After South Carolina went up by 17 points on Florida, the run-pass split on the next two drives looked like this.
Eight runs, three passes.
USC threw on a second-and-4, plus a pair of third downs of 4 and 7 yards. USC also tried a run on third-and-5, something that had worked earlier.
More than a few fans and observers drew the conclusion South Carolina went conservative late in a 35-31 loss, hoping to sit on the lead. USC coach Will Muschamp disagreed.
“We were running the same things we did early in the game and having a lot of success,” Muschamp said. “We had the same run checks we felt good about. They did a little better job leveraging the football in some situations. We felt good about where we were.”
On those late plays, USC managed 22 yards on the eight runs. On the plays, USC appeared to mix inside and outside zone with the “truck” play that pulls a pair of linemen to lead an off-tackle run.
Outside those plays, USC had generated a solid day on the ground. Discounting those and sacks, USC was at 5.15 yards per carry. The Gamecocks had some success running on third-and-long, getting around Florida’s blitz-heavy defense.
South Carolina at times this season has been criticized for throwing too much.
Quarterback Jake Bentley said he that aspect didn’t matter.
“We’ve got to execute whatever play is called,” Bentley said. “We had some good plays called. We just have to do better.”
Muschamp said they had the same run checks as earlier in the game, and a few drops on plays that had success helped short circuit things late.
But the central theme was the same.
“We called the same things we were calling to get to that point,” Muschamp said. “We didn’t change the mindset at all.”