USC’s performance in its 28-3 win over Akron Saturday afternoon at Williams-Brice Stadium reflected the overall mood of the day…nobody really wanted to be here. Playing a bad team at the end of a disappointing regular season in the rain at Noon was the formula for exactly what transpired, a sloppy game staged in front of practically no one.
The Gamecocks put the game away in the first half scoring all 28 of their points, primarily thanks to Deebo Samuel. In his last game at Williams-Brice Samuel displayed his talents with touchdown catches of 15 and 5 yards from Jake Bentley and a fumble recovery in the end zone after a wet ball went thru the hands of the Akron punter. Bentley also fired a 70 yard touchdown pass to Bryan Edwards.
The Gamecocks totaled 249 yards in the first half and appeared to be on their way to an easy cover of the 30 point spread. But the second half was forgettable as they suffered five turnovers, including four lost fumbles, and they lost starting left guard Zack Bailey to a broken fibula which will cost him the bowl game. The Gamecocks had just 135 second half yards and only 14 in the fourth quarter.
Jake Bentley and Mon Denson
The good news is the defense never had any issues with the Akron offense. The Zips got no closer to the end zone than the Gamecock 25 yard line. They had just 260 total yards and only 82 on the ground. Freshman JJ Enagbare had his best game with 6 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and his first career sack
Bentley started hot hitting his first six passes but he finished just 7 of 14. Overall he was 14-27 for 199 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 red zone interceptions. Bentley went over 7000 career passing yards during the game, becoming the fourth Gamecock quarterback to reach that mark.
Edwards caught 5 passes for 109 yards. Samuel finished with 4 catches and his 3 touchdowns give him 27 for his career tying him for fourth place in school history. And Mon Denson led the ground game with 110 yards, his second 100 yard rushing game of the season.
Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards
Some personnel notes..DT Josh Belk did play in his fifth game putting him over the redshirt threshold; LB Ernest Jones also play in his fourth game so a decision will be made later about whether or not he’ll play in the bowl game; WR Shi Smith did not play due to back spasms; DT Keir Thomas had an ankle injury and did not play but should be fine for the bowl game; CB Keisean Nixon reinjured his shoulder but should be fine; and RB AJ Turner did appear in the secondary as a nickelback late in the game.
The Gamecocks are now 7-5 and will find out their bowl spot Sunday afternoon. The best guess here is Charlotte for the Belk Bowl though the Gator Bowl remains in play. And with the win, Will Muschamp now has 22 in his first three seasons, the most for a Gamecock coach in his first three seasons with the program.
Will Muschamp postgame press conference
Here’s my recap from Williams-Brice:
— SportsTalk (@sportstalksc) December 1, 2018