By: Dory LeBlanc
In a game that pitted the SEC against its conference nemesis the Big 10, the #18 Michigan Wolverines were unable to hang on to a one-point lead late in the fourth quarter and fell to the #10 South Carolina Gamecocks 33-28.
South Carolina jumped out to a quick 14-3 lead in the first quarter after junior quarterback Connor Shaw unleashed a 56-yard pass to Damiere Byrd with just over a minute and a half into the game. Michigan fired back with a 39-yard field goal halfway through the opening quarter, but a 63-yard punt return by Ace Sanders put the Gamecocks up 14-3 with 3:29 left in the first quarter.
Michigan QB Devin Gardner found a wide open Drew Dileo for a five yard touchdown on third-and-three in the opening drive of the second quarter to pull within four of the Gamecocks, 14-10.
South Carolina answered on their following drive with a four-yard TD pass from QB Dylan Thompson to Ace Sanders, a Bradenton native, to extend the Gamecock lead to 21-10.
The scoring came to a stalemate until the third quarter when Matt Wile kicked a 52-yard field goal to give the Wolverines three more points with four minutes expired in the second half.
Michigan then took the lead for the first time of the game as Gardner hit Jeremy Gallon for a 10-yard touchdown towards the end of the third quarter to make it 22-21.
With a heavy Maize and Blue crowd at Raymond James Stadium behind them, the Wolverines' offensive line was able to hold off a fierce South Carolina pass rush led by sophomore Jadeveon Clowney throughout much of the game until the fourth quarter when the Hendricks Award (given to the nation's best defensive end) winner delivered one of the most fierce hits in college football this year on UM's Vincent Smith, which sent the running back eight yards backwards, without the ball and his helmet.
Clowney recovered the ball, which put South Carolina on the Michigan 31. On the ensuing play, SC QB Connor Shaw found Sanders for a TD - which gave the Gamecocks a 27-22 lead.
The Wolverines regained the lead on the next possesion after Gardner found Gallon again - this time for 17 yards. The two-point conversion failed, however, with four minutes left.
With 3:29 on the game clock, the Gamecocks, using both Shaw and Thompson at quarterback in the series, marched down the field 70 yards to cap off the drive with a 32 yard TD pass from Thompson to Bruce Ellington. The two-point conversion attempt failed, but with 11 seconds left in the contest and down by five, Michigan needed a touchdown for the win.
Starting at the Michigan 32, Gardner had time for one attempt which went awry as his arm was hit as he tried to throw the ball, sealing the victory for South Carolina.
OUTBACK BOWL HEAD COACHES NEWS CONFERENCE
Saturday, December 29, 2012
MICHIGAN COACH BRADY HOKE
“The hospitality, the host city and all those things have been great. We’ve had good practices to this point. For us, in our world, this is a Wednesday. We’ve got to have a great Wednesday practice… We’re excited to play a good football team in South Carolina. It’s time to play almost.”
On accomplishments in practice:
“Now it’s obviously the game plan itself. We’re able to put four good days in Ann Arbor with th game plan, got here on the 23rd and really the retention rate was very good. We moved along pretty well when you look at the development of the game plan. There’s still an opportunity today, we’ll see what we may not like for one reason or another or if we’re not grasping scheme-wise or what it might be. I’m pleased with where we are, and I think our coaches are pleased with where we are according to where we’re practicing.”
On potentially preparing for two South Carolina quarterbacks:
“You look at the body of work with the offense; they lost a tremendous running back and were able to put a couple guys in there that run the ball hard and do a nice job within the offense. I think quarterback-wise, Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson are both very good quarterbacks. In their big rivalry game they don’t have Shaw and Thompson goes in and wins a great rivalry game on the road.”
On coming down early:
“I think part of it is we got acclimated a little bit to the area. In Ann Arbor Michigan right now it’s not quite what it is down here in Tampa. I think that’s helped us a little bit. I think the focus our guys have shown, and it helps a little bit when you go to two different sites. We’re in Clearwater and the Phillies were gracious hosts for us to practice and then moving in to Tampa has been great for our team.”
On Denard Robinson’s ability to throw the ball:
“Good. He could do about anything. He doesn’t punt real well, but he can do a lot of things.”
On how the two quarterbacks have handled the competition:
“I think they handle it great. They’re two guys that have been in the same meeting room for a while. I think they’re good friends, number one. I think they’re different personalities to some degree. But I think the competition level is kind of what it is at every position, so they’ve handled it great.”
On Linebacker Jake Ryan:
“It was really a good assessment of talent because we didn’t recruit him at San Diego State and had an opportunity to. I think he’s grown well in the position. I think Greg coaching him on a daily basis, his football instincts have always been there, which is what you want in your players, but maybe his football education is a little better, recognition and all those things.”
On South Carolina’s defensive front:
“We’ve got to block them, number one. I think they’re a very talented front seven, I think they’re very athletic. In the game of football you’ve got to take care of the football and you’ve got to be able to run the ball and stop the run. If you can do those things you’ve got a chance, it just gives you a chance. We’re going to have our hands full. We have not been a football team that has run the ball great from the tailback perspective for multiple reasons, so that’s going to be a challenge we’ll start with.”
On Taylor Lewan preparing for what could be his last collegiate game:
“I thought he always has done a pretty good job of getting himself ready to play. I don’t think you play as well as you do if you don’t. I don’t know if I’ve seen a drastic change.”
On what he expects from his team in the Outback Bowl:
“I really like how we’ve taken care of each other. They’ve done a good job practice-wise with the tempo of practice, the physicalness of practice. The timing from an offensive standpoint has been very positive. The assignment and the effort to the football defensively has been really good. But I felt that way before when we went and played Notre Dame and we turned the ball over six times. I think the mindset of the team is pretty good. We’ll find out how we practice today. When anybody says, ‘How are you doing today?’ It depends on practice. If practice was good, I had a pretty good day; if practice was bad, not such a good day. That’s how coaches are.”
On the Wolverines secondary:
“Courtney (Avery) has played a lot of snaps, which is a plus. Raymon (Taylor) has gotten better and better every practice, every day, and works diligently on it. Terry Richardson has improved, which is a good thing. Delonte Hollowell has made some strides. And then moving Fleet (Dennis Norfleet) over. Fleet’s given us another good, physical-type football player at the corner position, and he’s quick.”
On preparing for South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney:
“I think anybody can be blocked one-on-one, how long you block him is what the key is. I think the guy plays with a really good motor or he wouldn’t be the player he is. You can have all the talent in the world, the range and all those things, but it’s what the guy plays with motor-wise, and I think he does a nice job playing with that. Whether it’s doubling him or chipping him, single blocking him or play action and cutting, whatever you want to do, you’ve got to execute it and there’s got to be a timing presence to all your passing.”
On Denard Robinsons’ legacy:
“There’s one more game to play, and I think that conversation is after this football game.”
On what it means to finish the season with a win in the Outback Bowl:
“It matters for our seniors. Those guys have given four and five years, have struggled, have had transition, coaching changes and all that and they stuck together. We want to make sure as coaches and players that we do everything we can from how we coach the game, how we prepare for the game, and send them out the right way.”
OUTBACK BOWL HEAD COACHES NEWS CONFERENCE
Saturday, December 29, 2012
SOUTH CAROLINA COACH STEVE SPURRIER
“Good to be here. We’re fired up, thrilled about being at the Outback Bowl. I think our school has been to four January 1 bowl games and three of them have been the Outback Bowl. We were in the Capital One in Orlando last year. This is one of the best bowls in the country as we all know Jim McVay and his staff do a super job… It seems like I know most all of these people and it’s a lot of fun always getting with them. Outback, the title sponsor, 17 or 18 straight years now, the longest running sponsorship from the same company. That’s pretty neat the relationship the people here have with the Outback corporation. We enjoyed the food; we just left a luncheon over there that Outback catered for us a few minutes ago. Facilities have been wonderful over at Jefferson High School and the Hyatt hotel, so everything’s first class. Now all we’ve got to do is play some football on Tuesday, play as well as we can.
We’ve had some decent practices. The guys have practiced pretty well the last couple of days. Hopefully we’ll play one of our best games of the year. Michigan is an excellent team. Obviously they’ve lost a few to really good teams, and they’ll be ready to play. They have a history of playing well in bowl games. Our history is so-so, not all that super. But when the ball is kicked off it’s our guys against their guys. It doesn’t matter, SEC, Big 10, ACC, it doesn’t matter. Eleven guys out there playing against the other eleven. In all likelihood the team that plays the best will win unless for some reason there’s big fumbles or big turnovers that would cause a team to lose. We’re looking forward to an exciting, close game with Michigan. We plan that’s the way it’s going to be, so there’s a good chance it will turn out that way.”
On South Carolina’s quarterback situation:
“Connor Shaw has been our quarterback most of the year and Dylan played the last game against Clemson. Dylan actually had started and played about the entire game against East Carolina early in the year, our third game of the season. He played well, played very well against Clemson. We just feel like he deserves a chance to play also. Connor’s foot is 100 percent well and he’s ready to go. I don’t know how it’s going to play out. I told someone the other day I don’t know which quarterback will play most of the game. I hope it doesn’t turn into one of those, ‘Well you messed up, you go in, well if you messed up, you go back in.’ I’m hoping it’s not going to turn into that. We just really believe both these guys deserve a chance to play and the guy that plays the best continues playing. I don’t know how else to do it right now except that way. Again, we plan on one guy playing most of the game.”
On handling Michigan’s quarterback situation:
“Our defensive coaches feel like we need to be prepared for both of them. Be prepared for the run, the pass. They both can pass, they both can run. You just go play your assignment, play the best you can. We know Denard (Robinson) is an excellent runner. That run he made against Ohio State was really impressive, when both those guys hit him and just bounced off and he went for a touchdown. You’ve got to wrap up and just do the best you can.”
On the differences between his teams at South Carolina and Florida:
“The way we do offense, when I coached at Florida we had really good passers and offensive linemen to pass block and receivers. We came out and started firing usually the first play through the end of the half or sometimes the end of the third quarter. If we had a pretty good lead we would run a little bit more then. But that’s not what we do best here at South Carolina. We’re more successful when we run more than we pass.”
On wide receiver Bruce Ellington:
“He’s just constantly gotten better, from one year to this year, as a receiver. He did invest some time in the summer working out with Connor and Dylan. It’s just a natural process. He’s a tremendous athlete. He’s fast, he can cut, he can run with the ball. So it’s just a matter of time of him improving the way he has. He had a big game, certainly, against Clemson.”
On the health of tailback Kenny Miles:
“Kenny was running around well the last couple of days. Kenny should be fine. Mike Davis and Shon Carson are ready to play some also. So we’ve got three ready to go. We should not have to put Bruce back there to run the ball like we did the last game. He was the last healthy guy to play running back. We have three ready to go this game.”
On what keeps him on the sideline coaching:
“I think what keeps most coaches going a long time is they don’t get fired or run off. I haven’t gotten fired or run off. We’ve been doing pretty well. The first five years at South Carolina we only won seven games per year. We won 35 and it was a struggle, but we got our facilities improved. We signed Marcus Lattimore and then Clowney and a bunch of other good players. We got some new coaches too that I think are really good assistant coaches. Right now we’ve averaged 10 wins the last three years. Life’s pretty good as a coach when you win. I’ve got my son coaching; I’ve got another son as a graduate assistant. A lot of my family lives up there in Columbia. It’s just sort of a nice, comfortable place to be. Health-wise, I think I’m as healthy as I was 20 years ago. All I do, when I watch all the coaches that are finished, they usually get fired. Barry Alvarez, every time I see him I say, ‘I’m going to do what you do. When I end my coaching I’m not going to get fired.’ If it starts going bad, I’ll resign or something. One of my goals is not to be a fired coach and not to take money for doing nothing. When I go out I’m going to go out. That’s just important to me, not real smart probably, but it’s just something I think you should do.”
On South Carolina’s offensive strategy:
“We have to run. We’re not good enough to throw 40 times, although we did last game, didn’t we. I don’t know how it’s going to play out. We plan to run more than we throw, that means you don’t get way behind. Hopefully we won’t get way behind early and have to throw.”
On the challenge Michigan’s defense poses:
“They’ve been very good against the pass obviously, being second in the nation. But they’ve been pretty good against the run too. I really haven’t watched a lot of their offense since I’m still trying to call the plays and run the offense and so forth. Most thing all coaches worry about is just hope there’s not a lot of fluky turnovers, there’s not a fumble back on your own one yard line and stuff like that. Take care of the ball, let’s go play and see what happens.”
On the improvement of the punting and kicking game:
“It was neat to do some good stuff special team wise. We hadn’t done much, since I had been there, really, on special teams. Ace had a big punt return against Missouri that helped break that one open, and against Georgia ran one all the way back, and then broke one a little bit last game against Clemson. I think we messed up and didn’t score on that one. We’ve helped our field position a bit with kickoff returns, not all the way, but sometimes to the 30 or so. Joe Robinson is an excellent special team coach. He does a super job with those guys.”
On playing to finish the season with 11 wins and how it can impact the program:
“It’s very similar to last year. Last year we were 10-2 and played Nebraska. This year we’re 10-2 and playing Michigan, two of the top football programs historically in the country. Of course Michigan has won more games than any school and I think Nebraska was number five or seven in total wins, I’m not sure which. We’re playing two of the all-time winningest programs and going for 11 wins and we’ll see if we can do it. I don’t know if we can, but we’ll try our best to see if we can get number 11.”