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September 17, 2011
Carolina game balls
NO. 10 SOUTH CAROLINA 24, NAVY 21
It was apparent early, when USC had to play behind, that Lattimore would have to be the one to again anchor the assault. Once again, high and inconsistent passing turned the game to the Gamecocks' tailback. But what a tailback. Lattimore broke for a career-high 246 yards and scored all three touchdowns, plus he caught four passes for 25 yards. I would have to think his season total - 534 yards - is near the top of the country's charts, if not on top. He just does everything right, and he hardly seemed winded afterward, even though he was only 32 off the school single-game record. Steve Spurrier may grouse about having to be a "running team," but when the guy doing the running is Lattimore's caliber, it ain't a bad thing to be.
Because one wasn't enough.
I mean, come ON. Team-high 10 tackles? Forced fumble (that should have been recovered, but Marty Markett attacked it at top speed and rolled over it)? Interception (his third in the past four regular-season games) that sealed the game? What more could this guy do? Allen keeps being in the right place at the right time and the Gamecocks are loving the benefits. If I had a Heisman vote, he'd definitely be on the short list. As it is, I can only Tweet and do this and hopefully the SEC will pick it up - this is the early candidate for SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
He always has that one game per season, and while I know he certainly hopes this wasn't it for him, Navy was definitely his best game to date. Barnes went from being a guy who suddenly couldn't catch at all to Stephen Garcia's go-to guy. He had four catches for a 48 yards, and made them in some traffic. Let's face it - Barnes is never going to get the dap and credit due to Alshon Jeffery, but if he can be the second option, there is nothing wrong with that.
Where'd this guy come from? Byrnes High School, the same as some tailback you may have heard of. Nick the Quick broke down the sideline on a crucial third down and Garcia hit him for a 34-yard completion, finally getting the second-year (redshirt freshman) receiver into the spotlight. Jones has wheels, and he's very good on the misdirection, direct-snap plays, but was in danger of being buried because of other players with those same talents. So, Jones simply got on the streak route and burned his man, and Garcia saw him. Three catches for a team-high 52 yards - Mr. Jones has arrived.
Second straight week that Wooten only kicked one field goal, but again, it was in a huge moment and from big distance. Wooten connected on a 48-yarder to give the Gamecocks a 17-14 halftime lead, when USC was in danger of piddling around, losing the momentum and not being able to take advantage of the first second-half possession (which they ended up throwing away). As it turned out, Wooten's kick prevented the Midshipmen from going up seven and USC was able to pace itself a bit. Plus, having his first two field goals at USC be from 49 and 48 yards isn't too shabby for the fifth-year senior.
Honorary opponent game ball
He had three tackles, and played a fine game. But the reason he gets it is only because of his name.
Wave Ryder, take a bow, and have a safe trip back to Annapolis.
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