South Carolina has $1.5 million worth of defensive coordinators on its sideline, but the defensive unit didn’t play worth two cents in a 52-20 loss to Georgia Saturday night in Athens.
More than a year has passed since Texas A&M scored 52 on the Gamecocks in last year’s season opener, but it doesn’t appear much progress has been made based on Saturday’s outing. The USC defense was reminiscent of the one in the blowout loss to the Aggies last August. USC struggled to cover, tackle or get any kind of pass rush as Georgia waltzed up and down the field.
When asked about Georgia repaying the favor of scoring 52 on Spurrier’s team, after he put up 52 at Sanford Stadium with Florida in 1995, he replied, “A lot of people have put 52 on us lately.”
Co-defensive coordinators Jon Hoke and Lorenzo Ward had no answer for Georgia’s offense, which finished with 576 total yards. The Bulldogs had 498 after three quarters before calling off the dogs.
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“We’ve got to find some players that can tackle and cover,” Spurrier said. “We’ve got to do more defensively, obviously, than what we’re doing as far as doing something different. We can’t just stand there and play.”
Just about everything Georgia tried worked. UGA quarterback Greyson Lambert, who had passed for 257 yards combined in Georgia’s first two games of the year, had 294 after three quarters against USC. He finished 24 of 25 for 330 yards and three touchdowns.
Lambert set the NCAA, SEC and UGA records for completion percentage with a minimum of 20 completions, connecting on 96 percent of his passes.
“It was a record breaking day … for Georgia,” Spurrier said. “Not for us.”
Heisman candidate Nick Chubb rushed for 159 yards and two touchdowns on only 21 carries.
A defense that had been dominant in the second half of USC’s first two games of the year looked lost from start to finish against Georgia. The Bulldogs did not punt for the first time until late in the third quarter when the game was well out of hand.
“We had a lot of problems with everything,” Hoke said. “I thought we were ready to go. I felt good about our preparation during the week, and obviously it was not what I thought it would be this evening.”
Georgia scored touchdowns on six of its first eight possessions and added a field goal. The only Georgia drive out of the first eight that did not lead to points ended with a fumble in the red zone.
South Carolina’s defensive leader, Skai Moore, finished with 12 tackles. He said afterwards that USC’s problems are execution and not scheme.
“You can’t put that on Hoke. That’s all on us,” he said. “Coach put us in the right position. We’ve just got to execute and make plays.”
Former South Carolina safety D.J. Swearinger, who was a part of some of the best defenses in USC history, tweeted his displeasure with what took place in Athens.
“Yeah that was my last time watching Carolina (probably),” he said. “I’ll watch when I hear they playing like Carolina and not the weakest team in SEC.”