South Carolina, Mississippi State both plagued by mistakes in Saturday’s game
South Carolina’s 34-16 victory over Mississippi State Saturday was about as exciting as watching an episode of “The Young and the Restless.”
OK, OK, it wasn’t that bad. I have to say I’d rather watch football, baseball, basketball, soccer, tennis, rugby, CSPAN, grass grow or a wall than sit down and watch a soap opera.
But nevertheless, I did find myself watching the game clock more than the game itself in the second half.
Both teams’ offenses were riddled with mistakes this past weekend. However, Mississippi State threw interceptions while the Gamecocks went three-and-out, and that proved to be the difference.
The Gamecocks intercepted MSU sophomore quarterback Dak Prescott three times and forced five total turnovers to cover up South Carolina’s poorest offensive effort of the season. The Gamecocks barely scratched the 300-yard mark on offense and struggled mightily in the second and fourth quarters.
But the defense, which has played well the last four games, was the bright spot Saturday and served as the reason the Gamecocks won despite being outplayed on offense.
That performance will only improve their confidence level as they enter their final bye week before a crucial three-game stretch to close out the season.
But what the heck is up with the slow starts?
The Gamecocks have allowed their last four opponents to get on the board. While they have won three of those four games, that’s still not a good trend to have. But in two of those games, South Carolina has allowed virtually nothing after the opening drive scores. Arkansas scored a touchdown on its first possession but the Gamecocks cruised from there, winning 52-7.
After Mississippi State methodically drove down the field on its first drive, the Gamecock defense held them in check for the most part the rest of the game.
Senior quarterback Connor Shaw admitted that he didn’t have his best performance of the season against the Bulldogs last weekend, but still managed to throw four touchdowns on just 10 completions. We also saw freshman Pharoh Cooper play more of a role in the offense, standing under center in the “Wildcat” formation, especially late in the second half.
But despite the win, the offense took a step back against MSU. Sophomore tailback Mike Davis, who leads the SEC in rushing, had just 15 carries on the day. That would be understandable if South Carolina was playing from behind most of the day, but that wasn’t the case. Spurrier obviously wanted to throw the ball, but in a close game against say, Florida or Clemson, Davis could be the key to victory.
But, as the experts say, a win is a win and the Gamecocks will take it, no matter how ugly it was.