Scott Michaux

Sports columnist for The Augusta Chronicle. | ScottMichaux.com

Michaux: Gamecocks' win was workmanlike

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COLUMBIA – Like a guinea worm, Steve Spurrier has a way of getting under people’s skins and festering.

Georgia fans have known that for a long time on two flanks – Florida and South Carolina. Clemson folks are becoming painfully aware after four consecutive losses in the bitter Palmetto series.

But it was North Carolina that first suffered the affliction of insufferable torment from the head ball coach – at Duke of all places.

Way back in the day before Spurrier had become the “evil genius” who would transform the Gators and Gamecocks programs into national contenders, Spurrier did a number on the collective psyche of Tar Heel nation. His 3-0 record against North Carolina as the Duke coach was tough enough to swallow, but the capper was a posed team photo in front of the scoreboard at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C., after a dispiriting 41-0 exposing of Mack Brown’s team in 1989.

Word is Spurrier was disappointed he didn’t “hang half a hundred” on the Heels that afternoon – running double reverses and flea flickers late in the game that turned the Carolina blue faithful red with fury. Asked if it was sportsmanlike to pose for that photos on an opposing field, Spurrier showed the wit that makes him so detested by his victims.

“Why? I’ve got a better record on that field than (Brown) does,” he said of the coach he called “Mr. Football” and owned a pair of 1-10 records at UNC.

So it was no surprise when the Gamecocks’ 68-year-old coach reflected on those days before rekindling his relationship with the Tar Heels in Thursday night’s season opener.

“Us Dookies, that was our big game,” Spurrier recalled earlier in the week. “I doubt it was for North Carolina because Duke did not beat them that much. When I was there, we were fortunate enough to beat them more than they beat us.

“It’s a little special to coach against a team like that. Just like coaching here against Georgia.”

Ah, another classic jab.

Spurrier has never lost to North Carolina – a streak he ran to 5-0 on Thursday night with a 27-10 victory by his No. 6 Gamecocks. The only thing that was really in doubt after a 17-0 South Carolina first quarter was whether the game would ever end during a 1 hour, 44-minute storm delay in the fourth quarter.

By the time play resumed at 10:30 p.m., the announced crowd of 81,572 was reduced to a few thousand.

“I appreciate everybody sticking around for those uneventful eight minutes,” Spurrier said.

The most prominent spectator at the end in the nearly empty Williams-Brice Stadium should have been Jadeveon Clowney – but he returned to the field and endured a late clip that could have been disastrous.

Before the lengthy shutdown, Thursday night marked a rare occasion when many people watched a defensive lineman through their binoculars instead of the football. (Judging from social media comments, you could do the same watching ESPN’s exclusive broadcast of all Clowney all the time.)

It was not the freakish 6-foot-6, 274-pound defensive end’s most impressive performance. He was his usual disruptive presence at times, but the stifling heat and humidity seemed to exact a huge toll on him with cramps and fatigue and a recent stomach virus.

“Jadeveon almost got a sack. Told him after the break, ‘You ought to be well-rested now,’ ” Spurrier said.

Asked if Clowney was as gassed as he looked, Spurrier said, “Did you watch what I was watching? I don’t have to say it. You write what you see.”

South Carolina’s offense made the first impression on the season. Connor Shaw threw a perfect 65-yard touchdown strike to Shaq Roland on his first pass of the season. Dylan Thompson came in for one play and threw a 29-yard TD pass on his first pass as well.

Then in the third quarter when the Tar Heels had cut the lead to 20-10, Mike Davis took a handoff and went on a 75-yard sprint up the right sideline that left three North Carolina defenders gasping or diving for air and wondering what happened.

Other than that, however, the Gamecocks didn’t do much to impress their coach. They completed only one pass in the second half.

“We’ve got some improving to do,” Spurrier said. “We can have some ugly wins.”

This was the kind of opener you expected against an ACC foe from the sixth-ranked team in the nation with a massive SEC East showdown against No. 5 Georgia on the immediate horizon. The Gamecocks showed some positive things but didn’t reveal everything for the Bulldogs to study. It was a workmanlike win.

The only mercy that the visiting Tar Heel fans had was that they didn’t have to see it end. Most were miles up the interstates on the road home to North Carolina by the time the game resumed.

Spurrier didn’t bother to pose for any team pictures in front of the empty bleachers this time.

But if things go well for his Gamecocks next week between the hedges in Athens, Ga., you never know.

Comments (8) Add comment
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Bodhisattva
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Bodhisattva 08/30/13 - 03:40 am
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A whole lot closer than I

A whole lot closer than I thought it would be.

etlinks
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etlinks 08/30/13 - 05:58 am
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A good win on a hot night.

A good win on a hot night. Some improvements are needed on defense before next week.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 08/30/13 - 06:24 am
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Clowney-Heisman

He may have blown it. Hope he wasn't just saving himself.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 08/30/13 - 07:01 am
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The weirdest thing for me was

The weirdest thing for me was Dylan Thompson coming in the game for the Cocks for one play and throwing that long TD. I wonder if that receiver was open a lot and they couldn't get Shaw to throw to him? Maybe they told Thompson to go in there and throw to him. Shaw just doesn't see the field well is what many feel. The trade-off is he can run with the ball.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 08/30/13 - 07:02 am
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About Clowney, he did have a

About Clowney, he did have a tremendous effect on the game. UNC always looked for him and would double and triple team him. They ran plays to avoid him.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 08/30/13 - 07:11 am
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River

You are right, but, that won't win votes. You have to admit, he rarely showed up. Problem is, with all the criticism he is receiving now, he will probably be mad as heck next week.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 08/30/13 - 01:27 pm
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The game next week in Athens

The game next week in Athens starts at 4:30. It will be even hotter. I'm going to the game and will be on the visitors, sunny side of the field.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 08/30/13 - 02:40 pm
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River

Stadium runs East/West. You should be fine.

rmwhitley
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rmwhitley 08/30/13 - 05:30 pm
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I'm worried
Unpublished

about that tough AAC conference. You know, where Louisville plays. Really some good teams. Just ask Towson? Had to play their third team FCS squad to keep the score down at powerhouse UConn.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 08/30/13 - 06:30 pm
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JTF, been there.

JTF, been there. Scroll down to stadium expansions.

Sun and shade:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanford_Stadium

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