South Carolina’s Catch-22 of an offense rolled on during a 28-14 loss on Sunday.
Perry Orth looked pretty good throwing the ball, but he threw it 36 times because the Gamecocks couldn’t run it (30 total yards). This is in direct contrast to the past three games when Brandon McIlwain was mostly under center, and the Gamecocks could get a bit of a running game, but McIlwain couldn’t or wouldn’t throw it.
What’s a coach to do?
“We need to evaluate where we are and moving forward, what gives us the best opportunity to be successful,” USC coach Will Muschamp said, repeating the same comments he’s made for most of the first six weeks. “And that’s at all positions.”
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That at least leaves the door open for freshman quarterback Jake Bentley to play after the bye week, but the smart money is to leave his redshirt season intact instead of throwing him into the fire of what’s shaping up to be a lost season. Bentley supposedly has the arm, and USC has some fine receivers (when Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards are healthy), but does that fix the running game?
Fans want it to happen because Orth and McIlwain have both had a few highs and several dozen lows. But if Bentley comes in and isn’t the answer, they’re right back where they started and one of his seasons has been thrown away.
It seems highly likely Muschamp and Kurt Roper will stick with McIlwain and Orth, then open it up to McIlwain or Bentley next year. How that’s going to look continues to be seen, since it’s doubtful any magic beans that will produce an offense are going to be found around Williams-Brice Stadium over the bye week.
Orth will fling it downfield, but defenses know he’s probably not going to run, and him trying to run zone read resulted in a near-turnover on Sunday. McIlwain threw some deep balls against East Carolina, but kept the ball in his hand against Kentucky and Texas A&M, so defenses stacked the box and dared him to throw.
Overall, USC started moving the ball Sunday, and then cut itself with a turnover or penalty.
“Just can’t get out of our own way at times, and that’s very frustrating,” Muschamp said.
Orth refused to give up, but confessed mystery at what was going on.
“We got playmakers,” he insisted. “It’s coming. I believe it. I’m not sure when, but it’s coming.”
There’s a limited time for his words to become prophetic.
And even more limited ways.
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