The Gamecocks' problems against Georgia were myriad, the most obvious being that whereas between 2010 and 2013 Carolina finally had teams that matched up favorably with the Dawgs in terms of raw talent, this year's roster isn't on the same plane as our border rivals. But another major problem was poor defensive scheme. There were two things I feel Jon Hoke should have done differently: blitz and play press man coverage. One play in which soft corner coverage is readily apparent is this one.
On this second-and-two play, Al Harris is lined up seven yards or so off of Georgia receiver Malcolm Mitchell. This allows Georgia to make a call to hit Mitchell on a slant route for an easy first down. The first down set up an easy touchdown on the next play in which Carolina was again in soft coverage.
While the down-distance of these two particular plays made this coverage all the more ridiculous, given that the first order of business on defense is to make sure you're making the opponent actually work for the yards it needs to get a first down or a score, the strategy was more generally questionable because it played into Georgia's hand. Dawgs quarterback Greyson Lambert came into the came having performed shakily against Vandy the week prior. UGA fans vocally questioned whether he was a quarterback who could make big-time throws. By playing more man coverage, we could have forced Lambert to beat us downfield. If he beats you, you live with that and maybe reconsider your approach at halftime, but you have to at least try to force the unproven quarterback to make some challenging throws.
That's also where the lack of blitzing comes in. I'm sure Carolina came into the game hoping it could to generate more pressure with its front four, but when it became apparent that an experienced UGA offensive line wasn't going to allow that, Hoke should have thrown in some blitzes. Again, against an unproven quarterback, I feel you have to take some chances to force mistakes. Vandy had some success blitzing Lambert the week prior, so there was a blueprint for how we could have done so.
After a promising opening game, Hoke has disappointed in the past two games. The defensive personnel is better than it was a year ago, but the results on the field are similar. Part of that owes to schematics. If the Gamecocks want to salvage this season, Hoke has to figure out what he's doing, quick.