The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: South Carolina football struggles in blowout loss to Georgia

<p>Redshirt sophomore defensive back Cam Smith attempts a tackle on a Bulldogs player. The Gamecocks received their first loss of the season in Saturday's game against UGA.</p>
Redshirt sophomore defensive back Cam Smith attempts a tackle on a Bulldogs player. The Gamecocks received their first loss of the season in Saturday's game against UGA.

South Carolina (2-1, 0-1 SEC) proved to be severely outmatched as No. 2 Georgia (3-0, 1-0 SEC) cruised to a 40-13 win on Saturday night at Sanford Stadium.

Everything that went right for the Gamecocks in their first two games changed in the blink of an eye as the Bulldogs proved why they are one of the best teams in the country.

Early on, South Carolina had its opportunities, getting deep into Georgia territory, but it couldn't deliver a touchdown, as it settled for two field goals on its opening three drives.

The Dawgs took complete advantage of every mistake the Gamecocks made, resulting in a wide margin in the score by the end of the night.

This proved true coming into the second half, as two turnovers on consecutive drives led to 14 Georgia points, putting the game on ice.

After starting graduate quarterback Zeb Noland exited following the team's opening drive of the first quarter, sophomore quarterback Luke Doty came in.

"Zeb got a cut on his hand," head coach Shane Beamer said at a postgame press conference. "We don't think it's broken, but he's got a pretty significant cut on his hand, that he had no feeling in his hand. So, obviously he can't throw the football with that, but we don't think it's broken."

With plenty of pressure coming at him, Doty stayed poised in the pocket and made impressive throws. On the night, he completed 13-of-26 passes for 153 yards and a touchdown while throwing an interception.

"I thought Luke did a great job. He's a really good athlete," Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said at a postgame press conference. "He moved around; he made some plays with his feet; he bought time. He hurt us with some throws."

One of the bright spots throughout the game was senior wide receiver Josh Vann, who caught three of his eight targets for 128 yards. His highlight of the night came in the fourth quarter, as he was able to create separation and haul in a 36-yard touchdown pass from Doty.

Behind a struggling offensive line, the running game was non-existent against an imposing Georgia front. Typically being a strong suit in the Gamecocks' first two games, redshirt senior running back ZaQuandre White, junior running back Kevin Harris and redshirt freshman running back Marshawn Lloyd combined for 81 yards on the ground.

Penalties continued to be a problem for South Carolina, which picked up nine for 70 yards. 

Defensively, the Gamecocks struggled to contain Georgia's staggering offense, as they allowed 307 receiving yards and 184 rushing yards.

Getting off the field on third down was a cause for concern, as the Dawgs converted on eight of their 12 third down plays.

However, there were times in the game in which the defense did show some life, as South Carolina redshirt senior defensive back Jaylan Foster picked off UGA junior quarterback JT Daniels twice, and Gamecock senior defensive back RJ Roderick forced a fumble in the fourth quarter.

"It don't really matter who the opponent is, we just trying to come out here and do the best we can do as a group," senior defensive lineman Jabari Ellis said at a postgame press conference. "That's all we focus on. Just doing the best we can do."

Heading into this week and the foreseeable future, the defense will be down one of its starters, as redshirt senior linebacker Sherrod Greene went down with a lower leg injury on the game's opening drive. 

With results in the waiting, Beamer said the initial prognosis is the injury is not season-ending, but he will not be returning for awhile.

With the loss in the rearview mirror, South Carolina will turn its attention to Kentucky (3-0, 1-0 SEC) next Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on ESPN2.


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