It was an explosive day for the Gamecocks’ offense as the Black beat the Garnett 35-24.
In the post-game press conference, Muschamp said, “Well, we had a good day. Offensively we’re a little further along, which is good thing with the returners that we have.”
The offense and those starters Muschamp referenced were clicking on all cylinders. They were moving the ball with ease throughout the day, especially in the first half when all of the starters were playing. There were 586 yards of offense and 37 points scored in the first half of the South Carolina Spring Game.
Jake Bentley threw the ball all over the field. He finished the day 19-31 for 301 yards and three touchdowns. His best performance was in the first half where he completed 13 of his 23 attempts for 236 yards and two touchdowns.
Bryan Edwards was Bentley’s primary target, and he had a very impressive performance. He caught the ball four times for 111 yards and two touchdowns. He almost had three touchdowns, but he stepped out of bounds before making the catch.
The tight end and receiving core is deep this year, and it showed during the game. In addition to Edwards, Kiel Pollard, K.C. Crosby and Jacob August had nice days, but all over the receivers looked dangerous with the ball in their hands.
The running backs also had a nice day. Rico Dowdle has established himself as the Gamecocks top back so he was limited in his carries. He only carried the ball three times, but he had 30 yards. He was hitting holes with authority and using his combination of speed and power to pick up as many yards as possible.
In Dowdle’s place, UNC transfer Ty’son Williams stepped up in a major way. Williams does not have the same power as Dowdle, but he makes up for this with his speed, elusiveness and quickness in space. He had 83 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, as well as three catches for 30 yards.
These skill players had such good games thanks to the new offensive line coach Eric Wolford. It appears he has made an immediate impact as they did not give up a sack the entire first half, and the defense struggled to get any pressure on the quarterback all day.
All this offensive production comes at the expense of the defense though, raising questions about the entire unit. Muschamp admitted this in the postgame press conference when he said, “Defensively, we’ve got some unknowns as we go into fall camp.”
The defensive line struggled to get off blocks. Running backs consistently had huge holes to run through, and quarterbacks could sit back and read the field as long as they wanted. Will Muschamp is going to have to find defensive linemen to step up and replace guys like Darius English and Marquavius Lewis.
The secondary also had a rough day. The defensive backs were not playing tight cover consistently and were watching the ball go over their heads most of the day.
The coming months will be critical for everyone on the team. The rest of the 2017 class will arrive, and summer workouts will be a chance for everyone to get stronger and to continue to build on and improve what they did this spring. The offense looks ready, but the defense looks as though it needs some work.