They could have said they were looking ahead to Florida and next week’s SEC East title game, but they didn’t. To a person, the Gamecock players and coaches said they were just totally handled Saturday night by a very good Arkansas team that played at a high level. The Gamecocks could not match that level of performance on this night.
It was bad enough that Arkansas’s outstanding quarterback Ryan Mallett was nearly perfect going 21-30 for 303 yards and a touchdown. Add to that a 110 yard, three touchdown rushing performance by Knile Davis, and the Gamecock defense was pretty much flattened.
Arkansas totaled 443 yards averaging 6.5 yards per snap. Cobi Hamilton was Mallett’s favorite target with 7 catches for a season high 111 yards and a touchdown.
If the Gamecock defense was steamrolled, the offense just flat out sputtered. The Gamecocks could muster but 295 total yards, a season low. Stephen Garcia never could get his unit into a flow. He was just 14-29 for 161 yards with 2 interceptions. That’s a SEC low in yardage for Garcia this season. He’s also thrown at least one pick in five straight games. However, he did move up to 4th on the Gamecocks’ all time passing list surpassing Phil Petty and Anthony Wright. Garcia has thrown for 5759 yards in his career.
Unfortunately for USC, Garcia also led the team in rushing with 54 yards, and that’s never a good thing. Marcus Lattimore, who missed some time with a bruised knee, had just 11 carries for 30 yards, and his longest run was eight yards. He did not score a touchdown for the first time this season. The Gamecocks had just 105 rushing yards. Their two games this season with fewer rushing yards, Auburn and Kentucky, they also lost.
Alshon Jeffery was an offensive bright spot. The sophomore from Calhoun County had 7 catches for 99 yards with a long of 29 yards. He went over 1000 yards this season joining Sterling Sharpe and Sidney Rice as the only Gamecock receivers to do that. He now has 1034 yards on the season, fourth best in school history. Jeffery also went over 100 career receptions in the game become the 15th Gamecock to do so.
Adding insult to injury…injuries for the Gamecocks. Center TJ Johnson has a left knee sprain, cornerback CC Whitlock and offensive tackle Jarriel King both suffered concussions, and backup quarterback Connor Shaw has bruised ribs.
The Gamecocks fall to 6-4, 4-3 and will play at Florida next Saturday with kickoff at 7:15 on ESPN or ESPN2. The Razorbacks are 7-2, 4-2 and will host UTEP next week.