USC Gamecocks Football

Why USC had a freshman, former walk-on at crucial spots late vs. Texas A&M

See the Gamecocks after the 26-23 loss to Texas A&M

The Gamecocks still sing the alma mater after losing in a close game to Texas A&M October 13.
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The Gamecocks still sing the alma mater after losing in a close game to Texas A&M October 13.

South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp delivered his postgame injury report after Texas A&M in a style that’s he’s settled into in recent years.

He said no one was hurt, but when he said that, it usually means all of the injuries are of the minor sort, the kind of dings and bruises that any player might have through the course of a game. When pressed, he said safeties Jamyest Williams and Steven Montac were limited by a bruised shoulder and groin, respectively.

And that had an impact on how things played for the Gamecocks late.

Montac missed much of the late going. Williams was out at the end of the Aggies’ final scoring drive, as USC couldn’t hold them out of the red zone.

With reserve Nick Harvey sidelined by a concussion, in their places were Javon Charleson, a former walk-on wide receiver, and true freshman R.J. Roderick, who had gone in earlier when starting cornerback Keisean Nixon struggled in coverage and committed two penalties.

All told, the Gamecocks were moving star freshman corner Jaycee Horn all over, relying on him, Rashad Fenton, Williams and Montac.

South Carolina struggled against Kellen Mond and the A&M passing game. He finished 25 of 37 for 353 yards. Two Aggie pass catchers topped 127 yards, and 10 passes gained 15 or more yards.

USC will have the off week to work on things and get players healthy. Nixon has had issues all season, and he gave up more than a few plays Sunday.

That led to some changes Saturday and could lead to more.

“We’ve got to make more plays on the ball,” Muschamp said. “If we’re not doing that, we’ve got to make a change.”

Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher talks after the Aggies’ 26-23 win over South Carolina on Oct. 13, 2018.

Taking the third

South Carolina again came out with a strong third quarter. After gaining only 102 yards in the first half, the Gamecocks had 155 in the third, racing back into the game.

It mirrored the way USC rallied after halftime against Missouri and Vanderbilt, and even started to lock things down in the third against Kentucky. Asked about it, Muschamp focused on what came before those quarters.

“We’ve had a couple fast starts in games, and we need to do a much better job of doing that and getting on track,” Muschamp said. “We need to get out of the gate faster. That’s for sure something we’ll look at in the off week.”

Never a doubt

As Jake Bentley struggled in the first half, Gamecocks fans inside the stadium and out seemed to be almost pining for Michael Scarnecchia, who led the team to a wild win against Missouri the week before, to get a shot.

Muschamp said there wasn’t much thought to do that.

“Not really,” Muschamp said. “We needed to settle down a little bit with some decision making, a couple balls here and there. But other than that, he put us in a situation to win the game. We need to play better around him.”

The South Carolina football team enters Williams-Brice Stadium to face the Texas A&M Aggies.

Notes:

In additon to Roderick getting some work, true freshman tackle Dylan Wonnum was in for long stretches to spell Blake Camper at right tackle.

Wide receiver Chavis Dawkins scored his first career touchdown on a flea-flicker play in the third quarter. It was his first catch of the season.

South Carolina struggled in the kick return game, with the two Deebo Samuel took out of the end zone reaching the 18- and 13-yard lines.

Attendance was 76,871

Despite being sent back to the bench, Scarnecchia was one of the team’s captains with Kyle Markway, Keir Thomas and K.C. Crosby.

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