South Carolina (3-3 overall, 2-3 SEC) fell 26-23 to No. 17 Texas A&M (5-2, 3-1) in Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday. Here are five things we learned from that game:
The offense isn’t clicking
In all the of the scenarios in which people wondered what might break down in South Carolina’s new-look offense, the idea that it would be the receiving corps never came up. Wide receivers Deebo Samuel, Bryan Edwards and Shi Smith were considered to be the Gamecocks’ most dangerous weapons, and they are. When they catch the ball. Samuel and Edwards have been hindered by dropped passes in several games this season and the normally sure-handed Shi Smith joined in against Texas A&M with two drops. The Gamecocks are ninth in the SEC in total offense (404 yards per game) and 10th in scoring offense (28.8 points per game). Until Samuel and Edwards start making big plays, South Carolina’s offense will stay stuck in the mud.
Ty’Son Williams has emerged as most effective back
The junior is the second-leading rusher on the team with 46 carries for 255 yards. His 5.5 yards per carry average is 1.3 yards better than junior Rico Dowdle, who has started all six games this year. Williams broke off two big runs on his first series Saturday against the Aggies, and he finished as South Carolina’s leading rusher with seven carries for 48 yards. It’s time to try Williams as the starter if for no other reason than to shake things up with the offense.
Sherrod Greene is coming into his own
The sophomore linebacker had the interception for a touchdown against Missouri a week ago and followed that up with a career-high 11 tackles against the Aggies. Greene is now third on the team in tackles with 32. The North Carolina native struggled early in the season, but his speed kept him on the field. If he can keep tracking in the right direction, he could have a breakout season next year.
The secondary has big issues
When an opposing tight end has seven catches for 145 yards, it’s not a good sign for the secondary. When that same tight end comes out after the game and says the defensive backs “were kind of arguing” and “it’s kind of easy to sense that they didn’t know what was going on,” then things are really bad. That was what Texas A&M’s Jace Sternberger did Saturday after a career day that included carrying Steven Montac 25 yards after one reception. In addition to inconsistent play, the secondary has been beset by injuries. Montac (groin), Jamyest Williams (shoulder) and Nick Harvey (concussion) are currently nursing injuries.
Will Muschamp is firmly in Jake Bentley’s camp
South Carolina’s head coach vigorously defended his starting quarterback after Bentley was booed during the first half of Saturday’s game. There were plenty of people who wanted Muschamp to stick with senior backup Michael Scarnecchia, who looked good against Missouri, but Muschamp went back with Bentley and clearly is sticking by that choice. Bentley, a junior who has started 24 of the last 25 games at South Carolina, is sixth in the SEC in passing with 230.2 yards per game. The bad news is his seven interceptions are the most by any SEC quarterback despite the fact that he has played two fewer games than many other conference starters.