South Carolina let a 10-point, 3rd Quarter lead slip away as Texas A&M scored the last 17 points of the game to win 24-17 over the Gamecocks.
With the ball up 10 points, the Gamecocks went conservative, trying to establish a run game that had trouble getting going all night, and for the balance of this season. Texas A&M tightened their coverage, brought more pressure on South Carolina’s one-dimensional offense and sacked Jake Bentley for a team-high seven times. After South Carolina scored with 9:24 to go in the third, Texas A&M forced four consecutive three-and-outs for the Gamecocks offense, effectively neutralizing any ability to hold the lead.
Keith Ford’s two touchdown runs in the 4th Quarter capped a 257-yard second half performance from the Aggies offense. South Carolina’s offense, in contrast, gained 83 net yards after halftime, 80 of which came on the lone scoring drive of the half for USC.
Injuries continue to mount on South Carolina’s already-depleted offensive line, as Malik Young went down in the first quarter with an ankle injury and did not return. DJ Park slid in as the third-string option at right tackle for a team that is also playing a second string left tackle and left guard to try and compensate for injured players.
The most chilling moment of the evening was when Terry Googer went down with a head injury covering a punt in the first half. Trainers had to immobilize him on a spine board and he was taken to the hospital. Head Coach Will Muschamp said Googer was fine after the game and that the hospital visit was precautionary.
Another questionable preparation decision for the Gamecocks was the decision to not use a specific linebacker to guard against the mobility of Kellen Mond, who gained 95 yards rushing, 83 of which came in the second half.
Will Muschamp after the game said they need to continue to evaluate the offense to create more opportunities to score points:
Jake Bentley had his positive moments, but they did not reflect in the end-game stat line. Bentley threw for 256 yards on 17-of-30 passing, but the stand out moments include the seven sacks and his costly red-zone fumble cost the Gamecocks a chance for points on a night when they came at a premium.
The Gamecocks did have six pass plays of 20 or more yards, including a 45-yard touchdown pass to Shi Smith on a busted coverage.
Bentley’s most used word in his postgame comments was “execution”, referring to the lack of said thereof:
— SportsTalk (@sportstalksc) October 1, 2017
South Carolina (3-2, 1-2) returns home next week to face Arkansas (2-2, 0-1) at Williams-Brice Stadium at 4 PM Saturday.