South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier watches from the sideline during the Gamecocks' game against Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark., on Oct. 12. (AP Photo)
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Following South Carolina's 52-7 rout of Arkansas on Saturday, Steve Spurrier took a moment to assess just how far his Gamecocks have come.
"Right now, we're in good shape," South Carolina's coach said. "The thing is, can we continue?
"We're back with a chance."
Perceptions have certainly changed about the No. 11 Gamecocks (5-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference), who had spent much of the week leading into the game answering questions about the health and commitment of All-America defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
Clowney returned after missing a win over Kentucky with a muscle strain near his ribcage, finishing with one tackle. While his statistics were hardly what many have come to expect of the junior, it wasn't exactly like he had that many chances. Arkansas (3-4, 0-3) ran 37 offensive plays.
The Gamecocks, meanwhile, ran 89 plays — holding a 43:25 to 16:35 edge in time of possession — in an effort that was by far their most dominant of the season.
The performance produced South Carolina's largest margin of victory on the road in the Spurrier era. It also led to a bit of second-half relaxation for a team that had let large leads slip away in each of the three wins since the loss to Georgia in Week 2.
Oh, and despite the one tackle, Clowney was every bit as dominating as his usual self — wreaking havoc in the Razorbacks' backfield on the game's opening play and forcing Arkansas to double team him for much of the game.
"When I got back this week, I told the guys that we weren't letting up," Clowney said. "Everybody is talking about us right now but we're going to tune it out, man, and just have fun. I'm told them before the game let's just have fun today."
As good as South Carolina felt about itself after the win, it also received help elsewhere across the SEC. Both Georgia and Florida suffered their first conference losses of the season on Saturday, leaving Missouri as the lone remaining undefeated team atop the East Division standings.
The Gamecocks, who travel to Tennessee (3-3, 0-2) this week, finish a three-game road trip in two weeks when they travel to face the Tigers — with a spot atop the East standings possibly on the line.
"This puts us back in it (in SEC East) is about all I can say about that," South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw said. "We'll just keep continue playing and do what we have to do."
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