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September 10, 2011

Carolina game balls



Melvin Ingram
More like, what didn't he do? USC's radio team reported that Ingram is only the third player in college football since 2006 to score an offensive and a defensive touchdown in the same game. He dropped jaws all over Sanford Stadium with a 68-yard touchdown burst on a fake punt, then recovered a fumble from Aaron Murray to give the Gamecocks a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter. Ingram's uncanny athleticism is often a highlight in practice, but now the world has seen it; Ingram said he's ready to do whatever he's asked in future games, and Steve Spurrier has pointed out that he's a left-footed punter among his many other skills.

Marcus Lattimore
Stuffed up front early, Lattimore turned back into Superman when the Gamecocks needed him to. As the passing game again short-circuited, Lattimore took over in the fourth quarter and ended with 176 yards. In two games against Georgia, Lattimore has 358 rushing yards and three touchdowns. USC needed him to control the game in the fourth, and Lattimore did what team leaders do - buckled his chinstrap, nodded his head and got it done. He broke for runs of 24 and 30 yards, as well as getting mashed in several pile-ups, and really got his Heisman campaign in gear. The Bulldogs, it's safe to assume, are going to have nightmares about No. 21 for the next year.

Antonio Allen
Whatever this guy is eating/drinking/doing before each game, he needs to keep eating/drinking/doing it. Touchdowns off turnovers in each of his last three regular-season games, all of which shifted momentum squarely to USC's side. His pick-six against Clemson last year made it a laugher; his fumble return against East Carolina last week gave USC an 11-point lead and his pick-six against Georgia made it a 28-20 Gamecock advantage. Lattimore, Alshon Jeffery, Stephen Garcia and Jadeveon Clowney may get all the award buzz, but Allen ought to be creeping up a few lists as well.

Jadeveon Clowney
The big man had rather pedestrian stats, with only two tackles, but he's at USC with a reputation as a big-playmaker. His two tackles were each sacks, and on the final one, he slung Murray like he was do-si-doing at a square dance. The ball popped loose, Ingram scooped it and scored for a 10-point lead. The USC section in the Northwest section of the stadium chanted "Clown-ey!" after as he cheerfully acknowledged, and he got a similar greeting from fans camped above the locker room.

Jay Wooten
Again kind of lost in the shuffle was a fine job by the Gamecocks' place-kicker. Knowing that no matter what he did, Brandon Boykin might still run it to the house, Wooten could have panicked (and Boykin did have seven returns for 184 yards). But he still placed it in the corners, placed it as deep as he could in the end zone and hoped his coverage team could track Boykin down. Wooten was again perfect on his PATs, including the crucial one that made it 38-35 with 3:28 to go, and nailed the first field goal of his career from 49 yards away for a 31-28 lead. Wooten reportedly has a strong leg, but that was the first time he ever used it for a USC field goal - it was well through the uprights.

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