South Carolina Postgame Wrap
Tigers, Gamecocks sound off on hard-fought LSU victory
By CODY WORSHAM and RICHARD FISCHER
Leave it to Les Miles to put the most succinct of summaries on No. 8 LSU’s much-needed 23-21 victory over No. 3 South Carolina on Saturday Night.
A week after managing just 42 yards on the ground en route to a 14-6 loss at Florida, the Tigers rode 258 rushing yards - including a career-high 124 and two scores from freshman Jeremy Hill - back into the win column.
Hill put a knife in the back-and-forth contest with a 50-yard score with 5:03 left in the fourth quarter, giving LSU a 23-14 lead it would not relinquish, despite conceding a late consolation score to the Gamecocks.
Despite surrendering just 211 total yards of offense on the night, the Tigers entered the fourth quarter trailing 14-10. A Drew Alleman field goal made it 14-13 with 7:57 left in the game, and another Alleman field goal - following Eric Reid’s interception of Connor Shaw - gave LSU the lead for good.
The win came in typical LSU fashion, as the Tigers outgained the Gamecocks on the ground by 224 yards, while maintaining a 36:57 - 23:03 advantage in time of possession.
The staunch Tiger defense held All-American running back Marcus Lattimore to just 35 yards rushing on 13 carries, while forcing SEC passing efficiency leader Connor Shaw into two interceptions, including Reid’s game-changer.
Hill’s night also came on the backs of a makeshift offensive line that featured two freshman (right tackle Vadal Alexander and right guard Trai Turner) and just two starters (center P.J. Lonergan and left guard La’el Collins) from LSU’s opener against North Texas. In particular, left tackle Josh Dworaczyk - filling in for the absent Alex Hurst, who missed the game because of undisclosed personal issues - had a dominant game, keeping All-American defensive end Jadeveon Clowney in check and opening up holes for Hill and the rest of the Tiger backs.
“I thought the old man at left tackle had a hell of a game,” LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger said of Dworaczyk.
Joining Hill with big nights from the backfield were Spencer Ware (14 carries for 56 yards), Michael Ford (7 carries for 41 yards), and Kenny Hilliard (10 carries for 41 yards).
Mettenberger, meanwhile, put in a so-so performance under center, completing 12-of-25 passes for 148 yards and an interception. It was his interception at the end of the first quarter that set up Carolina’s first score, as Shaw found Ace Sanders for two yards and a 7-3 lead. That score held until Hill’s seven yard gain gave LSU back the lead at 10-7 in the early minutes of the third quarter. Lattimore’s two yard scamper with 5:11 left in the third gave Carolina its lead entering the fourth quarter.
Though the numbers weren’t pretty for Mettenberger, he did make some big completions, helping LSU finish 11 of 19 on third down conversions - a far cry from last week’s 1-of-13 disaster in Gainesville.
LSU LOCKER ROOM FEEL
In a word: “Yahoo.”
I hate to repeat quotes, but Miles hit the nail on the head with this one. Everyone was all smiles, from the sharply-dressed Jarvis Landry - did I see a bow-tie? - and Mettenberger to Dworaczyk, who was very emotional in the locker room. Miles, too, seemed back in high spirits for the first time since the Washington game. He was whipped too - he talked about cramping up while running to celebrate with Hill on his last score.
Only Hill seemed to avoid smiling, only cracking one when talking about the play of his offensive line. Hill humbly shrugged off questions about his success, pointing to the big men up front who paved the way to his career night.
Eric Reid made an appearance and seemed fine. I wouldn’t worry about his injury in the least.
Miles did mention that Alex Hurst would be out for a while dealing with his personal issues. Dworaczyk added that the issues were family-related, but everything else on the matter is hush-hush.
SOUTH CAROLINA LOCKER ROOM FEEL
The mood in the South Carolina locker room was obviously must different. Steve Spurrier didn’t give much time to the media, less than three minutes, as he was obviously frustrated with his teams offensive performance, citing that as the reason why his team lost on several occasions. He even wondered whether quarterback Connor Shaw suffered a head injury because Spurrier questioned his decision-making. Shaw then met with the media shortly thereafter, and spoke fine. Not like he had a head injury. Instead he talked like he just played a tough defense. He did. He feels like his team left quite a few points on the board. Then Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward spoke a lot about how he wishes his team would have stopped the run better. LSU rushed for 258 yards on 53 carries so he certainly has a point.
“I thought that Stud did a great job of getting them going. Josh Dworaczyk goes in there and gives us exactly what we needed at left tackle. He is a veteran and understood what he needed to do. He did not overcommit his moves, and I felt that he did a great job. When we rush the football and control the clock, [we] get our snaps and keep the defense off the field. We’re a whole different team. That is what happened tonight.”
-LSU head coach Les Miles on a better offensive performance tonight
“Just the mentality through the week [was the difference tonight]. This game reminded me a lot of how we played against Washington. We were very physical up front… If we can stick to what we do and execute like we know we can, we’re going to be an efficient offense.”
-LSU QB Zach Mettenberger on tonight’s offensive performance
“We did a great job controlling the clock. I don’t know what the time of possession was (It was 37-to-23 LSU] but I feel we were on the field a good bit. Last week we kinda kept our defense on the field. That’s not the way LSU football is. So we did a great job running the football, keeping our defense off the field, keeping them fresh, and that’s what carried us over.”
-LSU RB Jeremy Hill on LSU’s rushing attack tonight
“I asked our GA, ‘Did [Shaw] get hit in the head?’ Cause his decision-making was a little off.”
-South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier on Connor Shaw’s performance
“What happened happened, and we gotta do a better coaching job, get our team ready to play. It was a game we had some chances but still, they outplayed us as everyone could tell.”
-Spurrier on tonight’s game
I think they just contained me. They didn’t let me get out of the pocket. I thought our pass protection was pretty decent especially in the first half. Sometimes I just have to hang in there and deliver a throw… I think it’s by far the most physical defense I’ve seen.
-South Carolina QB Connor Shaw on LSU’s defense