Western Carolina’s offense is built to keep opponents uncomfortable. The Catamounts’ pace is relentless and utilizes a plethora of run-pass option plays, causing defenses to be off-balance.
But an FCS team, a focused, locked-in SEC defense should be up to the challenge. South Carolina wasn’t that team Saturday.
“We’re still a work in progress,” Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said. “It’s frustrating. We’ve got to be mentally dialed in all the time and be really right with what we’re doing defensively.”
In this first half, his defense let WCU players into open space, and often struggled to tackle. The Catamounts gained an average of 6 yards per play in the game, 6.8 in the first half.
The Gamecocks particularly struggled on two first-quarter drives, when Catamounts quarterback Tyrie Adams (93 rushing yards, 131 passing) broke contain and scrambled to convert three third-and-long situation. The Gamecocks also had trouble with some exotic looks (unbalanced lines) and gave up big runs.
“A lot of missed fits,” said linebacker Jonathan Walton, who led USC with seven tackles. “We had trouble with the tackle-over at the beginning. I feel like once we got that situated, we buckled down a bit.”
The Gamecocks gave up four drives of 54 yards or longer, plus a 46-yard touchdown drive.
Linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams admitted the team came out a little flat.
Muschamp made the point the personnel isn’t fast enough to provide a margin of error when they don’t execute.
“We were just beating ourselves,” linebacker T.J. Holloman said. “We didn’t come out and tackle like we planned to tackle. We didn’t to the little things right, and it showed.”