South Carolina’s All-Decade Offense vs. All-Decade Defense: Who wins?
South Carolina had loads of talent this decade on offense and defense, some of the best of all-time, so what would a matchup between the best of the Garnet and Black look like with the most visible coaches in recent memory.
Here’s a fanciful game recap of how such an event would unfold:
In a game circled on the calendar for many moons, South Carolina’s All-Decade Offense, led by coach Steve Spurrier, faced off against the All-Decade Defense coached by Will Muschamp, with special advising from Lou Holtz in the press box.
In an early-week press conference to promote the game, Holtz took an early shot at Spurrier’s passing game with this quip: “The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely the one who dropped it.”
Spurrier countered with, “Well, Lou, I don’t know what kind of pass rush you defensive boys would have if I hadn’t have recruited Jadeveon Clowney. You guys would be out there playing bumper-car defense.”
It was a classic matchup of the defensive pass rush, and secondary, against a talented crop of wide receivers being fed by the trigger man, Connor Shaw.
Shaw improved to 18-0 at home as he passed for 3 touchdowns and ran for another score as the Garnet offense knocked off the Black defense, 31-14.
Clowney got to Shaw early with a strip-sack fumble, which was scooped up by Bryson Allen-Williams for a 34-yard touchdown midway through the 1st quarter. Spurrier stomped on his visor once Clowney turned the corner, and looked to the heavens above Williams-Brice Stadium. Muschamp, meanwhile, suffered a gash on his forehead as he chest-bumped Clowney coming off the field with sweat pouring off his brow.
With a mid-half adjustment to keep a tight end in on Clowney’s side, Shaw thrived and threw 2 touchdown passes by halftime as the Garnet took a 14-7 lead. Shaw connected with Bryan Edwards and Alshon Jeffery for the scores. The Edwards’ catch came over the outstretched arms of Stephon Gilmore, who had a near-interception earlier in the half on a pass intended for Hayden Hurst.
Marcus Lattimore helped take some pressure off of Shaw with a couple of screen passes that went for 15 and 12 yards early in the 2nd quarter. Lattimore was largely bottled up by halftime on the ground with just 7 carries for 36 yards rushing.
At the halftime interview with CBS Sports, Spurrier told Jamie Erdahl, “Well, we almost had that one to Hayden, but Connor needs to do a better job on his touch there. I don’t know if we need to bring in Dylan (Thompson) or maybe some gadget plays, who knows. Will and those guys will probably have a wrinkle for us, but I think we can get ’em in the 2nd half.”
After halftime, Lattimore took off for a 45-yard run, but was caught from behind and dragged down by D.J. Swearinger. The offense settled for a field goal from Elliott Fry to pad the lead.
Muschamp, in fact, added some corner blitzes and disguised coverage to keep Shaw, Jeffery, Hurst and Edwards off balance. Some of the short passes to Lattimore helped, but Pharoh Cooper returned 55-yard Joseph Charlton punt for a touchdown as the defense narrowed the gap back to 17-14.
In the 4th quarter, Brandon Shell and A.J. Cann moved to double team Clowney, which opened up more running room for Shaw as he scampered in from 15 yards out to score thanks to a key block from Deebo Samuel.
It looked as if Muschamp’s defense could slow down the Garnet offense, but Shaw helped convert 3 consecutive 3rd downs to ice the game. He later threw a 50/50 ball to Samuel, who rose over the middle and caught it between Skai Moore and Gilmore for a 9-yard catch.
After the game, Spurrier met Muschamp at midfield and shrugged his shoulders, “I got y’all some good players, I thought that defense would turn out better, I guess.”
Muschamp, with a Band-aid on his forehead from the Clowney hit, in his post-game press conference gave credit to Shaw.
“We have a lot of respect for him as the all-time quarterback at South Carolina,” he said. “But we lost some 50/50 balls, and they have some great players on the other side. Take nothing away from them. We’ll go back and look at the film, and try to come up with something different for them next time.”