Following a breakout rushing performance from Ty’Son Williams in Week 2 over Missouri, the South Carolina football team didn’t have the same result against Kentucky on Saturday.
The Gamecocks gained 54 rushing yards in their 23-13 loss to the Wildcats at Williams-Brice Stadium, with the longest rush coming from quarterback Jake Bentley when he gained 11 yards.
For coach Will Muschamp, the Gamecocks’ lack of run game came down to one factor.
“They whipped us up front,” Muschamp said of Kentucky. “I’m extremely disappointed in that. Didn’t feel like we could get it going in the second half. We tried to pick up the tempo a little bit offensively and start throwing the football, which we were able to move the ball effectively. We can’t get a fourth and one on the goal line or kick a field goal, so it was disappointing.”
Three Gamecocks received carries, including Rico Dowdle, Jake Bentley and A.J. Turner. Williams, who ran for 78 yards against Missouri, entered the game late in the third quarter, but received no carries and totaled two receptions for seven yards.
Muschamp said Williams’ lack of carries was because the offense was relying on passing more than rushing in the second half.
“In the second half, we were unable to run the football, so we tried to get in a situation where we pick up the tempo and pick our spots to throw and run,” Muschamp said. “That’s what we did. We moved the ball much better than we did the entire game.”
The Gamecocks came up short on three consecutive runs in the third quarter, including back-to-back zero-yard gains from Turner on third and fourth down at the 49-yard line.
“We just (weren’t) efficient with our carries,” Turner said. “We got some running plays called. For me on third and fourth down, I had 1 yard to go. I just didn’t get it, so I guess there’s just got to be more efficient and do everything we can to get more yards.”
Similar to Turner, Dowdle came up short on a crucial play for the Gamecocks in the fourth quarter. Trailing 17-6, Dowdle was stuffed on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line following a 70-yard drive.
“I thought we were going to make the first down,” Muschamp said. “I felt good about the call. I felt good about what we were trying to do. It just didn’t work.”
Both Turner and Dowdle averaged less than 3 yards per carry, and finished with 12 and 23 yards, respectively.
“If we can’t stay on the field on third down, you’re not going to be very successful on offense,” Bentley said. “Credit to (Kentucky), they had a lot of different looks.”