COMMENTARY

Way USC lost is reason for unhappiness

South Carolina running back Ty'Son Williams (27) swings out of the backfield on a pass route while quarterback Jake Bentley (19) looks down the field in the Gamecocks' 23-13 loss to Kentucky on Saturday in Columbia. Williams had no carries for the second time in three games, one of many questionable decisions made by the USC coaching staff.
South Carolina running back Ty'Son Williams (27) swings out of the backfield on a pass route while quarterback Jake Bentley (19) looks down the field in the Gamecocks' 23-13 loss to Kentucky on Saturday in Columbia. Williams had no carries for the second time in three games, one of many questionable decisions made by the USC coaching staff.
J.B. Brunson / Special to The Sumter Item
Posted

Venture back one month in your minds, Gamecock Nation, before the start of the University of South Carolina's football season. Would you have have taken a 2-1 start based on what you knew about the Gamecocks and the fact they were playing a neutral site game against North Carolina State, a road game against Missouri and a home game against Kentucky? Of course you would have.

Then why is there all of this hullabaloo about the 23-13 loss to the Wildcats on Saturday? USC is still 2-1 heading into Saturday's home contest against Louisiana Tech, right where almost everyone said they would be happy.

I know; it's because of the way it went down. Carolina scored on the first play from scrimmage, then came up with turnovers inside the UK 40-yard line on its first two possessions. However, no points came out of that, there were three missed field goal attempts, a missed extra point and numerous missed tackles and penalties at the worst possible times. Other than that, everything went fine for South Carolina.

It was just a very odd game for the Gamecocks, which always seems to be the case when they go up against Kentucky. For whatever reason, USC seems to play a stinker of a game against the Wildcats, but now much of that has to be attributed to UK. Four wins in a row is a pattern, not a trend.

Carolina head coach Will Muschamp said in his Tuesday press conference that he didn't think his players were flat or didn't play with a lot of effort. I agree; I think they were outplayed, but they certainly didn't roll over. South Carolina was definitely outcoached, which was the bigger problem.

It all starts with the running game. Muschamp knew what was coming on Tuesday because he came with the number of plays that each of the three Gamecock running backs were in on Saturday. For the record, Rico Dowdle was in for 27 plays, former Crestwood High School standout Ty'Son Williams for 21 and A.J. Turner for 11.

For the record, I don't care. The one number I do care about is that Williams had no carries for the second time in three games. Muschamp said following the game that USC just couldn't run the ball. No, Dowdle nor Turner couldn't run the ball. We don't know about Williams.

What we do know is that in the first two games the only one of the trio to run the ball effectively was Williams, going for 78 yards on 14 carries against Missouri. Would Kentucky have stuffed Williams as well? We'll never know because he didn't carry the ball once.

I'm not trying to be a homer, but somehow I think Williams would have gotten one yards on two carries like Turner had the opportunity to do but failed, especially if quarterback Jake Bentley would have been up under center with a fullback and possibly another back lined between him and the deep back. Oh, that didn't happen? Another big coaching error then.

The fact that USC had running backs carry the football just 13 times is another problem. Sometimes you have to let the running game develop in a game and it wasn't given a chance to on Saturday, no matter who carried the ball.

Defensively, the Gamecocks seemed to lose all aggressiveness after the first two drives. They were content to let Kentucky dink and dunk its way down the field running the ball and with short passes, and the Wildcats were more than willing to take it. At some point, one would have thought Carolina would have tried to take the underneath passes away and dare UK to beat it deep. It may have done so, but again you'll never know.

Despite the injury to Deebo Samuel, there is still a chance for USC to have a more-than-respectable season. Regardless of what happens the rest of the way though, the hurt and irritation from this game will be around all season.