A very tough loss for Gamecock Nation, which had high expectations for the Auburn game. Spurrier's Gamecocks led for most of the game, until Ellis Johnson's Defense was unable to stop the Cam Newton and Michael Dyer rushing attack.
There were three huge question Gamecocks fans had after the Auburn game.
1. Why was Connor Shaw in during the last two drives?
5 minutes left. Down 8. On the road in the SEC. Do you take out Junior Stephen Garcia for true Freshman Connor Shaw? Well, this is exactly what Steve Spurrier did on Saturday.
Connor Shaw then proceeded to throw 2 interceptions during the Gamecocks' last 2 possessions, the second of which wasn't his fault. The first INT was simply a bad throw by Shaw.
There was speculation if Stephen Garcia had been hurt on the plays in which he fumbled. Others thought Spurrier had seen enough of Garcia fumbling away USC's chances of winning. I personally believe that Spurrier pulled Garcia in favor of Shaw. Which was a huge mistake. How Spurrier figures that a true Freshman, making his first appearance in an away game in the SEC, would increase our chances of winning more than an experienced, semi-proven SEC QB, is beyond me. Spurrier, want Garcia to have confidence? Don't talk trash about him all off-season and then pull him with 5 minutes left in the most important game of his career.
Don't get me wrong, Shaw made some quality scrambling plays. He made a couple of quality throws during is two drives. But most of his yards came because of easy WR screens. Stephen Garcia could make these throws and probably without the 2 INTs.
2. Where was South Carolina's defense?
Especially in the second half.
Auburn ran the ball 57 times(for 334 yards) and only passed 21 times(for 158 yards). And it seemed like the same QB Option over and over again. On every play that wasn't 3rd and long, Carolina should have stacked 8-9 in the box and left the WRs in single coverage.
But no, you can add Cam Newton to the list of great players that USC has single-handedly turned into Heisman candidates(Darren McFadden, Tim Tebow, Mark Ingram, etc.).
Oh yeah, we play Alabama next. Unless we find a way to stop the run, Bama will rush for 400 yards against us.
3. Why wasn't Marcus Lattimore more involved?
Against Auburn, Lattimore rushed for 33 yards on 14 attempts and 1 TD. He also caught the ball 3 times for 28 yards.
This game marked season lows for Lattimore in yards, attempts, and tied for lowest TD total. And South Carolina lost.
Here's a hint Spurrier: The more you give the ball to Marcus, the more likely USC will win.
It seemed like we all but abandoned the run in the second half(except for Garcia's scrambles which he fumbled almost every time). Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jefferey are our 2 best offensive weapons. Saturday, we got the ball to Jefferey, just not to Lattimore.
So, Gamecock Nation, as our team prepares for Alabama, there are 2 things that must be done.
1. Stop the run on D
2. Run the ball on O
Three stars of USC vs. Auburn
1. Cam Newton - 158 passing yards, 2 TDs, 176 rushing yards, 3 TDs
2. Alshon Jeffery - 8 receptions, 192 yards 2 TDs
3. Michael Dyer - 100 rushing yards