After spending the past week scrambling to put a plan together for Saturday’s matchup with Vanderbilt, South Carolina coach Shawn Elliott now has an opportunity to re-evaluate where the Gamecocks are as a team.
USC gets a much-needed week off following one of the crazier weeks in team history, and despite the week ending with a 19-10 victory over the Commodores, Elliott knows his team has plenty of work to do before traveling to Texas A&M for a showdown on Halloween.
“It’s a good week to have a bye week. We haven’t had a chance to go in and evaluate ourselves, see what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong,” Elliott said. “I think the open week is going to be very, very good to go in and see how we can make this football team better.”
Carolina needs three more wins in order to qualify for a bowl game, and of its final five games, three are against teams currently ranked in the top 15. The Gamecocks will likely only be favored once over the final five weeks, but Elliott has several ideas in mind that he believes will help.
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One potential move that is expected is a more up-tempo offense. The Gamecocks showcased the new approach at times against Vanderbilt, and will work to continue to play quicker offensively.
“We were making an effort to push it, and I think we will make a better effort. I think that’s one of the things we have to improve on. As you practice that more, you get a little more comfortable with it offensively,” Elliott said. “I think our players will become more confident in doing that as well. But yes, we want to push the tempo. We’re going to run a tempo-oriented offense. We may be fast, we may not be fast, but we’re definitely going to have some tempo going.”
USC quarterback Perry Orth believes the change in philosophy can be very beneficial.
“It was awesome. We moved the ball up and down the field,” he said of Saturday’s game. “I think everybody on offense enjoys the upbeat, fast-paced (tempo). You don’t have to think. You can just go out and play.”
While the Gamecocks had a productive day offensively against Vanderbilt, finishing with 424 total yards, execution in the red zone was abysmal at times.
In four trips inside the Vanderbilt 20, Carolina scored zero touchdowns. Elliott said there were several reasons for Carolina’s struggles in the red zone.
“We’ve got 424 yards and 19 points, and that doesn’t correlate. It really doesn’t. Not the way we should’ve been putting points up,” he said. “We struggled in the red zone, which we’ve got to get better. We’ve got to get better as coaches and we’ve got to get better as players. We’ve got to be able to punch the ball in, and we’ve got to be able to line up and run it over them. That’s what we’ve got to do.”
Defensively, the Gamecocks forced five turnovers against the Commodores, but defensive co-coordinator Jon Hoke is far from satisfied. He plans to spend the bye week studying what USC can do to get better and become more consistent.
“I’m sure we’re going to evaluate everything we’ve done throughout the beginning of the season,” he said. “Go back, look at it, make sure we do a good job evaluating the players and evaluating the scheme, what’s hurt us, what we need to fix, what we need to focus on.”
Gamecocks vs. Aggies
Who: South Carolina at Texas A&M
When: Oct. 31 (Time TBA)
Where: Kyle Field