The South Carolina football team came into Fayetteville needing to answer some questions. South Carolina had had three fourth quarter collapses in a row that nearly cost them victories. The defense has seemingly had issues incorporating youth into a previously elite unit. There were major concerns about Jadeveon Clowney’s injury status and commitment to the team.
A 52-7 dismantling of the Razorbacks went a long way to answering the South Carolina critics. After another “here we go again” start saw the away team down 7-0, the Gamecocks never looked back after a go-ahead touchdown by Mike Davis late in the first quarter.
South Carolina has typically under-performed on the road, and the clinical first drive by Arkansas certainly had USC fans worrying. South Carolina’s defense looked as though they had yet to get off the bus. South Carolina and Elliot Fry answered with a 33-yard field goal to cut the deficit to four.
Victor Hampton cut Arkansas’s ensuing drive short with a 21 yard interception return deep in enemy territory. Connor Shaw and co. took over for the rest of the game. The offense continued its dominant run while gaining 537 yards. The defense played a full four quarters at full steam and limited Arkansas to 37 total plays.
Brandon Allen threw for an abysmal 30 yards on only 4 of 12 passing. He was under pressure all day and never got into a rhythm. South Carolina’s young defense finally played to its potential and played lights out for four quarters. Arkansas had six drives that consisted of three plays or fewer.
Jadeveon Clowney did not make a large impact on the stat sheet, but his presence was certainly felt by the Razorbacks’ offense. As is customary he often faced double and triple teams. Clowney played with effort on every play and showed everyone that he is fully committed to his team.
Shaw threw three touchdowns on the day and is yet to throw an interception this year. He added a fourth score on the ground and dominated from start to finish. Shaw continues his phenomenal senior season in nearly flawless fashion. He finished with 219 yards on 19 of 28 passing. He would have even better numbers if not for a few untimely drops by receivers early in the game.
South Carolina’s receivers stepped up during the second game of Shaq Roland’s suspension from the team. Damiere Byrd overcame an early drop to finish with 57 yards receiving and a timely touchdown early in the third which put the game out of reach at 31-7. Bruce Ellington had a strong performance with 96 yards and two touchdowns.
Mike Davis had yet another dominating performance with 128 rushing yards and the early touchdown. Davis has been a consistent bright spot for the Gamecocks and is currently the 10th leading rusher in the entire country.
South Carolina entered its first of three consecutive road games with plenty of questions, but seemingly shut down the critics. Trips to a pesky Tennessee team and undefeated Missouri remain before the Gamecocks return to Williams Brice stadium. These next two games are crucial for Carolina in the hopes to reach the SEC title game. The Gamecocks will try to continue their recent run of success next Saturday against Tennessee in Neyland Stadium.