Sara Yang/The Daily Gamecock

South Carolina faces offensive struggles, drops bowl game to Virginia

South Carolina’s offense found itself in a scoreless game against Virginia on Saturday in the 2018 Belk Bowl.

After coming off their last win of the regular season against Akron, the Gamecocks did not build off of that momentum.

“We’re certainly not pleased with no points, but there were some situations we could’ve put points on the board, but I don’t think that was going to try and help us win the ball game,” head coach Will Muschamp said. 

Virginia outran South Carolina, which ultimately led to a 14-point lead in the first half. The Cavaliers had 205 rushing yards, while the Gamecocks had 43 rushing yards. 

Senior linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams was frustrated with the defensive performance that did not help the offense get the ball off the field throughout the game. 

“You gotta make plays,” Allen-Williams said. “You know, we had a couple of key third downs. I missed one, a couple other people missed one. You know, we got to make those plays, and that is just something that we strive on third down defense. We didn’t get that done today.” 

Despite not having wide receiver Deebo Samuel in the mix Saturday, the Gamecocks did not doubt their ability coming into the game. Quarterback Jake Bentley said that his team did not make the plays it needed, with South Carolina struggling against Virginia's secondary. 

“He’s a great player that we missed a lot, but I think guys were ready to go,” Bentley said. “I don’t think that is anyone’s fault, I think that collectively as a group everyone just needs to play better and come out playing as good as we can.”

With the lack of execution in the red zone, Bentley said that he did not play well. Bentley had two interceptions and threw for 218 yards against the Cavaliers. 

Bentley said that he will lean on Muschamp’s message to the team: Remember how this feeling feels and do what their team needs to do to change it. 

South Carolina did not play up to Virginia's tempo and the Gamecocks lost their offensive drive from the start. Running back Mon Denson said that this was not due to lack of preparation.

“We were ready to play, but I just felt like the team was just down a little bit," Denson said. "The other team had more energy than us, that’s about it.”

Before going into this game, South Carolina had improved their run game, but remained inconsistent on both sides of the ball. Shi Smith showed the capability that South Carolina has to move the ball offensively late in the second half after receiving a 12-yard pass from Bentley. 

However, Denson said how it is frustrating when the Gamecocks get drives, but turn over the ball in the red zone. This has cost South Carolina several ball games in the 2018 season. 

“I mean, like coach said, bowl games are who wants it the most, who wants to come out there and have the most fun and play ball. And they came out with more intensity than we did and jumped on top of us quickly," tight end KC Crosby said. 

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