After its win against Furman last Saturday, the Gamecocks came out with a strong first half but faltered down the stretch, falling to No. 1 Georgia 24-14.
Thanks in part to a strong first half performance from redshirt senior quarterback Spencer Rattler, South Carolina went into halftime up 14-3. In the first half, Rattler completed 16 of 18 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown pass.
“The way the first half went wasn't a shock to anyone. I know the story’s like, 'Oh my God, how is South Carolina in this thing,'“ head coach Shane Beamer said. "We expected this. Anybody that's surprised by that hasn't watched us play the last couple years.”
In the second half of the game, Georgia’s dominant defense took over, intercepting Rattler twice and sacking him three times. The Bulldogs punted the ball only once in the second half and held the Gamecocks to zero points.
Georgia’s rushing attack also began to take over after halftime. The Bulldogs ran the ball 44 times for 189 yards, averaging over four yards a carry, and senior running back Daijun Edwards ran 20 times for 118 yards.
Georgia’s offensive line played with great physicality and a lot of experience, as it has brought back three starters from last year’s title winning team.On the other hand, South Carolina had to replace four starters from last year and has already experienced troubles running the ball. Today wasn’t any better, as the team ran for 53 yards on just over three yards a carry.
For the game, Rattler completed 22 of 42 passes for 256 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Someone looking at the start line would think Rattler didn't play well, but he did, despite steady rainfall for most of the game.
Rattler only had two interceptions throughout the game that were a product of trying to get the offense going, not of him making bad decisions.
“I wouldn't trade him for any quarterback in the country," Beamer said. "He gives you a chance to win every game. I know, statistically, the second half wasn't great, but I remember looking at the stats at halftime. I think he had two incompletions at halftime, if I'm not mistaken. And some of the runs — he gives you a chance, and we've got to continue to help him and not have the penalties that we had."
South Carolina's loss can be pinned on a number of factors, one of which being that the Gamecocks' didn’t run the ball consistently enough. With only 53 rushing yards on 3.3 yards per carry, the offensive line couldn’t hold up in the second half. Georgia had seven tackles for loss for the game, and Rattler's best pass catcher, senior wide receiver Antwane Wells Jr., was out for most of the game with an injury to his left foot.
“We're going to let him see a specialist on Tuesday this week, and they should have a better idea then," Beamer said with regard to Wells' injury. "I don't think (that) what it is is necessarily season ending. We feel like it's something that he'll be able to play with, and we'll know a lot more here on Tuesday.”
The Gamecocks is now 1-2 on the season. Its next game will be this coming Saturday, Sept. 23, at 7:30 p.m. against Mississippi State. The game will air on the SEC Network.