South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier is a gifted problem-solver, but this might be the problem with no solution.
The Gamecocks don’t have the offensive talent to play much beyond a conservative running game. That poorly complements a defensive front that gives up a lot of first downs.
That became abundantly clear in South Carolina’s 52-20 road loss to seventh-ranked Georgia Saturday at Sanford Stadium. The Bulldogs averaged 9.5 yards per offensive play in the first half to pull out to a 24-13 lead. South Carolina was outgained in the first half 323 yards to 150.
Early in the second half the Gamecocks (1-2 overall, 0-2 in the SEC) tried to open up the offense and that only made things worse. First-time starting quarterback Perry Orth, a former walk-on, threw an interception deep in South Carolina territory to set up the Bulldogs for a touchdown and a 38-13 lead.
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Orth was pushed into the starting lineup when Connor Mitch suffered a sprained shoulder in the home loss to Kentucky. Mitch is expected to miss about a month of the season with the injury.
Spurrier alternated Saturday between Orth and true freshman Lorenzo Nunez at quarterback.
Meanwhile Georgia’s offense thrived around tailback Nick Chubb (159 yards on 21 carries) and quarterback Greyson Lambert. A former Virginia quarterback, Lambert set an NCAA record by completing 24 of 25 passes (96 percent). That was the best completion percentage for a player attempting at least 20 throws in a single game.
South Carolina has a non-conference home game Saturday against Central Florida. Georgia (3-0, 2-0 in the SEC) hosts Southern Saturday.
Three who mattered
Nick Chubb: He might not be quite as explosive as his predecessor, Todd Gurley, but Chubb is a power tailback who consistently gains first downs for Georgia.
Lorenzo Nunez: By default could true freshman Nunez end up South Carolina’s starter at quarterback?
Greyson Lambert: That decision to transfer from Virginia to Georgia sure looked wise Saturday.
They said it
“We’d better make some changes somewhere. We’ve got to find some players who can tackle. Offensively I’m open to some suggestions.” – Spurrier.
“I thought we’d compete a little better on balls. I thought we would read their routes a little better.” – South Carolina co-defensive coordinator John Hoke.
“It’s unacceptable. We need to keep our poise in that situation.” – Hoke on the Gamecocks’ personal fouls in the second half.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; @rick_bonnell