David Cloninger

Gamecocks’ offense hard to watch, but what did you expect?

Who scores more points this year? South Carolina’s football team (84 points after six games) or the men’s basketball team in its Nov. 11 opener?

After another afternoon of the Uncocked and Unfired Offense, it’s a pick ’em.

I didn’t expect anything different against Georgia from the first five games, and I didn’t expect anything different of the first six games from what I knew in the preseason. The Gamecocks didn’t have much proven offensive talent, so their offense probably wouldn’t be very good.

I was in the severe minority, at least judging by in-game comments.

I get that fan schizophrenia is part of the game, but Sunday was enough hair-pulling to merit four floor-length wigs. Fans were hollering for Perry Orth to be benched despite growling during last week’s fourth quarter how if Orth had played against Mississippi State and Kentucky, USC would have won.

They were also harping on Kurt Roper to call plays to fit his personnel, not realizing that Roper is doing just that. It doesn’t help when the personnel isn’t that good.

The fact is USC is playing a bunch of freshmen or guys who haven’t played that much because of injury. Everyone saw on Sunday what Deebo Samuel can do when he’s healthy, but his troublesome hamstrings made Sunday just his third game. Rico Dowdle is definitely the future at tailback, but a sports hernia made Sunday his second game, and he fumbled away one possession.

Will Muschamp and Roper were never going to get very long of a leash in the public eyes with their past at Florida. I get that, but here, the comparison isn’t (yet) feasible. At Florida, Muschamp recruited to a system he thought would work and didn’t.

Here, he stepped into a cupboard stocked by the previous homeowners, and all that was in it were a couple of roach traps.

USC thought it could plan around Samuel. He was hurt. USC thought Brandon McIlwain would develop into a great quarterback. He still might, but his last two appearances have shown him unwilling to throw the ball.

Orth is a wonderful young man who this team would cheerfully follow through the Gates of Hell. But when it comes to football, he’s a really smart kid who knows what to do with the football, but doesn’t have the talent in himself or what’s around him to consistently get it there and score points.

Even when the Gamecocks get something going, they backtrack. They had three first-half turnovers Sunday, after penalties on their first two plays. Then came the dropped passes, the throws short of the sticks and the sacks.

The only solution they can try is to play both QBs at the same time (split McIlwain out at receiver, maybe, just to show a different look?) but that takes away somebody who’s produced, be it an extra tight end or extra offensive lineman. Or the one straw they haven’t yet grasped – freshman Jake Bentley, he of the fabled arm and last name.

Sum it all up and nobody’s happy, but what did you expect? Muschamp walked into a bad situation and injuries and inconsistency have made it worse.

What he and Roper are doing now is hopefully establishing what they want to do for the future, recruiting to fit that system and finding current players to plug into it. As bad as USC can look, there are some players on the field.

They’re hoping to find a solution that works for the final six games. The answers in the first six have the season hanging by the fingertips.

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