Back to the drawing board

Gamecocks look to get defense back on track after drubbing by Georgia

By DANNY KELLY danny@theitem.com
Posted 9/11/18

COLUMBIA - The Georgia Bulldogs presented a host of problems for the South Carolina football team on Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium, but must notably was the Gamecocks' struggles to stop the Bulldogs on the defensive side of the ball in the …

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Back to the drawing board

Gamecocks look to get defense back on track after drubbing by Georgia

Posted

COLUMBIA - The Georgia Bulldogs presented a host of problems for the South Carolina football team on Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium, but must notably was the Gamecocks' struggles to stop the Bulldogs on the defensive side of the ball in the Bulldogs' 41-17 triumph.

South Carolina gave up 271 yards on the ground on Georgia's 52 rushes and also conceded 202 passing yards for 473 yards of total offense.

"We are going to go back to the drawing board and correct our mistakes for next weekend," South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp said. "We have a long season ahead of us, and we are going to keep the right mentality and continue to work hard."

USC junior linebacker T.J. Brunson didn't feel like the defense wasn't prepared for the speed and the pace of the game.

"We just didn't align fast enough; we weren't urgent," Brunson said. "That is what it boiled down to; urgency, being vocal and getting the calls to everyone."

The Gamecocks also gave up a whopping 30 first downs and allowed Georgia to score four offensive touchdowns.

"I mean it hurt, just the way we lost, and I know I could've played better," senior defensive back Steven Montac said. "It hurt really bad. We can't let it define our season, though."

This defensive meltdown came only a week after the Gamecocks had a stellar performance against Coastal Carolina, giving up only 238 total yards of offense - 126 rushing yards and 112 passing yards - just over half of what they allowed against Georgia.

It didn't help that the Gamecocks were without standout junior defensive lineman D.J. Wonnum, who was out with an ankle injury suffered against Coastal Carolina.

"Of course we missed him, he's a really good player," Montac said of Wonnum's absence. "What happened today was on us, like execution. We have to focus better and play better."

Montac recorded seven tackles on the day.

Georgia sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm finished 15 for 18 for 194 yards and a touchdown pass.

On the ground, junior running back Elijah Holyfield carried the ball nine times for 76 yards and a touchdown, sophomore running back D'Andre Swift finished with 12 carries for 64 yards and a touchdown, and junior running back Brian Herrien added 45 yards on seven carries and a touchdown. Through the air, junior wide receiver Mecole Hardman caught six passes for 103 yards and a score.

"They do a great job creating space," Muschamp said. "In several situations we got hurt on the perimeter, but Georgia is a talented team."

Brunson thinks the USC defense, which features several players seeing their first significant action this year, needs to learn from this game.

"I feel like everything that happened on our side of the ball had a lot to do with us," said Brunson, who had five tackles. "Just understanding it was a dogfight, and those guys they were good, but we are just as good. Getting our guys to understand that it is a four-quarter game."

On the bright side for the Gamecocks, the defense finished with two sacks, and senior defensive back Rashad Fenton had an interception.

South Carolina looks to bounce back against Marshall next week at home. The Thundering Herd has averaged 275 passing yards and 130 rushing yards as they are off to a 2-0 start. Marshall opened the season with a 35-28 triumph over Miami (Ohio) and followed it with a 32-16 win over Eastern Kentucky.