You’re talking about a couple plays.
South Carolina’s football team has a first-down false start, a short run and then quarterback Jake Bentley puts a deep out a little too far for a receiver. A missed block on a screen ends with a Deebo Samuel drop, and a false start puts the Gamecocks in second-and-15.
This is how two drives start inside the opponents’ 50 and don’t produce a point.
When that happened against Kentucky, Will Muschamp knew it would probably come back to bite his team. They fall behind schedule, have to make big plays to make up for it and that’s not easy.
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It certainly had an impact on South Carolina’s first loss of the season, and is something the Gamecocks hope they can clean up.
“I think it’s just consistency,” tight end Hayden Hurst said. “It just goes back to, we’re hurting ourselves. That hurts drives when you get in second-and-longs and third and longs, it’s hard to pick up those first downs and keep the offense on the field and keep the ball moving.”
The story from the Kentucky game was stark. South Carolina’s average second down had about 7 1/2 yards to go. The average third down was a little better at 5 yards, but considering the short-yardage issues, USC only converted three.
USC got a little flow going in the second half, with Bentley slinging it down after down, creating flow that was lacking early, but that’s a hard way to produce consistency.
“We moved the ball fairly well,” Bentley said. “A lot of yards passing this past game, really just started to air it out. And the run game would help, and it’s going to come. It may not be functioning as well as we want it to right now, but it’s going to come.”
The problems with South Carolina’s ground game have mostly been laid at the feet of the offensive line, and that probably makes sense. Will Muschamp said they were “whipped” up front, and with any running game, that’s where it starts.
But the backs can also probably do better in spots, and tailback Rico Dowdle pointed one out.
“Short yardage, one-on-ones with the linebackers,” Dowdle said. “We’ve got to make those plays, no matter what. No matter the schemes, the blocking, and all, one yard, we’ve got to get it.”
The most notable example was a third and 3 early in the second quarter. Dowdle took the ball on a power play. He met the linebacker 1 1/2 yards past the line and got stood up, shoving forward for only another half yard.
Early in the second half, he got the ball on second and 2 and eschewed a seam to his left to bounce right. There an unblocked linebacker got him in the legs and another came in to knock him down. USC was stuffed on the next two drives.
“I made a bad read,” Dowdle said. “That’s something that I haven’t done since I’ve been here actually, tried to take an inside zone outside, that’s part of it too.”