Winless UCF comes to Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday, which would seem like the perfect salve for a struggling South Carolina team, but the Gamecocks wounds are so large it might not be enough.
“We have to play a lot better than we have been playing or we’re always going to be in trouble. UCF is a good team that hasn’t played all that well, but they’re certainly capable,” South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said Sunday. “We will try our best to put a decent team, a good team, out there for our fans this week.”
The Knights are 0-3 and coming off a loss to Furman, while the Gamecocks will be trying to right themselves after a 52-20 shellacking at the hands of No. 6 Georgia on Saturday night.
“Certainly, we hope to fix it,” Spurrier said. “We have to change a few players. We have to coach better. I have to do a better job, and the assistants got to get their guys to play better. If you can’t get them to play a little bit better, you try the next guy. We’re at the stage we have to try the next guy some more and go from there.”
Spurrier didn’t want to speculate where those new players might show up this week, but quarterback is an option. Freshman Lorenzo Nunez, a four-star high school prospect, rotated with starting quarterback Perry Orth and played most of the second half against Georgia.
“We will have both of them ready to go and see how the game plays out,” Spurrier said.
Nunez finished as South Carolina’s leading rusher with 76 yards on 10 carries. He completed 4-of-5 passes for 18 yards. Orth was 6-of-17 for 66 yards and one interception. The Gamecocks’ 84 yards passing were their fewest since Aug. 30, 2012 against Vanderbilt and tied for the second-lowest passing total of Spurrier’s 11 seasons at South Carolina.
“Lorenzo did a lot of good things in there running the ball. Gotta let him throw it too, though,” Spurrier said. “He can’t just be a running quarterback. We will try to give him a little bit bigger game plan. Perry didn’t have a lot of chances (against Georgia) and he struggled as we know.”
The Gamecocks managed to win seven games last year with an offense that was good enough (443.4 yards per game, sixth in SEC) to cover for a struggling defense (432.7 yards per game allowed, 13th in SEC) in some games. Through three games this year, the defense hasn’t gotten better and the offense hasn’t been nearly as good. South Carolina is 12th in the SEC in offense (356.3 yards per game) and last in the league in defense (471.7 yards per game allowed).
“Hopefully, we can improve though and turn into a good offense and a pretty good defense,” Spurrier said. “But we have some work to do. We have to stop some people.”
Spurrier does not believe his team quit in the waning stages of the Georgia game, he said.
“No, not really. I wish we had a little bit more leadership type guys,” he said. “What we have to do is find out who our best players, that’s what we have to keep trying to do. I think our attitude will be OK. We just have to keep grinding and try to find out who our best players are.”