It wasn’t the best performance in the world, but South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley and company did what they needed to do to get a win in Knoxville this weekend.
Bentley didn’t throw for 300 yards and the Gamecocks didn’t score a bunch of points, but in the end, it didn’t matter.
A "running back by committee" approach, along with great defense was the recipe for the Gamecocks' 15-9 win over Tennessee on Saturday.
The first half was yet another slow start for the Gamecocks offense. This has become a recurring trend for the Gamecocks that has been tough to shake. Thanks to a career-long 47-yard field goal from Parker White, the South Carolina offense produced three points by halftime but had tallied just 104 total yards.
The USC run game totaled only 49 rush yards in the first half and lost Rico Dowdle to a fractured fibula — the same injury Deebo Samuel and K.C. Crosby suffered earlier in the season.
The second half was the complete opposite for the Gamecock offense. After a punt on the first drive coming out of halftime, Bentley and his crew were able to rally together and produce three straight scoring drives, due in large part to the running game.
For most of the season, some Gamecock fans deemed the running game as the Achilles' heel for the USC offense.
But something changed on Saturday.
As the game wore on, the Tennessee defense began to tire and holes began to open more for the run game.
A.J. Turner and Ty'Son Williams began to hammer away at the Tennessee defense. The Gamecocks tripled their first half performance on the ground and ran for 149 yards in the second half. The team finished with a season-high 194 rush yards, with six players receiving carries. Turner broke a 20-yard touchdown run, which was his first score of the season and boosted the momentum in the Gamecocks' favor.
"We practice inside runs, outside runs, and I feel like our line has done a great job and has been growing ever since Game 1," Turner said. "Learning how to block zone, learning how to block perimeter plays. Just give a lot of credit to them because without them, I wouldn't have that."
Saturday proved the Gamecock offense doesn’t have to be stellar for USC to win. The Gamecocks were able to rely on the run to help achieve their second straight win against Tennessee.
After the game, Bentley said the offensive line had the mentality that “enough is enough” at halftime. He said the offense was ready to push the Tennessee defense around, instead of getting pushed around.
"Just missed some throws in the beginning," Bentley said. "It's the way it's gonna happen sometimes. We rallied together and really got the running game going and really started moving the ball."