Photo: Sara Yang/The Daily Gamecock

Gamecocks' run game, offensive line struggle in loss

In South Carolina's 24-10 defeat on Saturday, the Gamecocks' run game and offensive line struggled to consistently produce against a physical Bulldog defense. 

South Carolina recorded just 11 rushing yards at halftime and finished with 43 total. 

Quarterback Jake Bentley put it simply, saying “If you look at their defense, I mean not many teams are able to run the ball against them.” 

South Carolina’s offensive line had trouble stopping Georgia’s inside linebackers Roquan Smith and Reggie Carter from making dynamic plays. Smith and Carter combined for 16 total tackles, two sacks and 2.5 tackles for losses. 

Georgia frequently put pressure on Bentley, forcing him to scramble away from would-be tacklers and to make plays with his arm. With the presence of offensive lineman Zack Bailey back from injury, a connection was established between Bentley and the offensive line.

But it was not enough. 

The Bulldogs' pressure led the Gamecocks to throw two interceptions, give up two sacks and allow five tackles for loss in the game. 

A.J. Turner had eight carries compared to three each for the other South Carolina running backs and Bentley. Turner ran for a total of 35 yards. The closest behind Turner was Mon Denson, who picked up nine yards.

Teams that stop the run game usually have an advantage in time of possession. Georgia’s time of possession was 38:22, compared to South Carolina’s 21:38 time of possession. 

“It’s hard to get into a rhythm when you can't stay on the field offensively but defensively you’re not getting off the field," said head coach Will Muschamp. "That’s frustrating.” 

Muschamp talked further about how the inability to run the ball led to a couple of risky fourth down conversion attempts. He explained the reason behind the back-to-back pass attempts from Hayden Hurst was that the defense was gassed. 

He said it was a play the Gamecocks had been practicing all week. 

“We got the look that we wanted," Hurst said. "I trust Skai, he’s a good athlete, and I just put the ball up there.” 

South Carolina will look to turn around its run game production on Saturday when they return home to face Florida. With Rico Dowdle out due to a fractured fibula, look for the Gamecocks to feed A.J. Turner and Ty’Son Williams with fresh attempts next week.



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