CHARLOTTE - Many people thought that the South Carolina offense had come into its own under first-year offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon toward the latter half of the season. That all came crashing down on Saturday against Virginia in the Belk Bowl.
The Cavaliers put up a goose egg on the Gamecocks in a 28-0 victory at Bank of America Stadium.
The Gamecocks have now been held scoreless for the last six quarters, dating back to when they failed to score any points in the second half against Akron back on Dec. 1 in a game South Carolina won 28-3.
"They were schemed-up and did a really good job of disguising their coverages," junior quarterback Jake Bentley said of UVa.
The Gamecocks were held to just 261 yards of total offense, 43 rushing and 218 passing.
Bentley only completed 17 of his 39 passes for 218 yards. He threw two interceptions and was sacked twice.
"I did not think that I played really well, not well at all," Bentley said. "The interceptions were tough especially, and not executing in the red zone was not good. We just have to go back and work and remember this feeling."
The Gamecock running game was virtually shut down by Virginia. Junior running back Rico Dowdle was held to just 21 yards, junior running back Mon Denson was held to 18, and junior running back and former Crestwood standout Ty'Son Williams had just nine.
As far as receivers go, sophomore wide receiver Shi Smith finished with six catches for 76 yards, senior tight end K.C. Crosby had three catches for 48 yards, junior wide receiver Bryan Edwards had three catches for 37 yards and Denson had two catches for 35.
"We moved the ball in the first half," South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp said. "We had a lot of success in the run game and some things. We threw the ball well at times, we had some drops which were disappointing. Then in the second half, that's when the game to me switched.
"It goes to a 21-0 game, it changes our approach a little bit and they go to some exotic pressures and some different things and some double edge pressure and they did a nice job of designing some things there," he said. "When you get into a 21-0 game against their defense, I knew it was going to a be a difficult deal."
One could argue that the player who had the best day for South Carolina was junior punter Joseph Charlton, who punted five times for an average of 45.2 yards and a long of 59.
South Carolina fans can only scratch their heads after what they saw today, especially since this is an offense that put up 600 yards and five touchdowns on Clemson's renowned defense back on Nov. 24 on the road.
"We came out here with a point that we wanted to prove," Virginia junior cornerback Bryce Hall said. "This is a huge win for us moving forward as a program. We came into this game hungry and prepared. Coach (Bronco Mendenhall) said at the beginning that the hungrier team was going to win. That's what our mindset was."
Hall finished with three tackles on the day, two of them solo, and a pass break-up.
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