Tag:C.C. Whitlock
Posted on: October 1, 2011 8:11 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2011 8:23 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Auburn 16, No. 10 South Carolina 13

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



AUBURN WON: Under Gene Chizik, Auburn has repeatedly found ways to win when they don't play well, fall behind, or look overmatched. Under Steve Spurrier -- and, to be fair, nearly every South Carolina coach before him -- the Gamecocks have repeatedly put themselves in position to make national noise only to fall victim to the upset they should have been able to see coming. So it played out again today in Columbia, as a touchdown pass from Barrett Trotter to tight end Phillip Lutzenkirchen with 1:38 remaining gave Auburn the win despite a terrible day from Trotter (12-of-23, 4.9 yards per-attempt, 2 INTs) and a bevy of missed Auburn opportunities in Gamecock territory. Michael Dyer outshone Marcus Lattimore, outrushing the erstwhile Heisman candidate 141 to 66--albeit with the help of a Lattimore-esque 41 carries.

WHY AUBURN WON: Because as terrible as Trotter was, Garcia was arguably even worse. The senior completed just 9 of his 22 passes for all of 160 yards, with one touchdown and two typically ugly interceptions. Remove a second-quarter 50-yard scoring bomb to an otherwise-quiet Alshon Jeffery and Garcia averaged all of 5.2 yards per-attempt against what few will debate is one of the SEC's most flammable secondaries. 

With Garcia struggling, Auburn was allowed to tee off on Lattimore, holding the All-American to a pedestrian 3.9 yards per-carry on just 17 attempts. As for that latter number, Carolina fans will no doubt wonder why Lattimore wasn't fed the ball more often, particularly with the Gamecocks facing 1st-and-10 on their own 30 in the fourth quarter, up 13-9. Spurrier called for passes on both first and second down, with the result an incompletion and a sack. Carolina would have the field flipped on them following Auburn's next punt, starting at their own 12, and the Tigers would go on to start their ensuing possession on their own 43. Result: the game-winning touchdown drive.

To be fair to Auburn, though, they've made a habit of corralling Lattimore even when Garcia is playing well. (And to be fair to Spurrier, a first down handoff to Lattimore on that possession that began at the 12 lost two yards.) After three career games against the Tigers, Lattimore still has only 183 combined rushing yards--no doubt the biggest reason Auburn has gone 3-0 in those meetings.

WHEN AUBURN WON: Not until the Gamecocks' final desperation drive ended with Bruce Ellington being tackled in-bounds at the Auburn 30 and time expiring. But should it have? The gain was good enough for a first down and Ellington appeared to be tackled with 2 seconds left on the clock. But with the whistle blowing late, the officials elected not to put any time back on the clock for a last-gasp try. Gamecock fans will no doubt howl, though running the field goal unit on for a successful 47-yard try with no timeouts -- as would have happened if the play had been whistled correctly -- would have been quite the accomplishment.

WHAT AUBURN WON: Somehow, some way, Auburn's 11th straight game decided by a single possession. At 4-1 and 2-0 in the SEC, the Tigers have all but wrapped up a bowl berth -- not a given when the season began -- and could even crack the polls next week. The 13 points for Carolina is also a vindication for embattled defensive coordinator Ted Roof, whose unit had come under serious fire after their lackluster start to the season.

WHAT SOUTH CAROLINA LOST: With the Gamecocks' upcoming schedule (at Tennessee, at Arkansas, vs. Florida), any realistic hopes of wedging their way into the national title picture is almost certainly gone. Losing to a double-digit underdog at home won't do anything for their SEC East hopes, either; even after the win in Georgia, their margin-for-error in the divisional race is now eliminated. Oh, and Spurrier can only hold off the quarterback controversy for so long with Garcia playing like this. We think that's it.

THAT WAS CRAZY: No play more epitomized the often Keystone Cop-style display from both teams than the hideous interception thrown by Trotter into double coverage to Gamecock corner C.C. Whitlock (just three plays after Garcia's own wounded duck pick) ... only for Whitlock to get the ball stripped by Lutzenkirchen during the return, handing it right back to the Tigers. The drive would end, naturally, in a horrible lofted pass by Trotter to the back of Carolina's end zone, which was picked off by ... C.C. Whitlock.


Posted on: August 30, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: August 30, 2011 4:11 pm
 

Could CB Auguste's injury hurt Gamecocks vs. ECU?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

During Monday night's South Carolina practice, starting corner Akeem Auguste reaggravated a left foot injury. Per CBSSports.com RapidReporter Josh Kendall, Auguste will now come off the bench in the Gamecocks' Saturday season opener against East Carolina--if he plays at all.

Starting in Auguste's place will be senior and part-time 2010 starter C.C. Whitlock, with the Gamecock's top backups in the event of Auguste's absence projected to be senior (and former walk-on) Marty Markett and redshirt freshman Cadarious Sanders. A former track athlete, Markett has one start in his two seasons on the Gamecock football team, while Sanders was one of the lower-profile additions to Carolina's 2010 class.

If the 'Cocks were opening their season against any random FCS or Sun Belt tomato can, nothing that was going on in the Gamecock secondary would matter. Even if they were opening against most Conference USA teams, or some lower-rung BCS squad, it wouldn't matter. But against the Pirates? It could matter.

It's not likely to, of course; South Carolina is a legitimate top-20 team and ECU -- 6-7 a year ago with a defense ranked dead last in FBS total defense -- is most certainly not.

But thanks to that ailing Carolina secondary, the Pirates could present the Gamecocks with a stiff challenge all the same. ECU's (newly slimmed-down) head coach is Ruffin McNeill, a former defensive coordinator under Mike Leach at Texas Tech, and McNeill's offensive coordinator is Lincoln Riley, a former Tech wide receivers coach and devoted Leach protege. So it wasn't a surprise when their 2010 Pirate offense was as close to Leach's old Air Raid as it was possible to get, throwing more often than any other team in the country, turning quarterback Dominique Davis into the country's fourth-leading passer, and receivers Dwayne Harris and Lance Lewis into a matched pair of 1,100-yard receivers.

Now Riley, Davis, Lewis, and two other players with 40-plus receptions* are all back for another go-round--meaning that they might present matchup problems for South Carolina even if Auguste wasn't injured. The Gamecock secondary was quietly the team's Achilles heel last season, ranking 97th in pass defense and a scarcely-better 87th in opponent's quarterback rating. And even those numbers might have been generous to the Carolina secondary, which had the good fortune of playing alongside the nation's fifth-most potent pass rush. In short: whenever opposing quarterbacks had time to throw against the 2010 'Cocks, they found plenty of success.

And ECU's system -- as with Leach's before it -- is structured in such a way that their quarterback always has time. Despite their nation-leading number of attempts, the Pirates still finished in the FBS top-20 in sacks allowed, giving one up just once every 50 dropbacks. Gamecock defensive line coach Brad Lawing took notice:
"You can’t sack them,” Lawing said. “He just catches it and throws it, catches it and throws it. You can’t get there. It’s just not going to happen. You could have Lawrence Taylor up there five times and you can’t get there.”
So ... if the Gamecock pass rush won't matter ... and the Gamecock secondary can't keep up ... what happens?

What happens is that South Carolina wins going away 9 times out of 10, maybe 95 times out of 100. The Pirates have no answer for the likes of Marcus Lattimore or Alshon Jeffery, no way to handle the size Carolina offers up front, no way to avoid wearing down in the face of the Gamecocks' superior depth. We're not suggesting an upset is imminent, not when the Gamecocks have the firepower to match every score the Pirates put on the board and then some. Even the secondary concerns may be overblown--while we don't feel Stephen Gilmore has been an All-SEC caliber player (for the reasons listed above), having him, Whitlock, and fellow returning starter D.J. Swearinger back must lead to some improvement.

That said--if Stephen Garcia has one of his occasional space-case performances? If Connor Shaw isn't ready for his close-up? And Davis and the Pirate wideouts begin abusing Auguste's replacements? And the game remains close into the third or even fourth quarters, and the favored Gamecocks can't find their mojo in Charlotte's neutral-site venue? This being the 1 time out of 10 isn't impossible.

*Though one of those players won't see the field Saturday.



 
 
 
 
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