There's one thing that jumps out at me more than anything else about South Carolina's 13-16 loss to Auburn yesterday afternoon. Marcus Lattimore ran the ball 17 times for only 66 yards against what was previously one of the worst rushing defenses in the country. This is partially because Auburn stacked the box and bottled him up, but it's also because we chose not to run the ball. In a drive in the middle of the fourth quarter after C.C. Whitlock came up with a big pick in the endzone, we ran the ball with Lattimore once. That run resulted in a first down. After that first down, we tried to throw the ball three times. Two resulted in incompletions and one in a sack. This was on a late series after a momentum-building defensive play at a time in the game when Lattimore usually shines.
In a nutshell, I think Steve Spurrier's choice not to give Lattimore the chance the lead us to victory in the fourth quarter cost us this game. You can blame Stephen Garcia all you want, and certainly he didn't play well. However, he didn't play any worse than he usually does; actually, I was pleased to see him make some nice plays with his feet. This team's issue isn't just QB play. It's also an identity crisis. We need to accept who we are--a running team. We have all the more reason to accept that identity now that our defense is playing well. If we don't, we're going to lose a few more games, because we simply don't have the quarterbacking--unless Connor Shaw comes in and shows us some things against Kentucky--to be the downfield passing team Spurrier wants us to be.
A few more thoughts on this game after the jump.
--Hats off to our defense. I know a lot of folks a probably steamed about giving up that conversion on 3rd-and-13, but the defense played a great game. Not many teams will hold Auburn to 16 points, especially when the defense spends so much time on the field. The defense did its part. As usual, Melvin Ingram lead the way with another herculean effort.
--Needless to say, I do think we will see Shaw next week. I'm certainly ready for the change.
--Notice that Auburn didn't have any qualms about going to its workhorse runninback, Michael Dyer. Dyer had 41 carries. Carolina bottled Dyer up for large portions of the afternoon, but he made some key runs late in the game to help Auburn win. Spurrier could certainly learn a thing or two from Gus Malzahn.
--I still can't believe the officials didn't let us wear the Wounded Warrior gear. Here's the official statement from Under Armor:
"Under Armour and the University of South Carolina are proud to support the Wounded Warrior Project. As part of this annual tradition to honor the men and women who sacrifice for our nation, the Gamecocks were outfitted in special jerseys, shoes, pants, gloves, helmets and wrist bands paying tribute to our troops. During pre-game warm-ups, SEC officials expressed some concern about the visibility of the numerals on the jerseys. As a result, the Gamecocks will be wearing the special jerseys in warm-ups only and will wear their standard home jerseys during the game" said Matt Mirchin, SVP, Global Sports Marketing, Under Armour.
Seems a bit nitpicky to me.
That's a wrap on this one. There's obviously more to be said about this game, but honestly, I'm a bit too emotionally exhausted to even try. Let's just say this team needs to get it together quick, and that starts with the coaches.