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October 1, 2011

Carolina game balls



AUBURN 16, NO. 10 SOUTH CAROLINA 13

GAME BALLS

Ellis Johnson
Johnson has taken some heat over the past two years for his defense, particularly pass defense, not playing up to snuff. It played marvelously on Saturday. Yes, it did give up 358 yards, but when it's on the field for a whopping 92 plays, that's going to happen. Johnson is as frustrated as anybody else on the team, knowing that his specialty is playing pretty doggoned well but it can't score points every game - that's the offense's job. Johnson's boys had three tacklers in double figures, 11 tackles for loss, four sacks and four interceptions. Yes, it did allow the winning touchdown throw late in the fourth, but again - after 91 plays, fatigue is by far a major factor for the 92nd.

Antonio Allen
Always there, always making plays … if Allen doesn't at least win some kind of All-American award this season, I'll be stunned. All he did on Saturday was again lead the team with 13 tackles, with three tackles for loss, a hurry and an interception, his ridiculous sixth takeaway in five games. Allen's best quality may be that he always pursues and never falls for the fakes and jukes a ball-carrier may give him; he just keeps running at them to get a hand on their person, so if he doesn't take him down, the next guy will. And his interception on Saturday was beautiful - on a trick reverse where the receiver was supposed to pass, Allen ran across the field and ripped the ball away from the intended receiver as the ball got to him.

Melvin Ingram
Big No. 6 keeps showing up as well. He had 11 tackles with 4.5 for loss, including 3.5 sacks, two hurries and an interception. Like Allen's, his was on a trick play - Auburn faked a field goal, the holder spied Philip Lutzenkirchen in the end zone, threw and Ingram sprinted over to grab it. He and Allen are playing so well right now that it's almost a shame to tell them to practice.

Bruce Ellington
The game he's been waiting on. Ellington finally showed what he could do, catching three passes for 60 yards and setting up the Gamecocks' last touchdown. Stephen Garcia found him running the box-in route; Ellington caught it over the middle, went to the sideline and cut up for a 35-yard gain. While the "Wildcat" package remains a dusty back page of the playbook, at least Ellington was still able to produce.

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