Brandon Wilds

CFT Previews: Duck Commander Independence Bowl

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WHO: Miami (6-6) vs. South Carolina (6-6)
WHAT: The 39th Independence Bowl
WHERE: Independence Stadium, Shreveport, Louisiana
WHEN: 3:30 p.m. ET Dec. 27 on ABC
THE SKINNY: In a battle to see which team emerges with less of a disappointing season than the other, the underachieving South Carolina Gamecocks face the Miami Hurricanes in the Duck Commander Independence Bowl.

Both teams entered this season with aspirations of winning their divisions. Instead, both are 6-6 with one team leaving Shreveport, Louisiana with a record over .500.

Steve Spurrier‘s Gamecocks limped their way through a worse overall season. The program was expected to compete for the SEC East with the Georgia Bulldogs to eventually play in the SEC Championship Game. After finishing 11-2 the previous three seasons and opening the 2014 campaign ranked ninth overall, expectations remained sky high. Instead, the Gamecocks feel flat by losing five of their last eight games.

When South Carolina was successful, though, the Gamecocks offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage. Running backs Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds combined for 1,494 rushing yards. Davis already stated he will leave Columbia after this year to join the NFL ranks. The junior will likely be showcased in his final game with the program.

Likewise, Miami’s best weapon is running back Duke Johnson. Johnson, who is also expected to leave Miami after this season for the NFL, is the barometer for the Hurricanes’ success. During a six-game stretch through the middle of the season, the running back ran for over 100 yards in each contest. Miami finished 4-2 during that stretch. The program is 2-4 in the games when Johnson ran for less than the century mark.

As the program’s all-time leading rusher, Johnson’s success is vital for Miami to emerge victorious.

But the Gamecocks can take over a game with its talented offensive line. Those big eaters up front should give South Carolina a slight advantage in a game that pits two of the nation’s most inconsistent teams against one another.

Spurrier succinctly summed up exactly what’s on the line, “They’re 6-6 just like us, so somebody is going to be a winner and someone is going to leave a loser. So, a lot on the line for this game.”

THE PREDICTION: South Carolina 24, Miami 21

South Carolina starts hot, but Florida ties it up at the half

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South Carolina started off looking to be in full control all afternoon, but things have slowed down in a hurry. Florida actually goes to the half with the momentum after tying the game at 10-10 just before halftime. A Treon Harris pass to Demarcus Robinson from 11 yards out helped the Gators tie the game before hitting the locker room.

South Carolina scored a touchdown on the opening possession of the game, capping an 85-yard drive with a 20-yard touchdown run by Brandon Wilds. South Carolina picked up three more points on its second possession for a quick 10-0 lead on the Gators. South Carolina quarterback Dylan Thompson has been steady for the Gamecocks, completing 11 of 16 pass attempts for 107 yards.

Florida quarterback Treon Harris has not done much throwing, completing just two of four pass attempts for 19 yards, but his second completion tied the game up. Harris also leads the Florida offense running the football with 50 rushing yards. Florida’s offense has seen Harris, Kelvin Taylor and Matt Jones have split the rushing production pretty evenly so far though.

This one has been far from pretty, but there have been no turnovers in the game. Florida has converted just one of five third-down attempts, and South Carolina has just three of eight first down conversions.

A win for Florida would make the Gators eligible for postseason play. South Carolina still needs two more wins to become eligible for playing in a bowl game. With South Alabama next week and ending the regular season at Clemson, a win this afternoon could be needed for South Carolina.

Spurrier on Mike Davis: ‘good chance he’ll play’

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Apparently it was a false alarm when it came to Mike Davis.  Again.

Monday, Steve Spurrier said his star running back is “sort of doubtful” for South Carolina’s game Saturday against East Carolina because of a lingering rib issue.  That issue limited the All-SEC back to just four carries, none after the midway point of the second quarter in the season-opening loss to Texas A&M.

During a press conference Tuesday, however, Spurrier sounded decidedly optimistic about Davis’ availability compared to 24 hours ago.

Because of Davis’ issues, Brandon Wilds led all USC backs with 45 yards on nine carries.

Mike Davis not starting for South Carolina

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The first game of the SEC season is about to get started, but one of the top running backs in the conference will not be making the start. South Carolina running back Mike Davis will not start tonight’s season opener against Texas A&M.

Davis rushed for 1,183 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. His absence from the game tonight is not much of a surprise after sitting out a week of practice due to a rib injury. Head coach Steve Spurrier may still try to get Davis involved when he feels the moment is right, but it will be something to keep an eye on. Spurrier has said Davis is ready to go, so expect to see him play a role in the South Carolina offense anyway.

Brandon Wilds was announced as the starting running back for tonight’s game. Last season he rushed for 221 yards and three touchdowns in a reserve role.

Spurrier, on star RB vs. A&M: ‘Mike’s going to be in there’

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It appears Steve Spurrier got everyone wound up for, basically, nothing.

Wednesday after practice, Spurrier made it sound as if there was very real doubt that Mike Davis would be available for South Carolina’s opener against Texas A&M next Thursday.  That was offset by both the running back and his position coach downplaying the severity of what’s been described as a rib injury.

A day later, Davis returned to practice after missing the previous two sessions.  And he did so without the benefit of the no-contact jersey some of his injured teammates were sporting.

During a radio interview afterward, the OBC struck a decidedly different tone than 24 hours before when talking about Davis’ availability for the A&M game — even as he couldn’t help but get a shot in at Davis’ expense.

“Mike Davis has sort of been banged-up this preseason,” Spurrier said according to The State. “He’s missed several days of practice, sort of got a bruise in the back or something. He hasn’t practiced but a little bit today, all this week. So Brandon Wilds has been running well, David Williams has been hurt, Shon Carson and Brandon Wilds have been everyday guys all preseason.

“So anyway, Mike’s a heck of a back, but these other guys have actually done a little better than him because Mike’s been hurt a little bit. So we’re going to play our backs, and Mike’s going to be in there.”

Earlier in the day, Davis himself took to Twitter to make light of the concern over his availability for the opener.

Davis, who rushed for nearly 1,200 yards last year, was named first-team All-SEC by the conference’s head coaches Thursday.