Folks want football offense to be easy.
You make the right call, everything flows where it’s supposed to, yards and points pile up.
But that’s not exactly it, and South Carolina saw that Saturday. Life for the Gamecocks fits the outlook that little things have to pile together to become big things.
A dropped first-down swing pass makes the next two downs harder. A drive has to be perfectly executed without an explosive plays, but explosive plays also can’t be relied upon.
Early against Tennessee, the Gamecocks had some moments. Plays of 13 and 15 yards got USC going on its second possession, but a run stuff and missed pass got them behind the chains right after. A big Ty’Son Williams run got USC inside the Vols 40, but then a stuff meant they had to rely on short-yardage running a play later (they got stuffed).
Even USC’s final possession of the half opened with gains of 14, 9 and 11 yards, and one early incompletion left the Gamecocks again relying on those short-yardage plays.
When the Gamecocks got going, it was little things.
Their 95-yard touchdown drive featured one play longer than 11 yards. Their next two field-goal marches featured little bites here and there, a running game heavily featured as it drummed its way downfield.
There were some play-calling shifts: A.J. Turner edge runs, Jake Bentley pulling the ball and running, breaking tendencies with different looks. But there was also the Turner runs up the middle that often have fans beside themselves, suddenly putting the Gamecocks in favorable spots.
That’s in part a change, but in part doing things better.
“We’ve just to execute those plays when we need them,” said Gamecocks quarterback Jake Bentley, who threw for 129 yards and ran for 24 more. “It’s a play here, or a play there that hits and we score. It’s little things and we’re going to continue to focus on them”
That’s rarely been consistent through seven games. As the Gamecocks head into the bye week, perhaps the offensive close Saturday in Neyland Stadium can provide a next step toward finding that consistency.