The South Carolina football team's midseason slide continued on Saturday afternoon at Bryan-College Station, where it suffered a 30-17 loss to Texas A&M.
Much of the team's struggles this season can be pinned on defense. But the Gamecocks' offense posted a lackluster performance, which prevented any chances of a late comeback.
South Carolina's offense gained only 209 total yards on 61 plays, with an average of just more than three yards per play.
Redshirt senior quarterback Spencer Rattler, who spent much of the game under constant pressure from the Aggies' aggressive defensive line, recorded his second-lowest single-game passing total of the 2023 season. He completed just 20 of 33 passes for 176 yards.
South Carolina was not efficient on the ground either, totaling just 33 rushing yards on 28 attempts with an average of 1.2 yards per carry.
"(A&M's) defense, I mean, that's the best front we've played all season," head coach Shane Beamer said. "(Junior linebacker Edgerrin Cooper) is a phenomenal football player, and then they're really good in the secondary."
On the other side of the ball, the Gamecocks' defense showed improvement in some areas.
South Carolina's defense allowed 30 points to the Aggies and did not force any turnovers, but its defensive linemen were disruptive throughout the game, recording three sacks and seven tackles for loss.
Stopping the run has also been a source of struggle throughout the campaign.
The Gamecocks allowed only 2.6 yards per attempt and 105 total rushing yards, despite Texas A&M's leading rusher, junior running back Amari Daniels, being efficient with his carries. South Carolina's defense stopped the Aggies on third down 12 times in 19 attempts and held it to three field goals throughout the night.
“(I’m) proud of our defense," Beamer said. "They did a good job of getting stops and holding them to field goals in the second half and keeping us in the fight."
But the Aggies would go on to hold the momentum in the second quarter, taking the lead away from South Carolina.
After opening the scoring in the first quarter with a one-yard touchdown run by sixth-year running back Dakereon Joyner, South Carolina gave up 21 unanswered points as the Aggies scored touchdowns on three consecutive drives.
Graduate student wide receiver Ainias Smith proved to be a weapon for Texas A&M's passing game, whose 118 total yards on six catches and a touchdown to end the first half essentially put the game out of reach.
During that timeframe, the Gamecocks mustered just 21 yards on 13 plays, while the Aggies gained 139 yards on 20 plays.
South Carolina's defense was able to put pressure on Texas A&M sophomore quarterback Max Johnson in the first half, but by the start of the second half, it did not amount to much. The Gamecocks' offense could not keep up with that of the home team.
Rattler was able to complete only three passes to fifth-year wide receiver Xavier Legette, who has taken on the role of the team’s top-receiving option after an injury to senior wide receiver Antwane Wells Jr.
“(We) had our opportunities. We've just got to continue to put our guys in position to make plays," Beamer said. "We've got to continue to help them to make that play when we get the opportunity."
The South Carolina Gamecocks (2-6, 1-5 SEC) will be back in action against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks (7-2, 5-1 C-USA) on Saturday, Nov. 4, at Williams-Brice Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for noon, and the game will be broadcast on ESPNU.