Josh Kendall

Will Muschamp: This is ‘the No. 1’ reason for South Carolina struggles

South Carolina exceeded expectations on the football team last year in large part because it finished second in the SEC in turnover margin. The Gamecocks of 2018 are on a disappointing pace because of the same statistical category.

“I certainly think that is point No. 1 as far as why we are where we are,” head coach Will Muschamp said. “We are nowhere near where we need to be.”

South Carolina (3-3 overall, 2-3 SEC) is last in the SEC in turnover margin this year, at minus-.83 per game. For the season, the Gamecocks have turned the ball over five more times than they have taken it away from opponents.

Last year, South Carolina was plus-.85 turnovers per game and plus-11 for the season. That was good enough for 13th in the nation. This year, it is 116th nationally.

For all the complex and informative statistical analysis that has risen up around football in recent years, the simplest number in the game still is the most indicative or success versus failure. Teams that get more turnovers generally win. Teams that turn the ball over more generally lose.

The Gamecocks have turned the ball over 12 times in six games this season (five fumbles and seven interceptions). They turned it over 17 times in 13 games last year (five fumbles and 12 interceptions.

“We didn’t put the ball in jeopardy as much as we have this year,” Muschamp said. “That’s very difficult to overcome against good teams.”

On the flip side, South Carolina’s defense is on pace to gain 4.3 fumbles this year. Last year, the Gamecocks recovered 14.

“Our coaches do a fantastic job of emphasizing it as much as we can,” Muschamp said. “We just have to continue to work at it because we have to create some momentum for our team.”