October 28, 2007

USC-UT Notebook: Post Game Reflections


Time is running out on senior Cory Boyd. His college football career with South Carolina has, at most, four games left.

That's why Saturday's 27-24 overtime loss to Tennessee made him distraught, though mustered enough strength to end his short-lived vow of silence after the game.

Placekicker Ryan Succop missed a 40-yard field goal in overtime to give Tennessee the victory.

"It was sad to see the game end that way, but it had to end," Boyd said. "We definitely had our opportunities today. There were just some silly things that happened at the beginning of the game. We shot ourselves in the foot sometimes."

Boyd had one of the best games of his career against the Volunteers, rushing for 160 yards on 20 carries, an average of 8.0 yards per carry. He added six receptions for 25 yards.

Boyd's 29-yard TD run in the third quarter will certainly make the 2007 highlight video. What was the key for USC in the second half when it outscored Tennessee by a 24-6 margin, including overtime? Boyd believes he knows.

"I think we let some of the pressure go," Boyd said. "We felt like we had nothing to lose, and to just go out there and play to the whistle blow. We wanted to cut down on the silly mistakes that we were making. The guys realized what was exactly at stake. We had to bust through the wall and keep going."

Boyd credited the offensive line helping to spark USC's second-half turnaround.

"The offensive line played very well tonight," Boyd said. "They've gotten beat up a lot about not protecting the quarterback. I think they answered the call today against a good Tennessee team. The wide receivers caught the ball well and the running backs ran the ball good. It came down to the last play and the ball didn't bounce our way."

Afterwards, Boyd sat behind a sea of microphones despite saying earlier this week that he wouldn't be talking with the media for the rest of the season.

"It's hard to put into words. It was like a tale of two halves," Boyd said. "We came out slow. They really didn't do anything that surprised us. We fought back. When we came in at halftime, Coach definitely made sure everybody was on the same page. We took it like it was 0-0. We still have something to prove and we still have our goals in front of us."

Boyd and Mike Davis combined for just 11 carries and 65 yards in last weekend's loss to Vanderbilt. Saturday night, they combined for s season-high 32 carries and 190 yards, the second most this season behind the 234 the duo had against S.C. State.

Boy's 160-yard effort was the fifth 100-yard game of his career. It's also the first 150+ yard effort by a USC running back since Demetris Summers ran for 158 against Tennessee on Sept. 27, 2003.

Boyd became the 13th rusher in school history to surpass the 2,000-yard barrier. He now has 2,055 rushing yards to rank 12th in school history. He needs 23 yards to catch Derek Watson for 11th place.

"We knew we were going to get our chance and momentum was going to swing our way," Boyd said. "We came out and felt we had a chance if we just played our game and let the pressure go and play like we in a park or something."

USC fell one game back in the loss column to Georgia and Tennessee. Nevertheless, with upcoming SEC games against Arkansas and Florida, Boyd still has hope USC can win the SEC Eastern Division.

"Our goals are still front of us," Boyd said. 'The way this SEC thing is going, anybody can beat anybody and we'd be right back in the race. It's going to be fun to see how things shape up. We're not going to put our heads down. We put out a beautiful effort when some people could have written us off. The guys know they left anything out on the field. It just happened it came down to a kick and we didn't make it. That's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes."

GUARDS STAY THE SAME: After all the talk this week about making a change at guard, USC started the same duo that began the Vanderbilt game - Lemuel Jeanpierre and Seaver Brown. But the combination for most of the second half was Brown at left guard and Heath Batchelor at right guard. Batchelor also lined up at tight end when USC used a power formation near the goal line on several plays.

MCKINLEY CLIMBING THE CHARTS: Kenney McKinley's school-record tying 14-reception performance Saturday gives him 55 receptions for 525 yards and seven touchdowns this season. Zola Davis also had 14 receptions against Vanderbilt on October 24, 1998. McKinley also became the first Gamecock to amass 150 receiving yards since Sidney Rice had 161 against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 23, 2006.

He is currently seventh on USC's all-time receptions list with 131. He is 11 receptions behind Sidney Rice. Here are the top seven receivers in USC history:

1. Sterling Sharpe - 169
2. Zola Davis - 164
3. Robert Brooks - 156
4. Jermale Kelly - 153
5. Fred Ziegler - 146
6. Sidney Rice - 142

McKinley, now eighth all-time in receiving yards (1,847) after passing Troy Williamson on Saturday night, has also caught a pass in 30 consecutive games, the 10th longest current streak in the nation and the fourth longest in school history. If he catches a pass in next week's Arkansas game, he will tie Ryan Brewer for the third longest streak in school history. He needs 38 receptions to catch Sterling Sharpe on the all-time list.

SOPHOMORES DO IT AGAIN: The top three tacklers in Saturday's game were sophomore. Captain Munnerlyn led the way with 11 tackles, while Emanuel Cook had 10 and Darian Stewart seven. The quartet of Emanuel Cook (67), Eric Norwood (51), Rodney Paulk (48) and Darian Stewart (47) show the way for the USC defense. The first non-sophomore to appear on the tackle list is junior linebacker Marvin Sapp with 33 tackles. Here are top five tacklers for USC after nine games:

Emanuel Cook - 67
Eric Norwood - 51
Rodney Paulk - 48
Darian Stewart - 47
Captain Munnerlyn - 42

OFFENSIVE STARTERS: QB Chris Smelley, RB Cory Boyd, WR Kenny McKinley, WR Chris Culliver, WR Jared Cook, LT Jamon Meredith, LG Seaver Brown, C William Brown, RG Lemuel Jeanpierre, RT Justin Sorensen, TE Andy Boyd.

DEFENSIVE STARTERS: DE Eric Norwood, DT Marque Hall, DT Ladi Ajiboye, DE Casper Brinkley, SLB Rodney Paulk, MLB Marvin Sapp, WLB Cliff Matthews, CB Captain Munnerlyn, FS Darian Stewart, SS Emanuel Cook, CB Brandon Isaac.

THIRD BCS STANDINGS RELEASED SUNDAY: The third BCS standings of the 2007 season will be released Sun., Oct. 28 by the National Football Foundation. The standings will be announced on the Fox network at approximately 7:45 p.m. ET.

Mississippi State 31, Kentucky 14
Arkansas 58, Florida International 10
Vanderbilt 24, Miami (OH) 13
Georgia 42, Florida 30
Auburn 17, Ole Miss 3

SEC EAST STANDINGS: Georgia 4-2, Tennessee 3-2, USC 3-3, Florida 3-3, Kentucky 2-3, Vanderbilt 2-3.

USC at Arkansas, 8 p.m. game (ESPN or ESPN2)
LSU at Alabama, 3:30 p.m. (CBS)
Vanderbilt at Florida, 12:30 p.m. (LFS)
Tennessee Tech at Auburn
Troy at Georgia
Northwestern State at Ole Miss
Louisiana-Lafayette at Tennessee.

MISCELLANEOUS: WR Chris Culliver made his first career start at WR. . .The 24 points scored by USC in the second half were the most by USC in any half since tallying 27 against Houston in the first half of last December's Liberty Bowl. . .With Cory Boyd's 160 yards rushing and Kenny McKinley's 151 receiving yards, Saturday night marked the first time since Nov. 25, 2006 against Clemson that USC has had a 100-yard rusher and 100-yard receiver in the same game. . .The 49-yard field goal by Ryan Succop was his longest since making a 50-yarder against Tennessee on Oct. 28, 2006. . .The crowd of 105,062 was the fifth largest crowd to ever watch a USC football game. Each of the top five games has been played at Tennessee. . .Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn recorded his team-high third interception of the season. . .USC wore black pants for the first time this season. . .Tennessee leads the all-time series against USC, 21-3-2. The two teams have played every year since 1992 when the Gamecocks joined the SEC. . .The last three meetings in Knoxville between USC and Tennessee have been decided by a field goal or less. . .Steve Spurrier is 10-7 in his career against Tennessee with three teams. . .The USC defense has allowed just 160 points in nine games this season, an average of 17.8 points per game. Five of USC's nine eight opponents have scored 17 points or less this season. . .USC is now 27-of-32 in the red zone this season. . .The Tennessee loss dropped gave USC an all-time record of 521-520-44. . .Steve Spurrier is 21-13 in three seasons as USC head coach. . .USC is 54-39 since the start of the 2000 season. The 54 wins are 12 more than its total of 41 victories in the entire decade of the 1990's.

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