The Daily Gamecock

Injury plagued South Carolina defense struggles against Georgia

Head coach Shane Beamer looks out on the field during the Gamecock's disappointing game against Georgia on Sep. 17, 2022.
Head coach Shane Beamer looks out on the field during the Gamecock's disappointing game against Georgia on Sep. 17, 2022.

South Carolina entered its week three matchup against No. 1 Georgia with several questions on defense caused by injuries. 

The Gamecocks were already down two starters in Mo Kaba and Jordan Strachan and before the game, head coach Shane Beamer confirmed that more defensive starters were also out. Redshirt juniors Cam Smith, Alex Huntley and David Spaulding, along with fifth-year senior RJ Roderick all missed the action. 

The injured players were sorely missed, as the holes in the defense became evident while Georgia had a field day beating South Carolina 48-7.

Georgia, the number one ranked offense in the SEC,had 245 yards in the first half alone and led 24-0. 

The Gamecocks' defense failed to force a turnover for the second straight game, uncharacteristic considering the South Carolina defense averaged 1.8 turnovers per game last year. Beamer said that there are a lot of things to fix, but the defensive philosophy doesn't change. 

"We talk to our guys from a defensive standpoint all the time about just playing hard, flying to the football and getting there with great physicality, and the turnovers will come," Beamer said.

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett entered the game on fire, throwing for 300 plus yards in his first two starts. Saturday was no different, he finished the game 16-23 for 284 yards and three touchdowns. 

Bennett's favorite target was sophomore tight end Brock Bowers. On the opening drive of the second half, Bowers caught a 78-yard touchdown pass to cement the Bulldog blowout. Bowers finished the game with five receptions for 121 yards and two touchdowns as well as one on the ground. 

"He's an explosive guy, he's athletic, he's physical, he can make plays," South Carolina sixth-year linebacker Brad Johnson said. 

Even after Georgia head coach Kirby Smart pulled his starters midway through the third quarter, the Gamecock defense continued to struggle. 

Backup quarterback Carson Beck found freshman Oscar Delp for a 28-yard touchdown late in the third quarter, adding insult to injury. The backups were able to march down the field in the fourth quarter once more and added a field goal to bring the score to 48-0.

It wasn't all negative for the South Carolina defense though. True freshman defensive back Nick Emmanwori was the lone bright spot in the loss, finishing the game with 14 tackles.