The USC defensive staff knew it would have its hands full coming up with a game plan to slow down Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson and his stable of talented receivers. Rush four or blitz? Play tight coverage or soft? Hope that the offense can dominate the ball and keep Wilson on the sideline? Whatever Ellis Johnson and crew had in mind, it wasn’t enough for Wilson who completed 20-37 for 299 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a 68 yard scoring pass that was a major turning point in the game. It also was the longest played allowed this season by the USC defense.
Wilson spread the rock around with three of his receivers catching at least four pass. Jarius Wright led the way with 103 yards and two touchdowns. Dennis Johnson led the rushing attack with 86 yards.
The special teams also had breakdowns by allowing a 98 yard kickoff return by Johnson, getting a running into the kicker call that kept alive a touchdown drive, and failing to fall on an Arkansas fumble on a punt return.
The Gamecocks’ offense was held to a season low 207 yards, one of their lowest totals of the Spurrier era. Shaw was 16-25 for 128 yards with one interception. He was sacked 5 times, the most for a Gamecock quarterback this season, and that resulted in 35 yards in losses.
Shaw also led the ground game with 24 yards though he did score two touchdowns. Brandon Wilds led the receivers with four catches. Alshon Jeffery had three catches for 19 yards. Jeffery passed Sterling Sharpe to move into second place on the all time receiving list, and he is 14 yards shy of the record for receiving yards.
USC actually did a nice job with time of possession keeping the ball for 29:05, but that was offset by the two big scoring plays of 98 and 68 yards for Arkansas. The Gamecocks were eight of 12 on third down conversions. But they averaged 3.6 yards per play to 6.0 yards per play for Arkansas.