South Carolina moves another game closer to finishing its conference schedule with its 34-16 win over Mississippi State. Here are five takeaways:
Connor Football: Okay, Connor Shaw isn’t Johnny Manziel, but he’s playing as well as any SEC quarterback not named Manziel. From last week’s come-from-behind win against Mizzou to this week’s four-TD performance, Shaw is playing at the top of his game. Outside of Danny Wuerffel, is there another quarterback who’s played this well for Steve Spurrier? Shaw continues to be efficient and dynamic.
Closing it out: The Gamecocks were guarding against a letdown today, and they never gave State the opportunity to get back into the game in the second half. The fumble recovery just after half that led to a touchdown helped get all the momentum in Carolina’s corner. We’ve seen SC garner big leads against Vanderbilt and Kentucky, but they didn’t close well in the the second half in those games. Today they did, and that’s progress.
MSU struggles: The Bulldogs couldn’t get out of their own way today. Specifically, QB Dak Prescott gave away four turnovers — three INTs and two fumbles, and after a career high in passing yards last week against Kentucky, he didn’t want to have this type of follow-up performance against South Carolina. Also, right before halftime, they had terrible clock management on the part of Dan Mullen, Prescott and his coaching staff. The Bulldogs lost any momentum to put points on the board just before half. The offense is based on a sideline-to-sideline game, and they have no downfield passing attack. It takes the Bulldogs way too long to score, and getting behind early is devastating.
SEC big picture: Carolina just has one SEC game remaining against Florida in two weeks, and they are in great position to take advantage of a Mizzou loss, depending on how Georgia’s season plays out. Meanwhile, MSU will struggle to find five wins during the regular season.
Supporting cast: Connor Shaw will get most of the ink with his four-TD performance, but other Gamecocks played well today. RB Mike Davis became the SEC’s first RB to surpass 1,000 yards. DT Kelcy Quarles, DE Chaz Sutton, CB Vic Hampton, WR Shaq Roland and LB/DB Sharrod Golightly all had strong performances.
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