Pharoh Cooper

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Playoff-bound ‘Bama paces All-SEC selections

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Not surprisingly, one of this year’s four playoff participants is very well represented on its conference’s all-league team.

The SEC released its first- and second-team all-conference teams Tuesday afternoon, with Alabama pacing all schools with 10 players total on the two squads.  The 10 selections are the most since the Tide garnered 11 in 2011.

Seven of UA’s All-SEC selections were first-teamers. Florida was next with three first-team selections, while six teams had two apiece: Arkansas, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Texas A&M. Kentucky was the only team that failed to place a player on the first-team; in fact, UK failed to place a player on either team, an indictment of a coaching staff that has consistently brought in high-rated classes.

Both Ole Miss and Texas A&M had five second-teamers. Those two also had the second-most overall selections with seven each.

Individually, Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves III, projected to be one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL draft should he do the expected and leave the Gators early, was named first-team All-SEC for the third consecutive season. Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott and South Carolina wide receiver Pharoh Cooper garnered first-team honors for the second straight season. Additionally, LSU offensive lineman Vadal Alexander, Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett and Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry jumped from second-team in 2014 to first-team this year.

SEC First Team Offense

SEC First Team Defense

SEC Second Team Offense

SEC Second Team Defense

No. 1 Clemson survives late push from South Carolina, heads to ACC title game unbeaten

Associated Press
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Clemson gave South Carolina chances to pull one of those only-in-a-rivalry-game stunners, but the No. 1 Tigers were too much for the three-win Gamecocks, pulling out a 37-32 win in Columbia.

Clemson lost fumbles near midfield on two of its first three possessions, but South Carolina achieved only a three-and-out and a missed field goal on the two following touches.

The Tigers then broke the game open by scoring touchdowns on their next four non-clock killing possessions, scoring on a pair of Deshaun Watson runs (from five and 30 yards out), a 55-yard Watson strike to Deon Cain and a four-yard C.J. Fuller plunge, turning a scoreless tie into a 28-10 blowout late in the third quarter.

But South Carolina climbed back in the game, first on a 57-yard heave from Perry Orth to Pharoh Cooper and then, after a Clemson fumble, a one-yard Shon Carson run. Lorenzo Nunez‘s two-point conversion made the score 28-25 with 12:19 remaining.

Watson answered by driving Clemson 75 yards in 10 plays, ending the push with his third scoring run of the day — this time from three yards out.

South Carolina (3-9) could not muster a second rally, going three-and-out on the ensuing possession and then turning the ball over on downs at its own 25 with 1:28 remaining to end any hope of a comeback. Greg Huegel added a 36-yard field goal for Clemson with 1:22 remaining, and South Carolina posted a cosmetic touchdown pass from Orth to Deebo Samuel with one tick left on the clock.

Watson closed the day with Heisman-like numbers, hitting 20-of-27 passes for 279 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions while rushing 21 rushes for 114 yards and three touchdowns. Wayne Gallman added 19 carries for 102 yards, and the Tigers out-gained the ‘Cocks 515-402 while holding a 26-17 first downs advantage.

The win moves Clemson to 12-0 on the season — its first 12-0 record since claiming the 1981 national championship — heading into an ACC Championship showdown with once-beaten and 14th-ranked North Carolina next Saturday in Charlotte.

The win also ends Clemson’s three-game losing streak at Williams-Brice Stadium. The Tigers beat the cross-state Gamecocks in back-to-back years for the first time since 2007-08 and extended their all-time lead to 67-42-4 in a series dating back to 1896.

 

Gamecocks WR Pharoh Cooper turning pro, says father

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South Carolina wide receiver Pharoh Cooper will play his final collegiate game this Saturday against Clemson. The junior wide receiver will not return for his senior season in Columbia and will instead enter the 2016 NFL Draft, according to his father.

“He definitely appreciates the opportunity to play for South Carolina, and we as parents appreciate the opportunity they gave him,” Cooper’s father, Glen Cooper, said in a story for The Slate. “He wants to ride the wave at its high point.”

According to The Slate report, Cooper’s decision to turn pro was more about what kind of potential he is believed to have entering the NFL next season and not the coaching change underway with the Gamecocks. Steve Spurrier resigned as head coach during the season and South Carolina will have a new coach in 2016, which is still to be determined. And he does have the pro potential. Josh Norris of RotoWorld ranks Cooper as the eighth-best wide receiver in the NFL Draft Class of 2016. Cooper also wanted to avoid risking an injury in 2016 before taking the next step toward the NFL, which can tend to be a wise choice for so many players given the uncertainty revolving around the sport.

Cooper leads South Carolina with 887 yards and seven touchdowns this season. With South Carolina out of postseason contention, Cooper will likely fall shy of his 2014 total of 1,136 yards (if he matches that, good night to Clemson’s title hopes), but he could have a chance to tie his team-leading nine touchdown mark from a season ago.

No. 7 Georgia handling South Carolina through one half

Associated Press
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No. 7 Georgia has used a two-pronged rushing attack and a controlled, efficient passing game to take a 24-13 lead over South Carolina into the break in Athens.

After the teams traded field goals in the first quarter, Nick Chubb put Georgia on top 10-3 with a two-yard scoring plunge at the 12:56 mark of the second quarter. Sony Michel added to the lead with a 21-yard sprint at the 7:37 mark; the two combined to rush 16 times for 115 yards. Greyson Lambert has played flawlessly, hitting 14-of-15 throws for 190 yards and a five-yard scoring strike to Malcolm Mitchell with just 17 ticks before the half.

Georgia’s three touchdown marches, all in the second quarter, covered a combined 248 yards on 24 plays; the Bulldogs take a 323-150 lead total yardage lead into the break.

South Carolina answered Georgia’s late touchdown drive with an even later score of its own, as a 51-yard Shon Carson kickoff return and a face mask penalty allowed Elliott Fry to bang in a 51-yard field goal as time expired.

South Carolina, playing without starting starter Conner Mitch, alternated between Perry Orth and Lorenzo Nunez throughout the first half. Orth saw most of the action and is the only Gamecock to toss a pass, completing 6-of-13 throws for 66 yards and rushing in from four yards out with 2:17 remaining to pull back within a score. Nunez has added another dimension to South Carolina’s attack, running point on a triple option attack and carrying twice for 19 yards. Do-it-all playmaker Pharoh Cooper stands as the Gamecocks’ leading rusher with five carries for 34 yards.

Georgia will receive to open the second half.