MMQB: What Went Right, What Went Wrong In South Carolina’s 59-42 Loss To Ole Miss

The South Carolina Gamecocks lost to the Ole Miss Rebels 59-42 on Saturday, falling to 2-5 (2-5) on the season.

It was another poor performance by the Gamecocks defense, which has now given up 2,260 yards (565 YPG) in it’s last four games, and 159 points (53 PPG) in it’s last three.

How the Offense Played

548 Yards Of Offense

42 Points Scored

All in all, the offense had its best game of the season statistically.

Bobo’s unit set a season high in points scored and total yards among other things. However, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise considering that Ole Miss has one of the worst defenses in the entire nation.

Collin Hill had another so-so game, but played better than he had in the two games prior to this one. Hill finished with 230 passing yards 1 touchdown and one interception on 61% completion.

South Carolina was so dedicated to the ground game that Hill had thrown less than 20 passes before Mississippi started to pull away late in the game.

Speaking of the ground game, Kevin Harris had an absolute monster game. Harris finished with 243 yards and 5 touchdowns on just 23 carries, which equals a whopping 9.7 yards per carry.

Kevin Harris had already started to put himself on the map this season and this game only provides that much more evidence as to why he is a premier back in the SEC. He now leads the SEC in rushing yards, although South Carolina has played more games than a lot of other teams in the conference.

Shi Smith also got back to being his usual self against the Rebels defense. He had a remarkable one handed catch early in the game, and went on to finish with 117 yards and a touchdown on 10 receptions.

Only one other Gamecock, Jalen Brooks, had more than one reception on the night.

At the end of the day, it was certainly not the offenses fault this game was lost, but it just couldn’t keep up with an offense like Lane Kiffin’s, which is designed to put up huge numbers and win in shootout fashion. 

How The Defense Played

701 Yards Allowed

59 Points Allowed

The Ole Miss offense was known to be potent and efficient, but the South Carolina defense was simply not even competitive on most drives.

Other than one punt and one fumble, the Rebels offense scored on every offensive drive that didn’t end a half. Matt Corral had little if any trouble dicing through the secondary, as he finished with 513 passing yards four touchdowns and zero interceptions on 88% completion. He also had an average of 16 yards per pass attempt.

To put to scale, that is nearly double Collin Hill’s 8.2 yards per pass attempt. Even if the Ole Miss offense is the best in the country, Muschamp’s defense had high expectations entering the season and should not be allowing over 700 yards and almost 60 points in a game.

Rebels running back Jerrion Ealy was held to a good-not-great performance. He finished with 84 yards on 17 carries, but did have three total touchdowns.

Star wide receiver Elijah Moore had a fantastic performance with 225 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns. He had almost no issue getting open against a Carolina secondary that has been hailed as one of the best position groups on the team since the preseason.

The Corral-Moore connection is emerging as one of the premier duos in the nation as far as QB-WR combos are concerned.

The Carolina defense had huge amounts of trouble maintaining a pass rush on Saturday night. The defense totaled just one sack, and one QB hurry through the entire game.

The Mississippi offensive line has hit it’s stride in recent weeks, but the Gamecocks inability to sustain a pass rush is one of the most mysterious things about this team in 2020.

Muschamp made the defensive line his biggest recruiting priority since he accepted the job in Columbia, and he has numerous blue chip recruits to work with in that group.

With many of them now being upperclassmen, it is both confusing and alarming that the defensive line seems to be incapable of getting to the quarterback. 

Final Thoughts

The most concerning part about Will Muschamp at this point is that he is well respected as a defensive guru, yet the defense seems to be worse than the offense.

After 2017, expectations were high and some though the Gamecocks would get back to winning double digit games. After 2018, many believed that if the defense would’ve been healthy that the team could’ve won 9 or 10 that season.

After 2019, I had hope that a change in offensive coordinator would be the final piece of the puzzle and things could be set up for success.

Alas, at this point, I am out of reason to believe that Will Muschamp will work as the head coach here. And most of all that is because the defense is ranked 13th in the SEC this season in both yards per game and points per game.

If Muschamp can no longer field a competitive defense, especially as the talent level on the roster rises, there is no reason to believe this will ever work out.

All there is to do at this point is wait for the official announcement, and hope that the athletic director makes a good decision about who the next head ball coach will be.

UPDATE: Will Muschamp has been fired. Yay.

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