Tag:Antonio Allen
Posted on: December 31, 2011 12:57 pm
 

Key Matchup: Capital One Bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



A look at the key matchup that could determine the
 Capital One Bowl.

Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez, RB Rex Burkhead vs. South Carolina S Antonio Allen, S D.J. Swearinger

For most teams, the primary back seven defenders assigned to stop a lethally mobile quarterback and his No. 1 rushing option in the backfield would be a pair of burly run-stuffing linebackers. But South Carolina is not most teams. The Gamecocks run an unusual (especially in the SEC) 4-2-5 scheme in which the "Spur" -- kind of a safety, kind of a linebacker -- ranges back and forth between the front seven and the secondary, and his fellow safeties have more run-stopping duties than usual as the corners play man-to-man. 

Result? "Spur" and nominal safety Antonio Allen led the Gamecocks with 81 tackles, followed closely by safety D.J. Swearinger with 73. That performance earned Allen a second-team All-SEC nod from the league's media, even though Allen -- as you would expect from a player expected to both fly to the ball and play sharp pass coverage -- checks in a relatively light 6'2", 202 pounds. Likewise, if Allen's small by SEC linebacker standards, Swearinger's on the small side even by the SEC's safety standards at 5'10", 208. 

That's caused occasional problems against the power-running games of the SEC the past couple of seasons, but in theory it should be nothing but a positive against a Nebraska team that looks to get their most dangerous rushing threat -- Taylor Martinez -- out in space using the option and various keepers. Where Martinez is able to routinely beat slower defenders one-on-one, Allen and Swearinger's tackle total speak to just how effective they were making exactly those kind of stops against elusive rushers like Martinez.

But here's the bad news for the Gamecocks: the Huskers have Rex Burkhead, too, and aren't afraid of sending the junior battering ram straight ahead in much the same way Auburn spent their entire matchup with South Carolina pounding Michael Dyer into the line. Dyer carried 41 times, gained 141 yards, and powered the Tigers to a major upset; if Burkhead has similar success, it's easy to see him doing the same for the Huskers.

But if Allen and Swearinger can shut down Martinez, hold Burkhead's longer gains in check, and allow the rest of the Gamecocks to do their thing vs. the Husker run, Nebraska may not have much of a chance. As we wrote in our Keys to the Game, the Huskers went 9-0 when they topped 180 yards on the ground, 0-3 when they didn't. Allen and Swearinger will play a major role in whether or not they reach that benchmark.

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Posted on: September 24, 2011 10:33 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 12 South Carolina 21, Vandy 3

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Despite a first half from Stephen Garcia that even a half-completed Jenga tower would describe as "oh, way too damn shaky," the Gamecock defense showed that it still knows how to put the clamps on -- and that Vandy, for all its progress, still has a long way to go -- by holding the visiting 'Dores to 71 total yards, 5 first downs, and no scoring drive longer than ... wait for it ... six yards. That Marcus Lattimore kid continued proving he might be an all-right player, too--he collected 151 yards from scrimmage (78 rushing, 73 receiving) and two touchdowns, doing nothing to hurt his budding Heisman campaign.

WHY SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Because if it's Vanderbilt and Jay Cutler isn't under center, it doesn't matter how energetic or shrewd the Commodore coaching staff might be: the offense is not going to do a whole lot.

Oh, James Franklin might change that eventually, but he hasn't been able to yet. Even against a questionable Gamecock secondary, Larry Smith was his usual inefficient, wobbly self, completing 13-of-17 but for a nonexistent 2.8 yards an attempt. The offensive line struggled all night against Melvin Ingram, Jadeveon Clowney and Co., yielding six sacks and rushing for negative-1 yards for the night. And turnovers were, unsurprisingly, a major problem. Clowney stripped Smith twice -- once of those fumbles returned by a combination of Antonio Allen and Ingram for Ingram's third touchdown of the season -- and a Smith interception ended one of the 'Dores few forays across midfield.

Full credit goes to Ellis Johnson for his ever-consistent defensive coaching and the Gamecocks as a unit for a dominant display. But Vandy got a dream performance from Garcia -- an awful four-interception night that got him pulled for Connor Shaw in the fourth quarter and repeatedly set the 'Dores up in great field position -- and still couldn't even stay competitive. Until Franklin can find something to hang his offense's hat on, Vandy might move out of the East cellar (and we won't say that's not an accomplishment), but opponents like the Gamecocks are going to remain well, well out of reach.

WHEN SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Despite their offensive struggles, Garcia's generosity had the visitors poised to regroup at halftime only down 7-3. But with less than 30 seconds remaining and the ball still on the Gamecock side of the 50, Garcia flipped a screen pass to Lattimore ... and he was gone, slaloming through defenders for a Heisman-quality 52-yard score. The way the Carolina defense was locked in, that 11-point deficit might as well have been 30 or 40.

WHAT SOUTH CAROLINA WON: A comfortable victory after a few weeks of drama, and a reminder that when their defensive line is on its game, they can cause enough havoc to win games nearly singlehandedly. Good thing, too, since Garcia did his best to lose it the same way.

WHAT VANDERBILT LOST: A little of the shine off their 3-0 start -- they won't be pulling any votes in next week's polls -- but not many were expecting them to pull this one out.


Posted on: September 24, 2011 10:33 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 12 South Carolina 21, Vandy 3

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Despite a first half from Stephen Garcia that even a half-completed Jenga tower would describe as "oh, way too damn shaky," the Gamecock defense showed that it still knows how to put the clamps on -- and that Vandy, for all its progress, still has a long way to go -- by holding the visiting 'Dores to 71 total yards, 5 first downs, and no scoring drive longer than ... wait for it ... six yards. That Marcus Lattimore kid continued proving he might be an all-right player, too--he collected 151 yards from scrimmage (78 rushing, 73 receiving) and two touchdowns, doing nothing to hurt his budding Heisman campaign.

WHY SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Because if it's Vanderbilt and Jay Cutler isn't under center, it doesn't matter how energetic or shrewd the Commodore coaching staff might be: the offense is not going to do a whole lot.

Oh, James Franklin might change that eventually, but he hasn't been able to yet. Even against a questionable Gamecock secondary, Larry Smith was his usual inefficient, wobbly self, completing 13-of-17 but for a nonexistent 2.8 yards an attempt. The offensive line struggled all night against Melvin Ingram, Jadeveon Clowney and Co., yielding six sacks and rushing for negative-1 yards for the night. And turnovers were, unsurprisingly, a major problem. Clowney stripped Smith twice -- once of those fumbles returned by a combination of Antonio Allen and Ingram for Ingram's third touchdown of the season -- and a Smith interception ended one of the 'Dores few forays across midfield.

Full credit goes to Ellis Johnson for his ever-consistent defensive coaching and the Gamecocks as a unit for a dominant display. But Vandy got a dream performance from Garcia -- an awful four-interception night that got him pulled for Connor Shaw in the fourth quarter and repeatedly set the 'Dores up in great field position -- and still couldn't even stay competitive. Until Franklin can find something to hang his offense's hat on, Vandy might move out of the East cellar (and we won't say that's not an accomplishment), but opponents like the Gamecocks are going to remain well, well out of reach.

WHEN SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Despite their offensive struggles, Garcia's generosity had the visitors poised to regroup at halftime only down 7-3. But with less than 30 seconds remaining and the ball still on the Gamecock side of the 50, Garcia flipped a screen pass to Lattimore ... and he was gone, slaloming through defenders for a Heisman-quality 52-yard score. The way the Carolina defense was locked in, that 11-point deficit might as well have been 30 or 40.

WHAT SOUTH CAROLINA WON: A comfortable victory after a few weeks of drama, and a reminder that when their defensive line is on its game, they can cause enough havoc to win games nearly singlehandedly. Good thing, too, since Garcia did his best to lose it the same way.

WHAT VANDERBILT LOST: A little of the shine off their 3-0 start -- they won't be pulling any votes in next week's polls -- but not many were expecting them to pull this one out.


Posted on: September 17, 2011 9:25 pm
Edited on: September 18, 2011 1:32 am
 

QUICK HITS: No. 10 South Carolina 24, Navy 21

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

SOUTH CAROLINA WON: It wasn't the Gamecocks' infamous 1984 upset loss to the Midshipmen, one that denied Carolina the No. 1 ranking and an Orange Bowl berth. But it wasn't a lot better, as Carolina gave up 274 yards on the ground to the Navy triple-option and trailed 21-17 early in the fourth quarter before getting two late stops for the win. Marcus Lattimore was a one-man wrecking crew, running for a career-high 246 yards and three touchdowns on 37 brutal carries.

WHY SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Just one reason, in the end, and we'll give you a hint: it rhymes with "Blarcus Blattiblore."

Sure, the Gamecocks got an efficient-enough performance from Stephen Garcia (18-of-25, 204 yards), minus one wretched second-half red zone interception; sure, they committed just that one turnover and won the time-of-possession battle against a team that thrives on burning clock; sure, new placekicker Jay Wooten further cemented a hot start with a key 48-yarder. But given all the success the Midshipmen enjoyed in the option and the palpable sense of pressure in Williams-Brice Stadium once the visitors took their late four-point lead, it's safe to say the Gamecocks simply don't win this game without the nation's best running back (yeah, we said it) seizing the game by the throat and refusing to let it go.

Carolina's game-winning touchdown drive spanned 15 plays; Lattimore touched the ball on 11 of those. He is, as the kids say, the man.

WHEN SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Though Navy was never likely to drive from their own 6 into field goal range after taking over with just 5:36 to play, no one in Columbia breathed easy until quarterback Kriss Proctor's 4th-and-7 pass was picked off by Antonio Allen with under 2 minutes to play. Proctor had already bailed the Mids out once on the possession with a 4th-and-15 conversion, but Jadeveon Clowney wreaking havoc in the backfield meant a second miracle was out of reach.

WHAT SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Won? Well, they're 3-0, and they "won" the right to not have a matched set of upsets at the hands of Navy shoved in their face for forever. But Steve Spurrier can't be happy after such a narrow escape at home--particularly after he admitted his team was "outplayed" a week ago at Georgia.

WHAT NAVY LOST: A chance at a potential season-making upset and arguably the biggest win of Ken Niumatalolo's career. But there's no doubt the Midshipmen gained a ton of respect, both in Columbia and across the SEC, for having pushed a top-10 team to its limit.



Posted on: September 10, 2011 8:49 pm
Edited on: September 10, 2011 9:11 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 12 South Carolina 45, Georgia 42

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

SOUTH CAROLINA WON: In another good old-fashioned SEC shootout (that's how it goes in this conference these days), the Gamecocks escaped Athens with a 45-42 victory, defeating Georgia in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2000-2001. Marcus Lattimore only enhanced his reputation as the league's preeminent Bulldog-slayer with 160 yards on just 26 carries, a 6.2 per-carry average. But the story was the opportunistic Gamecock defense and special teams, which scored three touchdowns directly -- two of them by defensive end/tackle Melvin Ingram, who rumbled 68 yards for a score on a fake punt and later recovered a fumble for a score -- and set up a fourth with a 57-yard Stephon Gilmore fumble return to the Georgia 5.

WHY SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Because they made the plays that mattered. As with many of Georgia's losses a year ago, the Bulldogs were good enough from a statistical standpoint to win the game: they held Stephen Garcia to just 141 yards passing and picked him off twice; they outgained Carolina overall 435 yards to 389; they averaged a healthy 6.5 yards per-play and revived their moribund running game behind Isaiah Crowell's hard-charging 116 yards.

But in the end, none of that was enough to offset the Dawgs' three killer turnovers, which Carolina turned into a touchdown on all three opportunities. As sharp as Aaron Murray was overall, hitting 19-of-29 for 248 yards and four touchdowns, his two mistakes were backbreakers: first a pick-six thrown to Antonio Allen immediately following the momentum-changing fumble return to put the Bulldogs down eight entering the fourth, and then the all-but-game-ending fumble that Ingram returned to put Carolina up 10 with just 3:12 left. 

Yes, as he was in 2010, Lattimore was the best player on the field; by the fourth quarter, he was powering over, past, and through Bulldog defenders much as he did in Columbia last year. But without the fake punt, the fumble returns, and Allen's interception, the Bulldogs likely would have found a way to outshine him anyway.

WHEN SOUTH CAROLINA WON: How good was Ingram? Not only did he score on the momentum-turning fake punt (smoothly eluding a tackle attempt by UGA punt returner Branden Smith in the process), not only did he score the Gamecocks' final touchdown (after Jadeveon Clowney had forced the Murray fumble), but he also skied to recover the Bulldogs' well-executed last-gasp onside kick with 2:15 remaining. With Georgia only down three and having carved up the Gamecock secondary for much of the second half, Ingram's effort was critical ... and arguably sealed team MVP honors for the day.

WHAT SOUTH CAROLINA WON: With Florida coming to Columbia later this season, the right to be called the clearcut SEC East favorites. Moreover, the win was another sign that the up-and-down malaise that affected the early years of Steve Spurrier's tenure are well and truly gone. The old Gamecocks would have found a way to wilt on the road in the face of a quality opponent playing quality football; the new ones have the big guns in Lattimore, Ingram, Clowney, and Alshon Jeffery to weather the storm and make enough plays to ride out the storm.

WHAT GEORGIA LOST: Give Mark Richt this: his team played far, far better than they did a week ago, and they could have very easily won the game. But there have been many Bulldog football games over the past three years where Georgia could have won, where they played well but not well enough to win. With the Bulldogs now staring down a de facto two-game hole in the SEC East race and sitting at 0-2 overall, Richt has no doubt now lost every last shred of "margin for error" or "benefit of the doubt" his tenure possessed. He must win the overwhelming majority of his remaining games -- surely, nothing less than nine of them -- or he will be fired.

 
 
 
 
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