There weren’t many bright spots for South Carolina on Saturday night at Sanford Stadium, but the two most dazzling came on offense in the form of sophomore tailback Mike Davis and junior wide receiver Nick Jones.
Davis rushed for 149 yards on 16 carries — his second 100-yard game in two weeks — and scored a 3-yard touchdown, while Jones caught a career-best six passes for 97 yards and touchdowns of 18 and 30 yards.
But it wasn’t enough — despite 30 points, 21 first downs and 454 total yards — because the USC defense struggled. USC coach Steve Spurrier loved the effort and grit of Davis, who rushed for 115 yards in the opening win against North Carolina.
“His game was somewhat similar to Marcus Lattimore’s games. He played his heart out,” Spurrier said.
USC quarterback Connor Shaw agreed.
“I thought some of the guys on offense played their heart out,” Shaw said. “I feel like we battled. We just came up short.”
They came up shy because the offense had the ball for 25 minutes. The defense couldn’t keep the Georgia offense off the field, a fact Spurrier repeatedly lamented.
“We didn’t score every possession so we got beat,” he said. “Sometimes you’ve got to score every possession. We weren’t good enough to do it.”
But Davis and Jones did their parts, although they were disappointed their big games came in a losing effort.
“It was very frustrating, but it’s a team effort,” Davis said. “They got the ‘W’ so that’s all that matters.”
For the second straight game, the 215-pound Davis broke off a 75-yard run, although the one against Georgia on the final play of the third quarter didn’t go for a score like the one against UNC. He hopes that proves he’s more of a breakaway back than a short-yardage back.
“I want to be that running back who makes the exciting plays,” said Davis, who was stopped on an option play on fourth-and-goal from the Georgia 1 in the fourth quarter.
And Jones hopes to become a bigger part of the offense. He caught a team-high four passes against UNC before his breakout game against the Bulldogs.
“Nick stepped up and had a huge game,” Shaw said.
His 18-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter tied the game at 17, one play after Georgia dropped a punt snap. His 30-yard touchdown reception capped a 71-yard drive to even the game at 24 heading into the half.
“I was just trying to get open and do my best to help the team,” the 5-foot-7 Jones said. “Obviously, it wasn’t enough.”
Spurrier noted the solid play of the offensive line on both run and pass blocking. He just wanted the offense to have the ball more.
“We should have thrown more at (Jones), but we didn’t have the ball very long,” he said.