Saturday's loss to Kentucky was a tough pill to swallow for Gamecock football fans after both placekickers left a combined 10 points on the board by combining to miss three field goals and an extra point.
But placing the blame on kickers Parker White and Alexander Woznick, while easy, is misguided. If you are looking for someone to blame for the loss, consider the South Carolina offense.
The Gamecocks were a horrendous 3-for-12 on third down and 1-for-3 on fourth down on Saturday. Both of the turnovers on downs came on fourth and one, which quarterback Jake Bentley said was one of the biggest factors in the loss.
“That’s the big reason why we only scored 13 points," Bentley said. "When you can’t stay on the field on third down you’re not going to be very successful on offense.”
One of these plays was at the goal line, and the Gamecocks were unable to punch it in. The Gamecocks lined up in the shotgun for a quarterback read, but the corner came off the edge and stopped running back Rico Dowdle before he could cross the goal line. This was just one example of the Gamecocks failing to convert on third or fourth down with less than four yards to go.
“For me on third and fourth down, I had one yard to go and I just didn’t get it," said running back A.J. Turner
Head coach Will Muschamp admitted in his postgame press conference that running the ball was not working, yet the Gamecocks decided to call a run during that situation.
Muschamp said it was “disappointing” that the Gamecocks could not get the ball into the end zone. Instead, perhaps the Gamecocks should have run a bootleg, or a sneak or just not lineup in the shotgun, which added yards they needed to gain.
Last season, the Gamecocks converted just over 34 percent of their third downs, according to CollegeFootballStats.com. Prior to Saturday, they had converted 48 percent of their third downs this season.
If the Gamecocks can’t clean up third down, they will have bigger things to worry about this season than a few missed field goals.