South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp has been consistently positive about his offensive line.
His group has kept Jake Bentley and Michael Scarnecchia upright and despite days of 2.7 yards per carry against Georgia and 3.8 against Kentucky, he liked the way they’d been handling things in the running game.
But against Missouri in a 37-35 win, there was a little more angst.
“Coach Wolford wasn’t as pleased after Saturday,” Muschamp said. “Felt like some things that we had repped in practice we missed in the run game.”
The Gamecocks managed only 2.7 yards per carry against a Tigers front that had been stout against the run. USC also had the complicating factor it was starting a backup quarterback, so Missouri could tee off on the backs a little more and challenge Scarnecchia to beat them.
Still, USC ran heavily on first downs, especially before a late game-winning drive. The Gamecocks averaged 3.17 yards per carry on those runs, and their average second down had nearly 8 ½ yards to go.
“We’ve been very consistent up until Saturday in the run game,” Muschamp said. “Getting a hat on a hat and giving our guys some opportunities with some run lanes.”
Muschamp has been more critical of his backs and their ability to break tackles or do something with the blocking in front of them. Starter Rico Dowdle is averaging 4.4 yards per carry, while backup Ty’Son Williams is at 5.3 (A.J. Turner has been injured, but he’s at 6.2).
The challenge for that group doesn’t get any easier going forward.
The Tigers ranked 22nd nationally allowing 3.3 yards per carry. The Texas A&M team coming to Williams-Brice is 14th, allowing only 3 per carry.
Muschamp said the challenge is similar. USC can’t get into a position where Aggies pass rushers are able to pin their ears back. So that might mean sticking with the run to keep the defense honest.
“We needed to be able to do that to create some opportunities for us down the field,” Muschamp said.