In Will Muschamp’s first season, his South Carolina football team averaged 1.2 yards per carry against Georgia.
A year later, that number bumped up to 2.5, again in a loss.
South Carolina’s staff and players had hoped a new offense and healthy backfield would change things. Instead, it was 2.7 per rush and another defeat in 2018.
“Got whipped on the line of scrimmage,” Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said as soon as he sat down for his postgame media session after Georgia. “We talked about that going into the game, how that was going to be a key part of the game to be able to stay balanced offensively, run the football.”
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USC’s three tailbacks averaged 3.4 yards per carry. The Gamecocks didn’t run it all that often, and found themselves becoming the kind of one-dimensional offense Muschamp aims to avoid.
One of his players suggested something he believes could change things.
“We’ve just got to be more downhill,” senior guard Zack Bailey said. “I think we did a lot of outside stuff. We need to run a little bit more inside, just move people off the ball. That’s the biggest thing. Offensive line, we take full responsibility for the run game. That’s our job.”
The Gamecocks have been transitioning away from their reliance on inside zone and power runs. They’ve yet to face an opponent that hasn’t been overmatched (Coastal Carolina) or loaded with talent (Georgia). The Gamecocks came out at the start of the third quarter and first didn’t run, then couldn’t get a first down on the ground and quickly found themselves out of the game.
The day after the game, Muschamp said the team needed to stay with the run more, be a little more “hard-headed.”
With Ty’Son Williams, Rico Dowdle and A.J. Turner back, plus a set of strong interior linemen, there were some expectations placed on the group. At least against Georgia, they proved unable to give USC what it needed.
But Dowdle has hope.
“I think that our guys can do it,” Dowdle said. “I think we can do it. Just got to get more runs and be more productive on the carries that we do get.”