holloman his encouragement. After Gilmore's game with the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, Holloman returns the favor.
Gilmore may be light on pep-talk material this week. Aided by his interception and pass breakup, the Gamecocks held Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray to career lows in passing yards (109) and completion percentage (11-for-31, 35.5%). In addition, the Gamecocks held the highly-touted duo of Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley to 81 yards rushing on 25 carries (3.3 yards/carry). The tandem known as "Gurshall" had averaged 8.0 yards per carry - though 4 of their 5 opponents ranked 90th or worse in rush defense.
"Gurshall" vs. the Gamecocks
Games 1-4 vs. South Carolina
Yds./Carry 8.0 3.3Holloman said he noticed a change in Gurley and Marshall's body language as the game wore on.
DeVonte Holloman (#21) celebrates his 1st-quarter interception against Georgia.
Gurley and Marshall received an eyeful of the Gamecocks instead. On the Bulldogs' first play from scrimmage, Gurley took a misdirection toss and rambled 15 yards. It took the Gurley/Marshall duo 16 more running plays to gain that much again. Give credit to defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward for devising a game plan that took away the edges, forcing "Gurshall" to earn its yards between the tackles.
"Gurshall" vs. the Gamecocks, Part II
1st rushing play: 15 yards
Next 16 rushing plays: 16 yards
Hats Off... to senior wide receiver D.L. Moore. After dropping a would-be touchdown against Kentucky last week, Moore ripped away a jump ball from Georgia cornerback Sanders Commings and scampered 62 yards to set up a touchdown. Senior perseverance from the Bowling Green, Ky., native.
Stop That Man: Georgia had scored a touchdown on 8 previous red zone trips before the Gamecocks stoned them on 4th-and-goal in the second quarter.
Poster Material: Jadeveon Clowney said he noticed the GameDay signs. And yes, he he has professed a favorite: "Forecast : 100% Clowney with a chance of pain."
Jadeveon Clowney smothers Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray.
And Finally: To paraphrase Mark Twain, beating a rival provides a relief even denied to prayer.
The celebration lasted well into the night Saturday, car horns honking and music rippling long after the final whistle and far beyond George Rogers Boulevard. But in the talent-laden SEC, celebrations can't linger long. Carolina's win was special, but it only heightens the hype for a trip to Baton Rouge next week.
The ranking gets higher. The spotlight gets brighter. The target gets bigger. And the ride gets wilder. Knuckle up - it's only just begun.
Join us next week as we begin our chart prep for LSU. Thanks for diving "Inside The Chart" with us. -AD--