Connor Shaw;Johnell Thomas

South Carolina grinds out a victory over Vanderbilt


South Carolina took one small step toward winning the SEC East and earning a trip back to Atlanta Thursday night with a tougher-than-expected win over an upset-minded Vanderbilt.

And, hey, a decent crowd showed up too.

What fans saw was mistake-prone football synonymous with the first game of the season. Neither Vandy nor the ninth-ranked Gamecocks could pass the ball, and it didn’t help that quarterback Connor Shaw (pictured) was nursing a bruised throwing shoulder half the night.

Shaw finished 7-of-11 for 67 yards and an interception. Not exactly numbers Steve Spurrier wants to see. About the only thing Shaw threw effectively was caution to the wind as he ran — recklessly, you could argue with that shoulder — 14 times for 92 yards. Marcus Lattimore, back from an ACL injury, tacked on 109 yards and two touchdowns.

It wasn’t pretty — but dang there were some grown up hits, y’all — but the Gamecocks squeezed out a 17-13 win over Vanderbilt*.

You have to give the Commodores credit for battling back after an early 10-0 deficit, and Vandy’s undersized offensive line was even able to keep South Carolina’s d-line, and Jadeveon Clowney, under control for part of the night. James Franklin has been preaching over and over that this isn’t the “same old Vanderbilt.”

Attitude-wise? Not in the least. There’s a new fire with this program that just hasn’t been there before. Performance-wise? There’s nothing “new” about Vandy yet. The Commodores weren’t able to capitalize on two early turnovers and good field position (when they had it).

Until the ‘Dores get that statement win, the corner can’t be considered turned.

(*Yes, there was a missed pass interference call; no, it’s not the story of the game. It was a close game, you can magnify a dozen things that could have gone differently.) 

Starting LB C.J. Johnson reveals surgery on social media, Ole Miss confirms

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Ole Miss will be without a starting piece of its defensive puzzle for an extended period of time, both the player and the school revealed Tuesday.

With rumors swirling about his condition, C.J. Johnson confirmed on his personal Twitter account late this morning that he will be undergoing surgery at some point in the not-too-distant future.  The linebacker sustained an injury to his left knee in last Saturday’s loss to Florida and did not return to the contest.

Subsequent to that posting, Ole Miss confirmed that Johnson underwent surgery earlier in the day to repair a torn meniscus in his knee.  The procedure and rehab will sideline Johnson for a period of 4-6 weeks.

At the low-end of the prognosis, Johnson would miss the next four games — New Mexico State, Memphis, Texas A&M, Auburn — and return for the Nov. 7 game against Arkansas.  The high-end would have him sidelined until the regular-season finale against Mississippi State.

Johnson had started all five games at middle linebacker for the Rebels.  He started 26 games at defensive end the past three years before moving to linebacker.

Butch Jones labels rumor of ‘physical altercation’ with Vols player ‘absolutely ridiculous’

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Head coach Butch Jones of the Tennessee Volunteers yells at Marquez North #8 during the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on September 27, 2014 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Already in the crosshairs for his 2-3 team’s late-game failures, Butch Jones now finds himself under increasing scrutiny for something that allegedly happened a couple of months ago.

The website, which features such respected journalists Tony Barnhart and Mike Huguenin among others, reported earlier today that the Tennessee head coach was involved in what was described as a “physical altercation” with senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder during summer camp this past August.  The source close to the program added that practice film that day captured the alleged incident, although it’s unclear if that tapes still exists.

From the site’s report:

The incident occurred during fall camp, about the time that news started to come out about a few offensive linemen who were considering stepping away from the program. Crowder walked off the practice field one day and missed a day or two of practice, and Brett Kendrick and Dylan Wiesman were said to be contemplating their futures. Sources say the players’ actions stemmed from an incident between Jones and Crowder.

The website also made a Freedom of Information request seeking any correspondence between the university and the Crowder family be turned over, but writes that UT “administrators said any sort of letter or correspondence that may or may not have happened was covered under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.”

Monday, Jones labeled what began as message-board speculation that he had struck one of his Vols players as “absolutely ridiculous.” The Knoxville News Sentinel contacted Crowder’s father, with the paper writing that “he had no comment and did not want to give validation to message boards.”

At least publicly, the university has yet to address the allegations.  Jones will get yet another chance to address the speculation with the media in the very near future.