LSU’s hospitality lasted for one half of Saturday’s game. Steve Spurrier’s patience with his team lasted about the same percentage of his postgame news conference.
The Gamecocks’ 11th-year head coach tried to put a brave face on a 45-24 loss to No. 7 LSU in his opening remarks after the game, but he couldn’t contain his exasperation throughout his postmortem.
“The first half we played pretty decent I thought. The second half I thought we would play close to the first half, but the second half we were pretty sad,” Spurrier said. “We were very sad.”
South Carolina is now 2-4 overall and 0-4 in the SEC. It’s the first time Spurrier ever has been winless this deep into the conference season and the first time the Gamecocks have been in this spot since their winless 1999 season.
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“It is what it is,” Spurrier said. “I think we have a team next week that maybe we match up a little better with, but we will have to wait and see.”
When the measuring stick is Vanderbilt and you’re not even sure how you measure up on that stick, it’s a troubling sign. It was clear Saturday the Gamecocks didn’t measure up to an LSU team that improved to 5-0 overall and 3-0 in the SEC.
The Gamecocks were outgained 624 yards to 283. They ran 33 fewer plays than the Tigers (83 to 50) and barely had the ball half as long (39:50 to 20:07). LSU star tailback Leonard Fournette crushed their faint upset hopes with an 87-yard touchdown run to put his team up 24-10 with 14:01 left in the third quarter, and the Tigers spent the next 29 minutes showing South Carolina exactly how large the gap is between where it is and where it wants to be.
“That’s just the way it is right now,” Spurrier said. “We are struggling a bunch. Maybe the other teams are just a little bit better than us right now.”
South Carolina rushed for 74 yards, its lowest total of the season. LSU averaged 99 rushing yards per quarter. The Tigers had two tailbacks rush for more than 150 yards in an SEC game for the first time in their history as backup Derrius Guice had 161 and Fournette had 158.
“I get frustrated watching our guys,” Spurrier said. “They run in there and nobody tackles them and they fall down. You watched it. I had to yell at a few of them today, but anyway, that’s just what it is. Their guy must have broke eight tackles on that one run. Our guy goes in there and falls on the ground, nobody even tackles him. That’s just … Ah shoot, that’s just the way we are I guess.”
More than half of South Carolina’s yards (154) came after the Tigers had gone ahead 31-10 midway through the third quarter. In other words, during mop-up time.
“LSU is too big, strong, tougher, and maybe smarter, than us,” Spurrier said. “I thought our guys had a lot of good fight in the first half and the second half it didn’t look very good. That’s the way it happened. Y’all watched it.”
Saturday’s game was scheduled to be played in Williams-Brice Stadium but had to be moved here due to devastating flooding throughout the Midlands last week. LSU officials and fans rolled out the red carpet for the Gamecocks and the few South Carolina fans who were able to make it to be among the crowd of 42,058 at the game.
LSU flew the South Carolina state flag above Tiger Stadium, its band played “Sandstorm” before the opening kickoff and the Tigers even let the Gamecocks hang around for the first 30 minutes of game action. South Carolina trailed 17-10 at halftime.
The flooding, “was difficult for so many South Carolians. Our football team didn’t have it bad. We don’t have any excuses,” Spurrier said. “We have been fortunate and blessed. We had a normal week of practice. I don’t know if we had played them at home if it would have been any different to tell you the truth.”
The truth is it wouldn’t have been different no matter where it was played.