By Jeff Owens/Photo by Jenny Dilworth
Editor’s note: South Carolina’s game against Marshall has been canceled due to Hurricane Florence. The Gamecocks next play on Saturday, Sept. 22 at 4 p.m. ET at Vanderbilt.
When Will Muschamp and his coaches walked into the locker room Saturday night after their 41-17 loss to Georgia, he and offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon both had the same thought and reaction.
“The first thing he said when he walked in was, ‘I need to be more hard-headed in the run game. We need to stay more with the run in the second quarter,’” Muschamp said of McClendon.
Though the defense gave up 21 straight third-quarter points and 473 yards of total offense against No. 3 Georgia, the offense sputtered as well, managing just 54 yards rushing and going three-and-out on its first two possessions of the second half.
Muschamp said after the game that the offense needed to stick with the running game longer and create a better run-pass balance. The Gamecocks threw the ball 48 times but had just 20 rushing attempts a week after running for 263 yards in the season opener.
While much of the imbalance was due to falling behind in the third quarter, some of it was due to RPOs (run-pass options) and poor decision-making at the line of scrimmage.
“You’re calling a run and, based on a look, you’re throwing the football,” Muschamp said. “We had some affective gains throwing the football, but you need to be able to call it and haul it at times and just run the football and know you want to hand the ball off regardless of what the look gives you.”
Quarterback Jake Bentley, who completed 30 passes for 269 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions against Georgia, said the offense will focus on being more balanced Saturday against Marshall.
“[We know we need to] just stay balanced in that RPO game and kinda even out the throwing and running,” he said. “Georgia is a really good team with a lot of good guys on the D-Line, so it makes it more difficult. But we have to find a way to move the ball on the ground.”
Running back Ty’Son Williams had 82 yards rushing against Coastal Carolina but just 26 yards on six carries against Georgia. He said the running game struggled partly because it was playing against one of the best defenses in the country and partly because the offense didn’t stick with it.
“With them, you are not going to break a lot of long runs. You have to try to wear them down and get ‘em tired and I think that’s when you will start seeing a lot more movement with them,” he said Tuesday. “Sometimes you just have to stay with it. It can be ugly at times, so you have to stick with it and just try to get calls and eventually, it will break.”
After watching film and meeting with coaches Sunday and Monday, he expects the running backs to get more carries going forward.
“There was a learning experience for us going against Georgia. We will do a lot better job going forward,” he said.
Bentley said he thought his offensive line played “great” against Georgia, but the group was upset at not being able to run the ball better and more. “They take pride in that … and they are dedicated to doing whatever it takes to make it work.”
Right tackle Blake Camper said the offensive line played well against Georgia, giving it confidence moving forward. The group gave up just one sack against the Bulldogs.
“We expect more of ourselves, but overall we had a pretty good game,” he said. “Going into the game, we were really hyped up and we were thinking we were going to show these guys we were legitimate. And I think we did up front. I think we made a statement that we are a force to be reckoned with.”
He said the offensive line looks forward to running the ball more.
“As offensive linemen, we love the run game,” he said. “It’s what we came here for, to play against really good defensive linemen and be able to run the football.”