Vic Hampton Lays The Wood
One of the biggest plays of the 2014 Capital One Bowl didn’t even get a mention in our recap of the big game – which is inexcusable on our part.
We’re referring, of course, to University of South Carolina cornerback Victor Hampton’s seismic hit on Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave – which knocked the Badgers’ signal caller out of the game at the tail end of the third quarter.
While it won’t generate the same headlines as Gamecock defensive end Jadeveon Clowney’s legendary tackle of Michigan running back Vincent Smith in last year’s Outback Bowl – Hampton’s hit was every bit as ferocious, and every bit as instrumental in terms of helping lead his team to victory.
Here’s what happened: With Wisconsin trailing 20-17 in the closing moments of the third quarter, Stave rolled out to his right on a designed passing play. Seeing daylight ahead, he decided to tuck the football instead and try and pick up yardage on the ground.
Bad move. Very bad move. The daylight disappeared quickly as Hampton sized Stave up and delivered an absolutely bone-jarring hit.
Here’s the play …
Stave stayed in the game briefly – even completing a pass three plays later – but the impact of Hampton’s hit quickly became too much for him to bear.
“Had it been my left shoulder I probably would have continued to play, but if I’m in there trying to throw the ball and I can’t throw it like I normally do that’s just going to hurt us,” Stave told reporters after the game.
Really? Wisconsin’s backfield boasted not one but two 1,000-yard runners who were slicing and dicing the Gamecock defense left, right and up the middle all day. Why the Badgers called a quarterback rollout in that situation is beyond us. Seriously – first-and-ten from your own 25-yard line with more than 18 minutes left to play?
Stick to your game plan …
With Stave out, Wisconsin was forced to turn to Curt Phillips – a senior who had only attempted two passes all year. That would prove disastrous after a clutch South Carolina drive put the Gamecocks up by ten with less than seven minutes to play (meaning Wisconsin had to throw the football in order to win).
They couldn’t. In fact the inexperienced Phillips threw a pair of fourth quarter interceptions to help seal the Badgers fate …
Hampton confirmed his intention to forego his senior season at USC and enter the 2014 NFL draft weeks ago – meaning he’ll be lowering the boom on pro players next year. And while he’s obviously not attracting the same sort of buzz as Clowney (or USC defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles) – his own “big hit” cannot be ignored.
Wisconsin took a foolish risk with its second-half play-calling against South Carolina … and Hampton made them pay dearly for it.