Josh Kendall

Gamecocks should run, numbers say. Doing it well has 2 key benefits

Against Tennessee last week, South Carolina’s offense had its highest run percentage of the season. The Gamecocks ran the ball 40 times and threw it 16 in a 27-24 win over the Volunteers. Senior offensive lineman Malik Young wants to do it against Saturday against Ole Miss.

“If we are run heavy, we will win the game,” Young said. “I feel like if we have over 100 yards, we will win the game.”

Young has reason to believe that. South Carolina is 17-3 under head coach Will Muschamp when it runs for more than 100 yards in a game.

“That’s the thing, we have to run the ball, the offensive line has to get some movement, so that is on us,” Young said.

Opponents haven’t had a hard time getting movement against the Rebels defense. Ole Miss (5-3, 1-3 SEC) is last in the SEC and 113th in the nation in rushing defense, allowing 217.9 yards per game on the ground. South Carolina (4-3, 3-3 SEC) is 12th in the conference in rushing offense with 163.7 yards per game.

Running the ball effectively on Saturday will have at least two benefits for South Carolina — moving the ball down the field and controlling time of possession, something the Gamecocks haven’t put a lot of emphasis on this season but could help against Ole Miss.

South Carolina is last in the SEC and 128th in the nation in time of possession (25:25 per game). The quick strike Ole Miss offense is 13th in the SEC and 124th in the nation in time of possession (26:41).

“They have an explosive offense so you definitely want to try to keep the ball out of their hands,” Gamecocks running back Ty’Son Williams said. “If we can get a long drive and then put points on the board, that’s the ideal situation.”

The Rebels are third in the SEC in scoring offense with 38.4 points per game. In conference games only, Ole Miss is 12th in the conference in scoring offense with 19 points per game.

“It’s very important” to maintain possession, Young said. “We have to run the ball, get some time off the clock and capitalize on all our opportunities.

South Carolina recommitted itself to the running game after a 26-23 loss to Texas A&M in which it ran the ball only 18 times on Oct. 13, Young said. After that game, South Carolina added more physical drills and running work to its practices, he said.

Still, Gamecocks quarterback Jake Bentley isn’t ready to say his team is going to ride the running game Saturday.

“We are going to play how we play,” Bentley said. “We do know we have to play well but that’s every game. We are just going to do what we do and move the ball and stay balanced and put up some points but that’s the plan every week. We have to respond. We know that. They are an explosive offense.”