South Carolina was defeated by LSU 52-24 on Saturday, falling to 2-3 (2-3) on the season. It was a rough game to watch for Gamecock fans, and it left most with plenty of questions about both why and how the game went so wrong.
There were miscues by all three units of the team, offense defense and special teams. After the first quarter things took a turn for the worse and the game got out of hand pretty quickly.
Lets take a look at what went down Saturday night in the Bayou:
How The Offense Played
403 Total Yards
Even though the stats don’t look too bad, there was a lot of things that didn’t go so well for the offense. The box score looks a lot better than the actual gameplay, as any Carolina fan who watched the game surely knows.
Kevin Harris was one of the few bright spots, as he had two touchdowns and 126 yards on just 12 carries, averaging 10.2 yards per carry. His low amount of rush attempts can be attributed to the flow of the game, since South Carolina was playing from behind for the majority of the game.
Deshaun Fenwick was also quite efficient, tallying 49 yards on 7 carries, good for 7 yards per carry. The Carolina run game gashed LSU at basically every opportunity, and it is a shame that it wasn’t able to be utilized for the rest of the game.
Collin Hill had a game to forget and some fans are starting to bring up the idea of a quarterback change. Hill finished the game with 234 yards, one touchdown and one interception returned for a touchdown on 55% completion.
Without the pick six, Hill played like himself for the most part. However, his average at best arm talent presents clear limitations for the offense, which is especially frustrating considering there are multiple blue-chip quarterbacks waiting their turn behind him.
Personally, I don’t see a way that Ryan Hilinski brings less to the table than Hill, and would be happy to see Hilinski get his chance in the new offense. At minimum, it would open a lot of the vertical pass game and allow for Bobo to take more shots downfield.
As for the receivers, no Carolina receiver had more than 2 receptions. Shi Smith was held down to just two catches, but did turn it into 68 yards. Keveon Mullins made the best of his two receptions, totaling 101 receiving yards. Josh Vann had the only touchdown reception for the Gamecocks on Saturday.
The offensive line opened up a lot of running lanes but also allowed five sacks. It was also the first game of the season that Carolina didn’t win the time of possession battle.
While the offense wasn’t perfect, it certainly wasn’t the biggest reason this game was so out of hand.
How The Defense Played
52 Points Allowed
541 Total Yards Allowed
The defense was certainly the most disappointing part of the team in Saturday’s contest. Everyone knew LSU’s offense was potent, but most figured South Carolina could keep them in check for multiple reasons.
A true freshman QB making his first start paired with a great defensive performance last week had many Carolina fans expecting a victory this week. Despite all that, the defense looked clueless at times.
The true freshman quarterback TJ Finley looked like a seasoned vet, seemingly dicing the defense apart at will. LSU also gained 276 yards rushing on over five yards per rush.
Especially in the second half when they were playing from ahead, the LSU run game was also doing whatever it wanted with the Gamecock defense. LSU was also 8/10 on third down, which is a part of the game Carolina has owned so far this year.
The South Carolina defense also had zero sacks, zero QB hurries and just two tackles for loss. No team in the SEC can expect to win a game with that little success at the line of scrimmage. LSU also punted zero times in the game.
Aside from the interception, which was just offensive miscommunication, LSU scored points on every offensive drive that didn’t end a half.
The most questionable aspect of the defensive performance was the lack of effort getting to the freshman quartberback. Not by the players, but rather the playcalling.
Most Gamecock fans were hoping and expecting for the Carolina front seven to be aggressive, but the opposite was true and it ended up costing South Carolina.
Special teams was also a major area of concern, as Parker White was just 1/4 on field goal attempts and LSU also returned a kickoff for a touchdown.
Ernest Jones did the heavy lifting in the tackling department, totaling 19 stops on the game. Jammie Robinson also added 12 tackles.
At the end of the day, it was disappointing and confusing to see the Carolina defense struggle so badly after such a promising start to the season. LSU seemed to have an answer for everything the defensive staff tried.
The gameplan as a whole was also questionable, but hindsight is 20/20. Credit should also go to the entire LSU offense, as that is one of the best offenses in the SEC, and even across the nation at this point.
A game like this is always deflating, especially when it comes just one week after a huge win. The LSU offense is going to cause problems for every defense they face this season, but the performance was still a let down on Carolina’s part, especially defensively and on special teams.
All in all, the box score was not that bad and this game could’ve been a lot closer than it was on the scoreboard if South Carolina had cleaned up a few huge miscues.
Next up is a bye week, followed by a home battle with Texas A&M. The bye week comes at a great time, as the team can now have extra time to regroup and regain composure before a showdown with an A&M team that USC has never beaten.